Ozark Zen: Paddling Safety Tips

If you have ever paddled Pulaski County, Missouri’s Ozark mountain float streams you have experienced the rejuvenation that time in the outdoors, surrounded by Mother Nature’s splendor, brings to the human experience. Passing time in a kayak or canoe with family and friends on the timeless Gasconade & Big Piney rivers indulges a profound connection to Mother Earth and her wild creatures.



Before seeking your Zen this season review these rules, regulations, & safety tips provided by Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division:

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• There is no replacement for common sense and individual responsibility. Be courteous and respectful to everyone you encounter on Missouri’s float streams.
• Watercraft operators are REQUIRED to have an appropriate personal flotation device for EACH person on board.
• Anyone under the age of seven who is on board MUST WEAR a personal flotation device.
• If alcohol is part of your float trip, make smart choices and obey the law. The use of beer bongs or other devices used to consume alcohol on Missouri’s rivers is prohibited.
• Packing snacks and beverages to help you refuel is a good idea. Do NOT bring beverages in glass containers.
• Take your trash with you after your float. Most outfitters will provide a potato sack for storing refuse during your float.
• Missouri State Highway Patrol has a zero-tolerance approach to illegal drug use throughout the state, including on Missouri’s waterways.
• Respect property boundaries during your float trip.
• Any person operating a vessel or watercraft must do so in a careful and prudent manner.

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• Protect yourself from the sun.
• Wear water shoes.
• Be familiar with the river and its individual characteristics. Reputable outfitters alert paddlers of potential trouble spots before putting in on the river.
• Learn to recognize hazards such as strainers, dams, boulders, barb wire across the river, etc.
• Know your limits and do not attempt a section of river beyond your skill level. (Pulaski’s rivers typically are appropriate for all skill levels, especially for beginners. Advanced paddlers love the dramatic bluffs & scenery, fishing, and serenity.)
• Do not paddle rivers in flood stage or after a heavy rain. Reputable outfitters will not put people on the water in hazardous conditions.
• IF you capsize, hold onto your kayak or canoe and move immediately to the upstream side. Float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. Gradually work your way to the shore.
• Carry dry clothing and a first aid kit in a secure, watertight container.
• Tie all your gear into the boat but NEVER lash children or pets to the craft.
• Stay sober and avoid being “too”- too tired, too drunk, too much sun, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity.
• Learn basic water rescue techniques and remember the adage of “Reach-Throw-Row-Go for Help” if attempting a rescue.

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Order your free Pulaski County, Missouri Visitors Guide today! The Visitors Guide includes helpful information on area outfitters.

Welcome to Pulaski County USA!

Welcome to Pulaski County USA!

Summer is Floating Season in Pulaski County!

Canoes by Garden State Hiker

Image by Flckr user Garden State Hiker

You may have heard about the flooding that took place late April along the Big Piney and Gasconade Rivers in Pulaski County. Luckily, for those of us who love to canoe, kayak, and tube, Pulaski County’s outfitters are a resilient bunch. In true Ozark fashion they began cleaning up their campgrounds and rivers as soon as the waters receded. This weekend paddlers across the state can enjoy their hard work and efforts by floating our scenic streams.

Support Missouri’s river outfitters this weekend by booking a float with your family and friends.

Pulaski County Float Trip Directory Summer 2017

Boiling Spring Campground
18700 Cliff Road
Dixon, MO 65459

BSC offers floats on the Gasconade and Big Piney Rivers. Camping and cabins are also available.

Devils Elbow River Safari


Devils Elbow River Safari offers floats on the Big Piney in canoes, kayaks, rafts, or tubes.

Gasconade Hills Resort
28425 Spring Road
Richland, MO 65556

Gasconade Hills Resort offers 4, 6, 10, or 20 mile float trips on the Gasconade River. Camping and cabins are also available.

Rich’s Last Resort
33401 Windsor Lane
Duke, MO 65461

Rich’s last Resort offers Big Piney River floats in canoes, kayaks, rafts, and tubes. Stay tuned to their website for cabin and camping accommodations.

Ruby’s Landing
22474 Restful Lane
Waynesville, MO 65583

Ruby’s offers 5 and 10 mile float trips on the Gasconade River in canoes, kayaks, or rafts. Camping and cabins are available.

Wilderness Ridge Resort
33850 Windsor Lane
Duke, MO 65461

Wilderness Ridge offers 7 and 15 mile floats on the Big Piney River. They also offer overnight float trips. Trips are made in either canoe, kayak, rafts, or tubes. Cabins are available.

Autumn Activities In Pulaski County USA!

Create lifelong memories with your family in Pulaski County USA!

Create lifelong memories with your family in Pulaski County USA!

Autumn in Pulaski County USA is the perfect season to gather your family and friends together creating memories that will last a lifetime. Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides, petting zoos, punkin’ chunkin’, hay stack mazes, float trips (even a haunted one!), farmers markets, haunted houses (even outdoor haunted trails!), paranormal investigations and Oktoberfest celebrations —there truly is something for everyone. Harvest some memories in Pulaski County, Missouri!


Cow Days (September 18th & 19th)
What: 32nd anniversary of Dixon’s signature family friendly downtown street festival. Lucky winners will receive a cow!
Where: Downtown Dixon
When: Friday Noon until 11 pm, Saturday 11 am until 11 pm
Cost: FREE
Contact: Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce (Tommy Nichols)- 573.528.1159
Website: www.dixonchamberofcommerce.com

17th Annual Southern Gospel Reunion (September 25th & 26th)
What: Two evenings of inspired Southern Gospel performances
Where: Performing Arts Auditorium, Waynesville High School Campus, Waynesville
When: Friday- 7:00 pm start
Saturday- 6:00 pm start
Cost: FREE
Contact: Layne Lercher- 57.774.0404

September 25 26 Southern Gospel Reunuion

Chuseok (October 3rd)
What: Korean Thanksgiving celebration
Where: St. Robert Community Center
When: 5-8 pm
Cost: Ages 10 & Older- $10, Ages 4-9 $5
Contact: Pulaski County Korean Association (Bonghwa Reyes)- 573.528.9914

October 3 Chuseok

Frog Hill Half Marathon (October 3rd)
What: Half Marathon that ends at Frogtoberfest
Where: Begins at East Elementary School, 1501 State Route F, Waynesville
When: Race starts at 8:30 am
Cost: Half Marathon- $45, 10K-$30
Contact: Team 413 Gracerunner Ministries (Melissa Martinez)- 573.433.6684
Website: www.facebook.com/froghillhalf

