This week’s Lightnin’ Ridge nature question for all those master naturalists out there is… “Mountain lions do well when their number one food source, the white-tail deer is plentiful. Another mammal, which is steadily increasing, is a prey animal mountain lions would rather have than venison. Mountain lion numbers might rise in the Ozarks solely because of this animal. What is that animal?

It is likely the best time to discuss our spring Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’ Swap Meet, because the fishing is getting good and in the next few columns I am apt to be bragging about the fish I have been catching. Believe me you are going to be amazed at all the big fish I am going to catch soon. But on Saturday, March 25, I will not be fishing. I hope to be with lots of you folks at the Brighton Assembly of God church gymnasium where we will have about 50 tables of outdoor gear for sale at bargain prices.

Honest to goodness, at that swap meet five or six years ago I saw an antique fishing lure worth $60 or $70 sell for $3. And I saw an antique muzzle-loader sell for about half of its true value. The thing about our swap meet is… there is no charge to get in and there is no charge for a table. In this day and time, that is unusual. There was a swap meet in Springfield recently where they charged $85 per table and $5 to each visitor who wanted to come in and buy something. But we have a hard time getting tables for everyone who wants to bring something to sell. So if you want to be a “vendor” you need to contact me soon.

We’ll open at 8:30 in the morning and close things down at 2 in the afternoon. The church has a youth group that prepares coffee and biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and then hamburgers, pork sandwiches, potato chips, cake and pie for dinner. So, it is a great way for them to make some money for the activities they undertake. And this year we are going to have a room set up with antiques and various things for sale which will help us with the Panther Creek Youth project we have set up for underprivileged kids. You will be able to hear about and see photos of what that place is, basically a no-cost outdoor setting for those youngsters with a lodge and cabins on a 60 acre tract along Panther Creek. And there will be lots of items for sale, which will go toward paying electricity, insurance and taxes there.

Out on the main floor of the gymnasium I expect to have about 50 tables. One of them might be particularly interesting to visitors who are into antique lure, rods, reels, etc. I think Jerry McCoy, from Lakeview, AR, probably knows more about those old, old lures than anyone in the Midwest, and he will be there to buy and sell antique lures. But if you have some that you want to keep, Jerry can tell you what they are, when they were made and what they are worth.

This year we will have lots of items for those folks who want to decorate a den or office or cabin with art. We will have many beautiful wildlife paintings of deer, bear, elk, eagles, wolves, etc. hanging on the wall, 11 X 14 paintings in black wooden frames, for only $10. Already I have purchased a half dozen for my own home. They are really something. A woodworker, Harold Mitchell will be coming from my boyhood town of Houston, MO, with handmade wooden bowls and other wood items that he sells for a great deal less than they are worth. I saw his work several years ago and kept after him until he agreed to come to our swap meet. At his table, you will see some of the prettiest woodwork you have ever seen.

Another woodworker comes from Galena, MO, Dale Olson, has been to every swap meet we have held, and he makes things like birdhouses, bird feeders, jewelry boxes and many other things. He has been a favorite vendor of ladies who come to our swap meet because he makes cutting boards that are absolutely beautiful on a kitchen counter, and priced below their actual value, on account of, Dale is a grizzled old outdoorsman like me who hasn’t been to the big cities much and doesn’t realize how good he is at this stuff. We will have a fellow from down around Norfork Lake who makes cedar cabin furniture and picnic tables with his handiwork displayed outside the door.

David Preddy usually comes from southern Missouri with tanned furs, mounted predator heads sitting on deer antler stands, fur caps like the earlier frontiersmen wear, and I think Vernon Myers will be there with a whole table of handmade knives. In fact many tables have old antique knives, pocket knives like my grandfathers and the old-timers at the pool hall use to carry. On those tables which just have a hodge-podge of outdoor items, you will see good usable rods and reels, camp stoves, minnow buckets, bait traps, steel traps, old carbide lamps, lanterns and duck decoys. There will be vendors there selling turkey calls, duck calls and predator calls, with some archery equipment as well.

Lure makers who produce modern day lures come, for example the Criddly Lure Company from Pleasant Hope who makes all kinds of spinner baits, of all sizes and I use their lures often because I catch fish on them. They are quite a bit different than other spinning baits. Of course, me being a grizzled old outdoorsman like I am, you might expect me to catch fish on about anything, and I sure won’t argue that fact. I have never once written about the lures I didn’t catch fish on, and I ain’t about to admit that ever happened..

I really want to contact ladies who do baking, and who make jelly and can pickles and relish, because we notice how much attention such a table garners. We need that, because I don’t have time to make muffins and cookies and such. What I do hope to do is make some of my handmade turkey calls, the ones I use myself. Thousands of beginning turkey hunters have called up their first gobblers with my handmade calls, and while I know that I can’t prove that, I also know that no one can prove otherwise.

I just cannot get to all the other special things that will be there, but I intend to put up for bids one of my Uncle Norten’s handmade sassafras paddles and one of my grandfather’s sassafras paddles made some time in the 1930’s. The money from those will help with expenses at the Panther Creek Youth Retreat mentioned earlier.

Remember that this event is free, there will be tables where visitors can set and relax and drink coffee and eat dinner and have conversation with other folks. I’ll be there amongst ‘em, with my new spring issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge outdoors magazine and all my books, which I will sell as usual for about 2/3rds of the book store prices. I have a couple of new ones, so now there are a total of nine. My daughters and their mother will be there, too, so this has become a family affair. And the event gives me the opportunity to meet and talk to those folks who read this column.

I cannot thank enough the Brighton Assembly of God Church for giving us this opportunity year after year, and Assistant Pastor Mark Cross for all the help he gives us to make this work so smoothly. We will post a map to the site on my website,, or you can write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613 and request a map. Or get one by email,

The answer to the nature question… feral hogs.