I feel guilty at times being unable to answer all the letters and e-mails we get from those of you who read this column.  There are just too many to answer properly, and I am not going to send out some pre-arranged universal message to everyone.  So I will use this column to thank all of you who sent cards and condolences on the loss of my mother and my uncle Norten and my uncle Roy McNew, all of whom died within just a couple of weeks of each other.  It is great to know that so many people read this column, and care that much.  From my heart, thanks to you all.

       There are also notes and messages about other things, and I can’t answer the bulk of them because I just don’t have the time.  Putting out our magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, is a major job, and because of that, I have not been able to finish several books I have started.  That should change now, as I have hired another employee, Mrs. Kathy Pirtle, from over around Stockton, Missouri, who will be helping with many things I can’t keep up with.  Kathy will mainly be in charge of advertising in our magazine and on my radio program.  She will also help me respond to folks who contact us through the mail and via computer.

       Most of you know I am not very computer savvy, nor do I want to be.  I want to spend my time outdoors if possible, and I hate sitting behind a desk unless I am writing. So I have started but not finished several more books, and I intend, now that I have Kathy working for me, to publish at least two of those books by fall, and possibly three.  If I succeed that will give me a total of ten.  Kathy will arrange and keep track of the festivals we attend, and speaking engagements.  I speak at various places where groups want to hear about the outdoors in a humorous or nostalgic way, and to tell the truth, I have a hard time remembering where I am suppose to be and when.

       Kathy will also be helping to set up new websites, one of them for the conservation group which we started years ago called Common Sense Conservation.  We have a hard time keeping everyone, scattered across the Ozarks, informed about this organization, and I believe we have to have a website where Missourians can discuss the Missouri Department of Conservation and what they are doing.  Almost no news agency will cover the way that the agents of the MDC behave, or how the money is spent or misspent.  Mismanagement of our forests and rivers and wildlife areas is never ever shown, and I would like to have a website which shows photographs, and publishes the truth about what this bunch is doing. 

People who are being targeted by agents who illegally come into their homes will have a chance to tell their stories on this website, and if the MDC will respond, we will put their side of it on the website.  They won’t.  As a writer who has long tried to get information from them about what the state agency is doing, I can tell you that as much as they cry about presenting both sides of the story, an agent who abuses his power will not talk at all about what has happened.   Never has there been an opportunity for falsely accused, and bullied hunters and fishermen to tell their story.  Large newspapers and television stations seem to be owned by the MDC. 

Hopefully, now that we have Kathy Pirtle, we can pull together the people out there who want to see changes made, and we can shine some truth on what the Missouri Department of Conservation has become.

Sometime before fall gets here, she will organize another big dinner for all of our Common Sense Conservation members and get started making this a viable and strong organization, working for desirable change in the MDC.

       Kathy will also work with people who want to try to write their own book, and have it published through the Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing Company we started a few years ago.  Sondra Gray, our company’s editor for the past four years, and Dorothy Loges who does all layout and design for my books and magazines, and has been working with us for ten years, will both continue to do what they do so well.

       We now have more than thirty newspapers using this column, and I never realized when we started how much of an enterprise this would become.  But what I like most is having the opportunity to show a side of the outdoors to people they have never seen, and communicating with good country people whom I get to meet at swap meets and speaking engagements, and through the mail.  I may not get to answer your letters and e-mails, but I read them all.

       The crappie are just starting to spawn in many Ozark reservoirs, very late.  White bass are running much later than I have ever seen them.  Yellow suckers and Black Buffalo are just starting to shoal in waters that I fish, and folks, as hard as this is to believe, mushrooms are still popping up in numbers greater than I have ever seen.  My hunting and fishing partner, Rich Abdoler says that up the Osage River last Saturday he found 183 nice big fresh morels, all in cedar glades up high on the hillsides.


       I would like to enlist the help of some canoeists who would help me clean up a section of the Pomme de Terre river in a couple of weeks.  The stream, when it receives enough rain, is a pretty little river with bluffs and caves and fish and furbearers and birds, something this area thirty miles north of Springfield should be proud of.  But it is the most trashed, littered river I have ever seen in the Ozarks, and folks, I have floated them all!  None compare to this. It seems to be that a family or families uses the bridges on the upper Pomme to throw their trash in the stream.  It is just unbelievable.  If a major attempt to catch those folks were made, with just a little effort it could be stopped, but in this region, for some reason, folks do not seem to recognize the value of this stream, and what it could do for the community if it were given the credit it deserves. 

       Honestly, I find I cannot take a photo of any section of the stream without getting tattered white trash bags in the photo, and it appears that one family may be creating its own land fill right on the banks of the river down below highway 32, complete with bulldozers and roads. 

       I am hoping that some groups like the Ozark Paddlers Club, and the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance might join me in a day of floating and cleaning up the stream.  I have spent my whole life on Ozark rivers, and I’ll bet we can stop at some spots and you can learn a great deal about rivers and the wildlife along it.  I can also teach you in very short order, how to paddle a canoe from one side all day long, so you can ease quietly down the river in a straight course without having to switch sides constantly to straighten your canoe.    I am going to need help with this project, but I hope it will call attention to this river, and it’s value, and the awful load of trash it gets from some very uncaring people who do not have much of a life, or common values.

You can write me at box 22, Bolívar, mo. 65613 or email me at lightninridge@windstream.net.  The website is larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com  The radio program airs each Sunday morning at 8:06 on KWTO, 560 AM, or radiospringfield.com