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Scout it Out: Truman Lake Lands

Area Name: Harry S Truman Reservoir Wildlife Management Lands

Location: Benton, Henry, Hickory and St. Clair counties. The land can be accessed from numerous highways and roads.

For more info: visit our online atlas, keyword "Truman".

Looking for serenity, beautiful scenery, rugged, unspoiled terrain, as well as shoreline access to the state’s biggest reservoir? You’ll find all of that and more at the Harry S Truman Reservoir Wildlife Management Lands.

A search for “Truman” on the Conservation Atlas  shows 18 separate management units located in four different counties. Together, these units provide 54,000 acres of land open to almost every kind of outdoor recreation. The lands provide mile after mile of shoreline access. At Brush Creek an old discontinued gravel road ends at the lake, providing an informal boat ramp.

Access these lands from Conservation Department parking lots or from adjacent roads. Designated trails are few, but intrepid trekkers can hike along field trails or strike out cross-country. Anglers can walk the shoreline of Truman Lake, and hunters can park their boats and enter the lands to hunt. Generally, the lands fall under statewide regulations, although camping and horseback riding are not allowed. You can enjoy these activities at nearby Department of Natural Resources and Corps of Engineers lands and facilities.

Top Dollar

Hunting and fishing top other sports in equipment sales.

Does it matter that hunting and fishing generate more spending than other sports? It should, at least to community planners and government officials. The money spent on activities is an absolute indicator of public sentiment and demand. This piece of financial data helps determine future priorities and resource allocations.

A National Sporting Goods Association report shows combined sales in hunting and firearms equipment and fishing tackle were $5.93 billion in 2006. This exceeded the amounts spent for exercise ($5.22 billion) and golf ($3.66 billion) gear. Camping equipment sales were $1.53 billion.

Hands-On Frogging

Put the squeeze on frogs for an old-fashioned tasty meal.

There are plenty of legal ways to harvest frogs, but none is more exciting than grabbing them. This is pure digital entertainment, in the sense that you’ll need to use your fingers. You’ll also need a hunting or fishing permit.

Strike out after dark and move stealthily along the shore of a lake or farm pond or the bank of slow-moving stream. Use a strong flashlight or head lamp to search for the pinpoint reflections of frog eyes or the white gleam of a frog belly or throat.

Keep the light on the frog as you approach. Don’t reach through the beam. Grab with gusto; frogs are surprisingly strong. Keep harvested frogs in an escape-proof bucket or bag. If grabbing is too difficult or icky, use a net.

Birds of a Feather

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech owls (Otus asio) work the night shift. They generally hunt from dusk to dawn or until their bellies are full. Their prey includes just about every living thing smaller than them, including bugs, worms, mice, moles, songbirds, small fish and crayfish. They often hunt from a perch in wooded, urban or suburban areas, although they might hover over an area before swooping down for prey, or they might capture insects in midflight.

One of their common calls sounds like a small horse whinnying. It’s an eerie sound at night. Screech owls also trill, hoot and bark. Males call in a lower pitch than females.

Screech owls pair together for life, but if they lose a mate they may bond with another. Researchers report that a male screech owl might philander with a second female. Their “first mate” often responds by evicting the other female, laying eggs in her nest and incubating both clutches.

Screech owls can be gray or rusty colored. Like many owls, they are stocky and round-headed, but Eastern screech owls are small, usually less than 10 inches long. Unlike other small owls, screech owls have prominent ear tufts.

Although considered harmless, screech owls aggressively protect their nests. In an interesting turnabout, screech owls eat starlings, but starlings sometimes oust screech owls from their nests.

Snakes at Night

Watch where you step for slithering snakes.

As we sat in our bathing suits in a home-built sauna near a private lake one evening, a humongous black rat snake that we didn’t know had been up in the rafters dropped down on one of the steamer’s shoulders. We all burst out of there like shrapnel. I suspect the guy the snake landed on still bears psychological scars.

Being cold-blooded, snakes become more active as they warm, but only to a point. Daytime temperatures in summer can become too hot for some snakes, so they hole up in cool places during the day and become more active at night.

That’s a good solution to sultry summer days for us, too, but snakes are better suited for nocturnal activity. Snakes, particularly arboreal (tree) snakes, have good night vision, especially for noticing movement. Their flicking tongues continuously sample the air, ground and water for odors that alert them to other snakes, prey or predators. Snake bellies are sensitive to vibration through the ground and the air. Venomous pit vipers have a heat-sensitive pit between the nostril and each ear. The pit pair enables them to detect warm-blooded prey, even in inky blackness.

Everyday CNC

Conservation nature centers calendar keeps you current.

Their buildings might close for a few major holidays, but conservation nature center grounds provide interesting places to go and wonderful things to see throughout the year.

Burr Oak Woods ((816) 228-3766), Cape Girardeau ((573) 290-5218), Powder Valley ((314) 301-1500), Runge ((573) 526-5544) and Springfield ((417)888-4237) conservation nature centers serve as hubs for outdoor recreation and education. Call your nearest nature center for information about activities and events, or visit our calendar of events.

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