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From Missouri Conservationist: Oct 2014

By Jim Low

Waterfowl Hunting Outlook Outstanding

With duck numbers at historic levels for the third year in a row, the 2014–15 waterfowl hunting outlook is excellent. The wild card, as always, is weather.

  • The North American population of mallards, the mainstay species for Missouri waterfowl hunters, is estimated at 10.9 million this year. That is up 5 percent from 2013 and 42 percent above the long-term average (LTA). Mallard numbers have exceeded this year’s figure only once in the past 56 years — in 1958.
  • Duck species breeding populations recorded in the 2014 survey include: Gadwall, 3.8 million, 14 percent more than last year and 102 percent above LTA.
  • Blue-winged teal, 8.5 million, which is similar
  • to 2013 and up 75 percent from LTA.
  • Green-winged teal, 3.4 million, up 13 percent from 2013 and 69 percent above LTA.
  • Scaup, 4.6 million, up 11 percent from 2013 and 8 percent below LTA.
  • Shoveler, 5.3 million, 11 percent more than 2013 and 114 percent above LTA.
  • Redhead, 1.3 million, up 6 percent from 2013 and 85 percent above LTA.

Most of the Conservation Department’s managed wetland areas are in good condition. All that is needed now for an excellent hunting season is timely cold fronts to push migrating birds into Missouri but not cold enough to freeze wetland areas, sending ducks farther south. Like farmers, waterfowl hunters are at the mercy of the weather. Only optimists plant corn or hunt ducks.

Duck Stamps Available Online

Federal Duck stamps will be widely available this year. Both Federal Duck Stamp availability and convenience to hunters were enhanced this year with the addition of an electronic Duck Stamp purchase option. All Missouri permit vendors will offer electronic Duck Stamps, and the traditional purchase venues of the post offices, Department of Conservation offices, and Nature Centers will continue to carry the paper duck stamp.

Permits and duck stamps will no longer be sold at waterfowl conservation areas, except for Columbia Bottom Conservation Area. Since not all post offices or Conservation Department offices have the stamps, it’s a good idea to buy well in advance of hunting or call ahead about availability.

Duck stamps will be sold online for the first time this year, giving hunters and retail vendors an alternative to buying/selling paper duck stamps. Hunters can buy the stamps at Retail vendors will be able to process the transaction for hunters using the same website. An electronic stamp, or e-Stamp, will be issued at the time of purchase, and a paper duck stamp will be sent through the mail.

Hunters can use their e-Stamps immediately and for 45 days following purchase. After 45 days, they must carry the paper duck stamp.

E-Stamps may be purchased from permit vendors for $17.50, which includes a $2.50 handling fee (part of the federal vendor process). E-Stamps can also be purchased from the convenience of your home computer or mobile device for an additional $1 Internet service fee on your total online order.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service selected Missouri, along with Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia, to provide duck stamps through its new federal e-Stamp option.

Hunters and waterfowl enthusiasts can now buy Federal Duck Stamps from all Missouri permit vendors electronically or continue to purchase the paper duck stamp at post offices or Department of Conservation offices, making them widely available and more convenient for all wetland enthusiasts.

Waterfowl Seasons Set

The Conservation Commission approved the following 2014–15 waterfowl hunting regulations at its August meeting.

Youth Hunting Days:

  • North Zone: Oct. 18–19
  • Middle Zone: Oct. 25–26
  • South Zone: Nov. 22–23
  • Regular Duck Season:
  • North Zone: Oct. 25– Dec. 23
  • Middle Zone: Nov. 1–Dec. 30
  • South Zone: Nov. 27– Jan. 25
Shooting Hours:

One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Bag Limit:

Six ducks daily with species restrictions of:

  • 4 mallards (no more than 2 females)
  • 3 scaup
  • 3 wood ducks
  • 2 redheads
  • 2 hooded mergansers
  • 2 pintails
  • 1 canvasback (decreased from 2 last year)
  • 1 black duck
  • 1 mottled duck
Possession Limit:

Three times the daily bag (in total 18; varies by species).

Goose Season:

  • Snow, blue, and Ross’s geese: Statewide, Oct. 25–Jan. 31 (99 days)
  • White-fronted geese: Statewide, Nov. 27–Jan. 31 (66 days)
  • Canada geese and brant: Statewide, Oct. 4–Oct. 12 (9 days) and Nov. 27–Jan. 31 (66 days)

Further details of waterfowl hunting regulations are available in the 2014–2015 Waterfowl Hunting Digest, which will be available from hunting permit vendors and at

Book Partners Underwrite Wetland Conservation

Thanks to a unique partnership, Missourians can own a piece of duck hunting and wetland conservation history while playing an important part. Bass Pro Shops, Ducks Unlimited, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, and private citizens have joined the Conservation Department in producing Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri — A Model of Collaboration.

The authors, many of them former waterfowl biologists and wetland managers, donated their services to produce this new book. Besides contributing material for the book, the partners paid the production costs. The book traces Missouri’s trend-setting work conserving and restoring wetland habitat. It also takes an intimate look at the Show-Me State’s waterfowl-hunting culture, which continues to thrive thanks to wetland conservation.

Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri is richly illustrated with art and photographs, some never published before. It is a must-have book for serious migratory bird hunters, capturing the romance and thrill of duck hunting and the 80-year struggle to preserve this vibrant part of Missouri’s natural heritage. All net proceeds from sales of this collectable, large-format book will go to wetland conservation work. For more information, visit You can order copies at

Hunting, Fishing Apps Available

Missouri’s 1.1 million anglers and more than 500,000 hunters now can use mobile applications to buy hunting and fishing permits and find fishing spots with Android and Apple mobile devices.

“MO Hunting” and “Find MO Fish” are available through Google Play and iTunes stores. MO Hunting lets hunters and anglers purchase and view permits directly from a mobile device and view previously purchased permits. The app lets deer and turkey hunters telecheck their harvests and receive a confirmation number back to the device. They can also view their previous telecheck harvest information. Learn more and download MO Hunting at

The Find MO Fish app includes map locations of public boat ramps and underwater fish-attractor structures to help anglers guide their boats right to fishing hotspots. Users also can view regulations for particular species and specific areas. The app provides a handy Fish ID Guide along with annual fishing prospects and weekly fishing reports for many Missouri lakes, rivers, and streams popular for fishing. Learn more and download Find MO Fish at

Sight in Deer Rifles on Department Ranges

If you haven’t checked the sights on your deer rifle, now is the time, and a Conservation Department shooting range is the place. To provide citizens with safe and convenient places to shoot, the Department offers more than 70 unstaffed shooting ranges throughout the state. For safety reasons, these designated ranges are the only places on conservation areas where target shooting is allowed. The Conservation Department also manages five staffed shooting ranges. Some are accessible to shooters with mobility impairments.

Many have multiple shooting stations with covered shooting benches, target holders, and other amenities. To find one near you, visit

Table Rock Makes National Top 10 List

If you think Table Rock Lake is one of the best places in the world to camp and fish, you aren’t alone. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently rated Table Rock State Park No. 9 on its list of the top 100 fishing and boating spots in the United States.

Frank Peterson, president of the Virginia-based RBFF, says criteria for selecting Table Rock included being within an hour’s drive of an urban area, having marinas, boat ramps, restrooms and other facilities, and “stellar fishing opportunities.”

The combination of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ top-notch park, proximity to Springfield, and thriving bass, crappie, and bluegill populations managed by the Conservation Department put Table Rock in the top 10. If you haven’t been fishing, camping, or boating at Table Rock, you are missing a national treasure.

Table Rock wasn’t the only destination included in RBFF’s America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots. August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County was No. 36 on the list. For more information, visit

Field to Freezer Venison Workshops

Novice hunters can learn how to turn harvested game into neat packages of lean, healthful meat at Discover Nature — Field to Freezer workshops sponsored by the Conservation Department.

These events cover regulations, field dressing, supplies, transporting, and techniques for processing deer and other game. Events are scheduled for:

  • White-Tailed Deer Processing, 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 4 at the August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center, St. Charles. Call 636-441-4554 for information and reservations.
  • General Wild Game Processing, 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center. Call 573-290-5218 for reservations.
  • Discover Nature — Families Field to Freezer White-Tailed Deer Processing, 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 at Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in St. Louis County. Call 636-938-9548 for information and reservations.
  • White-Tailed Deer Processing, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at Lake City Shooting Range and Center, Buckner. Call 816-249-3194 for information and reservations.
  • Discover Nature — Families Venison Sausage Making, 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 16 at Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in St. Louis County. Call 636-938-9548 for information and reservations.
  • Deer Field Dressing, Packaging, and Cooking, 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 16 at August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center, St. Charles. Call 636-441-4554 for reservations.
  • White-Tailed Deer Processing, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City. Call 573-751-4115 for reservations.
  • White-Tailed Deer Processing, 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 25 at Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center on Bois D’ Arc Conservation Area in Greene County. Call 417-742-4361 for reservations.
  • White-Tailed Deer Processing, 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Conservation Department’s Northeast Regional office in Kirksville. Call 660-785-2420 or email for information and reservations.

After the excitement of hunting your quarry, make the most of cooking and eating it. Start with this classic recipe, or discover other tantalizing options for Missouri’s wild game and edibles on our Cooking page at

Venison Pot Roast With Vegetables


  • 2-3 pound boneless venison roast
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove sliced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Peeled potatoes, carrots, and onions


Remove all fat from roast. In a 4- to 6-quart pot, brown meat in oil. Blot any remaining oil or fat. Add onion, garlic, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Pour in 1 to 2 cups water and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is tender. Add vegetables cut into chunks for quicker cooking. Make sure vegetables are covered with broth or add enough water to cover. Allow vegetables to simmer in broth for 30 minutes. This recipe can also be found online at

Did you know?

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

Federal Excise Taxes on Outdoor Equipment and Supplies Support Conservation

  • When you buy a gun, ammunition, archery equipment, or fishing tackle, you are investing in the conservation of Missouri’s fish and wildlife. Federal taxes paid on those purchases come back to Missouri to build boat ramps, maintain shooting ranges, provide hunter education, and to create public places to hunt and fish.
  • About $20 million dollars are received each year by the Missouri Department of Conservation from federal sources. The majority of this federal assistance comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via the Wildlife Restoration and the Sport Fish Restoration programs. This dedicated and permanent funding is divided among all state fish and wildlife agencies using a formula based on the size of the state and the number of paid hunter permits and angler licenses in each state. Each state must guarantee permit dollars will not be diverted for other purposes in order to receive funds. Congress also can’t redirect the funds from these two separate programs, which are derived from excise taxes collected from hunting or fishing equipment.
  • The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman–Robertson) Act was passed in 1937, with overwhelming support from hunters and the hunting and shooting sports industries. The funding comes from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to support scientific wildlife research, manage wildlife habitats, provide public access for hunting, and other conservation-related activities. Over the years, funding from the wildlife restoration program has helped bring back many wildlife species in Missouri, including ducks, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Funds also provide for hunter education programs and shooting range management.
  • Following the success of the wildlife program, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell–Johnson) Act was passed in 1950 to improve aquatic habitats and to restore sport fisheries. Funded by excise taxes on fishing equipment, trolling motors, motorboat and small engine fuel, and the import duties on tackle and pleasure boats, this program is used in Missouri to develop “close-to-home” fishing and boating opportunities, produce fish for angling enjoyment, and to teach people to fish and appreciate our aquatic resources.
  • These federal funds represent our past investments in land, lakes, boat ramps, and waterfowl areas. These funds also serve as a foundation for our current investments in Missouri’s fish and wildlife resources. Hunting and sport fishing are still favorite outdoor pastimes for many of us — let’s not forget how much they still contribute to conservation efforts here in Missouri!

Conservation Commission Actions

The August Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the 2014–2015 waterfowl season overview, hunter and angler recruitment and retention, and the wetland management plan. A summary of actions taken during the Aug. 21–22 meeting for the benefit and protection of forest, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:

  • Approved recommended 2014–2015 waterfowl hunting seasons and limits.
  • Approved the advertisement and sale of an estimated 1.04 million board feet of timber from 552 acres of Compartment 31 on Sunklands CA in Shannon County.
  • Approved entering into a contract with Demien Construction Company of Wentzville for construction of the Busch Memorial Conservation Area Shooting Range Demolition and Site Preparation Project located in St. Charles County.
  • The next Conservation Commission meeting is Oct. 16 and 17. For more information, visit or call your regional Conservation office.

What is it?

Woolly Bear Caterpillar | Pyrrharctia Isabella

Called “woolly bears” or “woolly worms,” these caterpillars are the larvae of Isabella tiger moths. They are usually black on the ends of the body and rusty red or brownish in the middle. Woolly bears graze on a wide variety of vegetation, including maple and elm trees, grasses, sunflowers, clovers, and more. In autumn, they are commonly seen crossing roads as they search for sheltered places to overwinter. Isabella tiger moth caterpillars have a remarkable capability to withstand freezing temperatures. They pupate within cocoons made from their hairs and emerge as adults in the spring. Folklore has long maintained that the varying widths of the caterpillar’s bands are useful for predicting the harshness of the next winter, adding to this animal’s mystique. —photograph by Noppadol Paothong

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Managing Editor - vacant
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Brett Dufur
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler