Outdoor Guide Magazine

Guest Editorials

Rediscovering the Hope of America

The essence of the American experience was encapsulated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, more aptly dubbed the Corps of Discovery. Despite incredibly hard times that brought the participants to the very precipice of doom time and time again, they never allowed themselves to run out of three provisions: hope, weapons and writing utensils.
I count it more than mere coincidence that the American Experiment has been kept supplied with these same provisions.
The hope that filled those brave explorers’ hearts in their most frightening moments was akin to the hope the Founding Fathers had, and it’s the same hope that persists in true patriots’ hearts today. Those honor-bound statesmen relied on their Creator to not only sanction but bless their declaration of independence and their resolve to embark on a revolutionary way of human government whose very roots were grounded in religious faith.
The weapons the explorers relied on for their survival were the same implements of protection that have guaranteed the survival of America throughout its history, against both foreign and domestic threats. At the onset of the Revolution, the Founding Fathers recognized the absolute criticality of this first and last line of defense. They made sure the right of every citizen to bear arms would be guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Pen and ink have been used not only to record historical events like the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but to espouse and publish opinions. The Founding Fathers saw the necessity to the Republic of preserving this enterprise and broadening its scope to cover protest and dissent. They made sure Freedom of Speech was the first priority in the Bill of Rights.
As I seek hope for America’s future, I’m reminded of the lyrics of a 19th-century hymn:  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  These words, and the meanings behind them, have proven reliable in our past, remain strong for our present situation, and offer the best hope for our future.

A Stand Against Under Armour

Josh Bowmar, left, celebrates with his guides after spearing a black bear in Canada.

Mahoney Outdoors
The Controversy – Hunters are constantly under fire these days because of the social media era we live in, and it appears we are under attack yet again. However, this time it comes not only from anti-hunters, but also from “one of our own” in the industry.
If you are unfamiliar with the situation, do a quick search for “Under Armour Josh Bowmar controversy.” If you are like me, you might determine it is time to take your hard-earned money elsewhere and boycott Under Armour.
To quickly summarize, Under Armour, a major athletic gear and apparel company with a diverse product line catering to hunters, dropped Sarah Bowmar as a sponsored athlete after she filmed her husband, Josh Bowmar, legally killing a black bear in Canada with a spear.
Under Armour suffered severe public backlash from anti-hunters over the killing method and responded by terminating its association with the Bowmars.
“The method used to harvest this animal was reckless, and we do not condone it. Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal,” Under Armour stated in an official response.
Reckless? If you do your research like I did, you will find out Josh Bowmar meticulously practiced with his spear for months. The actual video shows his patient wait for the most ideal and ethical throwing position on the bear. After Bowmar made a great throw at 10 yards, the bear ran only 60 yards before expiring.
The killing method seemed pretty effective based on the results. So what exactly did he do that was so reckless? What was so irresponsible about the harvest?
Under Armour elaborates in its public statement that the company is “dedicated to the hunting community” and “supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws…”
Spear hunting is a perfectly legal means for taking a bear where this hunt occurred. In fact, everything about Josh Bowmar’s hunt was legal. Unlike the “Cecil the Lion” fiasco last summer, the details of this hunt are black and white. Nothing wrong occurred. Yet, Under Armour still came out and condemned the hunt.
Am I missing something here, or does that not seem like a complete contradiction to the company’s official statement?
Whatever good Under Armour may have done for hunting is now reversed. Under Armour gave the anti-hunters an inch and now they are taking a mile. Legislation to outlaw spear hunting is already advancing where Josh Bowmar’s hunt took place.
That legislation is just the beginning and will not be an isolated occurrence. An event like this is what slowly starts creating momentum to erode our rights as hunters across the board. There is no doubt about that. What is next to go? Bow hunting? Muzzle loading? Rifle hunting?
What this really boils down to is that anti-hunters do not care what your personal reasons are to justify hunting. They simply just loathe you for being a hunter and they will not stop until your rights are gone.
That means we need unwavering support from every major entity in the hunting industry.
Under Armour may have previously done quality things for hunting, but that does not change the company’s overwhelmingly negative impact now. Unfortunately for hunters, Under Armour serves a diverse demographic of people, most of which vastly outnumbers us hunters who purchase the company’s products. A large, publicly owned company selling products to a vast majority of non-hunters will always bow to its largest consumer base.
From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense the company would distance itself from someone whose overall negative impact on the company could far outweigh the positive impact he/she had in generating revenue.
Many people say it is a business and it is Under Armour’s right to make that decision. I absolutely agree with that, but that is not what worries me.
Hunters are constantly under fire and forced to defend themselves in today’s world. So should we really put our trust in a corporation whose key stakeholders also include a vast majority of non-hunters and anti-hunters? Should we really stand with a corporation in our industry, which while under intense public scrutiny from those same non-hunters and anti-hunters, completely turned its back on the hunting community and threw us under the bus?
For every self-respecting outdoorsman, the answer should be a firm no. We cannot trust a company that bows to the almighty dollar rather than stand tall with our values. If a company wants to be in the hunting industry and make money off of us, then it better not have reservations with supporting all legal forms of hunting.
From this incident, we can learn several valuable lessons.
We as hunters always need to be aware of how other people might perceive the written and video content we post online. Better awareness can help to decrease unnecessary backlash in the future.
We must stand united together against Under Armour, anti-hunters, and any entity whose actions and words directly work against us and our goals to preserve the hunting heritage.
If “one of our own” like Under Armour turns against us, we must stand against them, which means supporting companies that are owned and operated by true hunters who will always support our cause.

The State of the 2nd Amendment, 2016

November 10, 2016 by admin in Guest Editorials

Early in the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, I wrote a column entitled, “The State of the Second Amendment in 2009.” Since 2016 is the final year of the Obama era, an update is appropriate.
In the 2009 column, I described how Amber and I wrestled with my decision to attend my first gun show. Although both GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlof us were well aware of the fact that, by definition, propaganda is a lie repeated so often it’s mistaken for truth, neither of us was any more completely immune to it than anyone else. In fact, Amber was worried about my safety.
To take up the story verbatim, “It was a close call, but I decided not to ‘pack heat.’ It was just as well, because a sign on the front door of the building housing the gun show warned, ‘No loaded concealed firearms.’ If all a room full of crazed gun nuts could do was shout ‘Bang!’ at each other, I could handle that.
“In truth, ‘crazed’ people were in very short supply. Instead, I observed a room full of regular folks, including a number of present and former law enforcement officers. I must admit that I did fail to find the much-feared ‘gun show loophole.’ To the contrary, guns were being bought, sold and traded pursuant to the same paperwork required at more formal gun shops.”
In 2009, the most onerous proposed federal gun control legislation was House Resolution 45, which, to quote the bill’s preamble, would “provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes.” One of those other purposes was banning the possession of any type of firearm by anyone under the age of 18.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadian Parliament member Gary Breitkreuz, after conducting extensive research on similar legislation passed in Canada circa 1995, stated, “The gun registry has not saved one life in Canada, and it has become a financial sinkhole, estimated to have cost some $2 billion. Imagine how many more police we could have on the streets if we had invested more wisely.”
Between 2009 and 2016, the Canadian Parliament has made great progress in restoring the rights of its law-abiding citizens. This was thanks in no small part to the new-found courage of ever-increasing numbers of politicians in Ottawa, to be sure, but it was also spurred by a refusal of the country’s western provinces to fully comply with the firearms registration clauses in the 1995 law.
Closer to home, in January 2009, within days of placing his hand on a bible and swearing to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” President Obama launched an eight-year campaign to disable, if not de facto repeal, the Second Amendment. I’m happy to report that, in the words of a 1950s Arthur Godfrey song, his efforts to date have produced “heap big smoke, but no fire.”
Part of the president’s problem is the facts keep getting in his way. For example, Chicago, a city with which he should be familiar, has one of the highest homicide rates in the United States, despite having “gun control” laws so strict that the U.S. Supreme Court struck some of them down. Much the same could be said of Washington D.C., the seat of our nation’s federal government.
Admittedly, President Obama has had to deal with a Congress determined to thwart his efforts on every issue. Perhaps the nation could have “invested more wisely” if the executive and legislative branches of our government had worked together on programs and policies that really might have reduced violence.
Finally – this is purely my opinion – the president’s blatant attempt to politicize mass shootings was an obscene miscalculation. I have no doubt but that many people who would vote to abolish the Second Amendment if they were given the chance were as offended as I was.
But to be fair, President Obama has accomplished one thing. His continuous barrage of threats and bluster have resulted in him having been responsible for putting more firearms in the hands of previously unarmed Americans than any single individual, with the only possible exception of Samuel Colt.
So what does the future hold? Saying that it depends on the outcome of this fall’s election is a cop-out. Thomas Jefferson probably didn’t say, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The most likely source is Wendell Phillips in an 1852 speech to the Anti-Slavery Society.
Jefferson did say, “Free government is found in jealousy, not confidence … In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” In 1752, Benjamin Franklin chipped in with, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
In other words, the future will be shaped by what you and I do and don’t do.

‘Mad Deer’ Disease Could Be Real Threat

Mad Cow disease was discovered in 1986. Experts said it couldn’t affect humans, claiming an “interspecies barrier” blocks such prion diseases from jumping from one species to another.
Nine years later, it started killing people.
Experts had to eat their words, while hundreds died and the global beef market was rocked.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), like Mad Cow, is a prion disease. They are very different from bacterial or viral GUEST-EDITORIAL-smldiseases. So far it has not jumped to any other species, and it might never. But the experts are making no promises.
Instead, they say things like:
• “CWD of deer and elk is a widespread health concern because its potential for cross-species transmission is undetermined.”
• “There is accruing evidence for the trans-species transmission of prions, with potentially grave consequences for animals and humans.”
• “If CWD has the ability to (infect other species), this will impact not only wildlife, but also domestic species, which can lead to serious consequences for human health.”
• “Years of continued follow-up are required to be able to say what the risk, if any, of CWD is to humans.”
• “Given uncertainties about the incubation period, exposure and clinical presentation, the possibility that the CWD agent might cause human disease cannot be eliminated.”
Thus, no study says the risk is zero.
Mad Cow cleared that interspecies barrier 229 times we know of, each representing a lingering and gruesome death.
So take claims about the strength of that barrier with a grain of salt.
With Mad Cow, the damage was limited because it is not contagious. It is transmitted by eating infected meat, not by contact.
Here’s the scary part: CWD is different. It’s contagious by contact.
Let that sink in.
Sure, the risk that CWD will jump species seems low. It may never happen.
We just don’t know.
But there are some things we do know. Right now:
• Infected deer spread persistent infectious CWD prions on Missouri soil.
• Some Missouri cattle graze CWD-contaminated pastures.
• Some Missouri families eat CWD-infected venison.
• Some Missouri farmers likely harvest plants containing CWD prions.
All of this while the canned hunt industry resists regulations to fight CWD, assisted by enthusiastic accomplices in the Legislature and the courts.
CWD is relentless.
Once established, it tends to grow geographically and in prevalence. Known management tools have shown some success at limiting and slowing growth, but only if applied while prevalence is low. As prevalence and range increase, management becomes less effective and more expensive.
Who pays the price? Both in dollars and health risk? You. And me. Taxpayers. Citizens. Hunters and non-hunters alike.
Infection rates inside some fences have hit 80 percent. In the wild, it’s as high as 57 percent so far. Arkansas discovered a major outbreak last year that is already 23 percent. At those levels, management options are bleak.
Quick action by the Missouri Department of Conservation has held the rate very low in Missouri. The narrow window of opportunity to control CWD here is still open.
But important regulations are in legal limbo as we wait for an industry lawsuit to drag its way through the courts.
Missouri’s first CWD positive came in 2010 inside a Linn County canned-hunt fence. In 2011, more CWD was found in a nearby Macon County canned hunting ranch. In 2012, several wild deer tested positive within two miles of the Macon County pen. It has spread from there.
The source of a CWD outbreak can never be proven. Certainly, not all of them come from the canned hunting industry. But outbreaks starting in or near a confined cervid operation are a recurring theme. They don’t make coincidences that big.
The fences themselves are often poorly maintained junk. In 2013, the MDC estimated 150 deer had escaped Missouri pens in the two or three preceding years, then 120 more from January, 2014 through April, 2016. About a third are never recovered, exposing the wild herd to whatever diseases and unnatural genetics they carry.
CWD is spreading farther into Missouri. It has been found in the wild in four  Missouri counties. The CWD zone around them, designed for management to control the disease, is up to 29 counties and growing – one quarter of the Missouri landscape so far.
Remember, with Mad Cow disease, each death required clearing the interspecies barrier. But it wasn’t contagious, ­so every incident was isolated. No infected husbands passed it to their wives. No mothers passed it to their children. The only way to get it was to eat infected meat.
Remember, CWD IS contagious.  If it clears that barrier just one time and remains contagious in the new host species, the result could be horrific. If it jumped to people, the potential consequences are too terrible to contemplate.
Some would call that scare tactics, but these facts are not in dispute:
• CWD is 100 percent fatal. Infected deer die in about 18 months if nothing else kills them first.
• Deer catch CWD through contact with infected deer or contaminated soil.
• Infected deer shed persistent infectious prions back into the soil.
• No deer is immune to CWD.
• CWD is the only prion disease known to spread among any wild species anywhere in the world – ever.
Prion diseases are not something deer (or humans, or cattle) evolved to handle. Prions sidestep the immune system. You get it, you die. Attempts to create a vaccine have failed.
Courts and legislatures get away with being relaxed about CWD. It’s off their political radar.  The “contagious” part does not scare them much.
Well, it sure scares me.
Policy makers interfering with CWD regulations force the public into an involuntary game of Russian Roulette. They treat this like a “property rights” issue – as if the canned hunting industry has a right to risk the destruction of a wildlife species, to contaminate the soil and to risk public health.
Until the public wakes up to this threat, nothing will change.
Except the load of CWD prions in Missouri soil, ­which increases as the clock goes “tick tick tick.”
Or is that the “click click click” of Russian Roulette?
Unabridged version available online at NoMoCWD.org/health with footnotes and links backing up the facts presented.

Hunting is a Wildlife Management Tool

I am a hunter. I have been a hunter ever since my Dad let me tag along on his pheasant hunts when I was a kid. Armed with a Daisy BB gun, I went afield with the men who assured me that if I hit a flying pheasant in the eye, it would do the trick. There were plenty of wild birds in those days, but I never hit one in the eye.
Once, after I sent a pellet after a fleeing rabbit, one of the men hit it dead center with his full choke 12-gauge. Without going into gory detail, the result was a carcass blown almost in half.
It wasn’t the kind of game anyone wanted to put into a hunting coat, and when I foolishly claimed to have hit it, the hunter happily handed it to me and said in that case, I could carry it. Oooops!
From there I have gone on to a long lifetime pursuing mostly birds; if it flies, it dies. But while I have pulled the trigger on multiple species of feathered game, I never had the itch to shoot a big, furry critter. But, I have no problem with those who do – live and let live.
But there are a lot of people who don’t hunt at all, which is certainly their prerogative, but the trouble starts when they decide no one else should hunt either, and they band together in organizations dedicated to legislate hunting out of existence. We’ll call these folks “antis.”
Antis are emotionally charged individuals who generally believe that man has no right to arbitrarily end the life of another creature. They believe that, if left alone, wild animals will work things out among themselves, as nature intended.
But, since humans, through habitat alteration, have interfered with nature’s plan, we now have the responsibility of helping the wild creatures survive in the world as it now exists.
While highly trained biologists can study the health of various wildlife populations worldwide, and pinpoint areas of concern for their survival, these managers are not always in a position to implement needed solutions. A clear example of this is when a species overpopulates its available habitat, with dire consequences to itself and other species.
There are numerous examples of species over-population, including the huge snow goose flocks threatening to destroy their arctic tundra nesting grounds, deer herds over-browsing their range, and re-introduced wolves expanding their habitat and coming into conflict with humans.
It is especially in circumstances like these where hunters become an important wildlife management tool. Since all of the government agencies tasked with wildlife conservation operate on tight budgets, they can’t always afford to perform the jobs they know need to be done.
When a wildlife population requires thinning to protect the habitat they share with other species, budget constraints usually preclude hiring personnel to see to it. Instead, creation of carefully managed sport hunting programs becomes a cost neutral answer to the problem.

Cecil in happier days at Hwange National Park.

Not long ago, in Zimbabwe, a sport hunter from the U.S. was induced to kill a lion that his professional guide had lured out of an adjacent wildlife reserve. The lion, called Cecil, was a popular eco-tourism attraction, and his death received worldwide condemnation, as did the American hunter. Of course, the antis had field day demanding the end to all sport hunting, everywhere.
Very little attention was paid to the true facts of this episode, when it came out that the guide had acted improperly in luring the animal out of the reserve, while the hunter was properly licensed and was absolved of all blame.
The director of game management in Zimbabwe put it all in perspective when he pointed out that his biologists do not name the animals, and since they manage entire populations, not individual lions, the loss of one lion was not troubling at all.
Now it has been announced that as a result of all the bad publicity stemming from the “Cecil” case, the number of lion hunters coming to the country has dropped significantly, while the lion population has risen dramatically, beyond the carrying capacity of the land. In fact, the game department is considering culling 200 of the beasts to prevent excessive predation of the other plains species in the area.
The fees lion hunters pay not only help finance the 850,000-acre conservancy which houses 35 species of free-roaming plains animals, they fund conservation programs for black rhinos and other endangered species. The organized hunts provide much needed employment for local citizens, as well.
Still, the antis continue to agitate for an end to all hunting, in Africa and elsewhere, in spite of the proven beneficial effect it has in the proper management of native wildlife species.
It is all right for them to love the animals, but do they have to love them to death?

Clean Water Act Vital to All Sportsmen

GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlPhoto and Text
The Clean Water Act has been stirring up some controversy in Missouri lately. As is so often the case, most of the concern is rooted in confusion. I recently visited Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and leaders of national conservation organizations to discuss the importance of the Clean Water Act.
In 1972, the waters of the United States were in serious trouble. Pollution was rampant. Certain rivers were actually catching fire. Wetlands were being lost at an alarming rate. Lakes were being used as dumps for sewage and material waste. Protection of our nation’s water needed serious attention.
The answer was President Richard Nixon’s Clean Water Act, which was a major overhaul of the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
For nearly 30 years, the Clean Water Act has worked to protect and purify the waters of the United States. Then, in 2001, the Supreme Court decided that certain intrastate ponds aren’t navigable waters. In 2006, the Supreme Court struck again, derailing protections of wetlands that aren’t permanent waters connected to navigable waterways.
So now for the last decade, we’ve been left with protection on waters downstream, but not on headwater streams. It makes no sense. Once a waterway is polluted at its source, don’t you think that pollution is going to flow downstream? And if multiple headwater streams running into the same river are polluted, then what do you think happens to that river?

A common rumbling about the Clean Water Act is that the EPA is going to regulate farmers’ ditches. For the most part, this is not true. There is a lot of confusion over what will and will not be regulated.
The very basic explanation is that, if the water – whether it runs all year or not – connects to waters downstream, then it will be covered. So if an agricultural ditch running through a field dumps into a stream that dumps into a river, then yes, that water will be covered, and should be. But if it’s just an upland ditch that drains into a field or farm pond, then it won’t be.
The rule reads that these waters will not be covered: waste treatment systems, prior converted cropland, ditches excavated wholly in uplands that only drain uplands, ditches that do not contribute flow to downstream waters, artificially irrigated areas, manmade lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions, gullies, rills and non-wetland swales. And swimming pools and birdbaths are exempt from regulation, too.
There is also worry about the permitting process. The only activities that need a permit are those that involve dumping or discharging a pollutant from a point source into water covered by the plan.
Another point of confusion is about intermittent and ephemeral streams. Intermittent streams hold water part of the year, typically during wet portions. Ephemeral streams only flow during and right after rainfall. These waters fall under the same rules as perennial waters that flow year-round. If they connect to downstream waters, they are covered, and should be.
I know some of you reading this column think EPA is a dirty word. You don’t think more regulation is the answer. Like you, I wish we didn’t need the government to keep people from polluting our water. I wish people cared enough about each other and our natural resources to do the right thing on their own, but unfortunately, history has proven otherwise. So we must have strict water regulation.

The proposed rule falls short of reinstating all the protections of the Clean Water Act prior to 2001, so it will actually shrink the historic version. Certain wetlands and prairie potholes that are critical to waterfowl do not connect downstream, so they will not fall under protection. This is a disappointment, but passing this proposed version of the Clean Water Act is at least a step in the right direction.
The EPA estimates 2.5 million Missourians receive a portion of their drinking water from supplies fed by intermittent and ephemeral streams. Those dry creek beds may not look like much in August, but when you consider they contribute to the water your kids are drinking, they quickly become a whole lot more important.
Take some time to learn the facts about the Clean Water Act. I believe you’ll quickly understand its importance.
Brandon Butler is executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Hunters, Judge Not…

The late great H.L. Mencken defined puritanism as “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
It seems like many hunters are unable to tolerate the notion that someone, somewhere is enjoying a hunt using a tool or method that is “wrong.”
As if hunting was a religion, and only they have settled on the one truth.
You need not look far to find disrespect and condemnation for different perfectly legal forms of hunting from right inside the hunting community. And I am sure you can think of people happy to thump their chests while publicly questioning the ethics and judgment of anyone who hunts differently than they do.
Whatever kind of hunting you want to do within whatever regulations are in place, there is really only one guaranteed way to do it wrong.
And that is to hunt the way someone else wants you to hunt instead of the way you do.
It’s kind of like buying a motorcycle. The best one to buy is the one that puts the biggest grin on your face. Only a self-impressed blowhard thinks it is better for you to pick his favorite ride instead of yours.
Hunters have a great deal in common and much to gain from pulling together. Those who find it entertaining to pick at the small areas we disagree on need to learn the lesson so wonderfully illustrated by comedian Emo Philips (see http:KillerNoms/emo online).
So let’s all just head outdoors and don’t be a hunting puritan.

Western Public Lands Need Our Protection

Photo and Text By BRANDON BUTLER

GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlYou own some amazing land. You own mountains, deserts, prairies, plains, river-bottoms, woodlands and more. Out west, in states like Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, there are hundreds of millions of acres of federal public lands that you, as an American, own.

But you won’t for much longer if private sector, special interest groups have their way.

Federal public lands afford easterners views like this while hunting out west each year.

Federal public lands afford easterners views like this while hunting out west each year.

“America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands provide irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing,” said Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands.

“Millions of American sportsmen use these lands each year to spend time with our families, challenge ourselves physically and put food on our tables. In fact, more than 72 percent of Western sportsmen depend on these lands for access to hunting.”

While 72 percent of Western sportsmen depend on these public lands, so do a lot of Eastern sportsmen. Today, if you want to go elk hunting in Wyoming, you draw a tag and go. When you show up to your unit, you don’t have to check in. To go hunting on National Forest or Bureau of Land Management land, you just go. It’s your land.

“Special interests in some Western states, however, are proposing that these lands be transferred to individual states,” Webster said. “Sportsmen know firsthand that the transfer of these lands to individual states is not a legitimate option for addressing public land management challenges. We are committed to keeping public lands in the public’s hands so that current and future generations of hunters and anglers can continue to access and enjoy them.”

Politics is a chess match. You have to know what your opponent is planning to do two or three moves into the future. The politicians in favor of these sales and transfers are not interested in transferring national lands to individual states so they can manage them for forest, fish and wildlife.

They know that at the state level, they can control legislation that opens these lands up for whatever they wish to do with them. And you can place a real safe bet that it’s not the conservation value of these lands their interested in.

“Our business is located in the West because of public lands,” said Catie Webster, who manages public relations and brand strategy for Mystery Ranch, a Bozeman, Montana-based gear manufacturer. “Mystery Ranch’s customers rely on America’s public lands for access to mountains, lakes and rivers in order to pursue their outdoor passions. Like so many other companies in the outdoor industry, public lands inspire our products and our customers. The transfer or sale of public lands would deal a blow to our business and America’s $640 billion outdoor recreation economy.”

In order to protect you and I from having our public lands stolen away by special interests, a number of sportsmen’s groups and industry members have banded together to fight against the transfer or sale America’s federal public lands.

The rapidly growing coalition is called Sportsmen’s Access. Groups and businesses supporting Sportsmen’s Access include the National Wild Turkey Federation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Trout Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Mystery Ranch Backpacks, Sitka Gear, First Lite, Simms Fishing Products and Sage.

The coalition supports a grassroots effort by sportsmen to urge lawmakers to reject any actions that would deprive citizens of their public lands. The website is sportsmensaccess.org.

“Public lands are the cornerstone of our outdoor heritage,” concluded Harrison. “Our forefathers protected them for us, and now it’s our duty to do the same.”

Brandon Butler is executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

It’s Time for a New Outdoor Adventure

April 18, 2016 by admin in Guest Editorials


GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlI believe there is something in human nature that craves freedom and adventure. Although these cravings vary among individuals, it is in everyone’s DNA, but the very nature of civilization dampens these cravings with a false sense of security and comfort.

Today the vast majority are so far removed from the freedom and honesty of the natural world that they don’t realize the empty parts of their souls crave this link to their far-distant ancestry. Most, in fact, are so far removed from real nature, they fear it more than they do the mean streets of an inner city.

I’ve always felt at home, at peace and profoundly inspired by the natural world, but that may be because I’ve devoted my life to it and derived a meager livelihood from it. Hunting, fishing, camping and floating have provided thousands of mini-adventures. I even had the extended adventure of living entirely off the land for a couple of years in the late 1980s.

