Get Outside in December

By MDC | December 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2023

Time to Fish

MDC stocks rainbow trout in certain lakes and streams in winter, beginning in November. Dust off those fishing poles and head to your nearest lake. For winter trout locations near you, visit

A Butterfly in Winter?

Your eyes are not playing tricks on you — you just may be seeing a butterfly in the dead of winter. Mourning cloak butterflies overwinter as adults and may be seen flying on warm winter days. They need a body temperature of about 65 degrees to fly. Most butterflies bask in sunlight to raise their body temperature, but mourning cloaks can truly shiver, rapidly contracting muscles with only minimal wing movement. This can raise their temperature 15–20 degrees in just a few minutes.

Holiday Decorating

Add some Missouri nature to your holiday decorating this year! Eastern red cedar is a great choice as greenery for outdoor holiday decorating. It is abundant, it has a beautiful natural juniper scent, and boughs of female trees are decorated with blue, berrylike fruits.

Head to the Water

If you like to birdwatch, winter is truly your season, and the waterfront is the place to be. Missouri is blessed with many wetlands, lakes, ponds, and rivers where you can go with your binoculars and a field guide and watch a variety of winged animals.

Considered critically imperiled in Missouri, trumpeter swans are a rare winter resident at marshes, lakes, and rivers. They are a breathtaking sight to see.

Look for seagulls along the Mississippi and other large rivers and lakes from December through February.

Winter is a good time to look for bald eagles. The majestic bald eagle forages for fish and carrion near lakes, rivers, and marshes during the winter. Their return to the Lower 48 is a conservation success story.

Virtual Hike: The Sights & Sounds of Powder Valley

Tuesday, Dec. 12 • 5–5:30 p.m.

Online only

Registration required by Dec. 12. Call 888-283-0364 or visit 

All ages

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center (CNC) is a natural oasis nestled within 112 acres of oak hickory forest near urban St. Louis. Join MDC Naturalist Andy Klingensmith for a virtual hike as we explore and discover the natural wonders found throughout this unique conservation area. This program will touch on a range of ecology topics to deepen our appreciation of Missouri’s natural resources. Topics include plant and animal ID, natural history, ecological management, and conservation philosophy. Whether you’re a regular to Powder Valley or someone looking for new hiking trails, join us as we discover the sights and sounds of Powder Valley CNC.

Wild Game Prep

Saturday, Dec. 9 • 8:30–10:30 a.m.

Online only

Registration required by Dec. 8. Call 888-283-0364 or visit

All ages

Join us to learn about cooking all sorts of wild game, including rabbit, squirrel, deer, and turkey. We will be looking at how to prepare good meals from different game animals. We will also share some recipes that will make your mouth water. Feel free to have your favorite wild game recipe to share.

Find more events in your area at

Enjoy More Time Hunting

Go mobile with the MO Hunting app. Purchase, view, and store permits. Notch your permit and telecheck your deer and turkey harvest. Access basic statewide regulations, season information, and more.

Download the free app today at

Natural Events to See This Month

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

  • Beavers swim under the ice.
  • Pickerel frogs overwinter in caves.
  • Gray squirrels mate.

Also In This Issue

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 – Marcia Hale