Turkey season is upon us, and while it lacks the appeal of spring gobbler season, it is a great time to be in the woods, especially if we have an early frost.
You know what I hate about early October in the woods? Spider webs. Every little trail you travel has been selected by some arrogant arthropodic arachnid for a sticky, stringy spider web. They get you across the face, and within a mile or so of every early morning or late evening hunting trip, you have walked right through a dozen or so and have little mean-looking spiders on your face and upper body.
But it’s worth it. The later in October, the better. The greatest time to be in the woods is a late October evening, when God has painted the tree-tops with his continuing creation. You can set up against a big tree trunk and call turkeys, knowing that in a couple of months in that very same spot, you’d get your rear soaked, sitting in the snow.
And you will see all kinds of sights. There will be music from the skies, as speckle-bellied geese pass over, bent upon the Louisiana wetlands far away. Sometimes a flock of young turkeys will walk upon you, thinking you are their mama calling them to roost. And if you don’t take a picture of that young turkey you shoot, you can say it was a great big one. Just don’t invite any one to help eat it.
I was born on Oct. 11, during the prettiest time of the year, when the bluffs along the Big Piney were drenched in magnificent color, and the first flights of wild ducks were sitting into the big eddies on their way southward.
Since our Big Outdoorsman’s event will be Oct 12, I have told many artists and vendors they can come in on Friday evening, Oct. 11, and set up their tables. I have decided to turn it into a birthday party, with cake and coffee and sodas. You can join us if you want, but come early, we may not have enough cake for more than a hundred or so.
I don’t think I ever had a birthday party. We were poor. You’ll remember that my father’s family grew up in log cabins with sawdust floors. Mom’s folks had a little four-room farmhouse where I was born, with a well and no indoor plumbing, no electricity. The night I was born, a big storm blew through the Ozarks, and as I came into the world a big bolt of lightning hit that little farmhouse and killed three chickens in the other room.
That’s how poor we were. When my folks decided to have a birthday party for me when I was about 10, so they invited some of my schoolmates and farm neighbor friends and asked that the kids bring presents and their own cake and ice-cream. I don’t think anyone came.
So this will be my first real birthday party and this time I will buy the cake. I’ll get some chocolate ones and some white ones and maybe one of those cakes made out of carrots, so we can have some diversity. I’ll even have a present for everyone… I am going to bring free Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazines.
We have about a thousand recent issues of the magazine to give away on Saturday as well.
To get directions to the arena where all this is taking place, you can check my website, but it’s known as “The Complex” in Bolivar, and the address is 1430 East 455th Street. Local folks know that street as Mt. Gilead road, which goes out to the golf course east of Bolivar.
I have invited MDC Enforcement Chief Larry Yamnitz to our Big Event, so that he might hear from folks in our area concerning the activities of Ozark conservation agents. I like Larry Yamnitz, he was conservation agent over in the Big Piney country where I grew up, back in his younger days.
I really don’t think we have accomplished much in the time he and I have talked about changing some things, but I talked to him on the phone the other day, and he disagrees. He said that they are doing some things within the ranks which they do not make public in response to complaints by hunters and fishermen who think agents are going out of the bounds in the work they do, especially those entering homes and outbuildings without search warrants. He told me that he had all agents in Jefferson City recently and they were all asked to repeat their oath as a law enforcement agents in respecting and upholding the constitutional rights of Missouri citizens.
One of the things we talked about a year or so ago when Larry met with members of our Common Sense Conservationist organization, concerned agents having the right to shut down taxidermist shops on their own. That has changed. No agent can now do that, without taking it through the central offices in Jefferson City, where a review of charges can be made. Even if charged with some minor infraction, agents could once close the doors of any taxidermist shop. Yamnitz says because of that meeting we had last summer, they cannot do that anymore.
Larry Yamnitz asked me to let readers know that he is willing to talk with anyone who feels they have had their rights violated or have been charged without evidence, charged with petty technicalities, or have had their home entered by an agent without a search warrant. He will talk with you if you have a legitimate concern. Call 573/751-4115 and ask to be connected with him, or leave a message and phone number if he is out of the office.
He said he will be available in Springfield at 6:30 on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the MDC Nature Center, where there will be a public meeting concerning the outbreak of chronic wasting disease (mad deer disease). It is mostly to answer the questions of Ozark deer hunters worried about the spread of this disease.
Please remember that we have a new website for those who want to see our state Conservation Department change and become accountable for what they are doing. Go see it and you can use it to tell about local conservation areas, and what is happening to them. Send photos to show your concerns. And if you are the victim of any agent who comes in your home without a search warrant, tell us about it. The website is www.commonsenseconservationist.org.
My own website is larrydablemontoutdoors where the information about our Oct. 12 art show and swap meet is given. Email me at email@example.com or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613. Your outdoor questions or comments can be aired on my Sunday morning outdoor radio program, 8 to 9, KWTO 560 AM. It can be heard via computer, www.radiospringfield.com.