In Brief

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

MDC Offers Spectacular Eagle Watching

Discover nature through MDC’s Eagle Days events and opportunities around the state

From December through February, Missouri’s winter eagle watching is spectacular. Because of Missouri’s big rivers, many lakes, and abundant wetlands, the Show-Me state is one of the leading lower 48 states for bald eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in Missouri. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food. More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during winter.

Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. Early in the morning you can see them flying and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.

Eagle Days Events

MDC is again offering Eagle Days events around the state. Some events will include live eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. Some events require registration. Locations include:

  • Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, near Mound City, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., and Dec. 5, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Smithville Lake at Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse in Smithville, Jan. 8, 2022, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., and Jan. 9, 2022, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, south of I-270 off Riverview Drive in St. Louis, Jan. 15, 2022, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Preregistration is required for each of the live eagle program time slots at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.
  • Springfield Conservation Nature Center in Springfield, Jan. 15, 2022, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., and Jan. 16, 2022, 12:30–4:30 p.m. Preregistration is required.
  • Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville, Jan. 29, 2022, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., and Jan. 30, 2022, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
  • Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City, Jan. 22, 2022, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Preregistration is required.

For more info on Eagle Days events, visit and search Eagle Days.

Eagle Watching on Your Own

Can’t make an MDC Eagle Days event? Other local events and hot spots for winter eagle viewing include:

  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K, southwest of Columbia
  • Lake of the Ozarks at Bagnell Dam Access, east of Bagnell
  • Lock & Dam 20 in Canton
  • Lock & Dam 24 at Clarksville
  • Lock & Dam 25, east of Winfield
  • Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, south of Mound City
  • Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Puxico
  • Moses Eagle Park in Stella
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, south of I-270 off Riverview Drive in St. Louis
  • Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area, east of West Alton
  • Schell-Osage Conservation Area, north of
  • El Dorado Springs
  • Smithville Lake, north of Kansas City
  • Stockton Lake, near Stockton
  • Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sumner
  • Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, southwest of Branson
  • Truman Reservoir, west of Warsaw.

Give Nature-Themed Gifts this Holiday Season

Have nature lovers on your holiday gift list? MDC’s online Nature Shop makes holiday shopping a breeze for anyone interested in nature-themed gifts. Offerings include the ever-popular Natural Events Calendar, a variety of books, and more for all ages.

Purchase items through the MDC online Nature Shop at, by calling 877-521-8632, or at one of MDC’s nature centers located across the state. Nature centers are located in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City.

Order early in anticipation of slower shipping deliveries. Applicable tax, shipping, and handling costs will apply.

Also, remember hunters and anglers on your list. Hunting and fishing permits make great gifts. Buy permits from vendors around the state, online at, or through the MDC free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.

Enjoy Winter Trout Fishing

MDC staff have stocked about 80,000 rainbow trout in more than 35 urban-area lakes around the state for winter trout fishing. Many of these areas allow anglers to harvest trout as soon as they are stocked, while others are catch-and-release until Feb. 1. Find locations at

The daily limit for catch-and-keep at these locations is four trout with no length limit. All Missouri residents over age 15 and under age 65 must have a fishing permit. All nonresidents over age 15 must have a fishing permit. To keep trout, all anglers of all ages must have a Missouri trout permit.

Buy permits from vendors around the state, online at, or through our free mobile app — MO Fishing — available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.

Mike Szydlowski Receives Master Conservationist Award

The Missouri Conservation Commission and MDC congratulate Mike Szydlowski of Columbia on being the latest recipient of the Master Conservationist Award. Szydlowski is a resource professional and the K-12 science coordinator for the Columbia Public Schools District.

The commission presented the award to Szydlowski on Oct. 21 in conjunction with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the construction site of the Boone County Nature School.

Szydlowski continues to be instrumental in the development of the school in partnership with MDC. This groundbreaking conservation effort is a future magnet school for fifth graders throughout Boone County. It will feature indoor and outdoor classroom space and laboratory space designed to connect students with nature through hands-on learning. An opening date is still being determined.

When completed, the 111-acre campus located on the Waters-Russell Unit of Three Creeks Conservation Area (CA) will feature a sustainably designed nature school building, an outdoor pavilion, a unique council house structure, restored native habitats and native crops, a fishing pond, and access to trails that lead to a landscape of streams, caves, and sinkholes on Three Creeks CA. Each year, nearly 11,000 students will attend the school for five 10-day periods for specialized conservation-related learning. Learn more at

“Mike embodies and lives the conservation mission in everything he does, especially lighting that spark in kids to learn about and be active in conservation,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “He’s also been pivotal, along with Columbia Public Schools, in our collaboration on the new Boone County Nature School where fifth graders in Boone County will get to be out in nature and learn about our natural resources through the lens of the environment, culture, and economics. We are incredibly thankful for Mike’s passion and proactive approach to connecting the next generation of conservationists to nature and getting them excited about science.”

Szydlowski was nominated for the Master Conservationist Award by Missouri River Relief for his extensive and ongoing commitment to conservation. Missouri River Relief is a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people to the Missouri River.

Szydlowski is the 65th recipient of the Master Conservationist Award, which was first presented in 1942. The award honors living or deceased citizen conservationists, former MDC commissioners, and employees of conservation-related agencies, universities, or organizations who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the state’s fisheries, forestry, or wildlife resources, including conservation law enforcement and conservation education-related activities. Learn more at

Agent Advice
Statistics Elements

Matt Wheaton
Morgan County
Conservation Agent


Quail season opened Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15. This small-game hunting season is a perfect time to get out and enjoy nature with family and friends. Unlike deer and turkey hunting, which requires long stints of sitting quietly in the cold, quail hunting is an active sport. Finding birds requires long walks in appropriate habitat — brushy timber draws, along fence rows, and fields of native grasses. Take the family and make memories along the way. Many people use dogs on quail hunts, and it’s a joy just to watch the dogs run. Remember, since you’re on the move and in groups, hunter orange is highly recommended. As we’ve moved toward the bragging rights associated with big-game hunting, we’ve lost the simple pleasures of small-game hunting. Get out there and recapture it this winter!


Venison in a Pumpkin

This recipe is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach! This hearty stew will not only fill you up, but it will also warm you up on those cold winter days. But not to be outdone is the presentation. The pumpkin-turned-soup tureen is sure to delight your friends and family and be quite a conversation piece.

Serves 8.


  • 1 10- to 12-pound pumpkin with stem
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds venison stew meat, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups organic, low-sodium beef broth
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 4 carrots, cubed
  • 1 large fresh sweet pepper (or combination of sweet and hot peppers), chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon hot-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

Wash pumpkin, cut off top, leaving a hole large enough from which to ladle stew after it has baked. Set pumpkin top aside. Remove seeds and pulp. Place pumpkin in a large baking pan and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Place venison in the pan and cook until browned. Mix in the water, 1 cup of broth, and remaining ingredients (except tomatoes). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Stir tomatoes and remaining cup of broth into the stew mixture. Wet pumpkin stem and wrap it with aluminum foil. Fill pumpkin with stew and fit the top back onto the pumpkin. Brush outside of the pumpkin with remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake 2 hours or until tender.

Serve the stew from the pumpkin, scraping out some of the pumpkin meat with each serving. Accompany with dense, crusty French bread.

This recipe is from Cooking Wild in Missouri by Bernadette Dryden, available for $16 at Order early in anticipation of slower shipping deliveries. Applicable tax, shipping, and handling costs will apply.

What Is It?


The redhead has a distinct chestnut-red head and a blue bill with a black tip. A member of a group of ducks called pochards, or diving ducks, redheads dive completely underwater to forage. They have smaller wings relative to their body weight, so they work harder to take flight from the water’s surface. They run along the surface of the water to gain speed and lift until they are airborne.


This Issue's Staff

Stephanie Thurber

Angie Daly Morfeld

Larry Archer

Cliff White

Dianne Van Dien
Kristie Hilgedick
Joe Jerek

Shawn Carey
Marci Porter

Noppadol Paothong
David Stonner

Laura Scheuler