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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2008

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Male deer shed their antlers every year with few exceptions. So what happens to the buck fawn’s nubs? Do they fall off, absorb back into the deer’s system or do they just keep them for next year?

A: A small percentage of buck fawns might lose their tiny antlers if they’ve broken through the skin and hardened, but most keep their buttons. A yearling buck generally sprouts a spike or forked antler. That antler gets its start from the button that begins to show after the buck is 6 or 7 months old. So I guess you could say button bucks get a head start on other bucks, which drop their antlers during winter. Search “antlers” at MissouriConservation.org for more details.

This is the season when many outdoorspeople seek a cure for their cabin fever by going afield in search of shed antlers. MDC gets frequent questions about the regulations pertaining to shed antlers. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 10 of the Wildlife Code: Any person who finds a dead deer with antlers still attached to the skull plate while afield and takes those antlers into possession must report the taking to a conservation agent within 24 hours to receive possession authorization. Shed antlers not attached to the skull plate found while afield may be possessed, bought and sold by any person without possession authorization.

March is also the start of a new permit year, so now is a good time to get your 2008 hunting and fishing permit. It will be valid from the date of purchase through the end of February 2009.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.


Time Capsule

March 1998

Hitching a Ride was written by Craig Anderson about pesky, sticky fruit and seed plants that attach to animals or people’s clothing. There are many different types of “sticky seeds” in this state and some are considered to be a fruit. Cheatgrass, Spanish needles, beggars’ ticks, tick trefoil needlegrass, cocklebur and burdock are a few sticky seeds and fruit. Some are as small as a head of a pin while others are the size of a nickel. They can be found in the prairies of the southwest and north to the forest and glades of the Ozarks and, maybe, in your own back yard. It seems that no matter where you go in Missouri, you are likely to have a sticky seed or fruit attach to your clothes when venturing outside.—Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

MDC stocks paddlefish for anglers to catch in spring.

by Tom Cwynar

Our native paddlefish are peculiar from tip to tail. They have no scales, bones or, when adults, teeth, and a long paddle-shaped snout takes up about a third of their body length. These plankton-eating fish can grow huge. The state record is 139 pounds, 4 ounces.

Because paddlefish are not attracted by lures or baits, the only way to catch them is to snag them with weighted hooks.

The Code allows anglers to snag paddlefish from March 15 through April 30, which is when paddlefish cluster to make spawning runs upstream. Dams on the rivers now interfere with those runs, so the Conservation Department annually stocks paddlefish. On the Mississippi River, the spring season lasts through May 15, and a fall season is open Sept. 15 through Dec. 15. Anglers can take two fish per day.

On Table Rock and Truman lakes and Lake of the Ozarks and their tributaries, fish must measure 34 inches from eye to fork of tail to be harvested. They are measured this way because rostrum, or nose, size is not always related to body size, and rostrums and fins may be damaged or missing. On other waters, the length limit is 24 inches.

The Code prohibits possession of extracted paddlefish eggs while on the water, and their transportation. Eggs may not be bought, sold or offered for sale.

The Summary of Fishing Regulations details paddlefishing rules. To learn more about these peculiar fish and obtain an in-season snagging report, go online and search for “paddlefish.”


Agent Notes

Enjoy the Outdoors as a Turkey Hunting Family

In today’s hectic society we are all faced with the burden of not having enough time to get everything accomplished. As a result, family relationships are suffering. Parents and children seem to be drifting apart, each doing their own thing, instead of participating in family activities like hunting and fishing.

Spring turkey season is approaching, and there is not a better time to involve the family in the great outdoors. Parents should encourage each family member to experience the woods as they come alive on crisp spring mornings. Kids and adults who haven’t heard a whippoorwill, an owl or a gobbling turkey are in for a treat. Those who have will enjoy them even more when they share them with family members.

Hunting is an important part of our family heritage. Years ago my father asked me to tag along when he went hunting, and it changed my life forever. Since then we have shared countless memories in the field and forged a strong relationship. Those hunting trips also influenced my career.

This spring, as you sneak along in pursuit of that wise old tom, don’t leave the family behind. The real value of the outdoors is shared experiences and priceless memories. Make hunting your family tradition.

Billy Barton is the conservation agent for Iron County, which is in the Southeast region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

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