By MDC | February 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: February 2022

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Q: How were these Ice formations created along Pomme de Terre Lake?

Pomme de Terre Lake is known for fluctuations above and below the dam. As water in the vicinity receded, the thinner ice between the trees likely dropped to the ground. The thicker ice around the trees’ trunks remained behind. Although the remaining ice was thin, it was attached to the tree bark and strong enough to support a layer of snow.

Water in lakes freezes from the top down as the cold air temperature slows down the water molecules and forms a thin layer of ice. The hexagonal crystalline structure of ice increases the volume by approximately 9 percent compared to water, which causes ice to float. As the water below the top layer of ice gets colder and begins expanding, the water molecules bond to the crystalline ice structure resulting in the ice layer growing downward.

Q: Say a hunter harvested the allowed limit of two antlered deer during the archery and firearms seasons combined. Later in archery season, the same hunter harvests a third deer — a male — thus potentially exceeding the harvest limits. Alas, the hunter didn’t know it was a buck because the animal already had shed its antlers! How should the Telecheck procedure be handled?

In this situation, the third deer would be considered an antlerless deer, and an Archer’s Hunting Permit could be legally used to record the harvest. However, the only options in the Telecheck system are “doe,” “button buck,” and “antlered buck” — none of which accurately describe the third harvested animal. In this case, the best thing to do would be to report the deer as an “antlered buck with 0 points.”

The situation is feasible because the timing of antler drop varies from animal to animal. In an average season, some males will shed their antlers in late December, with most shedding them by early March. So, it is conceivable that a buck is missing his antlers prior to Jan. 15 — the typical end-date of Missouri’s archery deer season in recent years.

Q: We saw these tracks at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area during a big freeze in February. Are they from otters?

Yes, these are otter tracks. Telltale signs are the smooth sections where the animal slid across the snow, making a wide mark, and the fact that the tracks appear to be about 6 inches apart, which is typical for this mammal.

In water, otters are graceful and powerful swimmers. With their streamlined bodies, webbed feet, and long, tapered tails, they are extremely well-suited for an aquatic existence. On land, they commonly travel with a loping gait, but on snow and ice they alternate this with a series of slides. After a few steps forward, they slide on their bellies for 10 to 20 feet while holding all their feet backward. By running and sliding, they can cover about 16.5 miles in an hour. And they love to slide! It is probably indulged in as a social sport. Otters seem to enjoy one another’s company in this pastime.

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This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler