You Discover

By Matt Seek | October 1, 2014
From Xplor: October/November 2014

With birds flying south, leaves changing color, and hunting seasons gearing up, there’s plenty to discover in October and November. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Float the Big Muddy

Fall is a great time to float the Missouri River to enjoy soaring eagles and great fall colors. The Big Muddy may be closer than you think — it flows for more than 550 miles along and through our state! Fall river levels are generally low, which means plenty of sandbars for camping. Numerous Conservation Department boat ramps make it easy to plan an afternoon or overnight float. Visit to plan your trip. Remember — safety first. Always wear your life jacket!

Create a Tree-Mendous Movie

This fall, make a stopmotion movie of your favorite tree as it turns to eye-popping crimson reds and oranges. First, take a series of photos every few days for four to six weeks. Then turn those images into a stop-motion movie using free software available online (ask an adult for help). Try to shoot similar lighting each day, or take a few around dawn or dusk to make the movie more dramatic. Make your movie more gripping by adding tree tidbits from node/4564.


Wondering what to do with those pumpkins after Halloween? Put your carved pumpkin on a stump outside your favorite window and put a few inches of birdseed inside it. Enlarge the openings to make it easier for the birds to eat. Then enjoy the antics of the many different birds (and probably a few squirrels) that will delight in your easy-to-make snacko’- lantern!

W-elk-ome home the ELK

See some of Missouri’s first free-ranging elk in nearly 150 years at Peck Ranch Conservation Area. Take the area’s elk driving tour through remote and rugged Ozark country. Increase your chances of elk-spotting success by driving through right after sunrise or before sunset. Watch a video, check for tour closures, and print out a map at


See a total lunar eclipse October 8 between 4 and 7 a.m. The moon, while fully in Earth’s shadow, takes on a reddish hue due to the light filtering through the atmosphere. This is the second in a series of four total lunar eclipses, an event called a tetrad. The next blood moons are in April and September of 2015.

Hunt with the Wolves

Well, OK… wolf spiders. After dark, put on a headlight and scout out your backyard — you might find the sparkling eyes of thousands of hunting wolf spiders peering back at you — and that’s just from the spiders facing you! Or, aim your flashlight at the ground or toward low vegetation about 15 feet in front of you. Move the beam very slowly until you see a small shining spot resembling a tiny star — a spider’s eyes.

Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.

  • Hunt quail during youth only quail season. October 25 and 26. Find conservation areas managed for quail near you at Ages 6–15.
  • Improve your shotgun skills at the Family Trap Shooting Workshop. Lake City Range, Buckner; October 18, 9–11:30 a.m. Register at 816-249-3194. Ages 12 and older.
  • Learn Duck Decoy Carving. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center; November 7–8. For information, call 573-290-5218.
  • Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at
  • Go rabbit hunting. Statewide, October 1 through February 15. Look for good prospects in your area at node/28837.
  • Practice Survival Tactics for the Outdoorsman. August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center; October 22 and 23, 6–9 p.m. Register at 636-441-4554. Ages 11 and older.

What is it?

  1. For me, life is mostly black and white.
  2. The stripes on my back prevent most attacks.
  3. Animals bail when I raise my tail.
  4. I’ll make you pay if you don’t go away.

A striped skunk’s bold white stripes tell other animals, “Stay away!” When critters miss the hint, a skunk may growl, stamp its feet, puff out its tail like a scared cat, or do a handstand and walk on its front legs. If these warnings don’t work, the skunk points its backside at the offending creature and releases a horrible-smelling spray. The spray can squirt 20 feet, and the stink may drift more than a mile.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White