Get Outside

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From Missouri Conservationist: December 2019

A Goose of a Different Color

Snow goose populations peak at wetlands this month. Snow geese have two color morphs, white and blue. The white morph is almost totally white with black wingtips. The blue morph is actually more gray, with a white head and neck.

Is That a Mushroom?

Yes! Oyster mushrooms are still popping out during damp weather, so get out and find them. These choice edible mushrooms can be found on stumps, logs, and trunks of deciduous trees. For more information about Missouri mushrooms, visit

Ozark Region: Gist Ranch Day Hike and Backpacking Basics

Saturday, Dec. 14 • 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Gist Ranch Conservation Area 5011 Wallen Rd., Eunice, MO 65468 Registration required. Call 888-283-0364 or register online at by Dec. 13. Ages 12 and older. Under 16, must be accompanied by an adult.

Join us for a day of hiking through the beautiful Gist Ranch Conservation Area. Participants will wind through the Ozark forests, glades, and across a creek along a roughly 4-mile trail rated as moderate. The trail is mostly flat, with several steeper inclines. Along the trail, MDC staff will introduce the basics of backpacking, including water filtration and backpack stove options and procedures and wildlife awareness. Bring a day pack with a sack lunch, snacks, and a large water bottle. Wear sturdy hiking shoes. Meet MDC staff at the Gist Ranch Shooting Range where we will carpool to our starting point.

The Early Bird

You are sure to see winter-resident birds — cardinals, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and more — at your bird feeder. But what about woodpeckers? Attract downy, hairy, pileated, and red-bellied woodpeckers to your yard by hanging a suet feeder.

Southeast Region: Winter Bass Skills

Friday, Dec. 20 • 6:30–8 p.m. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center 2289 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 Registration required. Call 888-283-0364 or register online at by Dec. 19. Ages 12 and older.

Winter bass fishing can be a great time to catch monster bass if you have the skills and tackle, which encourage sluggish fish to bite. This program is geared to new anglers or those who wish to learn finesse fishing skills, such as drop shot, Ned rig, neko rig, shaky head, and other techniques. While we will not be fishing, participants will be hands-on with tackle and learn when each style of rigging is most effective on different parts of the lake. Participants will go home with several lures to test on their favorite winter water.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside… So Get Out There!

Winter may be upon us, but don’t stow away your tents and canoes, kayaks, or other water vessels. With some planning and the right gear, winter camping and floating can be amazing. Dress in layers, wear warm, waterproof boots, and pack plenty of snacks. If there’s snow on the ground, use a sled to haul your gear. No need to stay inside when the temperature drops and the snow gets to blowing.

Natural Events to See This Month

Here’s what’s going on in the natural world.

  1. Red foxes begin mating
  2. Beavers feed on sapling reserves
  3. Ice sculptures form in streams due to freezing and thawing
  4. Skunks sleep when temperatures reach 15 degrees or below
  5. Raccoons den up during snow and ice storms

Also In This Issue

Ben Yeargan's Drake
Collectors find joy in unraveling the mysteries of Missouri’s duck decoys.
Brad Jacob
"The truth is that everyone has obsessions. Most people manage them. Birders, however, indulge them.” —Mark Obmascik in The Big Year

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler