In Brief

By MDC | February 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: February 2021

Missouri's Inaugeral Elk Season comes to a Close

MDC reports successful season with five elk harvested.

Missouri’s first elk-hunting season ended Dec. 20, 2020, with all five of the hunters selected for permits harvesting bull elk during the firearms portion, which began Dec. 12. An archery portion ran Oct. 17–25 with no harvests. The five Missouri hunters were selected for elk-hunting permits through a random drawing of more than 19,215 permit applications, including 33 for one resident-landowner antlered-elk permit and 19,182 for four general permits.

MDC congratulates the five Missouri hunters on their success!

“What an exciting gift right before the holidays to see all five hunters harvest elk in this first inaugural elk season in Missouri,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “This success also showcases the hard work and collaboration of our commission, staff, partners, landowners, and citizens. One of the hunters called me personally just a few minutes after he harvested an elk full of excitement and thanks, but the real thanks goes to the bigger team for making this happen.”

“The rewards of the (elk restoration) efforts made over the past 10 years have made many avid hunters very happy and it is my hope, pleased,” said former Conservation Commissioner Becky Plattner, who was on the commission during MDC’s elk restoration efforts. “To the lucky individuals that scored the hunt, I congratulate you … To my fellow commissioners, past and present, to all the staff involved, to the citizens who love the sport and the conservation of this beautiful state, congratulations!”

Joe Benthall, Mount Vernon, drawn for an antlered-elk general permit, harvested a 5×5 bull elk Dec. 12 on National Park Service property near Log Yard in Shannon County. He was the first of five Missouri hunters selected for elk permits to harvest an elk. Benthall has been deer hunting off and on for 25 years and had not hunted elk before. He says he applied for the Missouri opportunity because he has wanted to hunt elk, but has not had the time or money for a trip out west. He added that he only hunted during the firearms portion.

Michael Buschjost, St. Thomas, drawn for an antlered-elk general permit, took a 6×6 bull elk Dec. 15 outside of the refuge portion of the MDC Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA). He has hunted elk in Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, with two bulls and a cow elk harvested from those efforts. He said he was excited to hunt elk in Missouri and to take his three kids with him to scout the area before the season opened.

Sam Schultz, Winfield, drawn for an antlered-elk general permit, harvested a 5×6 bull elk Dec. 15 on private property in Shannon County. Schultz has been hunting for 30 years and he mostly hunts deer and turkey. He successfully hunted elk in Colorado in the early 2000s.

“My elk was originally a 6×7 bull, but he had two broken antler tines, which left him to be a 5×6,” said Schultz. “It was a tough hunt, but I had a blast doing it. Best of all was one of my boys was with me when I harvested this awesome animal. Thank you, MDC, for bringing them back to Missouri.”

Gene Guilkey, Liberty, drawn for an antlered-elk general permit, harvested a 6×7 bull elk on public land in Shannon County Dec. 16.

“I have never hunted elk before and this hunt was the dream trip of a lifetime,” Guilkey said. “I literally dreamed of taking a 6×6 bull, but didn’t think it was possible nor would I be up to it, but the good Lord above had better plans than I did!”

He added, “When I harvested this bull, I was stressed, relieved, and overjoyed all at the same time. I screamed loud enough that quite possibly all three counties involved could hear me! What a thrill! Taking this trophy was the hardest hunt I have encountered. It took a lot of scouting before and during the archery season to get the terrain laid out. During the hunt, we were delighted to find this bull on day three and focused on the area he was spotted in. He was actually bugling, which was an experience we did not expect so late after the rut. These are amazing animals!”

Bill Clark, Van Buren, drawn for the resident-landowner antlered-elk permit, harvested a bull elk on his property Dec. 19. Clark is a life-long hunter of deer, turkey, and small game. He has also pursued elk in Colorado and Wyoming in the 1990s. He and his family own 80 acres east of Peck Ranch CA where they conduct timber-stand improvements on the heavily forested property and plant clover and native grasses for elk and other wildlife. Clark says he applied for the elk hunt because he supports MDC’s elk restoration and management efforts, wildlife management in general, and wanted to help the herd by thinning a bull.

“I see elk on our land all the time,” Clark said. “I’m nearly 80 and use a cane and a crutch so I’m limited in my mobility. I was standing on my back deck and saw a group of cow elk about 100 yards through the trees in the yard with a spike bull with them. He stopped, and that was the shot I had and the shot I took. We then broke down the carcass and are processing it ourselves.”

Clark added, “I’m really happy to represent what I believe to be one of the most important hunts of my life. This program is an example of one of the best things to happen for the people of Missouri in years, and I’m nearly 80 years old.”

Elk are a native species in Missouri, but were hunted to extinction in the state through unregulated hunting during the late 1800s. Missouri’s first elk hunt this fall came after years of restoration efforts of the native species by MDC, numerous partners including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and many supporters including local communities and area landowners. Learn more about elk restoration in Missouri at

Learn more about elk hunting in Missouri online at

Conservation Commission Approves MDC Bear-Hunting Framework

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval in December to MDC for the state’s first black bear hunting season framework. The approved framework limits any future bear hunting to areas of southern Missouri and restricts bear hunting to Missouri residents only.

MDC will present recommendations to the Commission this spring for a potential initial permit quota and harvest quota. If quotas are set, Missouri residents will be able to apply during May for an October fall hunt.

MDC proposed a limited and highly restrictive black-bear hunting season following several years of public comment, including informational open houses in 2019 and a public input process this past spring and fall.

According to MDC, over the last 50 years bear numbers in Missouri have increased significantly and today the state is home to between 540–840 black bears with bear range in the state expanding. MDC research shows that Missouri bear numbers are currently increasing each year by approximately 9 percent and at this rate Missouri’s bear population is expected to double in less than 10 years. Additionally, Missouri’s bear population is connected to a larger bear population in the surrounding states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, both of which have established bear-hunting seasons.

“A bear-hunting season in our state will provide opportunities for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of this valuable wildlife species,” said MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee. “As our black bear population continues to grow, a highly regulated hunting season will be an essential part of population management in the future. The timing and length of the season, allowed hunting methods, and a limited permit allocation coupled with a limited harvest quota will ensure a sustainable harvest of our growing bear population.”

Learn more about the bear hunting framework and permit process at


Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q. My community is planning to install a purple martin house near a large pond. Several flower gardens for butterflies and bees are nearby. With nesting martins overhead, won’t this be the end of insects seeking nectar, shelter, and food? It seems incompatible.

A. A purple martin house may have some effect on the pollinators gathering at these gardens. A colony of martins may catch and eat several hundred beetles, horseflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and wasps daily. These acrobatic swallows hunt winged insects, helping to check the population of less-than-desirable insects.

Conservationists, however, hope to achieve several goals through the planting of pollinator-friendly gardens. For instance, more than 150 crops in the United States depend on pollinators, and foods such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and almonds wouldn’t exist without them. Also, a plentiful supply of pollinator insects not only helps plants and trees maintain their genetic diversity, but it also helps them reproduce an adequate amount of seeds for dispersal and propagation.

We need plants to be pollinated. But we also seek to provide food for many types of wildlife — including birds. Pollination is just one service bees and butterflies provide. Another niche they fill is serving as nourishing food for adult birds and their young.

Also, purple martins don’t eat all pollinators. Monarch butterflies, for example, are toxic and birds leave them alone.

Q. There were four foxes in a friend’s backyard last winter, but they disappeared at the first snowfall. What happened to them?

A. The foxes may have retreated to their den to escape inclement weather. But winter is also the time of year when mating and breeding occurs, which might also cause this change. Breeding typically peaks in January through March, with kits being born March to mid-May.

Throughout most of the year, foxes have no special home but sleep on the ground. However, during breeding season, dens are used for young. This is often a modified groundhog or former fox den, but it can be a den dug by the female fox.

Gray foxes — essentially an animal of warmer climates — uses dens more than red foxes.

For more information on Missouri’s foxes, visit short.mdc.

Agent Advice

Perry County Conservation Agent Chris Doran Feb. 7 marks the beginning of the Light Goose Conservation Order in Missouri. This order, which runs through April 30, is designed so hunters can reduce snow, blue, and Ross’s goose numbers. Hunters must possess a Conservation Order Permit to participate. This permit is required for all hunters over age 15, including landowners, unless they have a Resident Lifetime Small Game Hunting Permit or a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit. Methods for harvesting light geese include shotguns capable of holding more than three shells and electronic calls or electronically activated calls. A daily bag or possession limit for light geese will not be in effect during the Conservation Order.

Smoked Trout Chowder

The star of this chowder — Missouri’s trout — will take you from the coldest of winter days to the warmth of spring. That’s because Missouri is a great place to fish, and MDC provides anglers with ample opportunities year around. If you took advantage of the winter trout season and visited a stocked urban lake where you could keep your bounty, you are ready to try this hot, hearty meal right now. If not, trout season opens March 1 and this recipe will be just as tasty in the spring.

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • ¼ cup cream or milk
  • ¼ pound smoked trout, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • Handful of fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • A few fresh dill sprigs, finely chopped (can be replaced with a pinch of dried) Smoked Spanish paprika, a few pinches or to taste Salt and freshly ground pepper

Saute vegetables except spinach in oil about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add chicken broth and simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Mash vegetables, with a manual potato masher, in pot until chowder thickens to your satisfaction (Alternatively, pour half of soup into a blender and process on low speed, taking care to press firmly on the lid with your hand during processing to prevent hot liquid from flying out of the top. Blend until thickened, then return contents to the pot and stir until well combined.)

Add cream, trout, and spinach. Cook briefly until fish is heated through, but spinach still bright green. SEASON with dill, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. SERVE immediately with good bread.

This recipe is from Cooking Wild in Missouri by Bernadette Dryden, available for $16 at

Conservation Commission Sets Deer, Turkey Hunting Dates

2021 Spring and Fall Turkey Hunting Dates

  • Spring Youth Portion: April 10 and 11
  • Regular Spring Turkey Season: April 19–May 9
  • Fall Firearms Turkey Season: Oct. 1–31

2021–2022 Archery Deer and Turkey Hunting Dates

  • Sept. 15–Nov. 12
  • Nov. 24–Jan. 15, 2022 2021–2022

Firearms Deer Hunting Dates

  • Firearms Deer Early Youth Portion: Oct. 30–31
  • Firearms Deer November Portion: Nov. 13–23
  • Firearms Deer Late Youth Portion: Nov. 26–28
  • Firearms Deer Antlerless Portion: Dec. 4–12
  • Firearms Deer Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 25–Jan. 4, 2022

MDC recommended increasing the length of the antlerless portion from three days to nine days based on Missouri deer numbers, as well as stable or increasing numbers in most counties that allow two firearms antlerless permits and two landowner firearms antlerless permits. MDC harvest data shows that increasing the firearms antlerless harvest limit past two does not result in a significant increase in harvest.

Details on hunting regulations, harvest limits, allowed methods, required permits, and other related information will be available in MDC’s 2021 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information and MDC’s 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklets. Both will be available where permits are sold prior to the related seasons.

  • Learn more about turkey hunting in Missouri at
  • Learn more about deer hunting in Missouri at

Buy Missouri hunting permits from vendors around the state, online at, or through MDC’s free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.

What Is it?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

Spicebush Swallowtail Chrysalis

A spicebush swallowtail chrysalis can take many forms, shapes, and colors. The color, either green or brown, is directly related to the length of sunlight and serves as camouflage from predators. In the winter when days are shorter, the chrysalis is brown and the caterpillar overwinters as a pupa. The caterpillar is transforming inside. When the chrysalis is ready to hatch, it will become transparent, revealing the yellow and black spots of the butterfly’s wings.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

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

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler