FROM LEE'S DESK - NOVEMBER 2017

The third annual Gentleman’s Wild Game Dinner was quite the success, with no shortage of great food, beverages, cigars and fellowship. This year’s event will be remembered for a very high level of energy. The silent auction included a number of new and unique items including a silver liquor flask from Meierotto’s with an engraved MHHF logo adorning the front. I hope something like that is available next year since I did not have the winning bid.

Dinner committee chair J.D. Selby stepped in as auctioneer for the live auction and demonstrated considerable prowess in keeping the bids and laughter coming. Three beautiful CZ long guns and an elegant dinner for four at Affare were snatched up! Funds from the event will be used to support future MHHF Clinics. Thank you to all who joined us for dinner, participated in the auctions and showed your support for Missouri’s hunting heritage.

While enjoying fine dining and city life with friends is fun, few things this time of year beat sitting in a quiet deer stand in the wooded bottoms of Big Creek. From my perch, I had time to reflect on  Missouri’s hunting tradition and all it encompasses. Those who don’t hunt, can’t imagine how this activity connects individuals with each other and with nature. The active, face-to-face fellowship within the brother and sisterhood of hunters is becoming increasingly important at a time when “connectivity” is so often limited to text, social media, emails and telephone. When we teach hunter education we are reminded of all that goes into the hunt, from planning and preparation to important choices we make in deciding to harvest or “let one pass,” to the responsibility to locate, process and use the gift of game. No matter how much we know, there is always more to learn, right?

Another aspect that I feel has become even more important today is the opportunity to sit in the wild, often for hours at a time reflecting and connecting with the natural world. We know (and the studies back this up) that having that ‘downtime’ is important to maintain mental balance.

As we enjoy this November season of gratitude, thank you for being an active supporter of the efforts of MHHF to preserve this wonderful hunting tradition. And thank you for your friendship.

 

FROM LEE'S DESK - OCTOBER 2017

The temperatures may be dropping outside, but it’s been a hot time for MHHF members and supporters in the Kansas City area. And, with all that’s on the calendar, it doesn’t look like it’s going to cool down soon.

Thanks to all who joined us at the Sportsman’s Gala and congratulations to our MHHF 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Karen Hoover, and MHHF Allan Hoover award recipient. Wayne Baier. Thanks to all who participated in the silent auction and congratulations to all who had the winning bids. There were some terrific prizes awarded.

More thanks to everyone who joined us for the 7th Annual Shoot for the Future and congratulations to the high scorers who are listed on our website www.mhhf.us/news and Facebook page. Combined, our volunteers drove 1,851 miles and dedicated 125 hours creating these two spectacular events. Thank you to all the volunteers and sponsors who made this event happen.

Kudos to our Cass County chapter for the outstanding chukar clinic noted at the top of this update. This was our 73rd clinic since we were founded and brings the total number of families introduced to Missouri’s hunting tradition through the efforts of our volunteers to 438.

As you can see from our calendar of events, all clinics from now through January are fully booked. It’s great to see that so many families are interested in experiencing the outdoor way of life. However, in order for MHHF to continue to meet this growing demand, we need to grow our chapters. On Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 a.m., I will be a guest of Jeff Leonard on the Roads End Outdoors radio program on KFEQ 680 AM, St. Joseph. I hope this conversation, and extra publicity, will generate enough interest to support the creation of a new MHHF chapter in Northwest Missouri. If you know people who live in that area, please reach out to them an encourage them to listen and help promote MHHF.

We’re looking forward to seeing many of you Thursday, November 9 at this year’s Gentlemen’s Wild Game Dinner – A Hunting Affare Benefit. Invitations are mailing this week. Please come support us at this fun and unique event. Details and tickets are available www.mhhf.us/events.

Again, thanks to all for your support!

FROM LEE'S DESK-SEPTEMBER 2017

For supporters of Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation, this time of year is a lot like the holidays for everyone else. There are parties, events and opportunities to have a good time and celebrate the season… as in the upcoming hunting season(s).

September’s calendar of events is packed and includes a little something for everyone:

·        Sept. 9-10: First MHHF Clinic of the season took place at Settle’s Ford Conservation Area.

·        Wednesday, Sept. 20: Our first-ever New Mentor Orientation at 5:30, Brewbaker’s Bar & Grill in Belton. (More about that later.)

·        Thursday, Sept. 28: MHHF Sportsmen’s Gala saluting our 2017 special event sponsors at The Emaline Ballroom.

·        Saturday, Sept. 30: MHHF’s 7th Annual Shoot for the Future Sporting Clays Tournament/Benefit is at Powder Creek Shooting Park.

Looking beyond September, we have our Gentleman’s Wild Game Dinner at Affäre Restaurant on Thursday, November 9. Surrounding that are several more youth hunting clinics.

All this during what many consider to be the most wonderful time of year in Kansas City with mild days, cool nights and spectacular fall colors. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

To help introduce people to our clinic model, we have historically asked prospective members to come to a clinic and observe what we do and how we do it. That practice has served us well. As we focus on growing MHHF, waiting for hunting season to audit a clinic becomes somewhat limiting for folks who would like to actively participate in the four remaining clinics we have scheduled this fall.

If you’re interested in learning more about MHHF or volunteering at one of our upcoming clinics this fall, please join us this Wednesday, 5:30 at Brewbaker’s Bar & Grill in Belton. Clinic organizers, directors and other members will present an introduction to our clinic model and outline our procedures. New members, with a filled application and first year’s dues, will receive a hardcopy of our procedure manual, no downloading and printing necessary!

Whether you are a veteran or prospective member, I hope you will join us. More information about these events and upcoming clinics is on our website and Facebook page.

FROM LEE'S DESK-AUGUST 2017

Passing Along- the Fifth Component

When MHHF first created our clinic model we saw three primary components:

  1. the Missouri Department of Conservation hunter education certification class,

  2. the supervised live-fire session, and

  3. the mentored hunt.

Very soon thereafter, the MHHF founders recognized that the after hunt camp lunch, where the kids told each other their tales of the hunt, was another important part of the traditional hunting experience. At that moment, we considered the camp lunch a fourth component of our clinic.

Several years ago, we stuggled with a concern that introducing youth to hunting was not enough. We felt we needed to do something more to assist our clinic graduates with finding opportunities to connect with like-minded hunters for continuing education and friendship. To that end we welcomed hunting organizations like Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and Pheasants Forever to partner with us.

“How?” you might ask.

First, they provided MHHF a $250 donation to assist in offsetting our hard costs of running our clinics, things like eye and ear protection, shells, targets and hot dogs.. Additionally, we encouraged a representative from one of those organizations to join us the day of the hunt. In some cases, that person was one of our mentors. During the camp lunch, we recognized this individual for their service, and their organization as an association that supports youth and Missouri’s hunting heritage. He or she is given a few minutes to share the value of becoming a member of their organization. Collateral material and contact information is provided.

In this way, MHHF plays the role of the “farm team,” for the partnering organization, providing a flow of new member prospects fresh from their first time afield. We are also providing an important next step for our clinic graduates so, if they choose to continue to pursue hunting and the outdoor way of life, they have somewhere to go.

It is our hope to have a partner with every hunter education clinic and hunt we provide.  If you are a member or on the board of a related organization and would like to learn how to leverage the value of MHHF as your “farm team”, please contact Jerri Keith soccerboys@comcast.net

 

FROM LEE'S DESK-JULY 2017

I’d like to take a minute to comment about the new Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) all-online hunter-education course , launched this month. Like many new ideas, it’s easy to be against a concept at first blush. My first thought upon hearing about this at the Conservation Federation of Missouri conference in March was “Are they nuts? What are they thinking?” My mind jumped to memories of youngsters, sitting at the back of the hunter ed class, messing around who would later fail the test or be asked to leave. The human component of watchful instructors was critical to making sure those who displayed behavior showing a lack of appreciation for firearm safety should be denied hunter education certification. This human monitoring can’t take place online and who knows who is really filling out the test, right?

My second concern was where does MHHF’s hunter education clinics fit now that people can be certified not only without a supervised live-fire session and mentored first hunt, but without participating in-person in a class?

I spoke with MDC Deputy Director Aaron Jeffries during a visit in April and on the phone last Monday. Some points he made…

-The big objective is to create a variety of opportunities for new hunters to get certified in order to counter the declining number of hunters. That is something on which I think we can all agree.

-Students must be 16 years of age or older. It is designed for a slightly older demographic than most MHHF clinic participants. Aaron said in the first week the majority of online students were over 21, definitely not our target market.

-The department will include verification as to how a shooter was certified in any hunting incident investigation. In other words, the department is watching. If incidents grow with this new means of getting certified, they will not hesitate to make changes.

Although I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with this new certification option, I applaud the Department’s continued, and innovative, efforts to keep the hunting tradition from fading away. As to where MHHF’s efforts fit in, I believe we provide the best and safest way to introduce a young person, who lacks access and opportunity, to Missouri’s hunting heritage.

Once again I’m excited to report how our Directors and members are engaging in MHHF’s Mission the last several weeks. Here are just some of the results of their efforts…

  • Treasurer, Mike Borgerding completed and submitted applications for two grants for MHHF.

  • The Cass County chapter has added two new clinics to the fall schedule.

  • The Board of Directors have added the Joplin/Webb City, MO area to our list for chapter development.

  • The board has updated our Purpose/Mission/Vision statements. You can review these statements on our website under ‘what we do’ which is being updated by new member, Bruce Keith.

 

  • Director Emeritus, Sam Goller has been keeping our Facebook page current.

  • Director, Steve Rulo and Clinic Coordinator Jerri Lynn Keith represented MHHF at Cabela’s Family Outdoors Day, last month. The event had over 300 attendees.

  • The Instructor Mentor Rendezvous will take place Sunday, August 13th from nine to noon at D.H. Restoration in Grandview. This provides an opportunity to review the operations of our clinics, capturing new, best practices and creating solutions for problem areas. We will also introduce some new and improved plans for gathering participant feedback and promotion of future clinics.

  • President-Elect and Event Chair, Stacie Hubler has announced this year’s Sportsmen’s Gala September 28th will be at the Emaline Ballroom in Lee’s Summit.

  • Director J.D. Selby, and the committee for the Gentlemen’s Wild Game Dinner fundraiser (Thursday, November 9 at Affare Restaurant), announced the ticket price has been reduced to $150, one hundred dollars less than previous years. Invites will be in the mail soon.

Whew! That’s a lot going on during a time of year when we are not even staging clinics!!!  Soon, we will be holding a New Mentor Orientation meeting in preparation for the fall clinics. If you know someone who would be interested in participating in any of the above activities please have them contact me at president@mhhf.us

Thank you for all you do to support and help grow Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation.

FROM LEE'S DESK, JUNE 2017

Summer Reflection

Summer is an important time for MHHF. It’s when we look back on what we’ve done, plan for the upcoming hunting seasons and, of utmost importance, focus on recruiting – both volunteers and sponsors. Without either, MHHF’s opportunities for growth would be limited.

Last month, I shared information about our strategic plan for the future. Part of that plan includes expanding the number and location of MHHF Clinics. In addition to our Annual Henry County Waterfowl Clinic the 2nd weekend in December, we plan to premier a new Annual HC Waterfowl Clinic during the Middle Zone Youth Hunting Season, October 28 and 29. To be successful, we need your help and are looking for volunteers in the Harrisonville, Clinton and surrounding areas.