This craving for freedom and adventure hasn’t abated with age. In fact, a lifetime of satisfying it and relating to it has only strengthened it. I feel a kinship with John Muir, John Colter, Jim Bridger and Meriwether Lewis. These are my heroes of freedom and adventure. 

I suppose I was born 100 years too late, but I have made a fair accounting of freedom and adventure during my almost 67 years, and despite an old heart, old bones and a fixed income, I don’t think it is too late for another adventure.

As I have done a few times over the past decades, I’m dropping out for a while to satisfy my true nature. I’m severing my rental lease, putting a few things in storage and giving the rest away.

I’m loading my pickup with hunting, fishing and camping gear, placing my golden retriever, Doc, in the passenger seat and heading for the Sand Hills of Nebraska. No telling where I’ll go from there. No telling how long I’ll survive as a hunting and fishing gypsy – as long as I can.

As long as I want. I’ve been longing for a new adventure for about a year. It’s something that starts eating at me every few years, a sort of wanderlust that I’m sure plagued Muir, Colter and Bridger.
I didn’t need incentive, but Doc provided the inspiration for the nature of this adventure. He has a long pedigree and is from championship stock, fully and professionally trained for five years before I gained possession in a manner that to me was like winning the lottery.

I’m taking take my float tube along and will camp (free) in primitive areas that also offer some type of angling opportunities, but upland hunting will be the main focus of this adventure.
Because I’m on a limited income, I plan to tent camp for a month or two. I love to tent camp. Do it often during the summer. Already spent a couple of months in a tent a few years ago.

In fact, I have found from camping often that an air mattress blown up a certain amount is the best thing for my bad back, so I’m as comfortable in a tent as at home. I have down long underwear for sleeping and Thermarest pads to take the chill out of the air mattress. Everything fits into my mid-sized Colorado pickup (25 mpg in city, 27 mpg on highway). I’m a good camp cook, too.

I lived entirely off the land for a couple of years once, so this is no problem. I plan to camp in primitive areas (no fees) and eat mostly game and fish I catch.
The only problem would be extended periods of rain or severe cold. I have books for the rain, and if it gets much below freezing and stays there, I’ll head to southern hunting grounds.

Baby wipes keep me tolerably clean, but I will probably pop for a motel and shower every week or two.
There is great freedom and peace in this style of travel, plus the exercise and excitement of hunting every day.
People warn me that at my age, I could die out there – but I can’t think of a better way to go.

‘Wise Use’ Was the Original Conservation Movement


GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlI have been called a hunter and fisherman quite often, and really I am no more such than a million other Ozarkians. I was born a conservationist and naturalist, and I will always be. I was taught by a grandfather and father who knew more about conservation than any man I ever met.

No, they didn’t go by the fish and game laws, newly imposed when they were young. They went by the laws of “wise use,” which is what “conservation” once meant.

My grandfather was the most knowledgeable riverman and outdoorsman I ever knew. He taught me more about the workings of the natural world and wild creatures than books could ever  have.

But my dad taught me how to live in the outdoors, enjoy its bounty and still be the kind of creature on this earth that he felt a man should be.


The author’s father with some Big Piney mallards. ‘We picked every duck we ever killed, saved the feathers and ate the necks, wings, breasts and legs. Dad said a man who wasted what the outdoors gave him had no right to be hunting, and he wanted nothing to do with him.’ 

The author’s father with some Big Piney mallards. ‘We picked every duck we ever killed, saved the feathers and ate the necks, wings, breasts and legs. Dad said a man who wasted what the outdoors gave him had no right to be hunting, and he wanted nothing to do with him.’

I recall like it was yesterday the time we were floating the river in December, hunting ducks, and we drifted slowly past a gravel bar where two young raccoons were caught hunting for crayfish and mussels. They scurried up a nearby sycamore tree. I was 11 years old and excited about the prospect of shooting, more than hunting. I wanted to blast the two of them and take the hides home to grandpa, who still trapped and sold furs at that time.

Dad lowered my gun from my shoulder by telling me that if I shot them, I would have to do the skinning and clean them both and eat them after Mom had baked them. I had eaten raccoon, and I got to thinking I would rather eat a squirrel, if I had the choice.

Why waste one of my eight 16-gauge shells on something I would like to eat less than a squirrel or rabbit? Those shells had to last me until the local Western Auto store had another broken box so I could buy 10 more.

We stopped to eat sandwiches on that gravel bar, as the young ‘coons watched from high in the sycamore. Dad always built a small fire beside a log and cut three-pronged forked saplings we could place sandwiches in and heat them.

While we sat there on that log, he told me that every man should develop a reverence for life, something he used in his relations with other men and wild creatures too.

He told me that day that I should never kill a wild creature without feeling that reverence for life, something God gave to men in order that they could be what He meant them to be. It meant that you never created a tame creature with cruelty, and you never killed a fish or a bird or a mammal without feeling just a little sadness at its passing.

He said that when you ate fish or squirrels or ducks, you were enjoying the bounty given by the Creator, and that all lives, even of the smallest of his creation, had value and purpose.

“A boy yearns to kill something and thinks of little else when he is just a boy,” Dad told me. “But a grown man who lacks that reverence for life has a weak soul, a lack of knowledge about who he is and where he fits into life, and he lacks any understanding about who God is and what is expected of him by the Lord.”


The impact of that powerful talk on the gravel bar of the Big Piney River has stayed with me. I have never been the same since. Oh yes, I forgot it briefly when I killed that robin with my sassafras bow and when I shot a chipmunk while alone in the woods a year later.

Grandpa is the only one who ever knew about the robin, and he helped me clean it and eat it, but no one ever knew about the chipmunk. As I held it in my hands that day I shed the last tears I ever remember and promised God that if he would forgive me for wasting that little life, I would never ever do anything like that again.

We should all learn to live with that reverence for life that Dad taught me to find within myself. I can forgive about anything, but I am not a good enough person not to feel an awful wrath for someone who is cruel to an animal or hurtful to a little child. If you took someone like that out and hanged him, I am afraid I would help you find a rope.

For such a person, who would for no reason create unnecessary pain and suffering for a poor creature, or harm a woman or child, I cannot have passion and I cannot find forgiveness. What I feel for such a person is not in keeping with what God would expect of me, but I just can’t help it.

A reverence for life is the center of the word for wise use …  conservation. If you hunt or fish, remember it. If you do not, remember that anyone can practice conservation.

I think of that word when I shave, and I can’t keep the hot water running. Saving water today in a world that will have very little of it in 100 years is wise use … “conservation.” I turn it off and on as I need it, and while I use it on my garden, I have never watered a lawn in my life. What a useless waste!


My family recycles paper, plastic, glass and cans and anything else we can recycle. Gloria Jean is in charge of that. She hauls the bags of refuse to a recycling center a few miles away once every month or so.

My grandfather never had anything to haul off. He found a use for everything. Old matchboxes were kept by all his neighbors for Grandpa to use to sand his sassafras boat paddles and the furniture he made from scrap lumber. Remember those rough patches on the sides of the boxes? His rocking chair was made from the leftovers of johnboats he built, sanded smooth with matchboxes! He used every can he emptied and every paper bag.

What kills me is the way we throw old tires in the river or dump them on back roads. Our government could give 50 cents to everyone for an old tire at the tire shop and end the increasing number of old tires thrown in the rivers. We also should pay a nickel or so for every plastic bag you get at Walmart or the local grocery store. Charge a nickel for each, and then pay a nickel back for those returned.

Only in the past year have I learned about one of the greatest conservation businesses in the Ozarks, a grocery store named Aldi’s. If you haven’t been in one, you have not been conserving your money. I checked out a list of food and grocery items in Aldi’s compared to the local grocery store and found that for every $100 I spend at that store that distributes thousands of plastic bags to be found all over the Ozarks, I will spend only $88 at Aldi’s, and the food is better.

Best of all, Aldi’s stores have no plastic bags. You bring your own containers or put your stuff in cardboard boxes the store sets aside after emptying them. And you put a quarter up for the shopping cart and when you put it neatly back where it came from, you get the quarter back.

None ever have to be collected from the parking lot. That is a way to save money and practice conservation even if you never get outdoors.

If they ever start paying 50 cents for tires and a nickel for plastic bags, I can give up writing and spend all my time outdoors, just like I did as a kid. When I was nine or ten I would make some pretty good money picking up pop bottles that were worth three cents each.

This year, folks, try to find ways to practice conservation … “wise use.” And teach your kids the reverence for life my dad taught me. If you will, it would make Dad proud to know his life was worth so much.

The article I wrote years ago about New Years Eve in the wilderness is on my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com. Several people requested that I reprint it.

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