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2009

Nursery Orders for Wildlife

If you’re like me and have ordered plants or seeds from mail-order nurseries in the past, you’ve probably received several plant catalogs in the mail recently.

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Looking Ahead

Several Missouri hunters have contacted me recently because they are wishing to plan their vacation time for 2010 around turkey and deer seasons.

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A Bird of a Different Color

In my position as ombudsman, I receive a number of photos from the public of unusual birds.

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Fragile Frost Flowers

If you’ve been out exploring the countryside on a cold morning recently, you may have encountered the short-lived frost flower.

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The Cycle of Life

Nature is red in tooth and claw. That paraphrase of the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson came to mind when I saw the sharp-shinned hawk make a pass at the birds around my feeders. The hawk’s presence can usually be assumed when the smaller birds scatter wildly, some of them taking refuge in the dense, multi-stemmed deutzia shrub near the feeders.

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A Place in the Pageant

Waterfowl hunters are the original cockeyed optimists.

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Did I See a Bald Eagle?

As the winter season approaches, bald eagles are moving into Missouri from breeding areas to our north.

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Shoot a Deer This Weekend!

I just checked the tally for the ongoing Antlerless Portion of Firearms Deer Season and found that hunters have checked a little more than 13,600 deer since Nov. 25.

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Tree-stand Safety Odyssey

When I took up deer hunting seriously about 20 years ago, I also took a serious interest in safety.

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Thanksgiving

It’s easy to focus too much on negative changes to our natural world, be it increasing urban sprawl, threats from invasive exotic species or natural disasters like flooding and ice storms.

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When Green Is No Good

It was one of the warm, sunny weekends in November, and I was happily going from new bluebird box to bluebird box, brushing a coat of water sealant on the wooden top of each.

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What Kind of Deer Hunter Are You?

I never thought I cared about antlers until I shot this 10-pointer.

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Whose Deer are They Anyway?

A recent e-mailer wanted to know why this department doesn’t pay for deer damage to vehicles but will collect fines for the wildlife code violations pertaining to deer.

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Deer Hunters Beware!

Firewood looks harmless, but it can harbor the emerald ash borer, a devastating forest pest. Hunters are urged not to move firewood to and from their camps. Instead, buy firewood locally and burn it all before returning home.

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Ladybugged

For a few weeks now, I’ve been receiving questions on the subject of ladybugs, also known as lady beetles.

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New Leadership for Missouri Conservation

The Missouri Conservation Commission named Bob Ziehmer as the new director who will replace John Hoskins when John retires Jan. 15, 2010. Bob is currently one of our assistant directors.

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Firewood Cutting as Eco-activism?

Now that the air has a crisp autumn tang, I will be spending some time with a chainsaw in the woods around my house.

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Nature's Secrets Revealed

The literary naturalist Loren Eiseley described the way vegetation reveals its secrets in the fall and winter, when the lush growth of summer is reduced to the freeze-tolerant mechanical parts of stems, bark, wood, leaves, fruits and seeds.

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Bird Dog Season Opening

There’s the old expression, “That dog won’t hunt,” meaning that someone’s assertion lacks credibility.

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Invasion of the Squirrel Neuterers

A horror story was the last thing I expected when I recently picked up "By a Thousand Fires," an antique book about Ernest Thompson Seaton. But there it was, creepy and gross enough for a Hollywood thriller.

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For a Good Time in the Woods, Join Moms

A few weeks ago, Bernadette Dryden, our publications supervisor, asked me if I wanted to go to the Missouri Mycological Society’s (MOMS) annual foray at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. “Maxine says they’re good cooks and make brunch out of the edible mushrooms on Sunday.”

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The Things Hunters See

One of the things that people who have never hunted might not realize is the remarkable variety of things that hunters experience that are in no way hunting-related.

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Take a Youth Hunting

Late October brings the beginning of several special opportunities for experienced hunters to mentor the younger generation.

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A Hoot

I was sitting in my favorite tree stand Sunday afternoon when a barred owl hooted in a tree about 100 yards behind me.

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New Calendars Available

More than 20 years ago, I unwittingly started a family tradition of giving the Conservation Department’s Natural Events Calendar as a Christmas gift to several of my relatives and in-laws.

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A Bonnie Wee Visitor

As I walked from the break room back to my office one day last week, I noticed a fellow traveler in the otherwise-deserted hallway.

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Conservation Agents into the Field

One by one they came onto the stage to be recognized as the latest class of 19 newly trained conservation agents in the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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Fall Turkey Season: Good Times & Good Management

Rumors are cropping up--especially in southern Missouri--that the Conservation Department might cancel this year’s fall firearms turkey season.

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Good News About Turkeys

I would be exaggerating if I told you that Missouri wild turkeys produced a bumper crop of poults (young turkeys) this year.

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Birds Know It, Bees Know It

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009, at 4:19 p.m. Central Standard Time, the autumnal equinox will occur.

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If the Missouri River Could Talk...

… it would utter a thunderous “THANK YOU” to those who helped orchestrate dozens of river cleanup events in recent years.

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Nighthawks Are on the Move

One of the signs of autumn in Missouri is the southward migration of common nighthawks.

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The Law of Diminishing Run-ins

This is the time of year when the frequency of deer-vehicle accidents begins to creep up.

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Misperception

I’ve recently been hearing an advertisement on the radio that encourages landowners to enroll their acreage into a land trust.

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A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I hate to rush through life, but September always finds me anticipating autumn’s imminent arrival.

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Willa's First Hunt

I spent a magical morning with my golden retriever puppy on the opening day of dove season.

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Bass

Followers of this blog may recall that I recently lucked into an angler’s dream … 100 acres of water teeming with voracious largemouth bass.

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A Rising Tide

Last couple of weekends ago I had as much fun as a person can while fishing.

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Federal Agencies Looking for Mo. R. Comments

If you are among the growing number of Missourians who have discovered the majestic beauty and vast recreational opportunities of the Missouri River, you might want to attend one of two meetings the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are holding in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas early next month to discuss the river’s management.

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Enduring Red Cedar

Since buying our little house in the woods 13 years ago, I have cut down hundreds of cedar trees for various reasons.

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Dove Season Opener Next Week

The traditional start of the fall hunting seasons is just around the corner now as the Missouri dove season opens on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

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Master Naturalists Create Nature Adventure for Preschoolers

Forget fancy, expensive toys. There’s nothing like a few blocks of wood or a pile of sand to grab the attention of young children.

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Nature Unleashed: Discover Nature Schools

One image I hold from grade school was the magic of the milkweed plant.

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Where the Butterflies Are

In recent weeks I’ve had a couple of contacts from Missourians asking what has happened to all of the butterflies this year.

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Mr 340 Makes Vacation, Film Doc

I took the most unusual vacation of my life last week, piloting a safety boat during the Fourth Annual Missouri River 340.

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Consider the Goldfinch

When I looked at the Natural Events Calendar on my office wall today, the event for Aug. 7 was “Goldfinches begin nesting as thistles go to seed.”

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Government That Works: New Conservation Commissioner

Last week Governor Nixon appointed a new member, Don C. Bedell from Sikeston, to the Missouri Conservation Commission.

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The Gall of Those Little Wasps

Some of the more unusual natural objects in Missouri’s forests are the insect galls that are found on oak trees.

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To Kill a Tree

I receive occasional contacts from Missourians who are lamenting the harvest of trees or the use of herbicides on trees.

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Catfish Mania

I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning on the Missouri River with two Nebraska natives who came all that way to compete in the Waverly Cats tournament.

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Happy to See Black Rat Snakes

As I opened our garage door yesterday, a young black rat snake about 2 feet long was rudely awakened from where it lay stretched out along the floor.

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Where to Buy Charcoal Pans

If this is the first time you have seen one of my blog entries, HELLO! If you followed me from Conservation Conversations, THANK YOU, and welcome to Fresh Afield, my new blogging home.

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It's a Small World After All

If you doubt that the world is getting smaller and more interconnected all the time, consider the case of the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea).

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Recycling Box Turtle

In recent weeks, I’ve observed a few three-toed box turtles in my yard in Jefferson City. It’s normal to see several of them each summer, often when the mulberry fruits are on the ground.

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They Came from the Lake

Odd-looking gelatinous blobs are appearing in some Missouri lakes and ponds.

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Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People

A reporter recently told me that the word “landscaping” appeals more to people today than “gardening” because it sounds like less work. I doubt that was on author Dave Tylka’s mind when he wrote the book “Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People” in 2002.

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July 1 an Important Date for Fall Hunters

If you’re a fall hunter like I am and you purchased your Missouri small-game hunting permit in early March, you may want to make additional permit purchases soon.

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Women Discover Nature and Outdoor Fun

Whether they were excited to hit a bullseye in archery or clay targets using shotguns, savoring the latest Dutch-oven cooking, finding their way with a compass or just laughing at dinner, the 80 or so women at the latest Discover Nature—Women workshop put on by the Missouri Department of Conservation had great fun learning new skills.

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Remembering Father

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, I know that many people will be thinking of their fathers.

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New Field Guide to Missouri Shrubs

You’ll find lots of reasons to own the handy new "Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri Field Guide" published by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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What's Happening Out There?

If you haven’t been in the Missouri outdoors recently, I can tell you that natural events are happening at a frenzied pace.

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Fish for Free!

Here’s a trivia question. Name three ways a person can legally fish in Missouri without purchasing a fishing permit.

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What Is the Future of Missouri's Outdoors?

Missourians care about the outdoors, whether they focus on its water, nature, soil, wildlife, air, fish, forests, natural communities, outdoor recreation or some mix of these.

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What's This Thing in My Yard?

Every spring I get a few contacts about a strange object in someone’s yard. Sometimes a photo is sent and other times just a description.

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Nature's Clearcut

Trees across the Ozarks that stood tall weeks ago now lie scattered like so many matchsticks in the wake of straight-line winds and tornadoes.

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Hunting Spring Gobblers

At the age of 55, this is the first spring that I have hunted turkeys.

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A Punk Knot - Of Course!

One of the most interesting aspects of my job as Department ombudsman is that citizens will share with me unusual observations and objects from the natural world.

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Keep Fingers Crossed for Quail

The Northern bobwhite quail has declined in Missouri since the mid-1950s, by more than 70 percent in the last 30 years.

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Free Nature Fun - Spring Birds

This weekend is perfect for stepping outside with a pair of binoculars and your ears wide open to catch sight and sound of some colorful birds on their way north.

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The Incredible, Edible...Morel

When I moved to Missouri 23 years ago, I was amazed at the passion that exists here for the spring ritual of hunting morel mushrooms.

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Missouri Volunteer Opportunity: Master Naturalists

Who is a likely Missouri Master Naturalist?

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Missouri Volunteer Opportunity: Forestkeepers

Whether you just have a few trees or many in a nearby park, you can do something to help Missouri’s trees. Volunteer as a Missouri Forestkeeper. This statewide network supported by the Missouri Department of Conservation and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri helps you monitor local trees.

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Missouri Volunteer Opportunity: Stream Teams

This year is the 20th anniversary of Missouri Stream Teams—volunteers dedicated to taking care of Missouri’s streams and rivers.

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Volunteer Opportunity Highlight: Nature Center

If you’re interested in playing a role in keeping Missouri’s nature green, clean and healthy, you might consider the many ways to volunteer through the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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Timberdoodle Hatch

Last Saturday my dog, Lizzy, and I were multi-tasking.

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We're Frost Free

If you prefer warmer temperatures and you’re looking for the bright side of Tax Day, April 15 is also the average day of last frost in central Missouri.

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Bittern Burst out from Hiding

As I was strolling around our “swamp” yesterday, an American bittern suddenly flew out from its hiding place among the dried cattails.

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Hummingbirds Are Back!

One of my favorite websites to visit each spring shows a map of the spring return of ruby-throated hummingbirds to the eastern United States.

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Plant a Tree, Sink Some Carbon!

Since 1886, Missourians “officially” have counted the first Friday in April as Arbor Day.

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There's Always Next Season

While this March had some warm days and signs of spring began appearing, April should bring the full glory of the new season and leave little doubt that last winter is now history.

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A Third of U.S. Birds in Trouble

Someone just commented to this blog about not seeing as many whippoorwills as usual. That fits with what’s happening to about a third of the 800 species of birds in the United States that are declining, threatened or endangered.

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A Benefit of Age

I had another birthday recently and find myself rapidly closing the gap toward age 60.

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Litter Hurts Wildlife: Skunk in a Box

Whoever tossed out that empty cocoa box probably thought nothing about it.

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What's Up with the Missing Wildlife?

What has happened to all of the ___ (fill in the blank)? That’s a question that I hear frequently from concerned citizens.

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First Archery State Tournament

It looks like there will be a great turnout this coming Saturday, March 7, 2009, for the first state tournament of the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP).

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Citizen Conservation Gets Younger

Last year I posted from the Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC) gathering as part of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM).

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Get Your Goose!

If you’re outside and happen to hear a very distant cry way, way up in the sky, you may catch of glimpse of high-flying snow geese now making their way north.

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Heart Beats for Wildlife

With Valentine’s Day near, it seems a natural time to get to the heart of the matter. First, I want to pass on a fun Web link for you to consider for a wildlife valentine E-card from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Considering Coyotes

A coyote is staring at me. Fortunately, it’s on the wall in my office, peering out from the January page of the Missouri Department of Conservation's Natural Events Calendar.

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Enjoy Freedom and Nature at Conservation Nature Centers

What does the outdoors mean to you? That’s one question we asked more than 100 Missourians ages 25-40 in a series of focus groups in six cities across the state.

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Help for Landowners with Ponds, Forests and Fields

In the next week or two, someone will be spreading native grass and flower seeds on almost 20 acres that a we’re trying to convert to prairie.

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