Recently, the Missouri Department of Conservations has modified the game laws to allow the of use crossbows during regular archery seasons. In the past, providing archery clinics was difficult. Since youngsters vary in size, we would need to have on hand many different traditional bows. In contrast, half dozen youth crossbows can be adjusted to fit youngsters of varying height and size. This change in regulations allows us to offer a new introduction to yet another aspect of history and hunting! So we are also planning a new Archery Deer Clinic using crossbows. To support this effort, we are looking for new volunteers to help us develop this clinic in the Cass, Jackson or Clay County areas.  

Mentors are always a priority and to provide expedited training in the MHHF Clinic model we are developing a New Mentor Orientation event to be held sometime in the late summer or early Fall.   

Additionally, we always appreciate support in the classroom, at the range and around basecamp the day of the hunt. So, even if a person doesn’t have an instructor certification or hunting experience to share, there are plenty of other important ways to help out.

Please give some thought to someone you know who might be interested in joining us. Membership dues are $20 per year or a Life Membership is available for a one-time donation of $250.

Member perks? There’s only one – and it’s a big one – it’s the satisfaction of mentoring youth who find greater ways to appreciate the outdoors and enthusiastically embrace Missouri’s hunting tradition. Every clinic we stage concludes with appreciative parents and happy kids who have made new friends, gained confidence from learning new skills and knowledge. Every time I participate in one of our clinics I come away with renewed enthusiasm, wanting to do more. It’s fun and rewarding. We want to share that experience with you. I hope you will consider supporting MHHF with the gift of time or your membership. For those of you who already give, THANK YOU!

From Lee's Desk, November 2016

A Super Moon and No Deer

Thanks to all who supported our second Gentlemen’s Wild Game Dinner (GWGD). Congratulations and well done to Executive Director, Susan Williams and the GWGD committee. As you’ll see from the pictures we had great fun and my apologies for winning the raffle, but hey, I paid my $25 just like everyone else.

Congratulations, and well done to Steve Rulo, Dan Margita, David Rush, Aaron Guest, Jerri Lynn Keith, and Andy Carmack for coordinating the simultaneous clinics during the Special Youth Deer Season last month. This was a first for MHHF and our first major step towards expansion. We still have room for more at this year’s Henry County Waterfowl Clinic, December 9-11. Please spread the word and have interested parties contact me or Susan. We would like to have six more graduates to add to our current total of 403 before the end of the year.

The first Monday of firearms deer season I stepped out of the lodge door at 5:08. I was in the tree, extra layers on, ear protection in, face net in place, pack stowed, one racked in the chamber, settled and quiet 20 minutes before shooting time. (Have you ever heard a hunter complain about getting to the stand too early?)  All of this despite that I needed to step off the levee for a few minutes in route because the moon was like one of those spotlights they swing around the sky during the grand opening of a car dealership. When the clouds covered it up I continued on my way thinking every deer in the county had seen me by now.

Admittedly, it was a beautiful morning, one that makes you feel fortunate to experience the pageantry of the woods awakening with the dawn. There is about a ten-minute period when the sun is at a particular angle where it bathes the tree trunks in orange, illuminating the bark in a stark relief – but the action was slow. I saw one non-legal buck (antler point restriction) and later what I thought was a fawn and doe, neither of which presented a good shot.

The next day I was talking to MHHF volunteer and hunter/trapper extraordinaire, Joe Ketchum, complaining about feeling exposed, seeing my shadow on the ground two hours before sunrise the morning before. This was the first I had heard of the “super-moon.” Joe reported that this weekend the moon was closer to earth than it had been since 1948 and wouldn’t be this close again until 2034 and that it really impacts deer movement. Because the light is so bright, they party all night, consuming and spooning, then loaf at dusk and dawn during the time when hunters are supposed to be in trees and deer are expected to prowl.

So there I was, on time, dressed and anxious like a bride abandoned at the alter – all because the deer were not playing by the rules!