October 3 Frog Hill Half Marathon

Frogtoberfest (October 3rd)
What: Family friendly celebration of W.H. Croaker- Waynesville’s Frog Rock. A highlight is the frog race in Roubidoux Creek.
Where: Waynesville City Park
When: 10 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE
Contact: Rhea Anne Mathews- 573.774.3050
Website: www.facebook.com/frogtober.fest

October 3 Frogtoberfest

Haunted House (October 16th, 17th, 23rd,24th,30th, & 31st)
What: Not intended for the young, squeamish, or weak of heart!
Where: Building 781, Alabama & Kansas Streets, Fort Leonard Wood
When: 7-10 pm
Cost: $5 per person
Contact: Fort Leonard Wood MWR- 573.596.6913
Website: www.fortleonardwoodmwr.com

October 16 Haunted House FLW

Crocker Fall Festival (October 17th)
What: Family friendly street festival
Where: Downtown Crocker
When: 10 am until 2 pm
Cost: FREE admission
Contact: Crocker City Hall- 573.736.5327
Website: www.facebook.com/CrockerCityHall

Route 66 Oktoberfest (October 17th)
What: Family friendly Oktoberfest street festival on Route 66!
Where: Downtown Waynesville
When: 11 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE
Contact: Audra Berrier- 573.774.3001
Website: www.facebook.com/Route66FestOTS

October 17 Oktoberfest poster

Zombie Run 5K (October 17th)
What: Not your every day 5K! The Walking Dead morphs into The Running Dead as you flee for your life from the Zombie horde in this spirited 5K.
Where: Begins on the Square in Waynesville
When: 4 pm
Cost: $15 Pre-registration
Contact: Waynesville Downtown Business Association (Cheryl Keeton)- 573.337.2494
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/WDBA-Zombie-Run/1441836812708942

October 17 Zombie Run

19th Annual Halloween Bash (October 24th)
What: The Haunted House of Doom and a hayride through the haunting of Buckhorn Forest
Where: Pulaski County Shrine Club, Buckhorn
When: 6:30-9:30 pm
Cost: $2 per person
Contact: Local 28 Freedom Of Road Riders (Shena Flick) 573.433.5122

October 24 Halloween Bash

Veteran’s Day Parade (November 11th)
What: Pulaski County is home to Fort Leonard Wood- and our patriotism runs deep. Join us for our signature parade that honors and celebrates America’s Veterans.
Where: The parade steps off at the Saint Robert Municipal Center and travels north on Missouri Avenue and then west on Historic Route 66 and ends at the Saint Robert Community Center.
When: Ceremonies begin promptly at 11:00 am and parade steps off at the conclusion.
Cost: FREE
Contact: Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce- 573.336.5121
Website: www.waynesville-strobertchamber.com/veteransparade.php


Paranormal Investigations of the Historic Talbot House (Every Saturday beginning September 5th through October 31st)
What: Supervised paranormal investigations of one of Waynesville’s oldest homes. An evening you won’t soon forget!
Where: 405 North Street, Waynesville
When: Investigation begins at dusk, exact start time will be confirmed during reservation.
Cost: $25 per person, paid in advance
Contact: Crocker Optimistic Paranormal Society (Dawnmarie Cecora)- 573.528.2149
Website: www.facebook.com/ParanormalTalbotHouse
Additional info- Reservations are required. Investigations are limited to groups of 8 so reserve your spot early! Participants must be 18+.

Paranormal Investigations of Historic Talbot House

Pulaski County Farmers Market (Every Saturday September-December)
What: Mid-Missouri’s year round Farmers Market!
Where: Downtown Waynesville
When: Every Saturday, 8 am until Noon
Cost: FREE admission
Contact: Bruce Main- 573.842.9079
Website: www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyMOFarmersMarket

Pulaski County Farmers' Market is held year round in Waynesville, Missouri.

Pulaski County Farmers’ Market is held year round in Waynesville, Missouri.

Boiling Spring Campground Pumpkin Patch (September 19th-November 1st)
What: Pumpkin patch, featuring “Carl, The Rock Star Goat”, hay rides, corn cannon, duckie race, cow train rides, concessions
Where: 18700 Cliff Road, Dixon
When: Saturday- 10 am until 8 pm
Sunday- 10 am until 6 pm
Cost: Adults- $7, Children (5-12)- $4
Contact: Boiling Spring Campground (Gayle Helms)- 573.759.7294
Website: www.bscoutdoors.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/boilingspringcampground
Additional info: School groups and field trips welcome by Tuesday-Friday, appointment. Call for details and to schedule. Community room for educational programs. Parking for large buses available.

Haunted River Float (Every Friday & Saturday in September)
What: Haunted river float on the Big Piney River
Where: 23455 Teak Lane, Saint Robert
When: 7:00 pm- 10:00 pm
Cost: 6 and over $25
Contact: Lay Z Day Canoes & Camping- 573.336.8639
Website: www.layzday.net or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/layzday

Haunted River Floats

*UPDATE FOR 2017—Haunted River Float is now being held at Ruby’s Landing located at 22474 Restful Lane, Waynesville, Missouri. For more information contact 573-337-4305.

1903 Route 66 Courthouse (Every Saturday in September)
What: One of only two period courthouses on Route 66 in Missouri, this museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. 10 rooms of displays and amazing architectural details will charm and engage everyone! Guided tours, or explore at your leisure.
Where: On the Square, Waynesville
When: 10 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE, donations gladly accepted
Contact: Pulaski County Museum & Historical Society (Denise Seevers)- 573.855.3644
Website: www.route66courthouse.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pulaskicountyhistoricalsociety
Additional info- Motorcoaches, groups and field trips welcome by appointment. Call for details and to schedule. Gift shop available.

Visit the Museums On The Square in downtown Waynesville! On the National Register of Historic Places!

Visit the Museums On The Square in downtown Waynesville! On the National Register of Historic Places!

Old Stagecoach Stop (Every Saturday in September)
What: Pulaski County’s oldest building has served as a private residence, a stagecoach stop, a Civil War hospital, and a hotel on Historic Route 66. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Where: On the Square, Waynesville
When: 10 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE, donations gladly accepted
Contact: Old Stagecoach Stop Museum & Foundation (Jan Primas)- 573.436.6766
Website: www.oldstagecoachstop.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oldstagecoachstop
Additional info- Motorcoaches, groups and field trips welcome by appointment. Call for details and to schedule.

The Haunted Hill (September 25th-October 31st)
What: Mid Missouri’s most frightening haunted attraction! 60+ live actors!
Where: 22235 Red Wing Road, Waynesville
When: Every Friday & Saturday night
Time: 8 pm until Midnight
Cost: $12 per person, $20 Speed Pass
Website: www.facebook.com/hauntedhillmissouri
Additional Info- Not recommended for children 10 & under, concessions available
Additional Media- http://youtu.be/lXg7bS609Jk

Deep Woods Farm & Pumpkin Patch (October 3rd- October 31st)
What: Pick your own pumpkin patch, hay ride, corn maze, & family friendly farm activities
Where: 19059 N Highway 133, Hancock (between Dixon and Crocker)
When: Saturday 10 am until 5 pm, Sunday 12 am until 5 pm
Cost: $5 admission, 2 & under FREE
Contact: DWF Pumpkin Patch (Charlotte Metzger)- 573.759.3586
Website: www.deepwoodsfarm.biz or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DeepWoodsFarmPumpkinPatch
Additional Info- Groups and field trips welcome by appointment on weekdays. Call for details and to schedule.

Happy Hollows Farm & Pumpkin Patch
What: Pumpkin patch, petting zoo, animal observation area
Where: 10103 Beatty Road, Crocker
When: Call for hours
Cost: Call for pricing
Contact: 573.356.0985
Website: www.happyhollowspumpkinpatch.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Happyhollowspumpkinpatch

Storie’s Pumpkin Patch (September 19th-October 31st)
What: Pumpkin patch, family friendly activities
Where: 25530 Republic Road, Waynesville
When: Saturday & Sunday 10 am until dark
Cost: $6 per person, 2 years and under are FREE
Contact: 573.433.4375
Website: www.storiespumpkinpatch.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Stories-Pumpkin-Patch/318125881595386

Uncle Buck’s Pumpkin Patch
What: Pumpkin patch, hayrides, straw maze
Where: 10800 Highway D, Dixon
When: Call for hours
Cost: Call for pricing
Contact: 573.759.9045
Website: www.unclebuckspumpkinpatch.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Bucks-Pumpkin-Patch/182864725178441

Take a pumpkin patch tour in Pulaski County with your family!

Take a pumpkin patch tour in Pulaski County with your family!

Roubidoux Spring- Below The Surface

By Bob Hathaway
Owner, Odyssey Scuba

There are a lot of good reasons for the NSS Convention 2015 to come to Waynesville, Missouri, yet one of the best reasons will be least visited! Every person attending will pass within mere feet of the opening to one of the most interesting cave systems in the Midwestern United States, yet it takes more than the “usual” cave exploration equipment to see this Cave State wonder…

Waynesville has enjoyed a revitalization of business in the last 3- 5 years that has returned a certain charm to the small Missouri town, and visitors enjoy strolling the downtown area to explore various locally- owned shops and restaurants which line the square. The city also has a rich historical heritage including a section of the “Mother Road” of Old Route 66 running through its middle, noted Civil War sites, and even part of the original Trail Of Tears is inside its limits. However, the beating heart of Waynesville’s natural beauty exists just a short distance from all of this in the form of Roubidoux Springs, a beautiful freshwater spring feeding into the Roubidoux River which divides the town into its eastern and western parts.

Visitors are able to park their cars alongside the river at the Roy Laughlin Park and walk along a short, well- maintained span of the Trail Of Tears Memorial Walkway leading from the Route 66 Bridge up to the spring. They are often fascinated at the sight of trout and other types of local fish swimming in the crystal clear water, and can pause occasionally to read the historical markers placed along the way. Even more fascinating to a large number of visitors as they round the bend is the unexpected sight of scuba divers making their way into and out of Roubidoux Springs cave/cavern system!

Cave and cavern divers have been drawn to Roubidoux Springs for decades, fascinated both by its beauty and challenge. The spring is located within the city park system, so park rules and regulations are in effect. A Cave or Cavern certification is required to dive the springs, and the city has implemented a check- in/check- out protocol for those diving there. This protocol is more often self- enforced by divers themselves instead of law enforcement as a way of keeping thrill seekers and the uninformed out of harm’s way. Divers are appreciative of having such a wonderful resource for their enjoyment, and take serious the measures and responsibilities put in place to protect it.

The shallow pool at the mouth of the spring often fools passersby to the true extent of the massive cave system just below their feet, which was recently explored by technical divers to a distance of nearly two miles as it winds its way back under the city. The actual distance the cave goes back is still unknown, and plans for further explorations are continuously being made as advances in equipment and technology expand. Divers are eager to be among those who have extended the line to its furthest point, and travel from all across the United States as well as foreign countries to be a part of the effort. While cave divers certainly dominate the diving at Roubidoux Springs it is certainly not limited to them. Cavern divers also have one of the largest and most interesting areas to explore in the Midwestern United States, and with the support of Odyssey Scuba & Travel (located less than a quarter of a mile away) it is a fun and easy way to spend a day of diving. While cavern diving is much more restrictive in limits than cave diving (including a linear distance limit of one hundred thirty feet of exploration, and being within sight of ambient light at all times) it also enables a greater number of sport divers to enjoy the experience.

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance www.ocda.org

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance http://www.ocda.org

Cavern divers suit up on shore and wade into the 55- 58F temperature water at the mouth of the spring. Use of dry suits is preferred, but certainly a thick wetsuit is an option. Final safety checks are performed, then divers slip into the small opening located just beneath the walkway bridge over the bubbling water. The narrow opening extends back approximately twelve feet before beginning to slant downward to a depth of over forty feet. The cavern zone also widens out to reveal a massive room where divers are able to explore along the cracks and crevices of the walls.

Even underwater in a cave there is life, and with patience and a good eye cave fauna can be found. Roubidoux Springs is currently the site for an on- going fauna count, and several local divers are involved in this scientific endeavor to better understand and protect the delicate creatures existing here. Blind cave fish, crawdads, and other animals are identified and studied, and are happily thriving at Roubidoux Springs. It’s a lot of fun to see one of these tiny residents going about their lives as one explores among the rocks and holes!

At the furthest point back in the cavern zone the actual cave system begins. This smaller tunnel- like opening is prominently marked by a “grim reaper” caricature sign, warning non- cave certified divers that they have reached the limit of their exploration, and that further training and equipment is necessary before continuing. While this simple sign has doubtlessly saved many divers from getting into trouble, most divers are explorers and risk- takers by nature and the well- meaning sign is occasionally viewed with a slight resentment. However, cavern divers usually find more to explore than is possible in a single dive and are quick to continue searching the cavern zone. One object of curiosity usually encountered is the diver habitat. This large box- type structure was placed by cave divers needing a place to “rest” after extended dives in the cave system, and allows those divers a temporarily air pocket where they can rest and communicate during long decompression stops. Cavern divers usually look the habitat over for a few moments before returning to their explorations of the rocks and crevices. In addition to light and linear distance limits cavern divers also follow the “rule of thirds” when it comes to air consumption; one- third of the available air supply going in, one- third for coming out, and the last for emergencies or contingencies. This rule of thirds usually limits a cavern dive in Roubidoux Springs to a time of around twenty minutes, which also makes multiple dives desirable. Air fills and other sundries are available at Odyssey Scuba, so divers have a place to enjoy between dives should they choose to leave the springs area. If you are cave or cavern certified, you won’t want to miss the underwater beauty and adventure of Roubidoux Springs! For more information, or to arrange a cavern dive, contact Odyssey Scuba & Travel on their website at http://www.moscuba.com, or call them at (573) 774-DIVE (3483). A single visit to Waynesville, Pulaski County, and Roubidoux Springs will only prove one thing; a single visit simply isn’t enough!

Keepin’ It In The Ozarks with Justin Sapp

“Keepin’ It In The Ozarks” is an independent reality series produced by Pulaski County Missouri native, and avid outdoorsman, Justin Sapp. The show, filmed in Pulaski County and surrounding areas, documents the Sapp family’s hunting and outdoor experiences in the Ozark Mountains. The episodes are designed to be both entertaining and informative and cover a wide variety of outdoor related topics- including hunting, fishing, trapping, and enjoying God’s creation and the outdoors. New episodes of “Keepin It In The Ozarks” are released in high definition on their YouTube channel the 1st and 15th each month and can also be viewed on their website. You can follow Justin’s outdoor adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their blog.

Pulaski County Tourism Bureau was able to meet with the show’s Executive Producer & Host, Justin Sapp, to get his thoughts on beards, frog gigging, antler point restrictions in Pulaski County, Missouri- and more!

Pulaski County Tourism Bureau: Just to get this question out of the way, I have to ask this- Will you be growing a beard like the Duck Dynasty guys?
Justin Sapp: If I could grow a beard like that I would!

PCTB: Bow or firearm?
JS: I use both but if i had to choose one it would be a bow!

PCTB: Canoe or kayak?
JS: Canoe, I’m afraid of getting stuck upside down in a kayak!

PCTB: Has hunting/fishing/outdoors always been a part of your life?
JS: I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in the woods or on the water. My wife would agree too!

PCTB: What is your earliest memory of hunting in Pulaski County?
JS: My Dad started taking me with him on his hunting trips to the Mark Twain National Forest when I was 8.

PCTB: What is your favorite public fishing spot in Pulaski County?
JS: I really like fishing at the Boiling Spring Campground near Dixon!

Justin Sapp, Executive Producer of "Keepin' It In The Ozarks".

PCTB: If a visitor from Arkansas, or anywhere else, asked you for a publicly accessible place to go frog gigging, where would you send them to?
JS: Frogging is good in a canoe by Steckels Bridge in front of the Cave Restaurant near Richland! Actually, anywhere on the Gasconade is fun to frog on!

PCTB: Why should someone travel to Pulaski County to deer hunt?
JS: Deer herd and public access. Between Ft Leonard Wood and the Mark Twain National Forest, Pulaski county is not lacking in either category there! After the hunt, there is plenty of great Breakfast cafes around. We like to warm up and eat breakfast at the Oasis truck stop on 133 exit!

PCTB: Are there special considerations that one should take before hunting on Fort Leonard Wood or in the Mark Twain National Forest?
JS: Fort Leonard Wood does have special regulations for hunting. Since I cannot film my hunts out there I do not venture out to Ft Wood that much although I’m probably missing out on the best hunting in Pulaski County! Mark Twain National forest is public walk -in land and you just need to be up to date with your hunting licenses and regulations for the game you are after!

PCTB: In layman’s terms please tell us how you think the 4 point antler restriction could improve hunting in Pulaski County.
JS: The Antler point Restrictions have already helped! I have noticed more mature bucks each year in Pulaski County.. We are surrounded by non APR (antler Point restriction) counties , so if you want a better chance at a mature deer then Pulaski County is the county to be hunting in! Putting deer herd and mature deer aside, I like the APR because it makes hunters slow down and look over the animal before pulling the trigger. I’m sure it has saved someone from injury or worse, death, from an unfortunate hunting accident! Safety First.

PCTB: Why should someone travel to Pulaski County to coyote hunt?
JS: Coyotes have been increasing in population for a while now. Our ground nesting birds and rabbits are struggling in population because of them. Most farmers around here are happy to allow you to call some Coyotes in for a dirt nap! Pulaski County has the Gasconade and the Piney rivers- river bottom land is great for calling in those Yotes !

PCTB: Why should someone travel to Pulaski County to hunt for other game?
JS: Our turkey population is doing great this year! After a few bad hatches from floods and predator problems our population was dwindling. We have now had some great hatches and it seems as if everyone is into removing predators now, so the Turkey population is looking great for this year!

Justin & Robin Sapp of "Keepin' It In The Ozarks"

PCTB: Please share your favorite Spring Turkey hunt story with us…
JS: My favorite Spring turkey hunt was last year. After harvesting my largest Gobbler to date , I took my wife the first weekend and she harvested her first Gobbler! We had four big Gobblers run into the decoys and she shot the one that I didn’t have on camera but it was an exciting hunt!

PCTB: What about the feral hogs?
JS: Feral hogs are mostly on the Fort. I have personally never seen one while hunting. There are only a handful of people who know where they normally make their home and they are tight lipped about the hogs location. Eventually, I believe the population will get out of control and begin venturing farther off Ft Wood. If you get lucky you may run into some off the South Gate of the Fort.

PCTB: Do you have any black powder experience?
JS: Oh Yeah, I love hunting with my Muzzleloader! Sometimes I pack it with me during Rifle season! Again, Slowing down and enjoying Gods creation in the outdoors is what this is all about! Slow down, make your one shot count!

PCTB: Have you ever trout fished the Roubidoux in downtown Waynesville?
I love fishing the Roubidoux and I am usually successful. They have a concrete ramp for people that are disabled! My wife can walk to the Waynesville park while I fish so that is a plus! The spring is also stocked with rainbow trout on a regular basis so it makes for an exciting trip every time!

PCTB: Was Robin a huntress/outdoorswoman before you met?
JS: My wife, Robin, is the biggest city girl I have ever met. I’m slowly converting her to a huntress but I never make her to hunt or fish if she does not want to. This year she shot her first turkey and Buck!! I’m a proud husband, and truth be told , I would not be doing what I am today without her. She is the biggest technology freak I have met, and she is the one that got me interested into video production!

JS: What is the most interesting find that you have stumbled across in the woods?
The most interesting and “rewarding” find that I have found is a ridge full of Spring Morels (edible mushrooms). I found 103 on one ridge! No, I won’t share the location! 🙂

Justin Sapp, of Keepin' It In The Ozarks, and son.

PCTB: What other projects have you worked on before deciding to launch “Keepin’ It In The Ozarks”?
JS: I’ve been with Ozark Traditions TV and Bowdacious Outdoors TV. Both shows got me where I am today and now it’s time to take the path God is leading me!

PCTB: What is your inspiration behind “Keepin It In The Ozarks?”
JS: I have a strong desire to get people into the REAL Outdoors. We want to not only be entertaining but informative! Killing a mature buck is exciting but I would rather film a kid shooting their first deer and their excitement! It is not about killing an animal. In the end it is about the journey of the Hunt, family, friends, and God. The Outdoors “saved” me! God has a plan, and I’m going to follow!

PCTB: How often will new episodes of “Keepin’ It In The Ozarks” be released?
We release an episode on the First and Fifteenth of every month.. The episode on the Fifteenth will be about what we are doing to manage our hunting property for that past month. It should be very informative to local people planting food plots and managing their deer herd. We are excited for 2015!

PCTB: Will you be at any outdoors shows so people can meet and visit with you?
JS: We will be at the Outdoor Sportsmans Show On February 20th and 21st at the St. Robert Community Center! This August we will be at a few Hunting expos again! Come on out, We love to hear your hunting stories!

*Editors Note- The Outdoor Sportsman Show scheduled for February 20th & 21st in Saint Robert, MO has been cancelled due to weather.

Keepin' It In The Ozarks Logo

Eagle Watching In Pulaski County USA

by Katie Dreadfulwater
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center
Visitor Services Representative

I have always loved bird watching and enjoy nature whenever I can, so I guess I could be called a nature nerd. Our family had recently heard about Eagle Watching Days at several locations throughout Missouri, and since I love to bird watch, we loaded up the car and took a drive in search of our nation’s official mascot, the bald eagle. It was about an hour away and we saw live captive birds and educational demonstrations, but were only able to see the eagles from very far away. After driving all that way and only viewing them from inside a building, it made me want to see bald eagles up close and in their natural environment. After watching these majestic birds soaring in the sky, it really made me want to see them again, and right here where I live. Why should I have to drive an hour away from home? After doing a little bit of research, I learned that bald eagles visit Missouri during the winter months. They migrate south in search of food when waterways and lakes north of us freeze, making their main food source difficult to access. There are some eagles that reside in Missouri all year round, but most bald eagles seen in the winter months are only temporary residents until they begin moving back north in February. I was thinking why would these birds just stick to visiting the places where the Eagle Days festivities were being held? Fish composes a majority of their diet, so why wouldn’t they be here in Pulaski County, where there is excellent fishing from two major rivers, natural springs, and streams. I put on my thinking cap and decided search out these majestic birds right here where I live.

Bald eagle near the Big Piney River in southern Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Terry Primas.

Bald eagle near the Big Piney River in southern Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Terry Primas.

I got up early on a cold Saturday morning, made some coffee and ventured out. Since my youngest daughter was awake as I was planning to leave, I invited her along and boy was I glad I did. I decided to search out an open, larger section of water where there is good fishing for my first attempt. We only ventured out to one place that morning, a local boating access point on the Gasconade River. When we arrived at the Missouri Department of Conservation Riddle Bridge Access area, we immediately spotted a large falcon very close to the parking lot and stopped to watch it as it was resting on the branches of a nearby tree. I knew if there was another predatory bird nearby, it was sure to be a good spot for eagles too. After the first bird flew away, I looked all around me to notice that the foliage closer to the bluff and along the river was completely covered with ice crystals. It was an absolute winter wonderland! I had not experienced this since moving to Missouri more than 7 years ago and I was in awe. I stopped to take some pictures wishing my camera would capture the real beauty all around me the same way I was seeing it. I then looked up and all around in the trees, and there it was, a beautiful mature bald eagle perched right across the river from us. We stayed in our vehicle and just watched it for a few minutes enjoying the moment before trying to get a closer view. We crossed the bridge and were able to get a bit closer, but still stayed in the car to watch under cover. My daughter just viewed her first bald eagle up close with both her own eyes and with the assistance of binoculars. It was amazing! We both looked at the bird up close with my scope and admired the details of its yellow hooked beak, white head and tail feathers, and the details of its sharp talons. After a few minutes and as more cars started to travel around in the area, the eagle decided there was too much company and flew away. It was truly a special moment, watching bald eagles right here where we live in Pulaski County. No more driving far away for me, I was now enthralled in this new expanded bird watching hobby.

Riddle Bridge Public Fishing Access on the Gasconade River near Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County, MO. Photo by Laura Huffman

Riddle Bridge Public Fishing Access on the Gasconade River near Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County, MO. Photo by Laura Huffman

A few days later, I decided to take a chance and go on another adventure. I was eager to see more eagles and I wanted to share it with another one of my kids. I love to fish and was near a trout stream, so I figured if it is a good fishing spot for me, it should be for eagles too. We arrived in the late afternoon at Stone Mill Spring. As we exited the car to walk the trail to the spring, I knew it was a great place to seek out viewing eagles because we immediately heard one calling and it sounded really close. We did see two eagles flying along the Big Piney River as we walked closer to the spring, but when we arrived three herons immediately flew away right out of the spring. We stopped walking before continuing any further into the fishing area, and saw a large mature bald eagle perched up in a tree very close by. We got out our binoculars and scope for a closer view, but made little movement for fear of scaring it away. We were out in the open, under no cover, and were very fortunate to watch and hear it call for about 30 minutes. When the eagle flew away, it was followed by another immature eagle we hadn’t even seen that was perched behind us.

The trout at Stone Mill Spring on Fort Leonard Wood are popular with anglers of all ages, as well as bald eagles. U.S. Forest Service photo.

The trout at Stone Mill Spring on Fort Leonard Wood are popular with anglers of all ages, as well as bald eagles. U.S. Forest Service photo.

The next weekend, it was time to go seek out more eagles. I am so excited to be watching these awesome birds here where I live that I just can’t get enough. My husband joined me this time and we headed back to the Big Piney River where I had seen some before. This time we stopped in a different area and were very successful in finding plenty to view. As we stopped along the river, we spotted one just across the river from us back in the trees a bit. As we were enjoying the view, we saw a couple more bald eagles were flying up river. These birds are just wonderful to watch fly, their wingspan is larger than any I have ever seen. We then headed to the spring in search of more sightings, but saw none at Stone Mill, but did see more perched along the river. We finished up our eagle viewing with a hike up to the bluff above the spring. The view from above the spring was wonderful, and it was the perfect way to end a great morning.

Eagle watching above Stone Mill Spring on the Big Piney River on Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Katie Dreadfulwater.

Eagle watching above Stone Mill Spring on the Big Piney River on Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Katie Dreadfulwater.

The next day I was itching to go out and watch again! I had one more person to show the eagles to, my oldest daughter. I convinced her to come along even though she is not much of an outdoors person. We first headed out towards the Big Piney River in search of great views of bald eagles and did not see any along the river this time, so we headed toward the spring. On the way there, we stopped by another good fishing area on the river and spotted an immature bald eagle perched in a tree above a larger pool of water. It was a beautiful bird, large and stout. My daughter was the one who spotted it and had the best view. We continued searching all the way there, not really seeing any more eagles as we drove. We parked and walked back to the spring, and upon our arrival we immediately saw a large mature bald eagle perching in the trees along the stream. We enjoyed watching it only for a few minutes before it flew away. We walked around the fishing area and did not see any more eagles that morning, but did see a pair of pileated wood peckers and a great assortment of smaller birds. It was a rather chilly morning, but we decided to hike the trail behind the spring for a better view. As we were reached the top of the trail, I saw a bald eagle fly directly overhead and it was the best view ever! We both appreciated the sunshine and enjoyed our morning watching for eagles and being outdoors in the magnificent Ozarks.

There is so much to do away from all the hustle and bustle of activities, especially outdoors right here at home in Pulaski County. I was quite content spending a few hours outside with my family away from all the noise: the video games, the television and all the electronic gadgets we seem to think are essential to everyday life. I still am excited at how my one of my kids reacted after seeing the eagles. I heard her say, “I am amazed that we saw that eagle up so close!” and to continue to hear her say all day long, “Mom, I am still amazed.” It just made my heart sing. I am going to do this more often, take my kids outdoors to feel, see, smell and just be with nature. I have seen those bumper stickers that say, “Take a Kid Fishing.” I think I am going to make one that says, “Take a Kid Outdoors and Enjoy Nature.”

Pulaski County is a short drive for most of Central Missouri- and is the perfect place to eagle watch, without the crowds. To plan your eagle watching and birding outings order your FREE Visitors Guide at http://visitpulaskicounty.org/contact_us.htm.

Tweet your Pulaski County bald eagle and wild bird photos to us at @PulCoUSA! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

Pulaski County USA Hosts Outdoor Communicator Conference

Pulaski County, Missouri in Autumn. Photo by Dwayne Hicks

Pulaski County, Missouri in Autumn. Photo by Dwayne Hicks

Beth Wiles, Executive Director and Karen Hood, Marketing Relations Manager of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau recently announced that Pulaski County has been selected as the location for the annual conference of the Missouri Outdoor Communicators in September 2016.

Recently approved at a Board of Directors meeting, the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau made an impression on organizers during the 2014 MOC Conference in Columbia this fall when presenting their destination as a possible site for a future conference.

The Missouri Outdoor Communicator’s Executive Director, The Beenders Walker Group, wrote “Pulaski County will be a ‘perfect destination’ for our 2016 MOC Annual Conference. Your ability to provide such a beautiful Ozarks outdoor destination with a wide variety of activities and sightseeing opportunities made this an easy decision. We definitely look forward to visiting your area on a site visit to brainstorm.”

The dates for the conference are September 9-11, 2016.

Chartered in 1994, the Missouri Outdoor Communicators’ mission is to advance knowledge of natural resources and related recreational pursuits, to improve MOC members’ communication skills, to promote outdoor communications, to encourage appropriate use and conservation of natural resources and to mentor the next generation of outdoor communicators.

To learn more about Pulaski County, Missouri please visit: http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com
Follow Pulaski County USA on Twitter at @PulCoUSA
Follow Beth Wiles on Twitter at @BWPulCo
Follow Karen Hood on Twitter at @KHPulCo
To learn more about Missouri Outdoor Communicators please visit: http://missourioutdoorcommunicators.org

Hitchhikers Guide To Floating In Pulaski County

Merriam-Webster defines floating as “continually moving or changing position”. In the Ozarks floating is an art form, sometimes even a lifestyle, that involves canoes, kayaks, paddles, a river, and family and friends. People float from a location on the river downstream to another location on the river. The exact destinations on Pulaski County’s Big Piney or Gasconade Rivers that are chosen are not as important as the journey between the two points is- it is the in between that will have your family telling stories and sharing memories for years to come.

Pulaski County’s friendly outfitters can help plan family outings on our gentle and scenic rivers. They all offer float trips, fishing, and swimming. Some offer camping, cabins, and RV camping. Two unique camping options are Roubidoux Springs Campground & RV Park and Shundahai Campground. Roubidoux Springs Campground, a favorite with trout anglers, is on the banks of the Roubidoux River in Downtown Waynesville. A camp spot here is within walking distance of one of only seven certified Trail of Tears National Historic Trail sites in Missouri. Also within walking distance is antiquing, dining, nightlife, and shopping. Shundahai Campground offers TeePee camping, 17 acres to hike and explore, and 200 feet of beautiful Big Piney River riverfront. There are also plentiful hotel and lodging options in Saint Robert, complete with all the comforts of modern amenities.

Photo courtesy of Shundahai Campground.

Photo courtesy of Shundahai Campground.


Boiling Spring Campground (www.dixoncamping.com or 573.759.7294)- offers several float trip options. Their most popular floats range from 3 to 8 miles. For folks who keep track of how many Missouri rivers they have paddled, Boiling Spring Campground floats also offer the option to float portions of the Big Piney AND the Gasconade River in the same float trip. For the hardcore river rat they also offer overnight floats- even a “51 Mile Float” that will allow you to experience the majority of Pulaski County from the meandering Gasconade and her beautiful waters.

