I often take the opportunity in February to reflect upon the bigger picture. My step-daughter, Amanda, recently shared a story with me and, once again, I’m inspired to reflect on how fortunate we are to be citizens of this great country.

Amanda spent the holidays in Europe, visiting her cousin in France and some girlfriends in Germany. While in Germany, she stayed with a host family, which provided her a great opportunity to visit casually and get to know the people and their culture.

One evening the conversation touched on holiday traditions and celebrating the incoming New Year with fireworks. Apparently, this is common in Germany. Fireworks are available for a short time in in many stores and folks can set them off anywhere. When asked if this occurred in the U.S., Amanda reported that the sale of fireworks was highly regulated, could only be purchased and ignited in restricted areas and tolerated over a limited period of time during our celebration of Independence Day.

Later, Amanda’s hosts asked about her parents. She told of my involvement with MHHF and how we introduce youth to hunting. They thought this very strange. “You mean, your country strictly regulates the use of fireworks, but you teach children how to hunt animals with guns?!” Amanda had to laugh but acknowledged, “Yeah, that pretty well describes it.”

Two things come to my mind immediately. First, the number of burns treated at hospital emergency rooms during any given Fourth of July is numerous and (thanks in great part to hunter education) cases involving treatment for hunting related firearms injuries is very few over the course of an entire year. Statistically, you are much safer in the field during season than you are igniting a roman candle.

Secondly, I’m reminded that there are aspects of our culture and laws that are not common in other parts of the world. Early immigrants landing on the shores of this continent and later the frontier families settling this country had to learn to hunt game in order to eat. This tradition has been handed down through generations and is part of American culture. Not so in all other cultures.

In many places, outside the U.S., there aren’t public hunting spaces. Wildlife is generally considered part of the land and therefore the property of the landowner. Historically, landowners were wealthy (often “royalty”). The commoner needed permission from the landowner to harvest game. If game was harvested without permission there could be consequences, potentially deadly.

When our nation was very young, it was determined that the wildlife was the property of the people and was managed in trust for the people by the state (to learn more, do a search for Marten v Waddell 1842 or North American Model of Wildlife Conservation).

Today, Missouri residents can go online, purchase a $17 deer tag and head out to the family farm or State public land and bring home dinner. Folks from most other lands have never been able to do this. For them, the idea of us teaching our youth woodsmanship, sportsmanship and marksmanship must appear very strange indeed.

Perhaps a little bit of the spirit of the Frontier; the self-reliance, the connection to the wild, is still with us. I like that. We are fortunate.

As always, to our sponsors, members, volunteers and participant families, thank you for your support of MHHF and for all you do to keep our great hunting traditions alive for future generations.

See you at the Business Meeting March 18th!


Happy 2018! And what a year it is going to be!

This can be a tough time of year for those of us who thrive on being outside. The extraordinarily cold temperatures have caused me to pass on the last two weeks of deer season. Our floating duck blind is trapped in four inches of ice delaying my ability to drain the flooded field. Even cutting firewood and burning brush piles has been a challenge with below zero wind chills.

The best way I know how to cope with cabin fever is to throw myself into doing activities I can do from the warmth of indoors while I wait for the weather to turn nice. This includes working on MHHF planning initiatives, going to meetings of other organizations with similar goals as MHHF and participating in conservation conferences.

Please mark your calendars now for our Annual MHHF Membership Meeting, 12:30 p.m., Sunday March 18th at the Lake Lotawana Sportsmen’s Club. Immediately following the meeting MHHF will host our 7th Annual Spring Fling Benefit Trap Shoot.  

During the Membership Meeting we’ll review the progress we’ve made last year, recognize your contributions and visit with the movers and shakers in our Hunter Education and Missouri Conservation community. Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) Executive Director, Brandon Butler, will be sharing remarks about current topics impacting Missouri’s outdoors. Our meeting is a week after the CFM annual convention, so I’m sure there will be much to hear about.

Speaking of which, please check out CFM’s 82nd Annual Convention details below. I have been able to attend many of these events and it is a very rewarding experience.  The CFM non-member registration rate to the conference includes an individual membership at a discounted price. The special rate at the Plaza Capital Hotel is very reasonable, too!

I look forward to seeing you in March and celebrating another successful year of MHHF! Thanks for all you do and stay warm.


What a month! What a year!!!!

In the first two weeks of December, MHHF staged two clinics:

  • Waterfowl in Henry County with seven youth participants, and

  • Our first Crossbow Deer/Turkey clinic in Cass County with five youth.

All our participants successfully completed the Missouri Hunter Education Certification course, proved proficiency at the supervised live-fire session and enjoyed a personally mentored hunt. Congratulations and “Thank You!” to our member volunteers.

This brings our total number of clinics to 75 and youth graduates to 451 since we started more than 10 years ago. We are on our way to achieving our goal of 500 “families served” by January 1, 2019.

Turning to the business of doing business - nominations are now open for Board of Director and officer positions. Presently, your Board has two nominations to recommend:

  • Mike Borgerding to a re-elected three-year term as Treasurer

  • Rehan Nana to an elected three-year term as At-Large Director

Both of their profiles can be found on our website.

All MHHF Members in good standing will receive an e-ballot soon.

The officer position of Secretary, a two-year elected term and two positions of At-Large Director are currently open. The descriptions of responsibilities are stated in our By-Laws which are available for download.

We are also updating our MHHF By-Laws. As soon as the wordsmithing is complete, we will share the changes with the membership for review. Any members wishing to comment prior to the Board vote is encouraged to attend our January Board of Directors Meeting, Thursday January 11th, 6 p.m. at Jess & Jim’s Steak House, Martin City.

Next month we will publish our calendar of events for 2018. Meanwhile, Safe and Happy Holidays to you and yours!


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.



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 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

Again, thanks to all for your support!


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.


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



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

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


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 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?