Mother Nature and Respect

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Walden Henry David Thoreau

The definition of nature is the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities. It is also defined as the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations. One could say that nature is everything.

There is a saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Relax and take time to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. Stop stressing out, overthinking or complaining. My version is “Stop and drink of the beauty of nature.”

As spring draws near camping season comes into view. The weekend warriors who live in the cities and suburbs will begin their assault upon the campgrounds. They appear in the parks pulling their 30 foot campers loaded with all the amenities of home. I don’t think this is what Thoreau had in mind when he advocated that people leave their urban and industrialized areas to explore nature. He felt that “modern life” robbed people of their best selfs and that living in harmony with nature was essential. In today’s society the campgrounds are so overpopulated that they are nothing more than smaller communities of which they were trying to leave behind.

In Missouri the rivers and Ozark streams become heavily congested with weekend floaters occupying rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, and boats. Sadly the amount of litter left behind is mind boggling. Thoreau often wrote about the importance of preserving the wilderness and the importance of living in harmony with nature. His ideas are completely lost on the minds of the majority of weekend revelers. One can see the evidence if they float the rivers on Monday morning. Sandbars and gravel bars are littered with aluminum cans, trash, and an occasional tent. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you pack it in pack it out. It is that simple. My motto is is,”Leave it better than you found it.”

We as a whole need to learn to respect Mother Earth and what she has given us. Preserve the magnificent beauty of Mother Earth so that future generations can enjoy it. We don’t know what we have until it is gone.

“I love nature partly because she is not a man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” – Henry David Thoreau’s Journal

MDC Once Again Under Attack!

The Missouri Conservation and Use Tax is once again under attack. ‘This money goes directly to support forest and wildlife conservation efforts. Out of every $8 of taxable goods one penny goes for conservation.

In the early 70s Missouri citizens petitioned to get the tax placed on the ballot. They succeeded, it passed and was implemented on July 1, 1977. Then in 1999 state officials attempted to divert the money collected to pay refunds to taxpayers to only have the Missouri Supreme Court rule that the money could only be used for conservation and not be considered part of the states total revenues.

When I was a child there were a lot of areas of Missouri where it was rare to see a deer or a turkey. I grew up fishing the Big River and bass fishing was mediocre.

In 1977 when the money was allocated to the MDC, things began to change. A little slow at first but soon things began to improve. Due to responsible conservation efforts game became more abundant. Hunters were allotted more tags to fill for deer and turkey. Bass fishing became more rewarding. Money started coming in from out of state hunters who wanted to take advantage of our good hunting. Out of state fisherman also traveled to Missouri to take advantage of our excellent fishing. New land was bought and more public hunting areas and river accesses were made available. New conservation areas were established. Other states began to take notice and implemented programs in their states that the MDC had created.

Now Republican Chris Dinkins of District 144 has introduced two constitutional amendments that could destroy the improvements that have been made. HJR 108 and HJR 112. She says it is in an effort to rein in the overgrown bureaucracy of the MDC and make the department more accountable to the people.

HJR 108 would give the voters the opportunity to change the Missouri Conservation Commission. Presently the commission has four members who are appointed by the governor. Her amendment would change that number to nine nonpartisan members. Voters would elect one member from the current MDC districts and the governor would appoint one member to the commission. I thought she wanted to rein in bureaucracy within the department but this would only add to it causing more bureaucratic red tape.

HJR 112, if passed by voters, would take two thirds of the money and pass it on to other areas in need. The Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that the money could only be used for conservation and can not be considered part of the states total revenues. Lawsuits? I know the voters are voting on it but the voters passed it in the first place.

She points out that the MDC has a savings account balance of almost 100 million dollars. Sounds to me like they are being pretty responsible. Representative Dinkins that’s let me point out that a savings account is usually used for emergencies. How much of that money was contributed from the Conservation Sales and Use Tax and how much from the sale of licenses, tags, ammo, etc.? If the economy tanks the MDC could go through that money pretty quickly in an effort to keep its programs afloat. Did you ever think of that are better yet do you even care? She says the MDC continues to attack the civil liberties of this state but cites no references. If you are going to throw the sportsmen of this state under the bus at least tell us why? Since you represent Reynolds county I would be suspect it has something to do with the battle between feral hog hunters and the MDC. So your solution is to punish all sportsman of the state of Missouri?

I hope the sportsmen in this state takes a long hard look at what is going on here and the impact these two amendments will have on bird hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, fishing and all the other programs offered by the MDC. Are we going to stand by and let this destroy all the accomplishments the MDC has made since 1977. I for one hope not.

Is It Old Age?

The country is more of a wilderness, more of a wild solitude, in the winter than in the summer. The wild comes out. The urban, the cultivated, is hidden or negatived.” – John Burroughs

I am a lover of the winter. The beauty of Mother Earth covered in fresh snow causes the spirit within me to move and feel alive.

I turn 66 in a couple of months. My body is occupied by arthritis caused by years of abuse. The cold wind cuts through me like it never has before. It magnifies the pain within my joints and makes everyday life more difficult. I guess it was just a matter of time.

For the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to the spring temperatures that will usher my old friend winter out and let the warming air of spring begin to blow across Mother Earth.

It is partially fueled by my love of the river and searching for that elusive record bass. Camping on a gravel bar partaking of the delicious scents of the river. Engrossed in the tranquility and peace that soothes my soul and enriches my spirit. Gazing into the beauty of the night sky hoping to see a falling star. Listening to the nocturnal creatures that are found along the banks of the river as they go about foraging for food and warning others of the intruder among them.

Floating down the river in my yak experiencing the transformation to spring. Marveling at the beauty of the river influenced by the changing season. The redbud and the dogwood begin to paint the countryside with their blooms manifesting on the branches that were bare in the winter months. The warmth of the sun soothes my arthritic joints as I wonder who had been here before me.

Yes it is hard for me to imagine but I am actually looking forward to the coming of spring and saying goodbye to my old friend winter.

Ozark Rivers of the Past

“Only going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

If I could ever spend time with a person of the past it would be John Muir. He explored the wilderness in the 1800s. The majority of the time he was alone. Him and the creatures that inhabited the area.

His love for the mountains was comparable to my love for the Ozark rivers of Missouri. His books and essays were influential in my admiration and respect for nature.

I can only imagine what kind of experience it would have been to explore the Ozark rivers in the 1800s.

Many times when I am camped on a gravel bar sitting in front of a fire, I find myself fantasizing about what it would have been like back then.

I imagine what the water would have been like free of pollutants. River banks and gravel bars void of litter and unmolested by ATVs. A place not yet touched by the hand of man and his idea of progress.

Without the infringement of artificial light, created by near by towns and dusk to dawn lights, the stars had to have the appearance of magnificent diamonds in the night sky.

It boggles my mind to think one would probably not see another human for days or weeks. One would experience the true feeling of being alone. Lost in the magnificence of Mother Earth and Her beauty. I can only imagine.

The Ozark rivers of Missouri gives one an avenue to seek and find one’s inner being. A place to observe the true beauty of Mother Earth. A place to heal their spirit and cleanse their soul. To enjoy it one must clear their mind and become one with the river. Then and only then can you understand my love for the Ozark rivers.

November Day On The River

The weather in Southeast Missouri was exceptional today. It was in the sixties!!! When I heard today’s forecast on Thursday I started planning for today.

When I got to the Leadwood Access on the Big River the air temperature was 35 degrees. I started down river around 8:45 a.m.. I am guessing water temp was in the low forties. Water was clear and dropping.

I had decided I was going to use the Rapala floating minnow, Rebel medium Wee Craw and a jig with a crawfish trailer.

Started out wind was calm but picked up about 10 am. Beautiful blue sky with some cloud puffs. Lots of sunshine and the temp began to rise.

My float started at the Leadwood Access on the Big River located in Missouri. The fishing started out slow and pretty much stayed that way. I did manage to catch 4 but only got pics of three.

I caught a spotted bass that went 10 inches but when I put it on the board to measure him he slipped out of my hands and back into the water before I could get a pic.

Caught this spotted bass fishing the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

Caught this small mouth near the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

The beautiful fall colors of the Missouri countryside had fallen to the ground for the most part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe next year.

I caught two before lunch. Missouri streams can be tough fishing in late fall when water temps have become frigid and clear enough to see a crawfish on the bottom in 4 foot of water. It’s a shallow river for the most part. The stretch I floated probably had an average water depth of 4 foot.

Lunch on a gravel bar on the Big River. After lunch I couldn’t buy a hit. I had several small bass and perch follow the lure all the way to the boat but didn’t take the bait.

The last two bass I caught at the end of my float. I caught them in Owl Creek. It dumps into the Big River at the Bone Hole Access where my float ended.

If you are ever up for some good small mouth fishing I recommend the Big River.

Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that. – Eartha Kitt

Easter Sunday at Bismarck Lake

It was a beautiful morning to hit the lake. The temp was perfect and Mother Nature had began painting the countryside with the colors of red bud, dogwood, honey locust and various wild flower blossoms.

The wind however was gusting to 30 mph making it hard to fish. There were a few folks catching crappie but I was after the largemouth bass.

I guess Wayne’s Diner didn’t serve up what they wanted. I did finally manage to catch a bass and a crappie.

is a i

Later that day I rigged my poles for catfish but they must have not liked what I was serving because I didn’t even get a bite.

All in all it was a great day. I am hopelessly addicted to the water and fishing. I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

Safety First!

I live in southeast Missouri and kayaking has become very popular. On the weekends the area rivers become very crowded with kayakers. I see so many that aren’t wearing life jackets. I myself used to be one of them. One day I just happened to put it on and ended up dumped in class II water and if it wasn’t for my life jacket I would have drowned.

For those of you who don’t know the water classes:

A – Lake water; still

Class I – Easy smooth water, light ruffles, clear passages, occasional sand banks and gentle curves

Class II – Moderate

Class Iii – moderate difficult

Class IV – Difficult

Class V – extremely difficult

Class VI – extraordinarily difficult

Safety devices have a purpose in life and are there to keep you safe.

I know they are cumbersome and can get in the way but they can save your life. There are those in your life that would appreciate you using one.

I have been boating and kayaking for 50 years. Never came close to drowning until that one dreadful day. It wasn’t the first time I had been dumped. Unfortunately when learning something new unplanned things happen due to the lack of experience.

Just keep in mind when you get in that kayak or boat that the decision as to jacket or not could be a life saving decision.

In closing I would like to remind everyone that if you pack it to the river take it home with you. Please don’t leave your trash on the river or lake. Keep our water ways clean.

Spread the love and be kind to one another. “

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

 

A Day on the St. Francois River

The St Francois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is 426 miles long and meanders through northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

In the springtime they have kayak races on the part that goes through Silver Mines Park. Fishing is fair with a large variety of fish.

They were calling for a high near 70 degrees for today. That was all I needed to hear. I was river bound. I decided to try a new place that I had found. It was on the St Francois River in an area I had never fished.

I really didn’t think the fish would be hitting anything that I had in my tackle box. Just 3 days ago the high for the day was 9 degrees and a front was moving into the area today bringing rain with it. Well that wasn’t enough to stop me. I loaded the yak in the truck and headed out for a day of peace and relaxation.

The air temp was 55 degrees when I got to the river and the water temp was damn cold! It would not be a good day to flip the yak.

The water clarity was clear and water level was normal for this time of year. I didn’t go upstream 20 yards before I had to get out and pull the yak through the riffles. Once through there was a good 300 yard stretch with numerous deep holes and lots of structure and cover for the bass to suspend in. I knew to get them to hit I was going to have to drop my lure right under their nose.

I knew as cold as the water was I was going to have to fish a slow moving lure. This time of the year bass are lethargic and slow to attack the food source. So my choice was a pig and jig and a Charley Brewer slider worm.

The morning really started off slow. Not one single hit in 4 hours. Then a little after one p.m. I got a hit and set the hook. Didn’t appear it was going to be much of a fight then I guess it decided, not today bucko and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes I got it close enough to the boat so I could see it. OMG!!!!! He was big. My heart started beating 200 beats a minute then crap: I forgot the dip net.

Well he dove under the yak and popped up on the other side. With the help of the cold water it tired quickly. I got it up to the yak and I lipped it and put it in the boat.

OMG! What a beauty. I put it on the board and it was a hair over 20 inches. I admired its beauty and returned it to the river. It was a spotted/Kentucky black bass.

I caught two more spotted/Kentucky black bass.

Eleven and a half inches

Thirteen inches

All in all it was a great day. When I pulled out of the river it was 68 degrees. I felt good. I really needed that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is very much appreciated. Remember to spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos are property of Double D Acres LLC and May not be reproduced without written consent from me.