Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jul 2009

Scout it Out Boat Launching

Missouri River Accesses

  • Name: Missouri River Accesses
  • Location: Boat or fishing access to the Missouri River throughout the state.
  • For more information: Online Conservation Atlas, keyword, "access".

The Missouri river is almost too big to access. You’ll find plenty of public land along the river that bisects the state, but steep, slippery, muddy or rocky banks, combined with strong current, often makes just reaching the river a dicey endeavor. The Missouri is full of fish, however, so reach it we must. Fortunately, river accesses make it easy to launch and land our boats and provide places for bank anglers to wet a line. River accesses often provide other amenities, including parking lots, paved ramps, docks, privies and a protected harbor from the current.

A Discover Outdoor Missouri map will help you locate nearby Missouri River accesses. They are free at many Conservation Department offices or by writing Discover Outdoor Missouri, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov. You might also search the online Conservation Atlas (Web address listed below) View maps where boaters and anglers can access the Missouri River by exploring the links listed below, or call your regional office at the number listed on Page 3 for more information.

Bowfishing Basics

Archery anglers target big fish in shallow water.

Archery is a simple sport that evolved from stick-and-string technology. Bowfishing boasts the same simplicity, but you have to add a reel to store a longer string. Once a fish is arrowed, barbs hold onto the catch so you can retrieve it. Most bowfishing takes place in shallow water. Use a boat or creep along the shoreline to sight fish. Aim low, because fish are deeper in the water than they appear, and aim for the front of the fish to increase your chance of killing it.

Common target species include nongame species, such as grass and common carp; black, bigmouth and smallmouth buffalo; and longnose, shortnose and spotted gar.

Don’t waste your harvest. All fish are edible, although some may taste better than others or have fewer bones to deal with. With a little searching on the Internet or at your local library, you can find methods of handling and cleaning almost any species, as well as a variety of recipes.

You might not be able to find a bowfishing partner on your block, but you can find plenty of them on the Internet. The Missouri Bow Hunters Association has a bowfishing Web site at http://www.mobowhunters.org/bowfish/. The site provides information about tournaments, articles related to bowfishing, and a forum through which you can communicate with other bowfishers about equipment, techniques and locations.

Native BeautyBlazing Stars

Blazing Stars

Following the flurry of spring, there’s a tendency to put away your field guides and forego wildflower watching until next year. However, this means you’ve denied yourself the opportunity to key out Missouri’s four most common blazing stars, all of which have spiky flowers surrounded by bracts and which bloom in summer.

The shape of the bracts is your best clue to identification. Liatris aspera has rounded bracts surrounding uniformly distributed flower heads, each containing from 16–36 florets. Liatris pycnostachia bracts are recurved and come to a sharp point. They overlap flowers that are clumped at the top of the plant. Liatris squarrosa has long, pointed bracts that overlap flower heads containing up to 100 florets. Liatris cylindracea has rounded bracts with short points at the end. The plants have few flower heads.

Look for blazing stars in open woods, fields and glades. They are especially easy to spot along roadsides and railroad lines, where they sometimes grow in large clumps and produce plants more than 5 feet tall. They are largely absent from the Bootheel. These perennials do not spread aggressively, but they live a long time, allowing them to survive in disturbed areas. Because they offer summer beauty, people often choose them for landscaping. For native plant landscaping ideas, visit the Grow Native! link listed below.

Bee, Wasp or Hornet?

Knowing the difference might help take the sting out of summer.

Missouri has hundreds of species of wasps and bees but only a few of them will deliver painful stings. Many wasps and bees are too small to hurt you; a good rule of thumb is that the larger the bee or wasp, the more painful the sting. Another rule of thumb is that solitary bees or wasps are not as much of a threat as those that nest in large groups.

Bees are usually thick bodied and hairy. The hairs make them better pollinators. They mostly feed at flowers, and their nests are made of wax cells. Bees typically sting only in self-defense. The honeybee’s stinger is barbed and remains in the skin, which means the bee dies after stinging.

Wasps have a slender waist and are generally smooth. They build papery nests manufactured by mixing wood pulp and saliva. They often nest beneath eaves or under decks. Wasps are mostly predators of insects and other small animals, but some, especially yellowjackets, are attracted to sweets. Yellowjackets are probably our most aggressive wasp, and they can sting repeatedly. The bald-faced hornet, which sometimes builds enormous hanging nests, is actually a wasp. Learn more about wasps and bees through the links listed below.

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