Relieve some holiday stress this Thanksgiving by taking a break with nature and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). You can easily connect with the outdoors through free MDC programs, at MDC nature centers around the state, and nearly 1,000 conservation areas with outdoor recreation opportunities.
By Bill Cooper
I love to fly fish our cold, free-flowing trout streams during the winter months. I’m fortunate enough to be able to hit my favorite streams on weekdays, and thus avoid the weekend fly fishermen. I prefer dark, cold, even snowy days for my adventures. Brown trout are very sensitive to light. Dark days bring better fishing. It’s time to begin those winter time forays, and I want to become a better fly fisherman, maybe a great fly fisherman.
By Larry Dablemont
For some reason, I can never relax during deer season. Some of it has to do with those long-range rifles capable of killing a water buffalo or penetrating a home a half-mile away. And I live deep in the woods.
There are many capable hunters and outdoorsmen who will hunt deer this weekend, but a large number of the rifles in the woods will be manned by those who know little about the outdoors. Few of those experienced outdoorsmen really think that deer shooting is hunting. I have already done some deer shooting… with my camera. But half or more of those in the woods this week will be there only once a year. Hunters?…Well maybe. But that is questionable with some of these people who flee the suburbs for a deer camp. Calling them hunters is sort of like referring to someone as a farmer because he sets out some tomato plants in the spring.
There isn’t much to killing a deer. If you can hit a basketball at 50 yards with a rifle, and if you can walk back in the woods a few hundred yards and sit in one place for a few hours, you've got a very good chance of getting one. In most forests, you don't have to WALK back into the woods anymore. Modern deer hunters have ATVs.
I dread most, the time about 11 a.m. when so many of the deer hunters who haven't killed a deer start shooting cans or signs or stumps. I always hunted from a tree stand for many reasons, one of them being, I don't want a rifle bullet I fire to go anywhere other than into the ground should I miss. Seldom did I ever fire more than 2 bullets in a season.
When I was a kid my dad and I were floating the Big Piney hunting ducks. On Saturday at mid-day we had high-powered bullets whine past about six feet over our johnboat. Downstream a few hundred yards were three guys from the city, shooting at a whiskey bottle in the river. The alcohol they had consumed had perhaps dulled their thinking, but I doubt they knew that a bullet would ricochet from water.
Today big antlers are worth money, and there are lots of deer hunters who have that as their goal. But there are also all those who will do it right, who will be safe and sober and intent on hunting.... those who intend to keep their deer, take care of the meat and give little thought to trophies. I know such men and most of them, when they reach my age, aren’t so intent on the killing. We have enough antlers.
I am fortunate in that I will see the woods soon completely devoid of anyone. The invasion is only a week or so. Just the other evening, I sat watching the sunset through a canopy of quickly changing leaves, gold and yellow and orange and green. It was a spectacular thing to see, miles and miles from civilization where there were no man-made sounds at all. I like that better than I want to kill a deer, I no longer want to spend a day cleaning, skinning, and butchering a deer that has been feasting on acorns. I take this spongiform encephalopathy seriously too. I know of men who died from that, what they refer to as CWD.
There are always deer behind my house, but I have never hunted there. If I did hunt this week, I would do so from a stand miles away that is right for the wind conditions, and I would stay there. The fact that so many hunters begin to move around after the first hour or so makes it easier for a still hunter in a tree stand to see deer which are being pushed from one area to another by the walkers.
Today's agents don't get far from a vehicle during the deer season. They don’t have to. But I urge you, if you hunt, please read the letter from a conservation department’s retired agent that tells how most arrests are made, via the telecheck system and computers. Most involve technical violations of some sort. It always allows the confiscation of large buck antlers it seems. Wonder why! That letter is on my BlogSpot, larrydablemontoutdoors. If you read it you won’t believe what is being done to innocent people and it could save you a citation. In some areas of the southern Missouri Ozarks, there will be a real slaughter. That is because the Missouri Department of Conservation is so desperate to get landowners to register their land with them they have promised ten free deer tags to anyone who will do that. And ANYONE hunting on that registered land with permission of the landowner, can kill most or all of those ten deer without a deer tag. Yet some will pay large fines because they kill one deer that violates a technical point of some kind.
"You put a tag on that deer, you paid for it," a friend of mine insists, “and you can hit him with a car, electrocute him, or kill him with a hand grenade, and the agents shouldn’t care...they got the money, you got the deer."
• Self-inflicted mishaps on opening weekend drive home the importance of firearms safety
Deer hunting involves many “how-to’s” – how to choose a good hunting spot, how to telecheck a harvested deer, how to field dress a deer – to name a few. Though each of these are valuable, hunters should not overlook the most important how-to – how to handle a firearm safely.
Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that deer hunters in Missouri harvested 80,525 deer during the opening weekend of the November portion of the fall firearms deer season Nov. 14 and 15. Of the 80,525 deer harvested, 48,695 were antlered bucks, 6,867 were button bucks, and 24,963 were does.