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Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I read in a previous Conservationist that there are no natural lakes in Missouri. I have heard that Creve Coeur Lake is a “natural oxbow lake.” Why would that lake not be considered “natural?”

A: You are correct that Creve Coeur Lake is a natural oxbow lake and there are other natural oxbow lakes in Missouri. Oxbows are lakes that remain in old river channels after the river changes course. We also have natural sinkhole ponds or lakes formed from collapsed cave systems and “blue (or blew) hole” ponds carved by flooding rivers as they flowed through levee breaks. What we don’t have in Missouri is the type of natural lakes resulting from past glaciation that are so plentiful in the Great Lakes states and Canada.

Q: Why are bucks with spikes longer than 3 inches protected under the regulations? I have read that spike bucks will usually remain spike bucks throughout their lives. Wouldn’t it benefit the deer population to eliminate these bucks?

A: The four-point antler restriction is intended to encourage hunters to shoot does in areas of Missouri where deer are plentiful. The great majority of Missouri’s small-antlered bucks are yearlings that will grow larger antlers as they age.

Some deer managers have promoted the culling of yearling spike or small-antlered deer, thinking that the practice would lead to more adult deer with superior antlers. The assumption of this practice is that a buck’s first set of antlers are predictive of antler size at maturity. Research studies performed on deer herds have produced conflicting results. However, they have revealed a number of non-genetic factors that influence the size of a buck’s first set of antlers. These include climate, nutrition, stress, social behavior, birth date and early nurturing.

A study performed in Texas from 1999 to 2007 obtained data from free-ranging wild deer. In that study, by researchers at Stephen F. Austin University, antler size of yearling deer had no relationship to the antler size of those same bucks at 4.5 years old or older.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.

Agent Notes

Why start spring turkey season on a Monday?

Conservation Agents get asked numerous questions. One question that seems to come up every spring is, “Why does Missouri’s turkey season start on a Monday?”

Most would like to see the season open on the weekend, but opening spring turkey season on a Monday spreads out hunting pressure and in return allows for a better quality hunt without getting bumped off your favorite spot and/or hunters interfering with one another. With hunting pressure spread out, this helps lower or eliminate the number of hunting incidents that may occur each spring.

Many hunters plan their vacation around the spring turkey season opener. Missouri’s turkey season starts on the third Monday in April. It last three weeks and closes every day at 1 p.m. In Missouri, you are limited to one bird the first week. This allows for the weekend hunter to have a fair chance before the weekday hunters take their second bird.

The youth portion of the spring turkey season is open two days and the youth shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The youth portion normally opens nine days prior to the regular spring season—unless this would allow it to run through Easter—then the youth season opens 16 days before the regular spring season.

Missouri offers some of the best turkey hunting in the nation. So, beginning the season on a Monday must not be all bad.

 

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