I won’t soon forget my encounter with a river ranger

A couple of years ago I reconstituted our family’s extensive folio of color slide transparencies into digital photo files, so as to make these photo memories more permanent.

A Missouri Conservation agent measures Stagoski's smallmouth at 19.5 inches and weighing 3.5 pounds.

MDC Fishery Biologist John Ackerman’s presentation on the preliminary findings gathered from last year’s Angler Survey of Smallmouth and Rock Bass Fishing, reminded me that some of these “ancient” photos were taken on the Current River.

The survey data collected from the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers was especially fascinating to me.

Several days later, I idly began to rummage through the collection of photos from my earliest days of Smallmouth Bass fishing, when I was a “young man.”

Suddenly a kind of excitement, unique to anglers, filled my body as I beheld photos taken while fishing on the Current River in 1959.

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On the Edge

In the past couple of publications of the Traveler we’ve discussed the potential comeback of mountain lions and a growing population of black bears.

This month I thought it would be interesting if we took a look at some ominous species just on the edge of the Ozarks.  Alligator from public domain U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Now, some of these species might already inhabit a few small corners of the Ozarks. But for the most part, if you call the Ozarks home, you’ll have to venture out a little further if you want a realistic chance of encountering one.

I’ll start with a rather fearsome looking invertebrate. The giant red-headed centipede has been gaining some Internet stardom recently. A homeowner in Texas recently found a large specimen and snapped a shot of one holding on to the end of a broom. That picture has been striking fear into many Southern Midwesterners, maybe justifiably.

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Paddle Missouri will connect you to Missouri’s river ways

Day One – Setting Forth

I was not quite prepared for this trip. As we rounded our 10th, 11th, and 12th miles of the day, I realized that when I saw “Paddle Georgia” I thought “Float Georgia.”13979_1072342922793255_6099333106352024933_n

My dear friends, paddle means paddle. Ozark river float trips are a distant relative of what we are doing here. We covered over 14 miles of river today, mostly flat and nearly motionless.

No kicking back and cruising through riffles, no idly watching the current gently carry you downstream. Reality quickly set in that this week will require some endurance and grit.

Aside from this startling revelation, the scenery and conditions were beautiful. It was hot, but a consistent breeze and frequent shade from towering cypress trees made the heat tolerable. Even the act of launching a boat with hundreds of other people was an exciting experience.

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Flyrodding for Bluegill

Fly fishing is the first love of many die-hard anglers. Few things match the inspirational feeling of loading a rod up and shooting a line 40 feet across a cold, clear trout stream. bluegill popper rod

Equally inspiring is the powerful strike of a hard fighting fish. Consider trying bluegill fishing with a  3 or 4 weight fly rod.

August is a great month to target these diminutive fish. Pound for pound, bluegill are one of the hardest fighting fish that swim our waters. Here are a few pointers for catching them.

Bluegill are prolific breeders and are found across the country in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. Many fish and game departments stock bluegills in new lakes to provide a food source for other species such as bass and catfish. Bluegill are so common that they are most often the very first fish a child catches.

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A fed bear often sadly becomes a dead bear

On Monday, July 20, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) staff had the unfortunate responsibility of humanely euthanizing a 250-pound, healthy, adult, male black bear that had become an ongoing nuisance and threat to a homeowner in Christian County — because someone in the area had been feeding the animal.

bear euthanized

The homeowner initially contacted MDC staff to report the nuisance animal and told staff that she had not fed the bear.

She then followed advice from MDC to remove any potential food sources for the animal — such as taking down bird feeders, keeping dog food inside, and keeping trash in closed containers and a secured building — but the bear continued to visit her home in search of food.

The family tried to drive the bear away during previous encounters but the bear kept returning, and unfortunately even began looking for food at a neighbor’s home.

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‘Doc’ Sayman was a friend to nature

Thomas Mark “Doc” Sayman was an eccentric medicine show man who held tent shows and peddled his patent medicines and soaps from town to town around the turn of the century.

The story of his life is a rags-to-riches tale.SaymanAdvPC1931 copy

Sayman’s father was a tinker and left his mother alone for months at a time to provide for six children on her own. Fleeing abject poverty, young Sayman left home at age nine. He joined the circus and toured with P.T. Barnum.

He first built a factory in Carthage, Mo., but soon outgrew it. In 1892, Sayman began construction on an eight-story factory in downtown St. Louis and he claimed to have earned $700,000 the first year. Despite having attended school very little, he was a self-made millionaire.

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Grant & his beloved Missouri

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories on the National Park Service facilities in Missouri. During 2016, the National Park Service will observe 100 years of stewardship of America’s national parks and other sites. This series will focus on those facilities in the Show-Me State.)

7.2015 Grant Whitehaven copy

Grant’s St. Louis home – Whitehaven – is the centerpiece of the Ulysses Grant National Historic Park in St. Louis. Parts of the home date back to 1818, and was Julia Dent Grant’s family home prior to her marriage to Grant.

Before Ulysses Grant led men into battle during the Civil War, and before he led the nation from the White House, he called Missouri “home” and a significant portion of his adult life was spent in the Show-Me State.

Grant was born in Ohio. His father was a tanner, and young Ulysses helped with the family farm and his father’s business. He obtained an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and entered the fabled military school in New York State.

Grant didn’t necessarily have the brightest star as a cadet at the Academy. With mediocre grades, he received demerits for slovenly dress and tardiness.

But he apparently did well in mathematics and excelled in horsemanship. Grant graduated from West Point in 1843, 21st in a class of 39 cadets.

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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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