When the director came to visit

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 5/22/24

John Hoskins and I became acquainted in the 1980’s, when he was a regional supervisor for the Conservation Commission Enforcement division over southern Missouri.

He came to my home in the …

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When the director came to visit


John Hoskins and I became acquainted in the 1980’s, when he was a regional supervisor for the Conservation Commission Enforcement division over southern Missouri.

He came to my home in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in north Arkansas a couple of times. We sat on my back porch on those occasions, drinking coffee and discussing a poaching problem; in which Arkansas hunters would take two bass boats from the Arkansas side of Bull Shoals up into the Missouri side poaching deer from a management area known as Quincy, where there were also a few elk.

In the fall of the early 1970’s I would be out on that section of the lake and hear the bull elk bugling. It was a wonderful music to me, knowing what it was, thinking about those majestic creatures living in the forests above Bull Shoals. The poachers could spotlight a big grassy bottom and kill nice bucks there late at night, and they also killed all the remaining elk by the early 80’s. Hoskins and his wardens talked a good game but they never apprehended anyone there.

When I moved back to southern Missouri, in 1990, John Hoskins and had become the director of the Department of Conservation. I contacted him and asked him to go out on Truman Lake with me and look at a couple of places where I thought the MDC, now flush with money, could do some great things for waterfowl. He agreed and we got together once again in my boat out on that big lake, which has 118 thousand acres of public land on its watershed. I took him to a place known as Hogle’s Creek, and with my education to become a waterfowl biologist, he knew I knew what I was talking about when I showed him how the land adjacent to the mouth of the creek and meanderings behind it could become a great waterfowl marsh, a refuge for waterfowl and also a duck hunters paradise by simply building small levees and planting food for all kinds of wildlife.

Hogle’s Creek already was a great duck hunting spot back then in the early 90’s. Most of Truman was. The low areas filled with vegetation like smartweed brought waterfowl in by the thousands when only small rises in the lake occurred. Hoskins saw the possibilities, and I showed him a gently sloping bank where lespedeza and some native grasses, with thickets of sumac and persimmon, gave them nesting cover and escape cover. Before we left the lake that day, Hoskins thanked me for showing him what I had, and he agreed that my proposals were sound, but then he lamented that there wasn’t enough money to do it.

I was stunned… the department had tens of millions, due to that 1/8th cent sales tax that every Missourian paid then and pays now. They are one of the three richest Conservation states in the nation. Money is often diverted to ex employees and other. Over the years they have wasted millions.

Hoskins was forced to resign years later after the MDC was sued for one million dollars as a result of two agents breaking the law and lost! On the day he left office, he gave a close friend by the name of Gary Turner one hundred and forty-five thousand dollars as a down payment on a book on rivers to be put forth in years to come. As I have been told, Turner was never an employee of the Department. Twenty some years later, that book has not been done. The State Auditors office called me and asked me to look into it, but that was of no value. She criticized the payment as unethical and beyond the law, but that criticism was squelched in the news media. By that time the newspapers using my weekly column were being aided by money from the MDC and most would not use my column if it criticized any part of that agency. As for the rivers book, I had already written one entitled “Rivers to Run… Sycamores, Swift Water and Smallmouth Bass”. It is a 350-page book that has been called the best book ever written about the natural history and descriptions of Ozark Rivers. The MDC has never mentioned it and will not sell it in their nature centers.

I will write much more about Hoskins and directors before and after him, plus a proposal to bring back the greatest quail hunting in the Midwest in a 50,000 acreage on that public ground around Truman lake; in my summer “Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine.” I also will be writing about that excessive 18 million being paid to a private company to rebuild the Shell Osage waterfowl area and the waterfowl marsh they built free-of-charge for a St. Clair county Judge.

That magazine also has a great article on tick diseases written by my daughter, Dr. Lori Dablemont Cohen, working now as a doctor for Missouri State University. Every person who might get a tick bite this summer should read that article. If you want a copy of that color 100-page magazine, call me at 417-777-5227. You can also order my books or back issues of that magazine off the website www.larrydablemont.com. All my writings and photos can be seen weekly on www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com and you can email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com.