Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Oct 2008

Scout it Out

Quail Hunting

  • Area Name: Lamine River Conservation Area
  • Location: Cooper and Morgan counties. The main tract is 1 mile east of Otterville on Route A, or take Highway 50 to the Lamine River.
  • For more info: visit our online atlas, keyword "Lamine".

Think of all the places a quail could hide in nearly 6,000 acres of prime habitat. Think how much fun it would be to try to find them! When you visit Lamine River Conservation Area, near Otterville, about midway between Sedalia and Tipton, look for quail in upland fields with shrubby edges or draws and near where permittee farmers have left part of the crop in the fields. Adjacent idle fields—especially those over-seeded with legumes—also are prime hunting grounds. They provide nesting and brood cover and attract bugs for quail to eat.

Highway 50 cuts through this huge area, and many other county roads provide access. In addition, the Department provides 20 parking areas. Camping is allowed at four of them, although no facilities are available.

The area is named for the river called “la mine,” French for “the mine.” The name dates back to the late 1700s when lead was discovered nearby. The area also provides good deer hunting opportunities. Be alert for property boundary signs so you don’t trespass. For more information, go to the Web site shown above, or call area manager Kent Korthas at (660) 530-5500, ext. 230.

Venison Precautions

Agencies investigating lead contamination from bullets.

Resource agencies in several Midwest states, including Missouri, are reminding hunters that venison from deer harvested by firearms might contain lead powder or fragments. This education effort comes after tests showed that some ground venison donated to food pantries in North Dakota and Minnesota contained lead fragments.

North Dakota researchers believe the lead came from the bullets that killed the animals. Lead dust and fragments could contaminate meat when a bullet strikes flesh or bone.

Studies are being performed to determine the effect of various types of bullets. Those designed to explode or “mushroom” on impact, for example, might increase the amount and extent of lead deposition. Copper bullets are considered a safe alternative for hunters. As a precaution, hunters should always trim away and discard flesh surrounding the wound channel from any bullet.

Iowa researchers are comparing blood lead levels of people who consume venison regularly with a control group to determine whether eating venison could increase the risk of lead poisoning.

State Veterinarian Taylor Woods, DVM, said “We have never had an illness or case of lead poisoning by consumers eating deer, quail or pheasant, but we recommend that meat be trimmed around the wound channel to get rid of more than 98 percent of the lead.”

The Conservation Department is working with other states, as well as other Missouri state agencies, to inform people of any risks involved in eating venison.

Birds of a Feather

A Swoop of Chimney Swifts

Chimney swifts were around before there were chimneys. They would roost or build their nests on the rough inner surfaces of hollow trees. When chimneys became available, however, the birds took advantage of them. Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica) became numerous in cities and other areas where few snag trees existed. Now, chimneys are the birds’ primary nesting sites and have become important to the survival of the species.

When not in chimneys, these tiny birds with a big wingspan are almost always in the air. One study estimated a chimney swift might fly 500 miles a day during nesting season. They feed by scooping insects from the air, and they are able to court and even mate aloft. They bathe by skimming the water surface and drink the same way.

Although they don’t nest in colonies, chimney swifts congregate in early fall. You can often see flocks (or swoops) of them circling prime roost sites, such as factory chimneys, before dusk. Their flight is erratic and bat-like, but their cigar-shaped bodies and swept-back wings distinguish them. Not surprisingly, a chimney swift’s plumage is sooty gray.

Their grapple-like feet don’t allow them to perch like most birds, so they cling to the inside walls of a chimney through the night. They exit like popcorn in the morning. To escape winter, these intrepid flyers wing their way to Peru.

True Colors

Why do leaves flash brilliantly before tumbling to the forest floor?

It’s tempting to believe that trees just want to look good one last time before winter, but leaf color change isn’t deliberate and has no benefit to trees or leaves. Instead, it’s just a pleasant (for people!) by-product of chemical processes occurring within the cells of leaves.

Shortening day length in the fall reduces and eventually halts the production of green chlorophyll, which is necessary for leaf cells to produce sugars (or tree food) from sunlight. The decline of chlorophyll in the leaves reveals other pigments, the yellow, orange and brown carotenoids and the reddish anthocynanins. Not all trees have anthocyanins in their leaves, but those that do might vary in the intensity of leaf color based on weather. A combination of cool nights and sunny days in early fall produces and locks more of the red pigments in the leaves. Wet or dry conditions during the year also influence autumn colors.

Not all trees change color at the same time. Sassafras and sumac typically start the display in mid-September, then dogwood and blackgum, followed by the leaves of oaks, hickories, maples and ashes. In Missouri, fall color usually peaks in mid-October. Because day length triggers the process, peak color gradually rolls across Missouri from north to south.

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
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler