The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 8, 2012

DABLEMONT: Mild weather is confusing

By Larry Dablemont
The Joplin Globe

— Every year in the middle of winter, it seems there are blossoming flowers or bushes here on Lightnin’ Ridge, and that is happening again.

It is so warm that everything seems confused. But do birds get confused too?

Sitting on my porch the other day when it was near 70 degrees, I watched several bluebirds fluttering around a bluebird house where they nested last spring. They would go inside and come back out as if they were about to nest again. This has happened a couple of times since. I yelled at them, reminding them it was December, but they paid little attention.

Maybe some reader can tell me what they were doing. My only conclusion is that they are the young bluebirds hatched there, and came back on a nostalgic visit. I could almost hear one of them saying to another, “Remember how daddy use to bring us bugs and worms when we were little? Boy, I wish I could find bugs and worms as good as those were when we were youngsters growing up inside here!”

Well, if you have a better idea, let me know.

The mild weather is playing heck with the migration of wild ducks. I like it like this, because the fishing is still good, but sometime this winter I want to hunt ducks, and it has to be cold to bring most of them down here.

The muzzle-loader hunter portion of the deer season in nearly upon us, and I don’t mind a little tracking snow for that time when a few of us grizzled old veterans go out with our primitive weapons to hunt deer in a natural uncrowded situation where we can where our coonskin caps, and stuff the blaze orange vest we are required to wear in a hollow stump.

The blaze orange requirement is wise when you have thousands of hunters in the woods during the high-powered long-range rifle season, but it is silly to ask muzzle-loader hunters to wear blaze orange.

Bow-hunters are not required to wear the orange garb while hunting during that period. They don’t even have to wear orange during the nine-day doe season for rifle hunters. Why is that? If there was ever a time a bow-hunter needed to be seen clearly it is when large numbers of rifle hunters, who can kill at 200 or 300 yards, are in the woods.

The regulations during that time are laughable, this state has some of the dumbest hunting and fishing regulations there are anywhere.

If you are hunting during the doe season, and see a really good buck you want, you can shoot it and then call it in on your archery tag. I saw that happen a couple of years ago on public land on Truman Lake. The hunter killed a buck and doe together, checked the doe on his rifle tag in the morning, and then called in the buck on his archery tag. When he brought the buck out, the entire rib cage had been removed, so no one could say for sure how it had been killed.

One of my friends who hunts with a muzzle-loader told me years ago that he and most of his hunting buddies remove the blaze orange when they get into the woods, then put it back on when they come out, because, as he put it, “You never see agents back in the deep woods.

They will be waiting at your vehicle or coming to your house trying to inspect the meat in your freezer to see if there is a technicality they can get you on.”

Muzzle-loader hunters who use the old time firearms are usually experienced hunters and I don’t worry about being in the woods with one of them. But those who are just out to kill something are enthusiastic about these new “in-line” muzzleloaders which are nothing like the old firearms. You can get away from that type of hunter if you walk back into an area where they won’t go.

I never see another hunter when I hunt with a muzzle-loader during a weekday. The colder it gets, the aloner I am. Aloner is a word used by old time grizzled outdoorsmen of another age who seek solitude and peace as much as they seek a deer.