Photo courtesy of Boiling Spring Campground

Photo courtesy of Boiling Spring Campground

The Cave Restaurant & Resort (www.thecaverestaurantandresort.com or 573.765.4554)- overlooks, and floats, the beautiful Gasconade River. The Gasconade has been described as “a wonderful run, [with] steep bluffs, gorgeous cuts, hairpin turns and lazy eddies” in The Rivers of Missouri. The Cave’s float trips can be upgraded to include lunch from their world famous restaurant.

Gasconade Hills Resort (www.gasconadehills.com or 573.765.3044)- offers day trips on the Gasconade River ranging from 4 to 10 miles and overnight trips ranging from 13 to 21 miles. Route 66 enthusiast will get a kick out the 4 mile float that ends at the Hazelgreen 1924 Route 66 Bridge.

Lay Z Day Canoes & Camping (www.layzday.com or 573.336.8639)- offers floats trips ranging from 4 to 11 miles on the Big Piney River. The Big Piney is renowned as a fishing stream and the dramatic limestone bluffs are topped with the pine trees that lend the river its name. Lay Z Day Canoes & Camping also offers “Full Moon Floats” that will let you paddle your way downriver by the light of the moon.

Photo courtesy of Lay Z Day Canoe & Camping

Photo courtesy of Lay Z Day Canoe & Camping

Rich’s Last Resort (www.richslastresort.com or 573.435.6669)- offers 7 mile or 15 mile one day floats on the Big Piney River. If one day isn’t enough to curb your canoeing appetite you can also sign on with them for a 45 mile paddle.

Photo courtesy of Rich's Last Resort

Photo courtesy of Rich’s Last Resort

Route 66 Canoe (www.rt66canoe.com or 573.336.2730)- is located on one of the oldest alignments of Route 66 in the country, actually predating Route 66, this gravel was once Route 14. Andy Shelden, the proprietor, has a family history that dates back to the early days of Route 66 in the same area that his guests enjoy today. Route 66 Canoe offers float trips on both the Big Piney and the Gasconade Rivers.

Photo courtesy of Rt 66 Canoe

Photo courtesy of Rt 66 Canoe

Wilderness Ridge Resort (www.wildernessridgeresort.com or 573.435.6767)- offers 7 mile or 15 mile floats on the Big Piney River. They also offer two day floats from either Slabtown or Mason Bridge.

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Ridge Resort.

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Ridge Resort.

Devils Elbow River Safari (573.336.7979) and RichCo River Services (573.435.6669) can also outfit your family for a float on the Big Piney River.

Pulaski County, Missouri’s outfitters have canoes, kayaks, rafts, inner tubes, and even jon boats available for your river excursion. Check with the outfitter for specifics and details.

A message from Pulaski County Outfitters Association

A message from Pulaski County Outfitters Association

Many of our outfitters also offer put in/pull out access for those who have their own canoes. Some offer shuttle service for privately owned craft. Missouri Department of Conservation’s revised “Paddlers Guide To Missouri” is a resource for planning your independent float in Pulaski County.

For more information about lodging, dining and things to see and do in Pulaski County USA visit http://www.pulaskicountyusa.com or call 877-858-8687 to order your complimentary Visitors Guide.

Pulaski County, Missouri Outdoors & Wildlife: Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers have been identified in Pulaski County at Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area. Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than their lookalike, the Hairy Woodpecker. Being able to differentiate between the two is one of the first identification challenges that beginning bird watchers master. Downy Woodpeckers can be spotted in open woodlands habitats, city parks, and backyards. A Downy Woodpecker’s diet consist mainly of insects, although they will consume berries, acorns, and grains.

You can find Downy Woodpeckers in woodlots, residential areas, and city parks.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Woodpeckers don’t sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise even when they’re digging vigorously into wood.

Downy Woodpeckers have been sighted at Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Tower Site, Fort Leonard Wood Tower Site, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area in Pulaski County, MO.

Downy Woodpeckers have been sighted in several areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been identified in Pulaski County at Riddle Bridge Access. Larger than their lookalike, the Downy Woodpecker, its bill is much longer than the Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers are often sighted in mature woodlands, parks, and even cemeteries. A Hairy Woodpecker’s diet consist mainly of insects, although they will consume fruit and seeds.

You can spot a Hairy Woodpecker by watching the trunks and main branches of large trees, looking for a boldly patterned black-and-white bird.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Hairy Woodpeckers sometimes drink sap leaking from wells in the bark made by sapsuckers. They’ve also been seen pecking into sugar cane to drink the sugary juice.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been sighted at Riddle Bridge Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, MO.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been sighted in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Northern Flickers have been identified in Pulaski County at Riddle Bridge Access, Dixon Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area. They are large brown woodpeckers with black-scalloped plumage. Northern Flickers can be seen in open woodland habitats. Northern Flickers diet consists mainly of insects. In winter they will eat fruits and seeds.

You can spot a Northern Flicker by walking through open woods or forest edges, but scan the ground. You may flush a flicker from a feeding spot up into a nearby tree.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Although it can climb up the trunks of trees and hammer on wood like other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its main food, and the flicker digs in the dirt to find them. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap up the ants.

Northern Flickers have been spotted at Riddle Bridge Gasconade River Access, Dixon Tower Site, Waynesville's Laughlin and Roubidoux Parks, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area in Pulaski County, MO.

Northern Flickers have been spotted in several locations across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been spotted in Pulaski County at Ross Access, Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) Mitschele Access, Roubidoux Creek Conservation Access. They are very large woodpeckers- “one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest.” Pileated Woodpeckers live in mature woodlands and have an affinity for dead trees. They primarily eat carpenter ants.

You can spot a Pileated Woodpecker in stands of mature forest with plenty of dead trees and downed logs.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons, but will tolerate new arrivals during the winter.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been identified at Ross Big Piney River Access, Schlicht Springs Gasconade River Access, Mitschele Gasconade River Access, and several other locations in Pulaski County, MO.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been identified in many areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been identified at Ryden Cave Conservation Area, Riddle Bridge Access, Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area, and Mitschele Access, all in Pulaski County, Missouri. They are medium-sized woodpeckers about the same size as a Hairy Woodpecker. Red-bellied woodpeckers are often found in a forest habitat, especially in river bottoms. They mainly eat insects and spiders, but will also eat acorns and grapes.

