The Cameron Hunting and Fishing Club
Missourians have never had the wealth of outdoor treasures and opportunities that we enjoy today. However, we must never forget that it wasn't always this way, nor are we guaranteed that the abundance we now take for granted is permanent.
In the not-so-distant past, seeing a deer or turkey was rare. Unregulated harvest, coupled with habitat destruction, had devastated fish, forest and wildlife resources.
By 1900, concerned sportsmen and conservation-minded people began forming associations and clubs with the objective of restoring and enhancing fish and wildlife populations. The efforts of these groups coalesced into the Missouri conservation movement. This movement culminated in the passage of Proposition 4 in 1937, which took politics out of conservation by creating a bi-partisan conservation commission appointed by the governor.
Later, these groups gathered the signatures necessary for a public vote on the "Design for Conservation" sales tax that provides 1/8 of one cent of sales tax devoted to conservation. Passed in 1976, the "Design for Conservation" sales tax was a landmark achievement that made Missouri the national model for the progressive management of fish, forest and wildlife resources. In short, it made every Missouri resident a stakeholder in those resources.
The Cameron Hunting and Fishing Club was one of the many organizations that helped the Conservation Department become what it is today.
The club actually started as the Cameron Sportsman's Club, which was organized in 1882. Its primary interest was competitive shooting.
The Cameron Sportsman's Club evolved into the "Cameron Fishing and Hunting Club" in 1928. The new organization, with 15 charter members, expanded its mission to include the management of a 28-acre railroad water supply reservoir southwest of Cameron. The new club leased the lake from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company for $5 per year. The club managed the lake for hunting, fishing, ice skating, and swimming.
Dr. A.D. Templeman, the club historian, said that, by 1933, the club had become inactive because the " . . . old club members found it uncomfortable to try to hold the lake (Burlington Reservoir) exclusive."
Claire F. McClean, co-founder and president of the Cameron Fishing and Hunting Club, approached Eugene (Gene) L. Hills one day while fishing at Burlington Lake to discuss the situation. McClean did not want to see some "out-of-town" club take over and prevent local citizens from using the lake and suggested that a club of younger men assume the lease.