News and Almanac

Bonus deer permits more plentiful this year

Deer hunters will find bonus deer permits more plentiful, cheaper and easier to get this year, and they will have more days to use them. The changes are designed to shift more of the annual deer harvest to does to ensure good deer management.

Last year, the firearms deer hunting season consisted of four portions totaling 26 days. This year's firearms deer season will include five segments with a total of 34 days.

New this year is a two-day Urban Deer Management Portion of firearms deer season in Management Units 58 and 59, around Kansas City and St. Louis. Another day of hunting will be added to the Muzzleloader Portion, which will take place a week earlier than last year. The other five additional days of firearms hunting will take place during the Antlerless-Only Portion.

2003 firearms deer hunting segments are:

  • October 25-26 (Urban Deer Management in units 58 and 59).
  • November 1-2 (Youth-Only).
  • November 15-25 (November).
  • November 28 - December 7 (Muzzleloader).
  • December 13-21 (Antlerless-Only in units 1-27, 33-38, 58-59).

Archery Deer Season remains unchanged, Oct. 1 through Nov. 14 and Nov. 26 through Jan. 15.

In 39 management units, firearms hunters will be able to buy and fill as many second-bonus permits as they want. Resident landowners of five acres or more will be able to farm tag one deer of any sex or age without buying a permit, and in many units they will be able to buy bonus antlerless-only deer permits without buying an any-deer permit first. Immediate household members of landowners with at least 75 acres may receive an any-deer permit and up to two bonus permits.

The Commission decreased the price of:

  • Resident Firearms First Bonus Permits from $11 to $7
  • Nonresident Firearms First Bonus Permits from $75 to $7
  • Nonresident Firearms Second Bonus Permits from $50 to $7

Bowhunters share the new deer hunting bounty, too. The Conservation Commission increased from 24 to 50 the number of units where archers can use antlerless-only permits. Furthermore, archers will be able to buy and fill as many of these permits as they want.

Archers and firearms hunters will be able to buy all deer hunting permits over the counter. Units for which firearms hunters can buy any number of second-bonus, antlerless-only permits are 1 through 27, 33 through 38, 45, 46, 48, 52, 58 and 59. Hunters also can buy first and second bonus permits for different units. Management units for which hunters can buy any number of antlerless-only archery deer hunting permits include 1 through 40, 45 through 52, 58 and 59.

Early in the 20th century, Missouri's deer herd was depleted by unregulated hunting. From the 1930s through the 1980s, Missouri's deer management strategy was to protect does and maximize the deer herd's reproductive potential. Today, deer populations have exceeded the Conservation Department's targeted goals in some parts of the state. A few management units in southeastern Missouri still could have more deer, but in urban areas and in parts of Missouri, deer have grown numerous enough to start causing problems. These problems include deer-car accidents and complaints of damage to crops and suburban landscapes.

The changes give landowners and suburban communities tools to control local deer problems. They also will help hunters who want to harvest more deer.

The Conservation Department plans to continue examining deer hunting regulations and adjusting them to ensure that the state's deer management program serves all Missourians.

Full details of this year's deer seasons are available in the 2003 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulation Guide, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold.

Missouri's turkey harvest tops nation

Missouri's spring turkey harvest reached an all-time high this year as hunters brought 58,421 turkeys to check stations statewide.

The harvest total is 1,378 more than last year. It includes 3,660 turkeys killed during the two-day, spring youth turkey hunting season and 54,761 killed during the 21-day, regular spring turkey hunting season.

Texas County led county harvest totals with 1,280 birds checked. In second place was Laclede County, where hunters checked 1,138 turkeys. Howell County came in third with 1,066.

This year's spring turkey hunting season tied the safety record set in 2000, when the Missouri Department of Conservation recorded four non-fatal, firearms-related turkey hunting accidents. There were no fatalities.

Even an off year for turkey hunting in Missouri is better than a good year in most states. Missouri's spring harvest has topped 50,000 every year since 1999. The average turkey harvest in the 43 other states that reported their harvest numbers to the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2002 was 12,760.

Dalton Range to host back-to-school bash for teachers

The Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Training Center will host its annual Back-To-School Bash Aug. 8. This workshop is designed for educators and concentrates on merging classroom learning with the outdoors. Participants receive lesson plans that feature fish and wildlife field research applied to the Show-Me Standards/MAP correlations. The Bash runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free of charge. To register, call (417) 888-4237.

USDA bans some Canadian trophies

Missourians headed to Canada for big-game hunts should be aware that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has banned the importation of deer, elk, caribou and other free-ranging ruminants into the United States. The ban is a response to the discovery of a cow in Canada with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as BSE or "mad cow disease." Meat, hides, heads, carcasses and all other parts of free-ranging ruminants are included in the ban. The strict rules could change as the Canadian BSE investigation proceeds. For up-to-date information about the importation ban, call the USDA at (301) 734-3256.

Dove hunters asked to report birds with bracelets

Starting in September, Missouri hunters can help biologists gather information about North America's most popular game bird, the mourning dove. All they have to do is call (800) 327-2263 when they bag a banded bird.

Missouri and 25 other states intend to put leg bands on 38,000 doves over the next three years and then track their survival through hunter reports. The effort will add to knowledge of the prolific birds' survival rate, the number of birds taken by hunters each year and where they are taken. This knowledge is critical to understanding how hunting regulations affect mourning dove populations and will translate into more effective dove management.

Hunters should watch for birds with metal leg bands. Each band has an identifying number and the toll-free phone number to call. Banded birds also can be reported on the internet by selecting key words "Bird Banding Lab."

Hunters get to keep the bands. Those who report taking banded birds will receive a certificate identifying the age, sex, date and location where the bird was banded.

St. Charles and Kansas City to get River Relief

Missouri River Relief, now in its third year of cleaning up the Show-Me State's namesake river, is planning events on the east and west sides of the state this fall.

Citing a "renaissance" on Kansas City's riverfront, the group has organized a trash pickup for Sept. 13. Headquarters for the event will be Berkley Park, at the foot of the Paseo Bridge. Cleanup efforts will focus on the area from La Benite Park to Parkville and several miles of the Kansas River. The rain date for the event is Sept. 14.

On the opposite side of the state, a cleanup event in St. Charles will be held Sept. 20. This event will be headquartered at the new Lewis and Clark Boat House, south of Frontier Park, and will focus on the stretch of river from the I-70 Bridge to Bryan Island and the adjacent part of Katy Trail State Park. Special attention will be given to the St. Charles riverfront, which will be the scene of several events when Missouri kicks off its Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration next year.

Registration for each event will begin at 9 a.m., and the cleanups will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the trash pickups or the organization, visit the River Relief website.

Raccoon illness no cause for concern

Raccoons across Missouri and throughout the Midwest are dying from canine distemper, a disease which does not affect people.

Animal-control agencies around the state confirm increased reports of sick raccoons. Signs of illness include confusion and loss of their natural fear of humans. These symptoms are similar to those caused by rabies, but Missouri health officials say there is no sign of a significant rabies outbreak.

Although canine distemper isn't dangerous to humans, it can kill dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated against the disease. Foxes and coyotes also are susceptible to canine distemper, but they die so quickly that you hardly ever see a sick one.

In populated areas, animal control offices can euthanize sick raccoons humanely. The outbreak will run its course, and raccoon numbers eventually will recover.

Murphy takes over as CFM director

Dave Murphy, a former executive with the National Wild Turkey Federation, has been chosen to replace Denny Ballard as executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM).

Murphy worked as the Turkey Federation's regional director for 10 years before taking over as the CFM's director on June 1. CFM President Gary Van De Velde said farewell to Ballard and greeted incoming director Murphy in a written statement.

"Under Mr. Ballard's leadership over the past four years, the federation implemented many progressive changes, and we wish him much success in his new position. Mr. Murphy is a well-known conservationist. The Federation membership looks forward to advancing Missouri's resource conservation efforts with Dave's leadership."

Ballard has accepted a job as director of the newly formed Land Learning Foundation, which teaches youths, women and the disabled how to hunt, fish, trap and shoot.

The CFM is Missouri's oldest and largest citizen conservation group, with 25,000 members statewide. For more information, contact CFM, 728 W. Main St., Jefferson City, 65101, or call (800) 575-2322.

Vote 25 years ago turned the tide for the Meramec River

Events 25 years ago this month turned the tide in the battle over whether the Meramec River Valley would be flooded behind a series of dams. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already had condemned and purchased 23,000 acres of land for the project, which also would have flooded parts of Huzzah and Courtois creeks. Recreation, flood control and improved water quality were among the arguments advanced in favor of building four dams.

Practical problems--such as the cost of grouting Onondaga Cave, Greens Cave and other smaller caves--weighed heavily against the dams. The discovery of a colony of endangered Indiana bats in some caves and other issues raised environmental questions. The Conservation Department, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt and Missouri Attorney General John Danforth, then running for the U.S. Senate, opposed the project. The Sierra Club filed suit to stop it, but the courts found in favor of the Corps.

In the end, it took public opinion to turn the tide. Conservation groups statewide protested against the idea of "improving" beautiful Ozark streams with dams. In 1978, voters in 13 counties in and around the project area held a non-binding straw vote on the issue. Two-thirds voted against damming the Meramec River. Political support for the project waned, and in 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill deauthorizing the project. This unusual step guaranteed that the Corps of Engineers could not resurrect the project later.

Today the Meramec and its tributaries support a thriving tourist industry built on hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tube-floating and other stream based recreation.

Cougar Network seeks reports of eastern cougars

The Eastern Cougar Network (ECN) has been formed to document confirmed cougar sightings in the eastern half of North America. Nearly a year in the making, the results of the group's comprehensive research project is available online. The website is updated continuously as new developments unfold.

"Coordination of cougar reporting in the eastern and midwestern United States is critical for documenting the presence and possible colonization of this large predator back to its former range," said Adrian Wydeven, mammal ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Many people are excited by the return of cougars, but wildlife agencies have limited resources for investigations, and reports are difficult to verify. An objective, science-based approach for reporting and reviewing information on eastern cougars will be extremely useful in determining the changing status of cougars in this part of the U.S."

ECN says its success in obtaining cougar information is the result of cooperation by dozens of state and federal wildlife agencies, including the Missouri Department of Conservation.

For more information about ECN, call (978) 369-8075 or e-mail info@easterncougarnet.org.

Winchester names Morris hunter ed volunteer of the year

Jan Morris of Imperial recently received Winchester Ammunition's 2002 Hunter Education Volunteer of the Year Award. Morris, an educator, "has worked tirelessly to promote safe hunting skills," according to a press release from Winchester. "Last year alone, Jan logged over 14,000 miles and 2,500-plus hours, along with considerable out-of-pocket expenses, working for hunter education." Morris also has served on the board of directors of the Missouri Hunter Education Instructors' Association since 1992 and is their current executive officer. He also is state coordinator for the NRA's Youth Hunter Education Challenge.

Taneyville angler rides a redhorse into the record book

Missouri has a new black redhorse record, set April 10 by Josh H. Isaacs of Taneyville. Isaacs was fishing at Swan Creek in Taney County around 6 p.m. when he snagged the 6-pound, 14-ounce sucker. The record, entered in the Alternative Methods category, is the first for the species in Missouri.

Duck into website for waterfowl reservations

Waterfowl hunters can apply for reservations at Missouri's 16 managed wetland areas 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Sept. 4 through September 21, by calling (800) 829-2956, or via the internet.

You may apply for anyone in your immediate household. However, the reservation holder must be present at the hunt for the reservation to be valid. Results of the drawing will be available at the same phone number and website beginning Oct. 3.

To make reservations or check results, you will need your nine-digit conservation ID number, which is found on the top of your hunting permit or on the back of your Heritage Card, next to the bar code.

Habitat Hints

Get Wet and Wild

For welcome relief from August's hot, dry weather, consider creating a garden that becomes a cool, wet place. You can fashion a temporary water garden with any large tub that will hold water. A recirculating pump is not necessary. For an extra splash of color, add a striking water canna or a couple of water lilies.

If you want a perennial water garden and have deep clay soil, install a small frog pond. The pool should be at least 18 inches deep, but it can be deeper. Excavated soil can be used to form a planting berm that creates a visual backdrop to the pond. Edge the water with dazzling native plants such as cardinal flower, blue lobelia, pickerel plant and downy skullcap. A fringe of tussock sedge, bottlebrush grass and some buttonbush attracts butterflies and completes the design.

Frog ponds can be lined with pre-formed or sheet liners, but a simple clay bottom will hold water most of the year. It also will allow amphibians to over winter and provide mud that purple martins and barn swallows can use for building their nests.

If you don't have clay soil, you can import it or work sodium bentonite clay into the top three or four inches of soil. Bentonite is available at farm supply stores.

For more information about Missouri's native plants, or for a list of recommended Grow Native! member nurseries and landscape services, visit online or write to Grow Native!, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102 and request a home landscaping brochure.

West Plains leads the way with Fishing Tackle Loaner Program

Summer can be exciting or boring for children, but in West Plains, every child can get the equipment needed for a safe, wholesome summer activity: fishing.

The West Plains Fishing Tackle Loaner Program provides families access to fishing rods and reels, and even gives them a small, introductory tacklebox to get them started fishing.

The program is the brainchild of the Future Fisherman Foundation (FFF), a national organization that promotes fishing among youth. But the heart of the program is local initiative and support. To make the program work in West Plains, Fisheries Management Biologist Mary Palmer built a partnership among civic organizations.

Rotary International supports the fishing tackle loaner program, so the West Plains Sunrise Rotary Club contributed cash to buy fishing equipment. The West Plains Public Library agreed to keep the equipment on display and handle equipment check-out and returns. Local news media publicize the program, and Palmer conducts fishing programs during children's story hours at the library.

West Plains' fishing tackle loaner program is the only one listed for Missouri on the FFF website. To learn how to set up a similar program in your area, visit online or call (703) 519-9691.

Catfish opinions sought

A working draft of a new Missouri Catfish Management Plan is now available for input from catfish anglers and others interested in catfish management.To request a copy of the draft plan, write Catfish Plan; Fisheries Division; P.O. Box 180; Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Public meetings to gather anglers' views about the plan will be scheduled in selected areas around the state. The Missouri Catfish Management Plan should be completed early in 2004.

Say WOW! to outdoor school

Outdoor enthusiasts and their families can learn new outdoor skills at the Wonders of Wildlife (WOW) National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School. This fall's sessions are October 4 at Spanish Lake County Park in St. Louis County and October 11-12 at Roaring River State Park in Barry County. Enrollees will learn about camping, archery, caving, Dutch oven cooking, orienteering, fly fishing and much more. For more information log in to wondersofwildlife.org, call (800) 334-6946 or e-mail moparks@dnr.state.mo.us.

Micro-mini mushroom makes Henley hunter happy

Many people find messes of morel mushrooms, and almost anyone can find a big morel. Tony Hagerman of Henley has the distinction of having found what must be one of the smallest morels on record. The infinitesimal fungus, shown here, measured just 3/16 of an inch from the base of its stem to the top of its cone-shaped cap.

Hagerman, 18, said he found the mushroom next to the same tree where he found his first morels. He spied another morel about an inch tall, and when he pulled a leaf off of it, he saw this tiny one.

"It looked like a mushroom, but I wasn't sure at first. When I looked at it up close I could see it was."

He left both the tiny morel and its larger neighbor in place to see if they would grow. A day later neither mushroom was any larger, so he picked the smaller one, using his fingernail to dig it up, root and all.

RV show set for Sept. 6-8

Join other recreational vehicle enthusiasts at the 14th annual St. Louis Fall RV Show Sept. 5-7 and get a look at the latest in Class A motor homes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, folding campers, sport trailers, miniature motor homes, conversion vans and van campers. The event is at the Westfield Shoppingtown South County in Oakville. Hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sept. 5 and 6 and 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 7. For more information, call (314) 355-1236.