Ducks ducks ducks and more ducks

Clouds of ducks taking off from the Lone Oak Duck Club in western Missouri. Probably mostly mallards with a few shovelers, gadwalls and teal. But this video was taken in FEBRUARY! Where were they in November and December??

The guys worked hard all summer creating good  waterfowl habitat and I’m glad the birds can use it on their way  north. But the least the little bastards could do is allow the folks who did all the hard work a little action.

 

 

Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine

This is my first Way Outside cartoon for Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine. July/August 1998. If my math is right…and it sometimes isn’t…2022 will start my twenty-fourth year working with this wonderful publication.

I’m thankful that then-Editor Mike Miller took a chance on me and did something goofy and I’m blessed that when current Editor Nadia Reimer took the reins she chose to keep me on.

This magazine has made great strides since ’98 and I feel blessed to have been a part of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Say you were a duck…

Say you were a duck… flying along… just looking for a nice place to eat… and you saw a place like this, wouldn’t you lock up and cruise right in?

That’s apparently what this mallard drake did when he spotted the Lone Oak Duck Club.

Maybe the guys down below in the duck blind should have let him go so he could go back and tell all his buddies about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast food from the farm

Fast food from the farm

The annual early teal season is usually a total crap shoot. At least it is at the Lone Oak Duck Club in western Missouri. Sometimes the little speedsters  have come and gone before the season opens. Other times they’re still up north.

The table is setNo need to brush a blind. Just hunker down in the flooded millet before daylight, load up and wait. And make sure you bring as much industrial strength mosquito repellant as you can carry.  The teal…usually blue wing… may show up or they won’t. The shooting will be over by 9 AM and you can go back to bed or do some chores around the farm.

This time the guys were in luck. Okay…a little luck anyway.

 

 

Big Fishweir Creek

While eating lunch on the deck at Harp’s Pub, which is only a few thousand yards from my house, you can look straight down into the murky waters of Big Fishweir Creek. This once navigable urban waterway meanders from Jacksonville’s trendy Avondale neighborhood under the Herschel Street bridge and into the Ortega River where it joins the St. John’s River.

Kayakers, fishermen and canoeists once enjoyed the recreational opportunities of Big Fishweir but this urban waterway has become shallow and harder for wildlife and boaters to navigate due to sediment from surrounding development and storm events.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has designated Big Fishweir as an area that should be swimmable and fishable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start removing sediment and invasive plants in early 2021. The majority of funding for the 6.5 million dollar project is federal while about 35% is from the city of Jacksonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Black Bears

A recent Associated Press article in the Florida Times Union States that Governor Ron Desantis signed a bill to protect black bears against poachers. I don’t even like poached eggs so I can imagine how yucky a poached bear would taste.

Anyway, the main reason some people were poaching bears is because the Florida bear population has skyrocketed. Which is a good thing if you like bears. In the ‘70s the Florida black bear population was only in the low hundreds. It  has now rebounded to around 4000. But some Floridians don’t LIKE bears, at least the ones that poop on their suburban yards and turn over their garbage cans which seems hypocritical to me because some HUMAN Floridians do these things all the time.

So, bottom line… the bill means there will be MORE bears which will please the pro-bear crowd but the anti-bear folks will be highly pissed.

But wait… there’s MORE! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has drafted a 10-year management plan that it says takes a scientific approach toward addressing the rising bear numbers. And what is that plan, you ask? They are going to keep the bears off-limits to hunters. Do you see where I’m going with this? How is keeping more bears from winding up as a rug in front of the fireplace in some guy’s man-cave going to address the rising bear numbers?

I don’t know about you but I can’t bear to think about this any more.

 

 

 

 

 

Pets by day, killers by night

They stalk the suburbs by night. With catlike quickness they pounce upon their unsuspecting prey. With no respect for the concept of fair play the nocturnal monsters toy with their helpless victims, often flinging them into the air or swatting them with cruel paws. Eventually tiring of this sadistic game, they commit the unthinkable… they DEVOUR their prey, often while the pitiful creatures ARE STILL ALIVE!

Though these hairy monsters assume their evil deeds are hidden by the cloak of darkness we, thanks to the ubiquitous trail cam, know the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Day In Paradise

Looking east from Jim’s Boatyard at the confluence of Sisters Creek and the St. John’s River…… 6:30 AM…It’s a beautiful sight. I’d love to see it more often if I didn’t have to get up so damn early. It’s a good start for a 4-hour charter with Capt. Andrew Mizell of Southern Marsh Charters.

Saw my first manatee this morning, at least the nose of a manatee. Wasn’t quick enough to get a photo. Maybe next time, if I’m quick enough, I’ll get to see an entire manatee.

Capt. Andrew Mizell displays a flounder