Odds and ends and big fish

I will be speaking to a group of retired teachers at noon, Monday, Oct. 9 at the First Baptist Church in Houston. I was told the public was welcome, so I am passing it on to my readers who would like to attend. I will have the new fall magazine and my books which I will sign after I finish speaking. I’ll assure you of a humorous account of my boyhood on the Big Piney River, near Houston, where I went to school and helped to retire a few teachers earlier than planned. I’ll also be reminiscing about my boyhood in the pool hall on Houston’s main street. Other than that I am not sure what I will be talking about.

That goes along with what the MDC insists about me.

After I wrote the last article about Chronic Wasting Disease in deer in which I pointed out that humans can get the disease, and many have died from it, a Missouri Department of Conservation employee wrote newspapers a letter saying that is not true – or at least it has not been proven, because they insist the deadly “prions” (which I misspelled last week) can be found in cattle, buffalo, elk, goats and sheep.

Therefore if you die from the disease, no one can prove what animal killed you, so you can’t say it was an infected deer. So don’t quit buying deer tags, because if you do, the MDC might have to operate on only a $150 million a year.

The big sale we are going to hold here on Lightnin’ Ridge is not a swap meet. Our annual outdoorsmen’s swap meet is in March. I am just selling off guns and fishing tackle and lures and stuff I have accumulated over the years. I will put directions and a list of what we will be selling on my website in a week or so. That is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com

The book I talked about a few weeks ago, authored by my old friend Mike Widner, is finished. Widner, a biologist and outdoorsman from North Arkansas wrote about hunting bobwhite quail and a few other game birds and the problems quail face today. He also talks about what you can do to increase quail numbers on your land. The first 100 off the press have been signed by Mike, and numbered. You can receive this 288-page book by sending $10, plus $2 for postage. The address is Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.

Mike Widner and I go back about 45 years, when we both started out as naturalists working for the National Park Service at Buffalo Point on the newly formed Buffalo National River. He and his wife spent a few days up in my part of the country waiting for the book to be finalized, and one day we motored up the Sac River when they were running quite a bit of water out of Stockton Lake. There were some spots where I have caught hybrids in the fall, and we got into them. That high water was perfect and those fish, which are a product of a cross between white bass and stripers, were tearing things up. I mean that literally. We likely hooked two dozen from 5 to 15 pounds. But we only boated three big ones! In that swift water, they had us outclassed. We lost five lures, I think, expensive ones that it costs about 10 bucks or better to replace. And when we thought we really had some about whipped, they made a big lunge and pulled the hooks loose.

Adding some fat white bass and hefty Kentucky bass as the water dropped, we came back with a good bucket full of filets. It is a little more work to skim the red meat off of a white or hybrid, but you have to do it if you want that solid, tasty white meat. When the red center stripe is removed and that thin layer of red meat under the skin is removed, those filets from stripers, hybrids and whites are great eating.

Catching them on the Sac depends on knowing where the fish congregate when the water is high, but not too high. Finding the flow of the released water to be just right, you soon find that 10-or 12-pound line on casting reels with medium action rods just isn’t enough in very swift water.

That day, while we hooked a dozen or so of the hybrids, we saw at least 25 or 30 total. The ones we didn’t hook made mighty splashes and swirls at topwater lures, and some looked to be 30 inches long. The ones we landed were between 22 and 26 inches long. We didn’t weigh them, but they fought like 20-pounders, all of them.

I hate for all the world to have to report this, but the dream I had of making a retreat for underprivileged children, and an outdoor education center for anyone to enjoy, is a dream that I finally have to give up. The opposition I have from a neighbor that the old man who sold me the land called, “the most evil hearted man he ever knew” is a barrier too hard to overcome. I will tell the whole story about him and the courts and law officers of St. Clair County and how they together made this venture impossible in my Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine, and I hope you will read it. Everyone needs to understand why we have to go this route.

Laws that deal with removing boundary lines and closing long-used existing roads cannot be enforced there, apparently. When I was younger I might have overcame his attempt to destroy it all, but without expensive lawyers it is more than I can handle. And no matter how hard I tried, the news media in Springfield just refuse to publicize it. The youth retreat we hoped would attract dozens of groups sits empty too many days.

Many people have donated to that dream and so many have helped in other ways. If you are one who has given money to pay taxes and insurance and electricity, I will be returning your donations as soon as the land can be sold. The effort, taking up three years of work and hope, is not all in vain. Many, many children have come there, and had a great experience enjoying God’s creation.

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