I had vowed revenge back in the spring, when she stole a treasured lure from me. It was a gold Rapala about four inches long. I told her then that she would pay for that sneakiness, that thievery. I was upstream a ways in early April, using it to catch white bass, and hoping for a walleye. That’s the thing about those expensive Rapala lures, you can fish them on the surface to catch the whites, or jerk them down underwater two or three feet for walleye. I probably shouldn’t have been using such a treasured lure on six-pound line.

But I hadn’t suspected the sudden attack so close to my rod tip and with a savagery often seen from smallmouth in a small Ozark stream. She struck just as I attempted to pull the lure from the water. That close, the drag on a spinning reel doesn’t work as well and she snapped it with a sudden boiling swirl of water that showed me this wasn’t a smallmouth, but a big black largemouth of remarkable size.

She had been lurking there in deep water beneath a flat rock ledge where I stood. She saw her chance and took it… took my lure, took my peaceful and relaxed demeanor and turned it into upsetness and aggravation. I said then, “I will be back.”

And I was, late in the stillness of evening last week, as chuck-wills-widows began to call and an owl hooted from a distant ridge. Standing there on that flat rock, with stronger line and a casting reel I tossed a bushy black buzz-bait upstream. I worked it over the big rocks, down alongside the ledge, once, twice, three times. And she was down there, thinking perhaps she would steal another one, thinking I still had weak line and that peaceful demeanor of mine. In the sudden wink of an eye she flashed from the depths and took it from the surface and I let her have line as the drag on my reel buzzed like some kind of evening insect.

As she fought to stay in those depths I told her that I was the same guy she had stolen from before, and I enjoyed my revenge as that rod arced and strained against her heavy body. I knew she would lose the fight. She was a beauty, 20 inches long and hefty-full of eggs. Downstream, a friend waiting in my boat took a quick picture as the dusk waned. She can find her way upstream to those rock ledges again. Maybe her sore jaw will cause her to remember to leave my lure alone… next spring, when I am after walleye and white bass again… when my demeanor is peaceful and my line is weak.

The other evening I was out on Stockton Lake and white bass were beginning to chase shad on the surface out in the middle of the lake. That makes for very good fishing as the summer goes on. You have to find the schools of fish on the surface and ease in to them via trolling motor. Sometimes you can see them several hundred yards away when there is no wind and the surface is like glass. I like to fish either a white jig, retrieved rapidly through the school or a surface lure of some kind.

Occasionally those schools are made up of black bass. The reason is the same, the fish are chasing shad up to the surface and slashing through them, filling their bellies. In Bull Shoals years ago in July, I would take my daughters out for an afternoon swim, then as the sun dipped low, take them into schools of surfacing white bass where they would absolutely wear themselves out filling the live well. This kind of fishing is great in all those Arkansas border lakes and on Stockton. In Truman Lake, the surfacing fish often include hybrids that weigh from five to 10-pounds. On Beaver Lake, huge stripers may get into the shad-chasing act and you might see a surface commotion a half mile away, because they splash water three or four feet in the air as they feed. I will write about this again, later in the summer.

I love beautiful wildlife paintings, and have the walls of my office and home adorned with many I have come across over the years that I could afford. If you have a den or office or whatever that needs some wildlife paintings, you should visit a place called “Pictures and More” on the east side of Hwy. 13 south of Brighton which is perhaps only 10 or 12 miles north of Springfield.

There are all kinds of wildlife and nature paintings there selling for as little as $25, a fraction of the price you usually would pay. And they will also frame and mat any art you want to take home. Fantastic paintings of deer and eagles and bear… moose, elk, wolves, mountain lions, waterfowl, etc… you’ll see an amazing number and selection.

I am going to move all my office art closer together to see if I have enough space to buy one or two of theirs. I’m not trying to give anyone free advertising but I always like to let my readers know when I see real bargains pertaining to the outdoors. Truthfully, if the Creator had given me a choice in the matter I would give up my enormous talent as the world’s greatest johnboat paddler just to be a mediocre wildlife artist. What those people do with a brush and canvas is so amazing, and few of them are conceited about it. If I could only do what they do…

I got a recent call from an employee of the Missouri Department of Conservation, who would be fired if I gave his name. He said that when I wrote about the MDC agents abusing their power in the collection of big antlers I was right on track. He said that the reason they won’t let me or any other journalists witness them destroying antlers is because they never ever do that… they just say they do.

“Does anyone think they don’t know the value of those antlers?”

There are hundreds of good honest employees working for that agency, but too many who are not. Corruption abounds in Jefferson City and those involved in it are strangely protected by this state’s large media. The man who called me says that a conservation agent here in the Ozarks has a storage building filled with big antlers worth perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. He says the agent calls them his “retirement plan.” He says the antlers are a result of bucks killed on the highway and some he bought.

“But a good percentage of them are from deer confiscated, some illegally taken by the MDC from innocent hunters over some technical charge they often come up with, or just downright bogus charges.”

He says most agents have some big antlers and there isn’t much a hunter can do if he is charged, because a lawyer costs so much. The best thing to do, he advises, is to never let anyone know when you kill a buck with big antlers.

He told me one thing that really hits home. He said that if you hit a deer with a car and you call it in as a doe or small buck, you can get permission over the phone to keep it, clean it and eat it.

“Not so if you tell them it is a big buck,” he says. “Just try calling in a deer with 14 points and a 24-inch spread, give directions to where it is and see how long it takes a conservation agent to get there.”

This needs to be investigated by the Attorney General of this state. That stock of antlers the agent calls his retirement fund should be seized and accounted for. But if you consider the fact that a few newspapers I write for will delete this paragraph… you get an idea of how easily it is for the MDC to break the law and violate constitutional rights.

I have worked for years to see the truth come out about many things they are doing. It is hidden by all Missouri media except the small locally owned newspapers.

To read all my writings, unedited, you can go to my website… www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at lightninridge@windstream.net. Office phone is 417 /777-5227.