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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2009

Ask the Ombudsman2009-03_ombudsman-tim

Q: With all of our modern technology, why can’t we have small-game hunting and fishing permits that are valid for one year from the date of purchase, regardless of when they are purchased?

A: It is possible, and some states do handle their permits that way. One disadvantage of that system is that it requires that each permit holder keep track of their own specific renewal date. With a common expiration date as we have now, the last day of February, it is easier for people to remember when to renew. It is also easier for us to remind them of the annual March 1 renewal date.

Small-game hunting and fishing permits can be purchased as early as December 1 for the following year. This allows them to be obtained for Christmas gifts, and the permit holder has a permit that is valid for 15 months.

Q: I am over 65 years old and thus exempt from needing an annual resident fishing permit. Am I also exempt from needing the White River Border Lakes Permit to fish on Bull Shoals Lake?

A: No, your age exemption does not cover the Border Lakes Permit or daily fishing tag or trout permit when or where those are required. You would not need the Border Lakes Permit unless you fish on the Arkansas portion of Bull Shoals, Norfork or Table Rock lakes without an Arkansas fishing permit. If you stay on the Missouri side of the state line on any of those lakes, the Border Lakes Permit is not required.

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

Behind the Code

A little learning has saved a lot of lives.

by Tom Cwynar

We are irresistibly approaching the moment when every licensed hunter in Missouri will be hunter education certified. In 1987, the Conservation Department passed a regulation that required hunters born on or after January 1, 1967, to have successfully completed a hunter safety course before they could purchase any type of firearms hunting permit. Hunters at least 21 years old were exempt from the requirement because of their birth date. Today, only hunters older than 41 are exempt. Inevitably the day will come when no hunter is exempt.

That’s a good thing, because mandatory hunter education has prevented many injuries and deaths. The number of hunting incidents in Missouri steadily rose from 1963, the first year shown on the records to a peak in 1986, when 98 were reported. The number of hunting incidents began dropping dramatically in 1992, when any hunter under the age of 26 would have attended a hunter education course, and have declined steadily since. In 2008, only 15 hunting incidents were recorded, and none of those were fatal.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 Missourians attend hunter education classes each year. A huge organization of volunteer instructors and Conservation Department staff members teach them hunting safety, proper handling of firearms and hunters’ responsibilities to landowners and laws.

Hunter education traditionally took at least 10 hours, typically spread over two or 3 days, but new hunters may complete the written portion over the Internet before attending a 5-hour field day. To learn more about online hunter education, explore the links listed below.

Time Capsule

March 1969

Recovering With Pine was written by Mickey Kimberlin about producing evergreens. There are low-grade hardwood stands and abandoned fields that cover many idle acres in Missouri. It wouldn’t be difficult to use the shortleaf pine that have been left on the land. Converting sedge fields and ridge tops into pine can be a profitable income. To get started you would need to have the area worked up so it can survive the growth of young pines. Planting seedlings and sowing pine seeds must be done during dormant season. Mid-December to early March is when the seeds can be sown. In early March or early April the seedlings can be planted.—Contributed by the Circulation staff

Agent Notes

Regulations try to balance the needs of hunters and turkeys.

It’s true what they say about Missouri’s weather—if you don’t like it, wait a day and it will change. The past two springs have exemplified this pattern of daily weather changes. Freezing temperatures, coupled with unusually wet conditions, have caused turkey hunting success to decline in some regions of the state. These weather conditions and their effects on Missouri’s resources play a role in determining regulations.

This year, youth turkey hunters will again be able to hunt from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset during the youth turkey season. During the regular season, shooting hours remain the traditional half-hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. The exception to the 1 p.m. closing during the youth turkey season is due to fewer hunters in the field and the Conservation Department’s desire to promote youth hunting opportunities. This rule is a great illustration of how regulations ensure continued hunting success. If conditions are cooperative, the majority of hens will have bred by the start of the regular spring turkey season. When we experience freezing temperatures and flooding around this same time, nests are destroyed and the turkeys attempt to breed again. Poults begin to hatch in mid-May with the peak hatch occurring the first week of June. Most hens make a second nest attempt if the first nest is lost.

Aaron Post is the conservation agent for Platte county, which is in the Kansas City 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
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler