(Editor’s note: This was the last letter to the Outdoor Guide from the late Russ Heindselman, the Missouri Hillbilly Poet. A story on his death appears on Page 52.)
I am a lifelong promoter of a doctor-recommended health food – fish. As a retired, 35-year fish farmer, I also remember having a pay fishing area many years ago.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has outlawed the big, red crawdad as bait sold by bait shops. They say if dead, you can sell them. These big, red crawdads were hauled in from the South. You see, when you put your hook into these crawdads, they would die and would not harm the pond, creek, lake or stream or the environment.
I love crawdads. All over the South, they eat the crawdad as well as use them for bait – a double-barrel, Dyn-O-Mite use of this critter. We in the Midwest could do the same thing.
I have nine fish ponds, and I now catch these beautiful red critters out of my ponds, put them in a tub and cover the bottom with an inch of water. I put in a quart of fish food, let the crawdads crawl around for 12 hours, eating until their stomachs are full of catfish food and the paste covers the beautiful crawdad outside.
Quick-freeze them (two dozen in a gallon zip-lock bag, selling for $2.50 a dozen or $5 a bag) and you have instant bait. If you fish in a farm pond, the catfish food will draw the fish to the bait.
Take a kid fishing with you, and tell and show him what Dyn-O-Mite is. I guarantee all my bait – if I am on the end of the fishing pole. Heck fire – by golly!
Missouri Hillbilly Poet
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has long spoken out on the need to maintain the cold, clean waters and productive habitat within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The BWCAW provides sportsmen unique and unparalleled backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities and is America’s most visited wilderness area.
Unfortunately, these important lands and waters and our outdoor traditions are threatened by risky sulfide copper-ore mining development proposals within the Boundary Waters watershed.
Please help us tell the Forest Service where sportsmen stand on sulfide-ore mining in the Boundary Waters watershed by signing our petition.
Go online to backcountryhunters.org/petition_boundary_waters.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
I started fishing with my grandpa at age three and had a stringer of 23 fish then, or else I would call this beginner’s luck.
In the mid-1970s, when me and my wife (of 40 years now) were going steady, we went camping with my family at a cabin in the old Indian Ford campground on Missouri Rte. 42 near Vienna on the Gasconade River. I decided to show my wife-to-be how to fish, so we climbed in a jonboat with my brother (who also wanted to try fishing) and with the boat sitting at the bank, I sat in the back seat to fish.
I always used Zebco bait cast rod and reels. I put on the tackle and the worm on the hook for her, but she still wanted me to demonstrate how to cast, etc.
So, step by step, I demonstrated and narrated. I held the rod in my right hand and showed her how to push and hold the release button on the rear of the reel while drawing back and casting, making sure not to let go of the rod but just to release the button at the end of the stroke to cast the hook where you want to fish on the bottom of the river, and then crank the slack out of the line, also setting the drag lock.
I held my finger on the line while grasping the rod and patiently waited to feel a fish bite. At that second, I felt the line move under my finger when a fish took my bait. Then, with a short, swift jerk, I tried to set the hook in the mouth of the fish, which again happened exactly on cue. Then I cranked and reeled in the hooked fish and lifted it out on the line.
Then, while I was laughing in disbelief at the timing (I rarely catch fish, much less that fast and easily), I told her that’s how it’s done. She stood up, threw her rod at me, stomped out of the boat and back to the cabin, calling me a smartass, as if I had done the whole thing on purpose.
I have never been able to repeat that event in more than 40 years and never knew anyone my whole life, even my grandpa and his fishing buddies, who had a similar occurrence of a perfect “How to Catch a Fish” lesson.
P.S. – My wife never wanted to fish again either – a lucky lesson for me but not so lucky for my wife.
St Peters, MO
Editor’s note: In its latest issue, Wildfowl Magazine reports: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is attempting to boost the sale of duck stamps by allowing depiction of birds other than waterfowl on future stamps. The move is designed to coax birders and other national wildlife refuge visitors to buy a stamp and would be the first time a bird other than waterfowl appeared on the stamp in its 82 years of existence.”
Here’s a comment on that from a Missouri duck hunter:
After 82 years, my duck stamp collection stops. I cannot place the likes of a sparrow, canary or egret into my collection. Yes, I do have all the duck stamps since 1934. It may be time to hang up my boots and parka, too. You see, I’m 84. You may want to advise duck hunters and duck stamp collectors by calling their attention to USFWS and their plans to place little birds on the 2016-17 issue duck stamp.
Lake St. Louis
A fishing trip with Dennis Whiteside is like a journey through history, regardless of the stream or location being visited. His knowledge of Ozark and associated area lore is astounding, and all its waters are kin to his canoes and paddles.
A myriad of stories – insightful, educational, thought-provoking and often humorous – flow from him like the water being visited, bringing the past, present and even the future into focus.
You learn quickly that he’s a student of conservation and a protector of precious land, water, fish and fowl. And if it’s a float involving fishing for smallmouth bass, you’ll learn quickly that he knows each catch by its first name and is its premier friend and protector.
To Bobby Whitehead: You know, I am not only a friend, but a fan, too. I started reading my June-July edition of Outdoor Guide, which arrived yesterday. I’d only gotten as far as Page 5 but already found myself forced to compliment you on your Dogwood Journal entry, which was so appropriate and timely. Well done, my friend.
I also was reading about Lew’s Museum and the J.D. Fletcher Collection. Reading J.D.’s name brought back a wonderful memory of meeting him fairly early in my career, when I had the pleasure of fishing Table Rock Lake when McCollough Corp. was promoting Holiday Island.
I got to fish a couple of days with Dusty Ensley (and Hugh O’Brien, aka Wyatt Earp) and spent some time with J.D. Fletcher, who was a good friend of Dusty’s. I had befriended Dusty on an earlier McCollough outdoor writer junket in Nevada, near another of their planned communities.
I remember J.D.’s invitation to visit him at his Devil’s Dive Resort and fish with him. I never got the chance to do so, nor have I fished with Dusty again. I did, however, have the chance to make a couple of trips above the Arctic Circle with Dusty’s dad, Harold. His mom, Bonnie, and sister Sandy were also on those trips (as were Sandy’s hubbie, Jim Trotter, Bud and Audie Walton of Wal-mart fame and their two sons-in-law, normal guys who have become ultra-rich, Stan Kroenke and Bill Laurie). I really hit it off with those two guys, pretty much my age, but we’ve lost touch over the years.
Well, thanks for bringing back some great memories – and I’m only on Page 5!
Putnam Valley, New York
To Bobby Whitehead: The Dogwood Journal column in your April-May issue on your friend, who was dealing with his movement problems while trying to get his Conceal-Carry permit, really cut close to the bone for me. You told the story in an amazingly caring and compassionate manner without it coming off as just another “sympathy” story. Nice.
I enjoy your publication very much. Thank you.
For nearly 35 years, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has produced the Missouri Resources quarterly magazine to encourage readers to explore and protect Missouri’s natural and cultural resources.
Each edition includes articles about Missouri’s state parks, historic sites and geologic wonders as well as our precious air, land and water resources and the environmental issues that must be addressed to protect them.
We’ve been able to offer the magazine to Missouri residents for free, and our out-of-state subscription costs are minimal at $4.50 per year and $8 for two years. If you prefer to read the magazine online, simply click on “Get Updates” on the This Issue envelope and become an online Missouri Resources subscriber. You will receive electronic notices when the most recent issue is available on the web.
You may learn more about Missouri Resources and subscribe on the web at dnr.mo.gov/magazine, or call (800) 361-4827 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are currently not a subscriber, what are you waiting for? Sign up today and begin exploring Missouri Resources.
When I received the April-May issue of Outdoor Guide, I read it cover to cover. I can’t remember the last time I did that.
In all fairness, my wife and daughter had been away on spring break in Panama Beach for the week. In addition, gale force winds were blowing dogwood petals off the trees in my backyard, and the cool temperatures, coupled with my artificially thinned blood, had me locked indoors.
On the other hand, the stories in the magazine were a welcome antidote for the spring fever that was getting me down. I especially enjoyed hearing from Joel Vance, John Neporadny, Tim Huffman, Larry Whiteley, Randall Davis, Larry Dablemont, Spence Turner, Bill Cooper, Gerald Scott and John Winkelman. It felt like attending an MOC reunion!
Thanks for putting it all together and keeping it all together, as you’ve been doing for many moons.
I was a small fish farmer for 35 years, for supplementary income along with my regular job at Gardner-Denver Co.
While I was in business a few years ago, a lady called me whom I knew well. They had just built a home and made a three-acre lake right out their front door. These two people loved the outdoors and the wildlife on their farm. They wanted 250 bluegill fingerlings for their lake. I took them the 250 bluegill. This lady was a card, and a fun lady to talk with.
While I was unloading the fish, she said, “Russ, have you ever heard of bluegill balls?” I said, “No.”
She said, “I am not talking about mountain oysters, turkey fries or calf fries, but bluegill balls. Both male and female have two balls.”
I hesitated, and said, “How do you get the two balls?”
She said, “Very carefully, with a very sharp fillet knife. You lay the bluefill down, cut one strip of meat from one side, turn the bluegill over and cut another piece of meat from the other side. Now, you roll one piece of this meat into a ball, put a toothpick through it and do the same with the other piece of meat. Put them in a bowl with pancake mix and a little milk, and use your favorite seasoning.”
She said they used a little Cajun seasoning.
“Now drop these two bluegill balls in a 375-degree deep fryer. They will float in two to three minutes. Remove when golden brown.”
Now, the lady said, you have doctor-recommended food fit for a queen or king for Sunday dinner. The dish could be called “fish on lumber.”
A trivia question: What is one of the most abundant fighting fish on the end of a fishing pole? Every kid usually gets his first lesson on fishing with this fish. If your answer if bluegill, you are right.
The Missouri Hillbilly Poet
La Grange, MO
Coming on the heels of the illegal killing of a mature bull elk this past year, there has been new legislation proposed in the Missouri House of Representatives. The large bull found on government land back in December had had its antlers removed with a chainsaw and then left to rot.
A necropsy conducted by the Department of Conservation, which has spent time and money to repatriate the largest member of the deer family back to the state after an absence of a century and a half, concluded the animal had been shot.
MDC Deputy Director Aaron Jeffries confirmed agents are still working a few leads, but little progress has been made on the case.
The speculation that even if found, the culprit(s) might be liable for only a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000 led to a public outcry among sportsmen as well as the outdoorsmen and women who enjoyed seeing and hearing the magnificent animals.
This, along with an increase in the illegal harvesting of whitetail deer, whose legal hunting is part of a billion-dollar business across Missouri, contributed to Rep. Linda Black (R-Park Hills) sponsoring HB 1971, which specifies that “any person convicted of chasing, pursuing … killing or disposing of certain wildlife in violation of present rules and regulations may be required to pay restitution to the state.”
By the Missouri constitution, wild animals in Missouri belong to the people of the state. HB 1971 would allow a local judge to require restitution of up to $750 for a wild turkey, $1,500 for a whitetail deer and $3,500 for an elk or bear illegally taken.
Although these numbers would bring Missouri closer in line with surrounding states, many feel they would still fall far short of serving as substantial restitution for animals frequently valued in the tens of thousands nor serve as much-needed deterrent, as in some cases they would barely exceed the cost of out-of-state license fees.
Executive Director Brandon Butler of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) spoke in favor of the legislation at the Committee Hearing on Feb. 16, as did MDC Deputy Director Jeffries. CFM is on record as supporting the bill and Brandon is outspoken for the need to no longer equate game violators as “hunters” breaking the law. Jeffries reinforces the sentiment. “Poaching is unacceptable and simply stealing from all of us,” he said.
The bill has support across the state and the political aisle. Rep. Don Rone (R-Haiti) believes it a good start but thinks, “some of the fines are too low.” His thinking reflects that of organizations such as the Quality Deer Management Association as well as the National Deer Alliance.
Grant Woods, a well-respected leader in this field, would like to see more of a value-based fine and restitution schedule. For example, a game thief in Oregon had to pay the state $50,000 restitution for a bull elk and was banned for life from hunting there and in several other states. A violator in Wyoming was out more than $8,000 and one in Illinois $25,000 for a mature whitetail buck.
Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood) agrees and is supporting this as a “good start.”
“We need laws that will decrease if not eliminate poaching, and a fine structure with substantial penalties which will deter such criminal action,” she said.
Lavender recognizes that there was once a time of subsistence hunting, but with food pantries and the social infrastructure to assist the hungry, breaking the law is not needed nor should it be tolerated. MDC funds Share the Harvest, in which thousands of legally harvested deer are processed and distributed to the hungry each year.
Currently, Missouri has one of the lower fine schedules around, with some penalties not significantly more than the legal license itself. At this time, HB 1971 is still in committee.
Dr. Eric Mansfield is a retired educator and an author.
(A letter written to the Missouri House of Representatives)
I am writing to express my opposition to SJR19 to change the Missouri Department of Conservation. Our Department is the model for the country and does an exceptional job managing our natural resources.
The key to their success is that they operate outside of the political process, with dedicated funding, allowing them to make sound, science-based decisions.
The department seems to be under constant attack from politicians pushing special interests and against the best interests of Missourians. SJR19 would expand the number of commissions, thus regionalizing the interests of the individuals and increasing the politicization of the commission. I ask that you review the consideration points (below) for further rationale of my opposition to the bill.
This is a bad idea, and I encourage you to work against and vote against SJR19.
Steve Maritz, chairman and CEO
I enjoyed your latest Dogwood Journal. I am striving mightily to get back to writing. I started with some Daily Devotionals the last two weeks, but I want just as much to resume my outdoor writing. So I’m taking on your challenge, “Ever seen anything like that?”
I’m pretty sure I could collect enough incredible stories to write an article, but for now, here’s a teaser:
Fishing from the bank of a small lake at a public fishing area, I spotted a half dozen turtles sunning themselves on a floating log about 10 feet long. Soon another turtle, larger than the others, swam up and starting climbing aboard the makeshift tanning bed.
As he clawed his way up, the log started turning, and the other turtles had to execute some fancy footwork to avoid getting dunked. It quickly became a logrolling contest as the log’s teetering turned to spinning. One by one, the turtles gave up their perches and slid into the water.
The bigger turtle patiently waited for the log to stop moving, then climbed up with a smug grin on his face.
The moral of the story? Income equality doesn’t work for long!