Outdoor Recreation

By |
From Missouri Conservationist: Sep 2009

Scout it Out

Lost Valley Hatchery

  • Name: Lost Valley Hatchery
  • Location: East of Highway 65 on County Road 620, northeast of Warsaw in Benton County.
  • For more information: visit our online atlas, keyword "Lost".

No need to ask where fish come from after visiting Lost Valley Fish Hatchery, one of the largest and most modern fish hatcheries in the nation. Most Missouri fish reproduce on their own, but it’s amazing what a boost their populations can receive from a high-tech hatchery complex that includes 78 rearing ponds, 15 miles of pipe and a sophisticated water monitoring system. Lost Valley is a warm-water hatchery that raises prodigious numbers of walleye, white bass/striped bass hybrids and catfish to seed or supplement Missouri lakes, ponds and streams. Raising fish to sizes suitable for stocking is a long process that usually starts with collecting and spawning eggs and requires feeding, treating and monitoring fish stocks, counting and tagging fish and hauling them to sites designated for stocking. A visit to the hatchery will acquaint you with the entire process, and give you the chance to see some rare or big fish. Lost Valley Fish Hatchery is open to visitors year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, but it is closed on Sundays and Mondays from Labor Day until April 30.

Squirrels for Deer

Set your sights on squirrels to hone your hunting skills.

Opening day morning of the deer season often catches hunters unprepared. Hunting skills, such as awareness, stealth and the ability to sit motionless, require practice to remain at their peak. You will likely become a better hunter as the season progresses, but that doesn’t help when a big deer approaches a few minutes into opening day morning.

Squirrel hunting will improve your hunting skills in time for the deer season. Wild squirrels aren’t like the ones that visit your backyard bird feeders. They are wily, and will hide or scurry at any hint of danger. You’ll need to watch, listen, move quietly or sit still, just as you would for deer, and because they are numerous you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice. Use a .22 rifle and you’ll improve your shooting skills, as well.

The season lasts many months, allowing you to pick good weather days for your outings. Early morning or late afternoons are best, just as they are for deer hunting. A nice difference, however, is that you’ll often have the woods to yourself. Use the time to explore. You should be able to find deer trails and crossings that will pay off in deer season.

Bring the kids along to kindle their hunting spirit and improve their hunting skills. They’ll also learn how being a good hunter translates into providing wholesome food for the family table.

Native Beauty

Cardinal Flower

Hummingbirds and humans share a delight in cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis). These native plants line many Missouri streams, ponds and wetlands. In late summer they explode into spikes of brilliant red or scarlet flowers. These attract hummingbirds at a time when they need fuel for their southern migration. Although cardinal flowers are a good source of nectar, all parts of the plant are considered toxic. Curiously, the attractive flowers produce no floral scent.

Cardinal flowers are not tulips, but they are two-lipped. The lower lip has three prominent lobes, while the upper lip has two. A prominent tube extends beyond the lips and ends in the blue to grayish white reproductive parts that seem to nod. The flowers form a spike at the top of a 3–4 foot, ridged stalk that grows from a basal rosette. The leaves below the flowers are long and narrow with serrated edges. They are rough to the touch and have hairy undersides. They tend to cup or curl upward from their central vein.

Cardinal flowers are a great choice for butterfly gardens and for planting around ponds. To learn more about landscaping with “native beauties,” order Tried and True Missouri Native Plants for Your Yard for $6, plus shipping and handling, online, (877) 521-8632, or pick up a copy at an MDC office with a Nature Shop.

A Quiet Turnover

Cooling temperatures prompt a gentle mixing of our waters.

Most swimmers know that during summer the warmest water of lakes and ponds is near the surface. The deeper they dive, the cooler the water. The reason is that water becomes less dense as its temperature increases, so that the sun-warmed water literally floats on the top of a lake or pond. As summer progresses, a well-defined band of rapid temperature change called a thermocline forms in lakes and ponds. The band prevents the nutrient- and oxygen-rich water near the surface from mixing with the cooler, and increasingly oxygen-poor water below.

As the surface water cools in the fall, however, it becomes less dense — heavier — than the water beneath and sinks. Wind agitating the water accelerates this process, but the shortening days and cooling temperatures make the turnover relentless. Eventually the thermocline dissolves, leaving the temperature and oxygen profile of the lake fairly consistent and setting the stage for a reversal in which the coolest water is at the surface. This occurs because water is most dense at 39 degrees, which explains why lakes freeze at the top rather than the bottom.

Migration Season

Their bags are packed, and they’re ready to go.

Grab those binoculars and bird guides. September is the peak of the migration season for many species. Hummingbirds and warblers have been passing through Missouri for weeks now and will continue to be birders’ targets well into September. Ospreys are also on the move; look for them flying over rivers and lakes as they hunt or fish. Dabbling ducks, shorebirds, nighthawks, several species of swallows and broad-winged hawks are also on the move. Visit Squaw Creek and Swan Lake national wildlife refuges to view congregations of white pelicans and astoundingly large and noisy flocks of ducks and geese.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
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