This should make you laugh… a letter I got from Butch Stone, a grizzled old veteran outdoorsman from the Ozarks who makes his own bows and arrows and hunts successfully with them. He says…
“I came across a bunch of young people, seining below a low water crossing. Four big Mo, conservation trucks. Of course I asked what was going on, and the spokesman told me, ‘we’re doing a study on why the crayfish and fresh water salamanders are disappearing from the Ozark streams?
So I told him…Why don’t you check the otter toilets on the sand bar behind you and see what they been eating? No one did, it was too simple an answer for them?”
I wish they would send some employees to help landowners along the river to fence off river bottom land so that cattle can be kept be kept out of the river. Nothing would save salamanders and aquatic creatures like that work. There is an easy way to do that which costs ranchers nothing, all paid for by the government. I have visited river bottoms where owners did that, but they have to do it first in order to get their money back. Few can afford that, although I have a neighbor who did it and he is there to show what can be done and tell anyone who will listen what an advantage it has been to him. Drilled wells now water his cattle, and his land along the river is fenced off, planted in trees and native grasses But again, he paid for it all and the Soil Conservation Center reimbursed him. Come see it, he and I will show it to you. That could be done all along the best of our Ozark rivers but the Conservation department will not get involved. Money is the reason given, but so much money is wasted on things of little importance. Those of us who live on and with the land know exactly why salamanders and crawdads are decreasing. Why in the heck does nothing get done about it?
Wild turkey are also decreasing, and the answers to that decline are so easy to see and address, but the MDC will not even face the problem because they feel it will cost them money. I’ll address that solution when we get closer to the turkey season. And we have the figures to show what a money-maker the elk and bear seasons are for the MDC. You won’t believe it!!
You don’t need to launch a study to learn about the eventual extinction of the night birds, whippoorwills and their relatives. Some university had better set up some type of program to try to raise them in captivity or in 30 years we’ll be talking about them like we do the passenger pigeon today. Missourians who live in towns and cities don’t hear them at night anyway, so there is no concern amongst the suburbanites, but to the few of us who live in the woods, it is a great loss. Thirty years ago there were always some of them in my woods to hear at night, but in recent years, none. When I camp in the summer on various rivers, they are seldom heard.
There is a lot to be said for research, but wondering why small streams are losing salamanders… come on man! Research needs to be done with some common sense! I can give you five answers to the reason streams are losing creatures which once lived in those waters in good numbers. But nothing can be done about it with biologists like that Butch encountered, who take pages of figures back to some city office cubicle, and they should know that. Why spend money where there is no way to change anything? I would like to see that money spent on working with landowners to actually better our streams. In that act of making the water quality better along creeks and rivers, the creatures living in the water can be helped.
Funny thing is, I could go out and contact landowners as nothing more than an average citizen and talk them into those bottomland projects that the U.S. government will pay for. Why can’t the MDC, with the millions they have, do the same? Heck, they can get me to do it for no pay. This would be so simple to do. MDC though has no interest, even if I volunteer to do it for them.
I got a call from a lady in one of the MDC offices who told me she is disgusted because in March their office like many others, has to spend the last of budgeted money for fear of having their budget cut for the upcoming year. She said they have to go out and spend it on things like an ATV which will never be used. She said that it will likely be available a time or two for private use by one of the offices supervisors on their days off, then sold at auction in the MDC’s equipment auction the next year. Her words were, “We waste so damn much money”!!

Freshwater otters have divested smaller rivers and creeks, and private waters like farm ponds stocked for fishing. The biologists who stocked them in the Ozarks had no idea what they were unleashing one aquatic ecosystems.
I know there are folks who look forward to our Outdoorsman’s Swap Meet organized this year by my old friend Steve Johnson. Steve says we need more vendors, so if you want a table to sell your old hunting and fishing gear, or anything else, call him at 417-414-3128. The event will be in the Noble Hills Church gym on March 18. Admission is free and I will be there with all my hunting and fishing gear which I am getting to old to use. I will also be giving away magazine and selling my books for a big discount. I hope to see many of the readers of this column. The church is located along highway 13 just a few miles to the north of Springfield. Breakfast and lunch available and the money made from that will be used for sending youth to a summer Church Camp.
Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at To see my websites on the Internet just type in my name.

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