 

Any experienced hunter reading this will be nodding and thinking, “uh-huh.” For folks in the other category, let this be another example of why it’s called “huntin’” and not “gettin.’”

From Lee's Desk, September 2016

I think most would agree, the time to attend to details like cleaning your shotgun or sharpening your field knife is better done in the off-season instead of the middle of the hunt. In the same spirit, we hold a meeting in the off-season to “clean and sharpen” our clinic model.

I think most would agree, the time to attend to details like cleaning your shotgun or sharpening your field knife is better done in the off-season instead of the middle of the hunt. In the same spirit, we hold a meeting in the off-season to “clean and sharpen” our clinic model.

For three hours the third Sunday morning of August,  a mix of active directors, former directors, clinic organizers and involved members gathered for the second year at our Instructor/Mentor Rendezvous to discuss what works well, what new practices need to be captured in our Procedure Manual and what challenges need to be overcome. This is also on opportunity to discuss our day-to-day, year-round activities of recruiting new members and clinic participants. The result was three pages of notes much of which will be sent to you as an addendum to our manual.

A business associate of mine, Michael Gerken, recently wrote a book, Creating A Culture of Valued Leadership. In it, he describes an effective organizational culture as one where “all associates recognize and value their opportunities to bring leadership to their roles.” Nowhere have I seen this concept better displayed than at the Instructor/Mentor Rendezvous. Those who attended have taken a leadership role with the Federation through their active volunteer participation in our clinics. Then they have gone a step beyond, taking ownership in making MHHF even more effective in providing youth the opportunity to discover Missouri’s outdoor way of life.

My admiration and appreciation goes out to MHHF’s members who keep us moving forward.

From Lee's Desk, August 2016

This summer, we had the opportunity to visit Alaska. It was a trip that Allison, my wife, and I wanted to take for a long time. Though we visited only a few towns and villages along the Inside Passage, we quickly understood how a person could become enamored by the vastness, wildness and beauty of this 49th state. The culture of the original inhabitants of the land embraces an attitude of living in harmony with nature and today many are committed to preserving their heritage as it relates to the great outdoors.

Of all the experiences we enjoyed, one stands out because it reminded me of what MHHF represents – a link from our past to our future.

While visiting Juneau we took an excursion to Musher’s Camp. Here, sled dogs are bred, raised and trained as work dogs, the way Native Alaskans did for hundreds of years. Just like Missourians before the invention of the truck and tractor used horses, mules and oxen to transport people and goods over distances, teams of Alaskan Malamutes and later Siberian Huskies were a reliable means of “horsepower.” They were working dogs and, as such, responded to their “work” with enthusiasm and were considered members of their human family.

In the late 1960’s the dogs “lost their job” to various types of snowmobiles. These brought certain efficiencies but there were disadvantages as well. If one of the dogs became ill or lame, others in the team could continue. In the event of an unexpected storm, the dogs and musher could bed down, stay warm and then continue later. (The smart musher would know to pack a little extra food for everyone in preparation for such an event.) When weather goes bad and a snow machine breaks down, the operator is completely dependent on radio and rescue.

In 1973, Joe Redington, Sr. felt it was important to “preserve the culture of sled dogs and their use in Alaska” and established the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. People train with teams of dogs throughout the year to participate. The goal seems to be every bit as much to finish as to win.

From Iditarod.com: The race pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, it is a tribute to Alaska’s history and the role the sled dog’ played. The Iditarod is a tie to that colorful past.

Sound familiar?

From Lee's Desk, July 2016

As recent generations have moved from farm to city to suburb, finding the time and a place to hunt has become increasingly difficult. Nationally the number of hunters has been on the decline for years. If the trend continues the North American Hunter will go the same way as the Carolina Parakeet, once prevalent in North America. This raises an important question - who have you taught to hunt?