Identify a Red-bellied Woodpecker by its call. Once you learn its rolling call, you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been spotted at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and several other areas in Pulaski County, MO.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been spotted in many areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been spotted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Access in Pulaski County, MO. This bird has been described as a “flying checkerboard”. Its head is crimson red, its body is white, and its wings are half white and half black. They are the only North American Woodpecker with an entirely red head and neck. Red-headed Woodpeckers breed in deciduous woodlands with oak or beech, groves of dead or dying trees, river bottoms, burned areas, recent clearings, beaver swamps, orchards, parks, farmland, grasslands with scattered trees, forest edges, and roadsides. They eat insects, fruits, and seeds. Like Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpeckers are very adept at catching insects in the air.

Look for Red-headed Woodpeckers in scattered, open woodlots in agricultural areas and dead timber in swamps.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
The striking Red-headed Woodpecker has earned a place in human culture. Cherokee Indians used the species as a war symbol, and it makes an appearance in Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, telling how a grateful Hiawatha gave the bird its red head in thanks for its service.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been sighted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, MO.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been sighted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Access in Pulaski County, Missouri. They are fairly small woodpeckers and prefer a forest habitat, especially forests with young birch and maple trees. Just as their name implies, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers consume sap for the majority of their diet. They bore shallow holes in tree bark and lap up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue.

To find a sapsucker’s territory, keep an eye out for their distinctive, neatly organized rows of sapwells.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found drilling sapwells in more than 1,000 species of trees and woody plants, though they have a strong preference for birches and maples.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted by birders at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Big Piney River Access, near Fort Leonard Wood, in Pulaski County, MO.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted by birders at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Big Piney River Access, near Fort Leonard Wood, in Pulaski County, MO.

To learn more about the size & shape, color pattern, behavior, habitat, food, nesting, migration, and conservation of Woodpeckers please visit www.allaboutbirds.org.

The Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter meets the 2nd Thursday monthly at 7 pm at the Eugene F. Northern Community Center in Rolla, Missouri. You can visit them online at: http://ozarkriversaudubon.org/

For more information on bird watching in Missouri visit The Audubon Society of Missouri at http://www.mobirds.org.

For more information on birding, in Pulaski County, MO please read “Hitchhikers Guide To Birding In Pulaski County”

Take part in The Great Backyard Bird Count February 14-17, 2014! How many birds can you identify in your backyard and across Pulaski County? Tweet your Pulaski County wild bird photos to us at @PulCoUSA! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

For more information about things to do in Pulaski County, Missouri visit Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com or http://www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA.

Early Roubidoux Spring Cave Exploration

The state of Missouri is a hidden gem for cave & cavern scuba divers. Waynesville, the heart of Missouri cave country, is also home to Roubidoux Spring. Roubidoux Spring is a notable landmark freshwater spring. It is often mentioned as one of the best cave diving springs in the country and is routinely allowed to QUALIFIED and certified cavern or cave divers. ALL DIVERS must register with Waynesville Police Department (573.774.2414) before entering.

Roubidoux Spring at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of Connie Feighery. The underwater cave at Rouibidoux Spring is a favorite dive location in Missouri for certified cave divers.

Roubidoux Spring at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of Connie Feighery.

The following article was published in “History Pulaski County Missouri, Vol. II, 1987”. Special thanks to Pulaski County Museum and Historical Society for allowing us to share it here.

“Roubidoux Spring
Summary of Exploration thru Sept. 18, 1977

Prior to September 1977 several people had made relatively short penetrations into the upper level passage of Roubidoux Spring- Carlson, Delaney, Rimbach, and Tatalovich.

During the summer of 1977, Carlson and Delaney made several dives to the limits of the then known passage in an effort to extend penetration. Their maximum penetration was 425 feet and a maximum depth of 120 feet.

On September 3, 1977 Miller and Fogarty made their first dive in Roubidoux Spring. They reached the end of the Carson-Delaney line, found the lower level passage, and added 570 feet of line for a total penetration of 995 feet. The lower level passage runs at an average depth of 140 feet and ranges from 5 feet high and 12 feet wide to 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. On the afternoon of September 3, Miller and Fogarty made a second dive and added another 435 feet. The new penetration was 1430 feet. The passage size, direction, and depth were holding a relatively constant at termination.

A cave diver at Roubidoux Spring in Waynesville in Pulaski County, Missouri.

A cave diver at Roubidoux Spring in Waynesville in Pulaski County, Missouri.

September 4, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey trip into the lower level, starting at the end of the Carlson-Delaney line surveying 535 feet. They also removed 35 feet of line to center line in the passage.
A minor decompression accident occurred on this dive causing Miller to be hospitalized for a short period. This delayed further exploration for two weeks.

September 17, 1977: Miller and Fogarty pushed to the end of the line in Whichaway Ave. and started adding line. They immediately entered the “Big Room”, which is 40 feet high and 80 feet wide, depth on the floor was a constant 160 feet. The floor was smooth hard silt with very little breakdown in contrast to the floor in Whichaway Ave. which is all porous breakdown. 225 feet of line was added, making a total penetration of 1620 feet from the entrance and a maximum depth of 160 feet. The Big Room was remaining constant at the termination of the dive.

September 18, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey dive and routinely surveyed the back part of Whichaway Ave.

September 18, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey trip on the Carson-Delaney section of the line, completing the survey of the known passage.

On each dive into the lower level passage blind cave crawfish and blind fish were sighted. No more than three of each were ever sighted on a given dive and their size seemed to be small.”

Exploration of Roubidoux Spring Cave has progressed since this survey was done in 1977.

Exploration of Roubidoux Spring Cave has progressed since this survey was done in 1977.

This survey from 1997 shows two areas, "Room O' The Endless Line" and "Big Cave Country" that were not known at the time of the 1977 survey. This image has been altered to highlight these additions. For the complete map visit http://cavdvr.tripod.com/images/roubmap.jpg.

This survey from 1997 shows two areas, “Room O’ The Endless Line” and “Big Cave Country” that were not known at the time of the 1977 survey. This image has been altered to highlight these additions. For the complete map visit http://cavdvr.tripod.com/images/roubmap.jpg.

The 2008 Old Settlers Gazette, published by Old Stagecoach Stop Museum & Foundation, features an article and historical photographs of Roubidoux Spring. It can be read in its entirety at: http://www.oldstagecoachstop.org/webgeezer/Gazette08/TheBigSpring.pdf

Roubidoux Spring Cave will be offered during the National Speleological Society (NSS) Convention, hosted in Waynesville, Missouri July 13 -17, 2015.

The 2015 NSS Convention "Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving" logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

The 2015 NSS Convention “Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center by visiting our website (www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com) liking our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA) or following us on Twitter! (twitter.com/PulCoUSA)

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!