Right now in the Ozarks, there are eagles everywhere, and each spring more and more of them nest here. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you know where eagles nest, and it is very easy to see them. I found a new eagles nest this week, and counted about a dozen different birds, about half of them immature.
In Utah they have found about that many sick eagles, and have no idea what is wrong with them. I would say to find what they have been feeding on, and solve the problem that way. The snow is heavy there, there are no migrating ducks left and most of the water is frozen, so those two vital parts of an eagles diet are taken away, fish and ducks.
The deer and elk hunting seasons are over. What is left in the wake of that are the carcasses of dead deer which hunters didn’t find. And eagles become big-time carrion eaters in the winter.
Last year, we floated a river in early January and found five eagles feeding on the carcass of one deer on a gravel bar. As years go by, they become more and more docile, and now you can easily get within a few yards of eagles along the river in winter, so if there is anyone who wants to photo one, it becomes rather easily.
Last fall in Canada, we were feeding fish to an eagle out in the middle of nowhere, and would get to within 15 or 20 feet of her almost everyday we went out. She had two eaglets, both a little bigger than her in that stage of their development, and they were tagging around, waiting for her to give them their share. I heard more sounds from those three eagles than I have ever heard from one. The young ones sat in a tree one evening just before dark and whistled almost exactly like quail regrouping before dark after being scattered. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. If I hadn’t seen it and heard it, I would have bet all I had the sound was from bobwhite quail.
If they do things right out there in Utah, I think they will find some deer or elk carcasses out there, and it is likely the sick eagles can be traced to feeding on carrion. But what is it? Something not seen before.
I can tell you this, do not worry about the eagle population. They are becoming overpopulated, and in 10 years there will be even more of them, and in time biologists are going to be wondering if some numbers in some areas shouldn’t be controlled. They’ll start becoming a problem for newborn sheep and newborn cattle.
We were duck hunting the other day and I left my duck call in my pick-up, so I asked my hunting partner, Rich Abdoler, if he had one I could use. He found and old plastic one and gave it to me, and it sounded great. For all the hoopla about expensive hand-made wooden duck calls, some of the plastic ones are as good as you can get. For an expert duck caller like me, it makes little difference. I have been known to call ducks right out of a cornfield to a patch of desert.
Anyhow, I got to looking and on the top of the call was the brand name, “duck commander”. Rich had a duck call made 30 or 40 years ago by Phil Robertson himself… one of my idols. He wouldn’t sell it, but it might be worth 10 or 20 dollars, and except for his shotgun, Rich doesn’t hunt with anything worth that much money.
I think I will send a photo of the call to my old friend Phil or his brother, Si, and ask if they can remember when it was made. But I am a little mad at both of them, as I sent them a copy of my duck-hunting book, “Memories from a Misty Morning Marsh” and they haven’t even acknowledged that they read it. And I haven’t been put on the board of advisors like they promised when I helped them get started.
I came across another old valuable piece of history this past week when I bought a little book entitled, “Hillbilly Humor” by Jim Owens, the man who got float-fishing started on the White River and became famous because of it. The book was published by a New York company, and likely was released in the 50’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find it autographed by Jim Owens. Again, it might be worth more than I sell any of my own books for. To me it is a treasure.
Another treasure I obtained recently is a little wooden shelf, which obviously was made by a true craftsman. A lady brought it to a book signing and I traded her one of my books for it. I didn’t know who made it. On the back it says, “Early American Craftsmanship by that Crafty Early American, J. F. Keefe”. Jim Keefe was one of my heroes when I went to University of Missouri. He was the editor of the Missouri Conservationist, an old time country outdoorsman who loved to hunt with muzzle-loaders. Keefe, with a limited budget, put out a great little black and white magazine that talked and taught real conservation, a far cry from the million-dollar piece of propaganda the MDC puts out today.
Mr. Keefe published a couple of my first magazine articles, and I would go to the brand new offices in Jefferson City to talk to him as often as possible, about writing, about hunting, and about conservation. I wouldn’t take $1,000,000 for that little shelf, a true piece of craftsmanship that shows me another side of a great man.
I ain’t going to be somewhere on New Year’s Eve blowing a horn and drinking that stuff that comes from France, acting like I can’t wait to see a New Year come. I hate losing the old one. Every time the calendar gets a new number, there are fewer days to enjoy the woods and the waters and fewer opportunities to learn more about the perfection of God’s creation. What this country is becoming, in those places where bright lights and bulging crowd are found, is something many of us hate to see happening. Perhaps we are close to the day the Bible describes as a time when men will “no longer abide sound reason”.
But I might take a little walk out in the woods behind my house on the last night of 2013 and see if I can hear a coyote or a great horned owl. I’ll be asleep at midnight and greet the New Year with hopes of finding some good duck-hunting.
I don’t wish you a prosperous new year; I wish you peace, contentment and good health. Those things can indeed be found without the wealth men are intent on today. It is part of the little treasures God grants to those who are happy with what they are, and the blessings they are given.
Our new magazines offer opportunity for Ozark writers, artists and photographers. If you are one of those, contact us. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613. The website is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.