Sure things

Posted August 8, 2013 at 11:01 am

I don’t know if there is a doggone thing you can count on for absolute sure if you live in a city, but some things in the outdoor world are certain. For instance, after a front goes through, just about any time of the year, and the wind changes to come off the east, the fish catching is poor. Sometimes it gets right down awful. In the fall and spring, if there’s a big storm, or even a little storm or a medium storm, and it cools down a bit and the wind changes from the south or west to the north, same thing…no fishing.

In the summer, if the river is low and clear, and there’s a rain which starts to raise it up again, and turn it sort of dinghy just before it gets downright muddy, fish feed like crazy while it raises the first foot or so, but when it gets up three feet high or so, the big fish quit feeding and hang on to underwater limbs and weeds with their mouth until the water goes down.

And in February and March, if you have two days of sunny 70-degree days, and the water temperature just picks up a degree or so, fish go on a real binge. Walleye stay under rocks in bright sunlight, because the sun hurts their eyes.

When there’s a good northerly breeze in early October, butterflies flutter toward Texas and Mexico and the first migrating geese in come with them on high northerly winds. Those first geese will always be specklebellies also known as white-fronted geese. Mallards watch for those specklebellies to head south, and the first bunches of them will follow in about two weeks. Teal migrate in September because they are much more nervous, scared kind of ducks than others, probably because of their small size. Most wood ducks will leave the Ozarks about 10 minutes after they see ice in a mud puddle.

Wild turkey hens like to nest on the east side of a big oak tree, never ever on the west side, and fox squirrels won’t eat a hickory nut until the 12th of August. Grey squirrels will eat a hickory nut whenever they find it. Flathead catfish won’t eat anything that is dead, and soft-shelled turtles have seven different kinds of meat on them. While the slimy film on an Ozark hellbender will dry your hands out, it will heal poison ivy in 10 minutes. And you will catch more fish if you rub the head of a red-haired boy before you go fishing.

A buckeye in your pocket will give you good luck, and so will a rabbit’s foot, but only if it is carried in the pocket on which side the foot came from. If you have a front left foot of a rabbit, it must be carried in the front left pocket. Back feet of a rabbit have no effect whatsoever on anyone’s luck, it has to be a front foot.

All this rain in July and August means for sure there will be bad hurricanes between now and November, and one good-sized earthquake. It indicates a lot of snow around here in December and January. But the fact that it isn’t real hot this summer means it won’t be nearly as cold in February and March.

Well, that’s not everything I know for certain but it’s enough to get you off on the right foot and help you prepare for the next few months. One other thing. Any man who fishes at least 40 percent of his waking time will be happier than a man who doesn’t, unless he is a tournament fisherman, in which case he will be miserable about half the time. And the number of years of happiness in your life will coincide with the number of hours you spend roaming the woods and floating the rivers of the Ozarks. Remember, too, that outdoor writers who make blackberry wine out of the blackberries that are found in early August, and drink a lot of it in a hurry, will be able to come up with stuff like this easily.

Well, I feel it is my duty to let you squirrel hunters know that you should save your squirrel tails for a big get together in northwest Arkansas this fall. Sheldon’s lure company, out of Antigo, WI, will have a big day on Sept. 12 in Bentonville, AR, they are referring to as the “Squirrels Unlimited World Championship squirrel cook-off.” Sheldon’s makes Mepps spinners, and they buy and use squirrel tails in their spinners, which are great fishing lures when you can’t find something better.

“We are pleased to sponsor the Cook Off,” Jim Martinsen, Mepps spokesperson said. “We were ‘in’ as soon as we were contacted by Joe Wilson, president of Squirrels Unlimited.”

While this isn’t the first year for Squirrels Unlimited to host a Squirrel Cook Off, it is the first year it will be crowning a World Champion, and the winner will get $500. “The Cook Off is going extremely well with teams from coast-to-coast, signed-up to compete,” Wilson has commented. “This year's event will be aired on television as well.” For details visit:

Shucks, he’s talking about squirrel-cooking teams. That means that if I go down there and make some squirrel and dumplings all by myself, I probably ain’t got a chance.

We are going to have our own big day on Oct. 12 here in Bolivar with the first annual Lightnin’ Ridge Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s Art, Craft, Wood-carving and Taxidermy and Swap-meet and Common Sense Conservationist Convention. We have room for hundreds of people and vendor spaces and admission is free. Check my website for all the details. About 10 a.m. that morning, taxidermist and grizzled old outdoorsman Don Scott from Joplin will hang up a whole, undivided deer and show folks how to debone it in less than 30 minutes. If you are a deer hunter you need to be there. Scott has done this a lot, and folks who have seen it said it is a quick easy method to get all the meat off your deer and leave a skeleton hanging.

From time-to-time I will be announcing other unbelievable things we will have that day, but put the date on your calendar and don’t miss it. If you are someone who does outdoor or country art, paintings, photos, sculpture, carvings, etc, you need to be there. If you are a talented artist, it may be your big break in establishing a long career. We have tremendously talented artists in the Ozarks who have had little exposure. I want to fill that 16,000-foot area, so if you want to come, contact us. See my website about this… for details. Outdoor swap meet people can set up in a separate area to sell used or new outdoor equipment too. The whole day is free for everyone.

My address is Box 22, Bolivar, mo 65613, and the e-mail address is or you can call my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, via the office phone, if she isn’t using it to try to find used tires for her Datsun pickup. The number is 417/ 777-5227.