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?

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

From Lee's Desk, March, 2016

The 80th Conservation Federation of Missouri’s (CFM) Annual Convention was the weekend of March 18 in Jefferson City. Susan Williams, MHHF Executive Director, and I attended and participated. The highlight was the Annual Awards Ceremony where Missouri Governor Jay and First Lady Georganne Nixon were on hand to receive the Conservationists of the Year Award. In presenting the award, CFM highlighted several accomplishments of the Governor and First Lady, some of which have goals in common with MHHF including the Governor’s Youth Turkey and Deer Hunts and the First Lady’s Children in Nature Challenge.

L to R:  Rehan Nana, Deputy Director of CFM, Brandon Butler, Executive Director of CFM, Susan Williams, MHHF Executive Director and Lee Vogel, MHHF Board President and Co-Founder

L to R:  Rehan Nana, Deputy Director of CFM, Brandon Butler, Executive Director of CFM, Susan Williams, MHHF Executive Director and Lee Vogel, MHHF Board President and Co-Founder

With more than 80 affiliate organizations (including MHHF) and 85,000 members, CFM is the largest and most representative conservation group in Missouri. And though “Come Home to Conservation” was the official theme of this year’s conference, I heard another theme throughout the breakout sessions and general addresses extolling the value of getting things done through collaboration as opposed to mitigation of litigation.

I’ve been attending this conference since 2003 and am always amazed to see the diverse range of volunteer organizations represented. While our specific interests may be different, we share a common goal – enthusiasm for and appreciation of all things outdoors.

At the conference I had the chance to network with chapters of the Audubon Society, anglers and archers, foresters, farmers, multiple foundations and federations, taxidermists, trappers and land trusts. There were rabid environmentalists and avid hunters. Bridges were built here and from that come the partnerships that are able to advocate policies and projects like the state conservation sales tax which assures protection and management of our natural resources.

I attended two of the 14 Resource Committees; Waterfowl and Wetlands and Sportsman’s Rights, Firearms and Hunter Safety. From those committees came 21 resolutions placed before the General Assembly the following morning. A very few examples of the resolutions…

·         Strongly urge the MDC to resist efforts to consider air powered, dart firing equipment as “archery” and not allow for use during archery hunting season.

·         Request MDC to ban felt or porous-soled shoes from warm waterways in that they contribute to the spread of invasive species.

·         Request CFM and affiliate members to defend Missouri state parks. Five current bills in the state house and senate reduce funding and restrict acquisition of land by the state for public parks and vigorous support is requested for renewal of the Parks, Soil and Water Sales Tax.

All resolutions will be published on the CFM website

One specific quote from Wildlife Conservationist of the Year award recipient Travis Moore, a Fisheries Management Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation summed up the spirit of the meeting, “Citizen-led conservation is alive and well in the state of Missouri.”

I hope you will consider joining Susan and me next year.

From Lee's Desk, February, 2016

It’s Missouri’s Hunting Heritage

When we speak about the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation people will sometimes say, “no one in my family hunts or ever has. There is no hunting tradition in my family. How can I be a part of something that has never existed for me?” 

Personally, my father was raised on Long Island, New York. He knew very little of country life. My mother grew up in Washington. Kansas. I remember my grandmother enjoyed fishing. My mother spoke of her father and uncles hunting for quail when she was very young but those hunting traditions were not passed down. 

The hunting heritage of which we speak is not in reference to the heritage of particular families, any ethnicity, social class, income level, or religion. It is in reference to the hunting experience which has occurred here, in Missouri, for thousands of years.

Today, most of us live in the city or suburbs. We know from our hunter education class that only about 5% of the population hunts. The last time people hunted for subsistence was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s when unemployment was staggering, crops failed and people often had to hunt to feed their families. Two hundred years ago the vast majority of Missourians lived in the country. They grew up farming, hunting and fishing. Before Missouri was granted statehood in 1821, the people who migrated from the eastern US and settled in Missouri hunted.  The land that became the state of Missouri was part of the Louisiana territory, purchased from France in 1803. Trappers and frontiersmen hunted here.

The Illinois, the Missouria and the Osage Indians (and others) hunted here hundreds of years before the first European settlers. There are petroglyphs near Kirksville that date back 1,500 years. A park in Riverside (just north of the Kansas City downtown airport) marks a place where Indians lived 7000 years ago.  At Graham State park (25 miles East of Kingdom City) there is cave that was inhabited more than 10,000 years ago. All of these people who passed through or lived on the land that makes up present day Missouri hunted.

When we go to the woods in the Spring, trying to call in a turkey to harvest and consume, we are living an experience that has occurred here for thousands of years. In the Fall, when we hide in a tree near a path where we know deer will walk in the hope of enjoying venison for dinner we are participating in a practice many, many generations of Missourians have known.  Much changes over time but the sights, smells, sensations, the emotions we associate with hunting in the wild are the same today as they have always been. We are not only hunting but we are in very fundamental ways connecting with people of the past through this pursuit. And that is Missouri’s hunting heritage, one we can all enjoy!


Lee's Column, January 2016

As is our practice, we reviewed in detail the year’s accomplishments at the 2016 MHHF Annual Meeting. Among the highlights:  2015 clinics pushed our total number of families served to 368; at the first Instructor/Mentor Rendezvous experienced members, instructors and clinic organizers captured additional best practices to augment our Clinic Procedure Manual; and, we staged the first Gentleman’s Wild Game Dinner which introduced MHHF to interested parties and thereby expanded our network of supporters.

Director Steve Rulo acknowledged each member’s contribution of hours and miles driven to clinics over the last two years.  The figures vary from one clinic to another, but on the whole, it would not be uncommon for 12 to 15 volunteers to spend a total of 170 hours and drive 1,700 miles during the weekend of a single MHHF Clinic. Among contributions not tracked, are hours spent in clinic preparation and paperwork before and after the weekend and purchases made by members for supplies which are purely donated.

I offered a brief progress report of our Strategic Plan (now 18 months old) and officially declared six of our 13 goals ACCOMPLISHED! In most instances there is progress to report on those seven that remain.  Chief among them is the establishment of three to five new chapters in the next 24 months. Directors Mike Huffman and Scott Strickland have made preliminary inquiries and research and a formal attack plan is forthcoming. I have appointed a new director, JD Selby, who will assist in this effort. (JD is one of many introductions made through the Hunter Happy Hours.) Part of this effort will involve recruiting new instructors, mentors, landowners and other volunteers in Jackson County and outlying areas.

On another note, our annual Spring Fling Trap and Turkey Shoot is less than 60 days away! Director Stacy Hubler announced some exciting enhancements to this year’s event described elsewhere in this update.  Please hold Saturday, March 12 on your calendar.  This is another great opportunity to introduce someone to MHHF AND have a great time.

Do you have friends, relatives, co-workers and others who share our enthusiasm for introducing Missouri’s hunting tradition with kids and their families? Please give this some thought and contact Susan Williams with your ideas and prospects.

We’ve made great strides in 2015!  Thank you to all of you directors, members, sponsors, donors and supporters for your contributions. 

I’m very much looking forward to this year!