I met a very interesting gentleman at a wedding earlier this month. The grandfather of the groom, he was what we refer to as self-made, very successful and now in his 70s, he is enjoying the fruit of his life’s labor. When he learned I was a hunter he told me how he had hunted all kinds of game and was looking for a new challenge when he discovered Alaska. His stories of harvesting caribou, Dall sheep, two brown bears and other animals I have only seen in pictures or on the ground floor of Cabela’s was fascinating. He mentioned several times how parts of the country were so harsh yet all so beautiful.

While I enjoyed hearing the stories, his stock really went up when I learned how he’d shared his passion with his daughters’ husbands and his grandchildren by taking them out and teaching them to hunt. For many of us, the days we get out alone or with our buddies to hunt are now so precious it’s hard to consider sharing that time with someone new and focus on helping him or her to learn about our hunting tradition. But he felt so strongly about sharing his knowledge and the ways of the outdoors he dedicated his time to take them with so they could have the same experiences and memories that last a lifetime.

The volunteer members of the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation find the time to help young people of families who no longer have someone to share this knowledge and for that I offer my admiration. We are seeking others to join us.

In the past century, hunters played a critical role in bringing the Whitetail Deer and Eastern Wild Turkey back from a few hundred to abundant numbers. Today we play a critical role in bringing back the North American Hunter. 

From Lee's Desk, June 2016

Learning it Right the First Time

Would you teach a young person learning to drive that it’s okay to “roll through” a stop sign or that it’s permissible to exceed the speed limit or text on the freeway?

For most people, the answer would be “no”.

Before MHHF’s founding Executive Director Allan Hoover began building our Federation, we had many conversations during long road trips to and from Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) and International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) conferences. We talked about what inspired us to become volunteer hunter education instructors and our first hunting experiences.

We agreed there were things we were taught that we would not pass along when teaching others. I’ve been told by several people who, though they had no problem with hunters or hunting, had unfortunate and negative experiences which soured them on pursuing hunting personally.

As instructors and mentors, we want to assure that a youngster’s first hunting experience is positive, where safety, sportsmanship, respect and appreciation for wildlife are emphasized. Later, with more experience, every hunter will develop their own personal code of ethics which will guide their behavior in a way that feels honorable, perhaps even setting standards more strict than what the law allows.

They will also refine their personal standards of safety, determining what feels comfortable and what seems a little risky. Whether to hunt from a tree stand or a ground blind for example, or deciding at what point the temperature (or wind chill) is colder than they care to challenge.

Though we can’t keep everyone from getting a bad first impression of hunting, we can teach our students practices that all safe and ethical hunters would agree are essential to present the real beauty and wonder of our interactions with the natural world.

From Lee's Desk, May 2016

First, thanks to Jerri Lynn Keith and Susan Williams for putting together a very enjoyable Member Social and Trap Shoot May 7. It was a very fun afternoon, good food, great weather and an overall good time (despite my trap scores).

Your board of directors’ gathered for a special meeting Sunday, May 15th to determine federation goals for the next 12 months. Our new director, J.D. Selby facilitated the exercise. You may recall, I announced at the Annual Business Meeting in January we had a achieved seven of the 13 objectives set out in the August 2014 Strategic Plan. Chief among the five areas outlined is Expansion of Chapters and Membership. Without going into too much detail the target areas include:

·         Completing of two new clinics in concert with other groups (underway)

  • ·         Formalizing of the Henry County Chapter with the addition of a second annual clinic in 2017
  • ·         Creation of Central Missouri and Jackson County Chapters (18 months)

Development of these plans is ongoing and I look forward to keeping you informed of our progress. Meanwhile, you also play a role in our success by helping help us find individuals who might be interested in volunteering time or resources for clinics in these areas.    

While our Clinic activities may lessen during the summer months, the work of the Board and our volunteers is ongoing. If you, or someone you know is interested in serving in a leadership role or as a volunteer with MHHF please contact Executive Director Susan Williams at execdir@mhhf.us.