When waterfowl biologist George Seek visited Mo Buder at his Whistling Wings duck club in St. Charles County, it didn’t take him long to realize he was visiting a colorful character who was a symbol of Missouri’s waterfowl hunting heritage.
“His dog’s name was Dog,” said Seek, a former waterfowl manager for the Missouri Department of Conservation and Ducks Unlimited. “I remember him telling me that Dog was a great judge of character.
“If Dog liked you, Mo liked you. If he didn’t, you weren’t going to get far with Mo.”
Luckily for Seek, he passed the test. And he became friends with Buder, a rich part of Missouri’s waterfowl hunting heritage. Mo was a throwback to the market-hunting days, when hunters went out and shot as many ducks as they could and sold them to markets. He also is a long-time operator of a duck club near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, known for its outstanding duck hunting and its colorful owner.
“If you were a skybuster (shooting at ducks high out of range), you were out,” Seek said. “He also didn’t want you shooting at big bunches of ducks that would come in, or using motion-wing decoys.
“But the hunting at his place was fantastic.”
Buder also has a passion for ducks and conservation. In 2009, he signed up for a conservation easement on his land to guard against development. He also included a provision in his will that his Whistling Wings Duck Club will go to Ducks Unlimited upon his death, to be sold to a conservation buyer.
For Seek, old-time hunters such as Buder are part of Missouri’s glorious past when it comes to waterfowl hunting. There are dozens of colorful hunters, waterfowl biologists and duck clubs that played a part in turning Missouri into a prime state for duck and goose hunting.
Seek and other past and present waterfowl managers for the Missouri Department of Conservation had heard the many tales sitting around at duck camp or in the early-morning chill in blinds.
There was a story to be told, they decided. So they wrote it.
Many of the men who played such an important role in molding Missouri’s waterfowl management set out to examine historical records, interview surviving hunters, trace early habitat strategies and gather photos from the past. They spend almost two years on the project.
Their efforts reached their culmination this fall when the 480-page “Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri: A model of Collaboration” was released.
In the process, they introduced readers to some of the people, canines and duck clubs that many never knew existed.
“This book was about honoring the the people who laid the foundation for Missouri waterfowling,” said Ken Babcock, a former Department of Conservation assistant director who edited the book and was one of the authors. “It wasn’t just about the professionals. It was also the landowners who had this passion for ducks and hunting.
“We felt obligated to tell the story.”
The authors told many stories in their voluminous account of Missouri waterfowling. For example, it traced the roots of the Missouri version of duck hunting to the days of private clubs such as the Cuivre Club, which dates back to 1871. Often dubbed the Millionaire’s Club, it always was known for its high-profile members. In the late 1950s, it included owners of top companies and even Sen. Stuart Symington, and was featured in the magazine Sports Illustrated.
The club still operates today and still attracts major concentrations of ducks. A ground count in December of 2012 found 950,000 ducks using the 2,100-acre Cuivre Club, according to the book.
The book traced the importance of the collaboration of the members of those private duck clubs and state agencies in providing vital waterfowl habitat to Missouri. Private hunting clubs have existed in Missouri since 1865, according to the authors. The first public wetlands can in the late 1930s, the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in 1935 and the Swan Lake National Wildlife refuge in 1937.
The Missouri Department of Conservation opened its first managed waterfowl area, Fountain Grove, in 1947. The state now has 15 areas managed intensively for waterfowl.
The foundation for waterfowl management was laid by well-known biologists such as Ted Shanks and Dick Vaught. They laid the groundwork for what is now recognized as the Missouri Model.
“All of us who took part in this book have a passion for waterfowl, wetland habitat and passing that along to the next generation,” said Glenn D. Chambers, one of the authors of the book.” This was the right time. We didn’t want this story to go untold.”
The story of Missouri duck hunting
The book “Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri: A Model of Collaboration” chronicles the history of duck hunting and waterfowl management in Missuori. Written by many of the past waterfowl biologists who played a part in building that history, the 480-page book sells for $40 and can be purchased from the Missouri Department of Conservation through the website mdcnatureshop.com/.
The book is a cooperative effort of the Department of Conservation, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Ducks Unlimited, Bass Pro Shops and other conservation and hunting organizations. Proceeds go back to waterfowl conservation efforts.
A book signing is set for 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City. Jeff Churan, one of the authors, will be signing books and answering questions