Larry Dablemont column for 1/31


Over near Salem, Mo. last October, a woman killed a doe, and legally tagged it and called it in as she was suppose to do. She is disabled, and was able to acquire a crossbow tag because of it. 
As I understand it, she and her husband are raising two of their grandchildren, and the deer was important because it meant food in the freezer, one of several they hoped to legally harvest with tags they had purchased.
Her husband had been a thorn in the side of the Missouri Department of Conservation because he had been calling and talking to an assistant director about all the dead deer he had been seeing, and he was afraid it was Chronic Wasting Disease (closely related to Mad Cow Disease). 
Likely he was seeing deer dieing of “blue-tongue” (hemorrhagic disease) but he didn’t know, and he made the mistake of getting too contentious and even taping one of the conversations. 
He made himself a target.
A few hours after he and his wife called in the deer she had killed, a conservation agent walked into their house and made it a point to let them know that he had the power to do so without a search warrant. 
He accused the lady of lying about the deer kill, since he questioned whether she could cock the crossbow. 
She acknowledged that she could not, but that her husband, sitting beside her in the woods in their makeshift blind, had cocked it for her. 
The agent called her a liar, and her husband, fed up with it all, ordered him to leave. 
He refused, and proceeded to charge them with having meat which was not properly labeled. It was meat in their sink and on their counter which they were cutting up, and hadn’t even put into bags.
These people were too poor to hire a lawyer. It was cheaper just to pay the 200 dollar fine. They did everything as they were supposed to do it.
As for not properly labeling his meat, how do you label deer you killed only a few hours before, and are not even yet finished cutting up? 
Each of us who hunt could be so targeted, and defenseless against it.
To answer a growing number of letters and e-mails, the Common Sense Conservation group I am trying to organize, which now numbers more than 1,000 of us, is simply an attempt to throw some light on this kind of thing – what the Missouri Department of Conservation is doing and try to find a way to make them accountable.
That example is one of a dozen or more outright abuses of power by conservation agents who do their work in a Gestapo-like manner, never far from their state vehicle, and they are running over innocent people who have no voice and no defense, because they can’t afford a lawyer and the courts will not hear them without one. 
We want to address these obvious, blatant abuses of power.
But we want to do a lot more.  We want to cast a light on how millions of our dollars, fed to the MDC by sportsmen like you, are being wasted, and spent in a downright corrupt and indefensible manner.
In this column I can’t even begin to let people know all that is going on because there isn’t enough space.
And that is much of the problem – no one knows! I am hoping this group, Common Sense Conservationists, can make a difference with that. 
I have sent a letter to the Springfield News-Leader newspaper, owned by a company in New York, asking them to allow us to give out some of that information in a monthly column on their outdoor page. 
That page is currently controlled by a Missouri Conservation Department writer who sits in his state office, paid by a state salary, and writes most of the material, apparently exclusively for that newspaper.
That may in fact be a violation of state law. 
I don’t know if any state employee is allowed to do special work for a private company.  At any rate, there is another side which never is allowed a voice in that paper, and I hand-delivered a letter asking to rectify that situation.  I hope to at least get some reply, but doubt if I do.
If nothing else, we will begin to print accounts of what agents are doing to people, and we will print accounts of the special funding the MDC is involved in, giving away millions of dollars in special grants (what it is for and who it is going to) and we will simply shed a light on the MDC which has not happened for years and years. 
I think we can bring about awareness of some of the shady things happening in the selling trading, buying and forest-cutting on state lands, which no one has any idea about, and I think we can find ways to work with some good people still found in the MDC to make drastic and much needed change.
But it takes an organization of thousands of us, and I am working to it get there.  In the next two weeks I will be in Warsaw, Cassville, Nevada, El Dorado Springs, and Steelville, meeting with sportsmen and organizing this group. 
If you want to find out more about these meetings, and help set up similar meetings in your area, just call me…  the number is 417-777-5227.
If you want to join us, send a postcard to CSC, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.
Tell us you want to join, and send an address and phone number and e-mail address if you have one. 
Tell others, ask your friends to also send a postcard if they too are upset about what is happening and want to see a change.
In our spring edition of my magazine, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, we will donate about a half dozen pages to what is happening and tell several stories about what agents are doing to innocent people.
I wish more than anything I could get those stories out to all Missourians, because they need to be told.  
One thing we need badly is a group which can hear these individual cases and intercede for these people.  I will try to see if a group could be set up inside the MDC to evaluate many of these cases and overthrow those which are unjust.
Much can be accomplished if this Common Sense Conservation Movement can grow to include thousands of sportsmen.  Only through numbers can we get anything done.
Please read more about this through new postings I have added to my Web site, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com
I want to get this going and find leaders who are smarter and more capable than I am to make it a powerful conservation group.
I believe it can be a group which can do something about the woeful state of much of our public hunting land, and a group which can use the millions of dollars the MDC has to make a difference in the future condition of some of our Ozark rivers. 
It can be done, if we can find the right people. It takes a common sense approach the higher echelons of the MDC do not display and a dedication to ‘wise use’ which they long ago abandoned.  There has been too much money and politics involved in their direction and decisions.
Please spread the word as to what we are trying to do, and join us.  
There may not be a lot of chances in the future to get the truth out and to change things.    
You can write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or e-mail me at lightninridge@alltel.net