July means that it’s time to bring out the bow

Well, it is summertime and most everyone’s main concerns are fishing, camping, floating, boating, BBQing and relaxing.

Bow hunters, we’re forgetting one thing — practice shooting the bow. It’s July and the reality is bow season is about 10 weeks away. loepker photo

Summertime tends to lean toward the busy side for most of our lives and we don’t have time to be target practicing like we will hardcore come September 1st.

Make a plan this summer to get the bow off the top shelf and target shoot at least one to two times a week, just ten to fifteen minutes each time. Those who aren’t pros yet like me, this will amplify your muscle build up and get you in the shape you need to be in.

I find that when I get serious about practicing September 1st, I’ll shoot for 30-45 minutes and my arm will be so sore that I won’t practice again for days. This is completely ineffective when September 5th rolls around and I want to be dead on in 10 days.

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Enjoy exercising with help from the outdoors

For the past few years now, I have tried to be more health conscientious. Eating better foods and exercising on a regular basis have been the keys to achieving this goal.

One of the reasons that I started doing this was, of course, so that I would be in better shape when turkey season came around. IMG_4156

During the spring I spend a lot hours walking, climbing hills, and in some desperate measures to get a gobbler I have even belly crawled for several yards.

But, what started out as a lot of work has become one of the more enjoyable activities that I now do.

When I started a few years back, I was way overweight and out of shape. I first joined a local gym where I would walk/run on a treadmill combined with lifting a few weights. I’m not going to lie to you, it was not fun.

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Cherokee descendants retrace an infamous trek

In the late 1830s an event unparalleled in American history began to take shape.

From their homes in Georgia, all of the Cherokees in the state were removed and forced to relocate their homes, families and communities to a vastly different land in what was called “Indian Territory” to the west of Arkansas.cherokee2

An estimated 16,000 Cherokee were forced at gunpoint to make this trek that became known as the Trail of Tears. Throughout the winter months of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokee were forced to travel overland – through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.

They had to cross rivers and streams – including the mighty Mississippi – and more than 4,000 Cherokee died from the exposure and conditions along the trek.

This summer, however, a group of descendants of the Cherokee who made that infamous trek across the country retraced that route, riding bicycles from Georgia along the original route to Oklahoma.

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Missouri’s little-known Rock Bass are true gems

While fishing the lakes and streams of Missouri, have you ever caught a Rock Bass? I’ll bet you have.

Most people don’t know them by that name. Most people just call them goggle-eye.

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The goggle-eye is a thick-bodied member of the sunfish family with a large mouth and very large eyes. It’s a very sporty fish that I think is one of the most gorgeous that swims in our waters.

Most specimens will reach about 8-9 inches in length but some can get up to 11 inches. The state record is 2 pounds, 12 ounces caught in the Big Piney by William Rod in 1968.

There are actually three species of rock bass found in the streams of Missouri — the Northern, Shadow, and Ozark. And it depends where you are fishing, which one you will catch.

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Tree of the Month: Beautiful cemetery trees

Have you ever been driving down the highway or through an unfamiliar town and see a beautiful row of trees ahead, and as you passed, you realized that those trees lived in a cemetery? Glenwood Cemetary Houston TX 2

Many times when going to look at a state champion tree, I find myself in a cemetery looking up in amazement at a champion tree that is a hundred or more years old.

When I see a tree growing peacefully in a cemetery, unthreatened by urban sprawl or deforestation, and protected peacefully from utility companies and loggers, the scene inspires many thoughts about those trees and what they mean.

The idea of the promise of life in the presence of so many who have left us behind resonates with me in a way that I can’t easily articulate.

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Bow shooting & its benefits for hunting deer

Last year’s deer season, my cousin, Sam, who is 16, solely relied on bow hunting alone. Since all I’ve ever done was rifle hunt I was quite confused.

Why would he want to bow hunt? You have to wait for them to get as close as 30 yards if you’re lucky! With a rifle I could see one on the other hillside and make a decent shot if I had practiced that length of shooting. 

Every day after each morning hunt he’d walk in the door and report sighting of eight points! It frustrated me more than anything. He could’ve taken the shot with a rifle any day! As good as my cousin was at bow shooting, he probably could’ve made any of the shots.

He left that season empty-handed. I thought his choice of bow hunting ruined his chances of bagging a big buck.

Watching Sam shoot was really inspiring. Grandpa would challenge him with a three second shot or make him sit down and shoot backward. Many family members of mine would also come down and shoot their bows with each other.

Missing out on it was really discouraging. I tried shooting my aunt’s bow but I just couldn’t hit any targets. I thought bow shooting for me wasn’t even an option. A couple weeks after deer season Sam convinced me to ask for a bow for Christmas.

Thankfully, my grandfather got me one! I was really nervous when I walked into Ozarks Archery (on Highway 160 and 13 in Reeds Spring Junction). In the range I could see little boys at five years old hitting their mark with every shot.

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Wild times at the White River’s North Fork

I took a mini vacation a few weeks ago and camped at the North Fork Recreation Area (locally known as Hammond Camp) in the Mark Twain National Forest near Dora, Mo.

Besides spending some time trout fishing, I also wanted to hike the Devil’s Backbone Wilderness Area. As I began setting up my camper one of the first things I noticed was the “Bear Country” sign listing the don’ts while camping in the area.Bear Country:Devils Backbone Wilderness

I spent a day trapping bear in this part of the state about a year ago with Jeff Beringer, resource scientist with the Missouri Conservation Department. We trapped and studied two bears that day, a smaller male and a large female.

For me, that was pretty cool and perhaps one of my best days spent in the woods. The “Bear Country” sign at the campgrounds brought back some good memories.

Once I had the camper set up and everything where I wanted it, I jumped back in the truck and headed for the Patrick Bridge river access. I thought I would wade and fish the river below the bridge.

There are several places to fish for trout in Missouri, each with specific rules for fishing. The stretch of river below Patrick Bridge is a Red Ribbon Trout Area — length limit at least 15 inches with a daily limit of two trout.

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