When any state conservation agency anywhere starts setting up regulations that can’t be enforced and make no sense whatsoever, they begin to lose credibility with country people. The rule the Missouri Department wants everyone to follow now is the elimination of feeders and mineral blocks, thinking they are doing something to keep the dreaded deer disease from spreading. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they think they are going to make that work. In the winter I will ignore that, as thousands of other landowners will, but if it actually made sense and would indeed change anything, I would be the first to advocate it.
My Panther Creek Youth Retreat, with a total acreage which can be used numbering about 90 acres, has a number of natural salt licks and I have put in several small food plots, not so much for deer but for quail, rabbits, turkey and doves. In the teeth of winter, I feed them all and will continue to do so.
I know that 90 acres very well and there isn’t anything close to an overpopulation of deer. Still, the Conservation Department people tell everyone that deer in that county are heavily overpopulated. I don’t have any neighbors that feel that way, but every suburban deer hunter from Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield will believe them. And that is why the MDC gets away with so much corruption and mis-management, millions of people who know nothing about the outdoors believe anything that department tells them. And much of it comes from people who have no idea what they are talking about. For example, a media specialist on television announcing that the spring turkey hatch was up one percent. If that figure doesn’t bring a laugh or two, you are one of those millions.
At the beginning of the year a young man called me who works for the MDC and asked me to kill a couple of deer off that land I own in St Clair County, though all the legal seasons were long past. I could bait them, spotlight them… whatever. I asked him why.
He said they wanted to reduce overpopulation in that area, (which does not exist), and they also wanted to test more deer for CWD. I started asking him questions. First, he didn’t hunt deer, secondly he grew up in a St. Louis suburb and knew nothing about how you go about determining how many deer might exist in a 90 acre tract. His biology degree came from a small college in Kansas City and his office was in Kansas City.
When I began to tell him about things you could look for to tell you how many deer you might have on a given farm or even a public area; which he was amazed to hear it. He didn’t get out of the office much and was just doing what his superiors told him to do.
One evening just before dark, I sat on my back porch at one of the cabins and watched a nice buck come to a feeder beside a natural mineral lick, and I looked at him through a camera lens. He was a beautiful creature, and he is still there. I was not about to cooperate with something so silly.
Not all that far away two agents went into a hunter’s home without a search warrant, pretending to be there on a friendly visit. They then wrote him a citation and confiscated several deer mounts because they claimed the five acres he thought he owned was a fraction of an acre less… only 4.8 acres. Since then, a number of people have come forward to tell me similar stories, and in the fall issue of my outdoor magazine I will print their stories, giving the MDC the opportunity to answer them. They won’t. I have given that opportunity to them before and they refused.
One story I will print concerns a conservation agent holding his pistol on a woman and nine year old girl, who was crying hysterically, to keep them from joining the husband as they investigated him. You need to read that, and all the other stories about what is happening to innocent people who have something the agents wish to confiscate.
My meeting with the director of the MDC, Mrs. Sara Pauley, in mid-April was a complete waste of my time. It covered about three hours and everything Mrs. Pauley agreed to went out the window shortly afterward. Since then I have heard nothing from her, and she may have gotten in trouble just for meeting with me. But as she sat there talking with me, I suddenly realized that most of what I was talking about went right over her head. She hadn’t heard about any of if. I don’t think she knew about the millions of dollars and free labor given to Bass Pro Shops, nor was she aware of the fact that a number of judges and lawyers were having their property taxes paid by the MDC. She certainly had never heard about the quarter million dollar gift Judge Kelso had been given, to the agent who had the shed full of confiscated antlers he calls his “retirement fund.”
If Mrs. Pauley knew that the MDC had lost a million dollar lawsuit because several agents had broke into a home and barn without a search warrant, she didn’t act like it. She didn’t fully comprehend what was happening to thousands of acres of public land her agency “manages” where wildlife habitat is being destroyed to make more acreage for tenant farmers, and contract logging is stripping the timber on dozens of areas we all own on a regular, rushed process to bring in large amounts of money which they waste.
I asked her to meet with only three innocent people who have been targeted by agents, and she agreed. I was to bring them to her office. She broke that agreement, as I was soon notified by the MDC lawyer that any such meeting would have to go through her. Her name is Jennifer Frazier, and her job is to cover the MDC’s… uh …little mistakes! What a joke that was.
At any rate, the three conservation project proposals I sent to Mrs. Pauley as to her request, have been ignored. They are solid proposals, easy to accomplish. On the other hand two biologists called to say that they wanted to show me what they experimenting with on some land near Truman Lake, because I had agreed to do a story about something positive the MDC is doing for wildlife. I promised I would print a story on such a project when I talked with Mrs. Pauley. And I will… I keep my word. Mrs. Pauley ought to go by that old Ozark practice of doing what she says she will do.
I figure she has some bosses who nixed all that. I don’t know, and neither do you, who is actually pulling the strings at the MDC. But they are powerful because they completely control the news media in this state. And this column cannot be printed in most newspapers. Only a few are left who will allow readers to see this.
Keep up with what is going on in the outdoors by reading the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazine I publish, or seeing my website, larrydablemontoutdoors. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613. To talk with me in person, call my office phone… 417-777-5227.