Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jan 2008

Scout it Out: Hunt Giant Canada Geese

Location: Clay, Jackson and Ray counties, outside of the Kansas City limits.

For more information: General information on waterfowl hunting is also available onlin.

January is the perfect time to hunt Canada geese in rural areas just outside Kansas City. During winter, the grass in urban areas goes dormant so the birds must seek high-energy foods such as harvested crops (corn), which are usually found in rural areas.

Good preparation is the key to a successful hunting trip. Scout out a harvested grain field where geese are feeding and secure permission to hunt. Do not hunt on the day you scout; allow the birds to feed undisturbed. Before daylight on the day you hunt, set up a layout blind and goose decoys. Decoys should be placed downwind or crosswind from the blind so birds see the decoys rather than the blind when making their final approach. Warm clothing and a pad allow hunters to remain comfortable while lying in the layout blind waiting for the birds to come to the fields to feed.

The Canada goose hunting season is open through Jan. 30. The bag and possession limits are two and four, respectively. Details on goose hunting regulations are in the 2007–2008 Waterfowl Hunting Digest that is available at permit vendors and regional offices or go online to download the pdf.

Attend Deer Meetings

Don’t miss this opportunity to voice your opinion.

Give us your thoughts about our state’s deer population and hunting regulations. The Department of Conservation will hold public meetings across the state this month and in February to gather public opinion on a variety of deer issues. The meetings are part of an effort to ensure that the deer management plan continues to keep the deer herd healthy and meets the needs of hunters and landowners. The two-hour meetings will run from 7–9 p.m. at locations listed below.

  • Springfield, Jan. 8—Bass Pro Shop, 1935 S. Campbell Avenue
  • Joplin, Jan. 9—Wildcat Glades Audubon Conservation Nature Center
  • St. Joseph, Jan. 10—MWSU Potter Theater
  • Chillicothe, Jan. 11—Chillicothe High School
  • Kirksville, Jan. 14—Days Inn, Highway 63 South
  • Hannibal, Jan. 15—Quality Inn, 120 Lindsey Drive
  • Union, Jan. 22—East Central Community College
  • St. Louis, Jan. 23—Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
  • Poplar Bluff, Jan. 17—Three Rivers Community College
  • Perryville, Jan. 24—Perry Park Center
  • Waynesville, Jan. 28—Waynesville Middle School
  • West Plains, Feb. 11—Civic Center
  • Marshall, Feb. 4—Marshall High School
  • Linn, Feb. 7—St. George Church
  • Kansas City, Feb. 5—Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center
  • Sedalia, Feb. 6—State Fair Community College

For more information about the meetings, call the nearest Conservation Department office.

Feathered Fascination

Some birds store food

Many who feed birds in winter do so to help the animals survive when food is hard to find. Food provided by humans can supplement a bird’s winter diet, but it’s not the only food source the animals rely upon for survival. Several bird species that live in areas where the seasons change prepare for winter by gathering more food than they need when it’s abundant and stockpiling it.

Birds use several storage techniques to keep a food supply on hand. Jays store acorns, seeds, pine cones and other items in the soil, under leaves, other loose litter and in tree crevices. Acorn woodpeckers, which live along the west coast and in the southwestern U.S., store acorns in the shallow holes of dead trees. A group of the woodpeckers can store as many as 50,000 acorns in trees within their territory. Other woodpeckers also store nuts in tree cavities. Some titmice, chickadees, raptors and owls store their animal prey. Generally storage of animal prey is short-term because it decays quickly. Great horned owls are among the birds that use the cold for long-term storage of prey. The owls thaw the frozen prey by incubating it just like they incubate eggs.

Information from The Birder’s Handbook by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye was used in this segment.

Wildlife Autographs

Winter is a great time to get outside to see tracks and signs of elusive animals.

It’s exciting to see a bobcat dart across a field or a fox frolic near its den because these sights are rare. Many wild animals live in heavy cover and generally venture out at night to avoid people and predators. There’s a fun way to learn about wildlife, even if you don’t see the animals. Look for tracks and other signs, such as nibbled plants, scat, digging and feathers.

After a snowfall is one of the best times to trace the movements of wildlife. Look for tracks where two habitats meet, such as the edge of a field and a woodland. The number of toes in a track and the track pattern can help you identify the animal that made the track. Tracks that appear in an almost straight line likely were left by a cat, dog or deer that was walking or trotting. If tracks are in pairs, they probably were made by a member of the weasel family, which includes skunks, minks and otters. If tracks look like hops, they probably were left by a rabbit, mouse or squirrel.

Before venturing out to search for tracks, look at the Animal Autographs page on the Department of Conservation Web site. It contains sketches of tracks of a variety of animals, tips to help you correctly identify the source of the tracks and instructions for making casts of tracks.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Arleasha Mays
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler