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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 2011

Public Dove Hunting Areas

Dove hunting season opens Sept. 1. To provide quality hunting opportunities, the Conservation Department plants sunflowers, wheat, millet and other crops on dozens of conservation areas statewide. Dove-field locator maps are available at Crops grow better on some areas than others, so advance scouting is important.

dove hunting

Safety consciousness is particularly important on public hunting areas. Space yourselves at safe intervals. Don’t shoot at birds lower than 45 degrees above the horizon. Politely call attention to safety issues the first time they arise. If you plan to introduce a new hunter to doves, leave your own shotgun at home, so you can devote your full attention to your protégé.

Hunters are asked to report any doves they shoot that have leg bands. This can be done by calling 800-327-2263 or online at You will need to give the band number, date and where the bird was killed.

Visit a Forest at the State Fair

2011 is The Year of the Forest, and the Conservation Pavilion at the Missouri State Fair will offer cool, entertaining ways to learn about how to care for trees and how they benefit the Show-Me State’s economy and environment.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s pavilion is at the south end of the fairgrounds. Professional foresters will be on hand Aug. 11 through 21 with programs and answers to questions about cicadas and other forest-related topics.

The air-conditioned Conservation Kids Room, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, provides a welcome retreat from summer heat. This also is the place to go for children’s programs and hands-on exhibits designed to help kids discover the many adventures offered by forests.

Live programs offered at the Conservation Pavilion this year include:

  • Insects and Diseases of Missouri trees, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 11.
  • Fish Cleaning and Cooking, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13.
  • Tree Identification, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 12.
  • Calling All Wildlife, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 14.
  • Elk Restoration, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 18.
  • Tree Planting & Pruning, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19.
  • Black Bears in Missouri, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21.

Conservation agents, biologists, foresters and other experts will be on hand to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Nominate Now

The Missouri Conservation Commission would like to recognize citizens who make outstanding contributions to conservation. Nominations are being sought for the Master Conservationist Award and the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizens while the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes deceased individuals. Those who can be considered for either honor are:

  • Citizens who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry or wildlife conservation in Missouri.
  • Employees of conservation-related agencies who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry or wildlife conservation in Missouri.

Anyone can submit a nomination, which should include a statement describing the nominee’s accomplishments and a brief biography. Criteria and nomination forms for each award are available on the MDC website at and Please submit nominations by Sept. 1 to Denise Bateman, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180 or email to

A screening committee appointed by the Department’s director meets annually to consider nominees, with the Conservation Commission conveying final approval.

Pen-Reared Quail Are No Bargain

Recent evidence presented during the Missouri Bobwhite Quail Summit confirm what decades of scientific studies have shown—releasing pen-reared birds is a dead-end strategy for restoring quail and pheasant populations.

More than 160 landowners from as far away as Minnesota joined biologists and quail researchers attending the event at the MU Extension’s Bradford Farm June 16. They heard presentations by quail experts and took part in field tours to learn about the latest in quail conservation and habitat improvement techniques. They also shared success stories about blending production agriculture with wildlife management.

Quail Forever Regional Biologist Elsa Gallagher summarized the findings of studies conducted in 11 states and England over the past 40 years. The most recent studies took place between 2002 and 2009. A 2008 study in Nebraska focused on two particular strategies involving pen-reared birds—predator control and mechanical surrogate rearing systems. Both proved ineffective in boosting quail and pheasant numbers.

Mechanical propagation systems provide food, water, heat and shelter for chicks while avoiding human contact that might cause the birds to become tame. The Nebraska study followed pheasant chicks released with such a mechanical system on two shooting preserves and two public wildlife areas. Only 12 percent of chicks survived until the hunting season, and less than 1 percent survived a year. Of the 170 chicks placed in the units at the beginning of the study, only six showed up in hunters’ bags.

A 2005 study on a private hunting plantation in Georgia involved 1,641 bobwhite quail chicks that were reared in a captive propagation system. Management after release included predator control and supplemental feeding. Only 13 of those birds showed up in hunters’ bags. Studies in Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada and South Dakota showed similar results. To learn more about managing your land for suitable quail habitat, visit

Protect Missouri’s Outdoors

If you camp, boat or fish over the Labor Day weekend, make a commitment to protect Missouri’s outdoor resources from invasive exotic species. Missouri is at the geographic center of a growing invasion by exotic plants, animals and plant diseases. Among the better-known invaders are the zebra mussel, gypsy moth and bush honeysuckle. The list is much longer, however, including:

  • Emerald ash borer, which kills every ash tree it attacks.
  • Chinese mystery snail, a large Asian mollusk that shoulders aside less robust native snails.
  • Northern snakehead, an Asian fish that can travel cross-country and devours bass, sunfish and catfish.
  • Asian carp, which have multiplied dramatically since invading the Missouri and Mississippi rivers about 20 years ago and whose detrimental impacts on valuable commercial and sport fisheries have yet to be determined.
  • Spotted knapweed, a plant from Eurasia that takes over pastures and roadsides, rooting out native plants and ruining pastures for cattle.
  • Thousand cankers disease, a fungal infection carried by the tiny walnut twig beetle, kills black walnut trees and could cause nearly $1 billion in losses of nuts, lumber and planting stock if it reaches Missouri.
  • Purple loosestrife, an attractive but highly invasive plant that turns diverse, healthy wetlands into impenetrable stands of vegetation largely useless for wildlife and recreation.
  • Rusty crayfish, a large, aggressive species that has spread via the fishing bait trade and displaces native crayfish.

In some cases, such as the emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and thousand cankers disease—citizens can help by obtaining firewood where they camp and burning it all before they leave. In other instances, such as the zebra mussel and the rusty crayfish, the best thing boaters and anglers can do is to clean their boats and trailers thoroughly between bodies of water and put unused bait in the trash, rather than dumping minnows or other bait overboard when they finish fishing. Also important is obtaining your live bait locally and not transporting it from one area to another.

For information about how to avoid spreading these and other invasive species, visit

Elk Driving Tours at Peck Ranch

A portion of the refuge area at Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA) has reopened to public access through a driving loop for viewing elk and other wildlife. MDC closed the refuge area in March in preparation for the arrival of Missouri’s first group of wild elk, which are part of the Department’s ongoing elk restoration project.

MDC has designated a driving loop along roads 1, 11 and 10 of the refuge area that offers elk and other wildlife viewing opportunities along fields, streams and forested areas. The driving loop begins at the Peck Ranch CA office and is marked along the way. Other roads in the refuge area remain closed to the public. Man aged deer hunts on Peck Ranch CA will continue as planned for the fall.

Area Manager Ryan Houf explained that elk seek the shade and food of forested areas during hot summer months and tend to graze in open fields during cooler periods in the fall, winter and spring. He added that the area is not a wildlife preserve and the elk are wild animals.

“While they remain mostly in the refuge area at this point, these several dozen elk have about 23,000 acres at Peck Ranch to roam, and about 221,500 acres within the larger elk restoration zone covering parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties, so catching a glimpse of them may be a challenge,” he said.

Houf cautioned that some gravel roads on Peck Ranch CA may not be accessible to vehicles without adequate ground clearance and some roads may be impassable at times due to due to high water levels at stream crossings or from flooding.

If people are fortunate to view elk, they must not disturb the animals in any way. Photographs are welcome, but the Missouri Wildlife Code prohibits the molesting, pursuing or enticing of wildlife, including elk, unless specifically permitted in the code or through related laws for activities such as hunting, fishing or trapping of specific species, which do not include elk.

MDC acquired 34 elk from Kentucky, which arrived at a holding pen on Peck Ranch CA in early May. After an acclimation period, the elk—along with five new calves—were released to roam the rugged hills and valleys in the Carter County conservation area and eventually spread to the 221,500-acre elk restoration zone.

To find more information about the Peck Ranch CA, including directions to Peck Ranch CA and area maps, visit Area maps and additional elk information are also available at the Peck Ranch CA office when open.

Striper, Blue Cat Records

Some fishing records stand for decades. Others last only days. Two impressive records set last year in Missouri already are history.

The 58-pound state pole-and-line record for a striped bass caught at Bull Shoals Lake in July of 2010 was edged out on June 18 by a 60-pound, 9-ounce fish caught by Bruce Cunningham, of Fordland, also at Bull Shoals. He was fishing with a plastic swim bait. It was his first time fishing for stripers, and the first one he caught.

striped bass 60-pound, 9-ounces

Small increases are the rule when it comes to new fishing records. However, there was nothing normal about a 143-pound blue catfish caught at Kerr Reservoir on the Virginia-North Carolina border in June. That catch shattered the world record set in July of 2010, when Greg Bernal pulled a 130-pound blue catfish from the Missouri River near Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.

“Thirteen pounds is a pretty good increase,” said Andrew Branson, who maintains fishing records for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “It’s worth mentioning, however, that 13 pounds is only 10 percent of our state record’s weight. There is no question in my mind that the Missouri River holds blue cats that outweigh the new world record. It’s just a question of whether someone manages to hook one of them.”

Earlier this year, Missouri anglers established first-time records for gizzard shad (1 pound, 8 ounces) and highfin carpsucker (1 pound, 6 ounces). Both records were in the alternative methods category.

More information about Missouri fishing records is available at

Early Teal Season Sept. 10-25

Breeding bird counts for blue-winged teal are in, and the news is good again this year. The 2011 early teal season will be 16 days long.

The U .S. Fish and Wildlife service bases the season length on how many of this species are counted in surveys of their nesting areas early in the summer. If the blue-winged teal breeding population estimate is 4.7 million or more, the early teal season runs for 16 days. Last year’s blue-winged teal breeding population estimate was 6.3 million. This year’s estimate is 8.9 million, so the season will run from Sept. 10 through 25.

Waterfowl Reservations

Hunters who plan to apply for reservations at Conservation Department managed wetland areas will find the same three areas under the Quick Draw system this year.

You can apply for reservations at 12 wetland areas from Sept. 1 through 15 at Eagle Bluffs, Grand Pass and Otter Slough conservation areas are still under Quick Draw. For those three areas, a drawing on Monday of each week will assign hunting slots for the following Friday through Monday. A Quick Draw each Thursday will assign slots for the following Tuesday through Thursday.

The traditional system assigns reservations months in advance. Quick Draw allows hunters to take weather and other conditions into account when deciding when and where to apply.

Neither Quick Draw nor the traditional systems allow nonresidents to apply for reservations. However, resident hunters who draw reservations can include nonresidents in their hunting parties. Also, nonresidents can take part in the daily, on-site “poor-line” drawings under both systems.

Under Quick Draw, the computer drawing determines the order in which successful applicants are allowed to select hunting spots. It also determines where hunting spots for the “poor line” will fit in the daily order of selection. On any given day, the No. 1 spot can be in either the Quick Draw or “poor-line” portion of the draw.

National Trappers’ Convention

Don’t forget about the National Fur Trappers Association’s 52nd annual convention in Columbia Aug. 4 through 7. For those four days, central Missouri will be the center of the nation’s trapping universe, with hundreds of trappers and vendors of trapping equipment demonstrating their wares and skills. For more information, visit

Responsible Future Landowners

Conservation depends largely on the efforts of landowners. This is true both for current landowners and for those who will manage land in the future.

The Conservation Department works with landowners to employ the best land-management practices that sustain healthy land and conserve the state’s forests, fish and wildlife. In addition to the many opportunities MDC offers current landowners, the Department also invests in the future of conservation by educating some of the state’s future landowners and managers by partnering with the Missouri FFA Organization.

MDC coordinates “Conservation Day” at Missouri FFA Leadership Camp once a week each of the six weeks it is offered during June and July. Held at Lake of the Ozarks State Park’s Camp Rising Sun, the weeklong camp draws about 200 students each week. Students participate in leadership education sessions as well as various recreation activities. For one morning of the five-day camp, conservation experts teach responsible land-management practices for FFA students to use in their futures as potential farmers, landowners and agricultural leaders.

“There are so many different sides to agriculture,” said FFA State President Brady James. “We try to meet all needs accordingly so we can open doors for FFA students to develop their interests in all areas, and that includes conservation.”

Conservation Day introduces students to ongoing conservation concerns through six hands on learning stations taught by MDC staff. This year’s topics were: urban wildlife management and managed hunts, ethical decision-making for conservation dilemmas, fishing basics and fish identification, management practices for healthy streams, tree identification and safe and ethical decision-making when hunting and fishing.

“FFA students represent future landowners of Missouri,” said MDC Education Programs and Curriculum Supervisor Kevin Lohraff. “One of the best things we can do to invest in conservation for the future is to educate private landowners on good conservation practices for their land. In this case we are helping FFA students learn the best management practices for farms and properties so they can use them in the future.”

According to Lohraff, conservation efforts on private land are key to statewide success.

“Ninety-three percent of Missouri’s land is privately owned,” he said. “If conservation is going to work in Missouri, it will be because private landowners practice it.”

Conservation and FFA are a natural fit, added FFA Camp Director E. H. Hirschvogel. “So many of our kids are already very active with Missouri wildlife, and students who haven’t been involved in conservation learn so much from MDC’s Conservation Day.”

Grant Helps Young Hunters

A $10,000 grant from the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation is boosting an organization that introduces youths to hunting traditions.

The Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation (MHHF), based in Pleasant Hill, Mo., conducts clinics and guided hunts to introduce young people ages 9 to 17 to archery and firearms hunting. Participants take a hunter safety course, practice shooting firearms and then get to go hunting with experienced mentors. The nonprofit group used the Heritage Foundation’s grant to purchase equipment, such as firearms training gear, trap shooting equipment and youth model firearms, plus a trailer to haul the gear to clinic sites.

MHHF Executive Director Allan Hoover says the foundation’s support has been critical to the mentoring group’s success.

“When I pull in with the trailer, our chapters have everything they need to conduct a clinic,” Hoover said.

The federation welcomes new members, volunteers and donors who want to help introduce youths to hunting. Many of the young participants have no other access to the hunting sports. For more information, call Hoover at 816-540-3908, or visit

The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides funding for conservation and outdoor recreation projects. For information or to donate, go to

Gov. Nixon Appoints St. Louisan to Conservation Commission

Gov. Jay Nixon announced on July 13 the appointment of St. Louis businessman and longtime conservationist James T. Blair, IV, to the Missouri Conservation Commission. The Governor has appointed Blair (R) to a term that expires June 30, 2017. Blair replaces William F. “Chip” McGeehan of Marshfield whose Commission appointment expired June 30.

James T. Blair IV

“Jim Blair has demonstrated his dedication to conservation in Missouri through his many years of leadership at several of the most pre-eminent conservation organizations in our state,” Gov. Nixon said. “That leadership experience will be of great value on the Conservation Commission in its role of managing the state’s forestry and wildlife resources.”

Missouri Department of Conservation Director Robert Ziehmer praised Blair for his longtime service to and passion for conservation. “Jim Blair’s enthusiasm for conservation and his life experience in both business and outdoor pursuits will prove beneficial in the Commission’s important work.”

Blair is past president of the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, a current board member for the Conservation Federation of Missouri, and has served on local, state and national committees for Ducks Unlimited. He and his wife, Anna, are avid hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

Blair also has a family history of commitment to conservation with his father, Jim Tom Blair III, serving as a commissioner from 1965 to 1977.

Blair is a principal and member of the board of directors at Moneta Group LLC, one of the nation’s largest registered investment advisory firms. He is a certified financial planner and an accredited wealth management advisor. He is regularly ranked among the top financial advisors in the country. In addition to his activity in conservation causes, Blair serves as the board director of the St. Louis chapter of the National MS Society, and is an advisory board member for the MS Corporate Achievers Campaign.

The Missouri Conservation Commission controls, manages, restores, conserves and regulates the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state, including hatcheries, sanctuaries, refuges, reservations and all other property owned, acquired or used for such purposes, as well as the acquisition and establishment of those properties.

Blair’s appointment will be subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate.

Did You Know?

Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.

What Missourians Say About Conservation

  • 93 percent report they are interested in Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife.
  • 73 percent agree that land should be acquired for fish, forest and wildlife conservation.
  • Missourians are a uniquely outdoor-oriented citizenry, with a majority preferring outdoor recreational activities (56 percent) over reading or watching TV (34 percent) or structured sports (9 percent).
  • 91 percent agree that “It is important for outdoor places to be protected even if you don’t plan to visit the area.”
  • 79 percent agree that the Department of Conservation should make an effort to restore animals that once lived or are currently rare in the state.
  • More than three-quarters agree that the Conservation Department “should assist communities that want to include trees and green spaces in housing, business and shopping developments” (79 percent).
  • 82 percent agree that the Department of Conservation should help private landowners who want to restore native communities of plants and animals.
  • 88 percent approve of hunting for food.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler