News and Almanac

Beat high fuel prices with natural Missouri getaway

Missourians who have decided to vacation close to home this summer can get trip-planning help from a bevy of books and tapes from the Conservation Department's Nature Shop.

Natural Adventures Close to Home are 20- to 30-minute video tapes describing natural getaways within a two-hour drive for most Missourians. The videos provide visual tours of dozens of areas, including nature centers, lakes, rivers, prairies, caves and glades. The tapes focus on the St. Louis, Kansas City or Springfield areas and cost $7. 50 each, plus shipping and handling, and sales tax where applicable.

Kansas City Wildlands is an excellent companion to the Kansas City video tape. The 88-page book contains maps, color illustrations and a wealth of detail about 12 outdoor destinations in the Kansas City area. The soft-cover book costs $10.75, plus shipping and handling, and sales tax where applicable.

To order these and other resources to help plan a Missouri outdoor vacation, visit <www. mdcnatureshop. com> or call toll-free (877) 521-8632.

Mini-dugout race declared a 124-way tie

At first light April 24, a flotilla of 124 miniature dugout canoes prepared by grade-school classes in communities along the Missouri River embarked downriver from Brunswick, Mo. The canoes were expected to bob 184 miles downstream at the river's leisurely pace of 3 mph, reaching the finish line of the "race" at Augusta two days later.

The river had other ideas. Wind pushed most of the 14-inch boats into wing dikes or onto sand bars during the first week of the event.

By April 26, two boats had reached Jefferson City, but a week later there was still no sign of dugouts at Augusta. On May 9, event organizers declared all 124 classes winners and called off the active search.

"As the Big Muddy rolls on,some of your canoes will surely be found well downstream," wrote Jack Ryan,one of the event's organizers,to participating classes. "We will let you know if we become aware of such findings. "

If you discover one of the dugout canoes, use the information contained in a film canister on the stern of the boat to contact the sponsoring class, or notify Ryan at <lryan@socket. net>.

Bass tournament benefits Spinal Cord Society

Bass anglers have until midnight July 25 to register for the ninth Spinal Cord Society Buddy Bass Tournament July 31 and Aug. 1 at Bucksaw Marina on Truman Lake. Contestants will have a chance at winning a part of the $50,000 worth of cash and prizes donated by sponsors. Participants also can attend an auction and barbecue the evening before the tournament. For registration information, contact Irvin McCoy at 913/451-6253, <imccoy@massman. net>.

Nevada youth in national limelight

Joshua Simpson, 12, of Nevada,Mo. , hit the jackpot in the International Hunter Education Association's annual drawing for a dream hunt.

Simpson's name was drawn from thousands of newly certified hunters throughout North America. For this he won a hunt on the 3,000-acre J. B. Hunt Big Horn Lodge in Barry County. He will be accompanied by retired astronaut Gen. Joe Engle. The pair will co-host a half-hour Outdoor Life Network television show filmed during the hunt.

More good news about CWD

For the second year in a row, laboratory tests found no Missouri deer with chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Hunters donated tissue samples for last year's testing, and the Conservation Department also tested obviously sick deer reported by citizens. In all, 6,049 samples were sent to a federally certified laboratory to be tested for CWD. None tested positive for CWD.

The testing was the second round of a three-year effort by the Conservation Department to check every county in the state for CWD. To date, deer from 60 counties have been tested. Next year,deer from the remaining 54 counties will be tested. Monitoring by the departments of Conservation and Agriculture has not found the disease in captive herds,either.

CWD belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs. It shares certain characteristics with other TSEs, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans. However, CWD is a different disease known to affect only members of the deer family.

The World Health Organization, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Health have studied CWD and found no link between it and similar human diseases. Current research shows no evidence that chronic wasting disease can spread to domestic livestock.

For more information about CWD, visit the Conservation Department Web site,<www. missouriconservation. org/hunt/cwd/>.

NO-CHARGE DEER PERMITS AVAILABLE FROM VENDORS

Landowners who have hunted deer with "farm tags" in the past will find tagging and checking game easier this year. In addition, those who formerly applied for no-cost permits by mail will find it easier to get their no-cost tags.

Both groups should now pick up formal, printed permits from any permit vendor statewide. The permits still are free, but those using farm tags won't have to create their own tags. Landowners who qualify for no-cost permits won't have to mail in written applications.

As an added convenience to landowners, all deer taken on landowner permits can be checked without visiting a check station. Instead, landowners can use the new telephone checking system. Information about "telecheck" procedures will be available at permit vendors.

The increased number of hunters visiting permit vendors,along with the bountiful supply of bonus deer tags,could increase the length of permit-sales lines. Buying a few weeks or even a few days early will help you avoid the last-minute rush, and qualify you for a drawing for two Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permits.

MDC plugs grant money into bird conservation

Federal money is helping fund the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MOBCI). The Conservation Department is channeling State Wildlife Grant funds into the state program, which conserves bird habitat.

Selected for funding were 16 proposals ranging from wetland restoration for waterfowl, shorebirds and marsh birds to grassland restoration for greater prairie chickens, bobwhite quail and Henslow's sparrows. Fourteen organizations (including Audubon Missouri, Ducks Unlimited and the Ruffed Grouse Society) submitted project proposals, along with 49 additional partners. These partnerships are the wave of the future.

The second annual MOBCI conference will be held August 20-21 in Columbia. Representatives from the 30 MOBCI member organizations and other conservation partners will meet to discuss opportunities for advancing bird conservation in Missouri. For more information, contact MOBCI, 2620 Forum Blvd. , Suite C-1, Columbia,MO 65203, (573) 447-2249.

FIREARMS DEER SEASON SET FOR NOV. 13-23

Archers and hunters in urban areas will get extra days of deer hunting this year. Other portions of the firearms season remain the same length as last year for a total of 36 days. Seasons are:

  • * Archery Deer Season --Sept. 15-Nov. 12 and Nov. 24-Jan. 15
  • * Urban Portion of Firearms Deer Season--Oct. 8-11
  • * Youth Portion of Firearms Deer Season--Nov. 6 and 7
  • * November Portion of Firearms Deer Season--Nov. 13-23
  • * Muzzleloader Portion of Firearms Deer Season--Nov. 26-Dec. 5
  • * Antlerless Only Portion of Firearms Deer Season--Dec. 11-19.

This year, the urban deer hunting area will include Boone, Cass, Christian, Clay, Cole, Greene, Jackson, Platte, St. Charles, St. Louis and Webster counties.

Full details of deer hunting regulations are contained in the 2004 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet,available wherever hunting permits are sold.

Diana Bend trails win national acclaim

A national group dedicated to excellence in hiking trails has honored the Conservation Department's Design and Development Section for work on trails at Diana Bend Conservation Area.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails gave the Conservation Department its Trail Achievement Award for design and construction of the project. Matching funds from the federal Recreational Trails Program helped develop a disabled-accessible wooden boardwalk trail with viewing decks off Katy Trail State Park near Rocheport. A second trail included in the project leads to a viewing platform overlooking the Missouri River. Interpretive signs explain the value of wetlands visible from the trail. The award was presented during the Great Outdoors Week celebration last month in Washington, D. C.

Spring turkey harvest tops 60,000

Hunters checked a record 56,882 turkeys during the three-week spring hunting season. Young hunters killed 3,269 gobblers during the two-day youth hunting season, bringing the 2004 spring harvest total to 60,151. Despite widespread rain and wind, they bagged a record 29,018 turkeys the first week of the season.

Following in Lewis & Clark's PADDLE STROKES

If you want to retrace the Lewis and Clark journey through Missouri, you have to get out on the Missouri River. Fortunately, two canoe outfitters offer Big Muddy floating opportunities. To see the vistas that so enchanted the explorers 200 years ago, contact Mighty Mo Canoe Rentals, (573) 698-3903, or Hilkemeyer's Canoe Rentals, (573) 744-5245.

New antler restrictions in 29 counties

As part of 2004 deer hunting seasons, the Conservation Commission has approved a test of deer harvest regulations to increase the doe harvest in Missouri.

The pilot program will take place in 29 counties. Hunters in this area can shoot only antlerless deer and antlered deer with at least one antler having at least four antler points. No other antlered deer may be taken. The antler restrictions apply to both archery and firearms seasons, except during the youth portion of the firearms deer hunting season.

To count, antler points must be at least 1 inch long from base to tip. The end of the main beam is counted as one antler point. Any broken tine that is at least 1 inch long counts as a point.

By shifting the deer harvest toward more antlerless deer,the Conservation Department hopes to reduce property and crop damage and deer-car accidents, and to increase the number and age of antlered bucks. In other states that have antler restrictions,public opinion favors the regulations. Hunters like the fact that they see more antlered deer, and everyone is glad about reduced deer problems.

Camp for hearing-impaired youths set for Aug. 21-22

Children with hearing impairments are invited to a family outdoor skills camp cosponsored by the Conservation Department and the Missouri School for the Deaf.

The event takes place Aug. 21-22 at the H. Roe Bartle Boy Scout Camp near Osceola. It is specifically geared to the needs of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. It is free of charge. Campers and their families get to shoot bows, catch fish, go canoeing and try their hand at rock climbing. Financial support comes from the Missouri Conservation Agents Association, the United Bowhunters of Missouri and the Compton Traditional Bowhunters. For more information, call (573) 346-2210, ext. 222 or 221.

Habitat Hints

Plant a native rock garden

If you have a dry, rocky area in your yard, turn it into a bright, boldly textured home for lizards, chipmunks and toads with the Grow Native! Chipmunk Hideout design. Arrange colorful glade flowers like Missouri primrose, purple poppy mallow and rock pink with interesting rocks, flowerpots and statuary.These plants also do well in hostile planting zones along sidewalks or in containers.

Plants on the Chipmunk's Hideout design include:

  • * Bottlebrush blazing star
  • * Barbara's buttons
  • * Purple poppy mallow
  • * Glade coneflower
  • * Indian paintbrush
  • * Lanceleaf coreopsis
  • * Missouri primrose
  • * Yellow coneflower
  • * Wild hyacinth
  • * Prairie dropseed
  • * June grass.

For more information about the Chipmunk's Hideout design and Missouri's native plants, visit online or write for a home landscaping guide at Grow Native!, PO Box 180, Jefferson City,MO 65102.

Click here to view more Habitat Hints.

AGENT NOTEBOOK

On those early spring fishing trips to my favorite pond the action can be fast and furious. The bass and bluegill seem unable to get enough of the small plastic lures I cast into the water. But the fast action never seems to last through the summer months.

So what do I do in the summer at my favorite fishing pond when the fishing action slows? I turn to froggin'.

There is no better way to enjoy summer nights with kids than at the pond searching for frogs. The kids love trying to spot frog eyes with their flashlights. They also have a great time exploring the grass for bugs or grasshoppers, or shining their lights into the air at passing airplanes.

The frogging season in Missouri begins at sunset June 30 and runs through October 31. It's legal to take bullfrogs and green frogs. The daily limit of frogs is eight (8) in the aggregate with a possession limit of sixteen (16) frogs in the aggregate. On the water or the shore or banks, you can only possess the daily limit of frogs.

Hunters possessing a hunting permit may take frogs with a . 22 caliber rimfire rifle or pistol or by pellet gun, longbow, crossbow, hand or handnet. An artificial light may be used.

Anglers possessing a fishing permit may take frogs by hand, handnet, gig, longbow, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, jog line, snagging, snaring, grabbing or by pole and line. An artificial light may be used. The same daily and possession limits apply to both hunters and anglers.

When the summer fishing action slows, take a kid froggin'. You will be making memories that will last forever. -- Thomas M. Strother III