Agent of Change
Nearly a half-century of duty as a Missouri conservation agent has not dimmed Carl Engelbrecht’s memory of one of his early enforcement challenges.
“Right here is where they were, and over there is where they were shooting at,” he said, pointing to an area overgrown with vegetation. The story that followed recounted the day when Engelbrecht, then a young Newton County conservation agent, foiled a large-scale attempt at road hunting.
A local businessman had told a number of his patrons that they could drive to his farm and shoot deer from the comfort of their own vehicles. Many of those would-be hunters quickly found out that there’s no room for negotiation when the topic is flouting the state’s hunting regulations.
“I unloaded 117 rifles that day and told those folks that they had to go back on the land if they wanted to hunt. I told them they couldn’t shoot from the road,” he said. “I wasn’t a very popular person that day.”
Of course, the scene was hard to picture today, as none of the features of the site matched the details Engelbrecht described. He spoke of cars being parked on a gravel road, yet the road he was referring to was paved. He told how people were shooting deer in a field, but the “field” he pointed to was so choked with brush and mature trees that it would be difficult to see whitetails there—let alone shoot them.
The landscape has changed significantly in the 50 years Engelbrecht has been with the Department of Conservation. Of course, so has the Department.
A dedicated man
Most of those five decades with the agency have been in Newton County, in the southwest corner of the state. After part-time employment with the Department in the early 1950s, his career got its official start in 1956 when he took a full-time job as a dispatcher in the Conservation Department’s Camdenton office. In 1959, the Cole County native became the conservation agent for Newton County.
Today, few Newton County residents recall that Randolph Mason was their conservation agent in the early 1950s or that McDonald County Conservation Agent Fred Drummond held the position prior to Engelbrecht’s arrival. For most county residents, Engelbrecht has been the face of conservation for as long as they can remember.
“Carl was conservation in this area before we knew what the word ‘conservation’ meant,” said Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson. “It’s always nice to deal with someone