During the time that I grew up, we did not need the news channels to tell us who our heroes should be.
Though true heroes were pointed out to us so we would see them.
We learned about the actions that made them heroes.
Mom, dad, teachers, ministers and friends, all drew our attention to people who were heroes.
I learned that heroes are people who give of themselves when required.
I learned many live a very simple life, but often, their lives are a life of example and caring.
Heroes always give of themselves.
They serve others in whatever they do.
We have heroes today, but it seems we do not thank our heroes as much as we once did.
This writer citizen, and hundreds of Vietnam Veterans, want to thank Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler for organizing the 2022 Vietnam Veterans Recognition Event in Jefferson City, Missouri. A special thank you to those who served and are serving.
During the editing of this video, several veterans viewed it and many had tears in their eyes before it was over. One said the video was so patriotic and honest. I know, and you probably know, more Vets that would enjoy watching this video and would share and pass it along to other veterans. Please do.
From all of us, a hearty thank you to our many military veteran heroes, you’ll see many of them in this video.
A story about fun times from way back when I was a kid and nothing was complicated, nothing was new – and people were people through and through.
By Larry Whiteley
Grabbin’ suckers is age-old fun, nothing complicated, nothing new. Just ask the folks from Nixa, MO. It goes back to a time when families lived from the land. They raised pigs, fattened and butchered them. They milked a few cows by hand and drank the milk, and they kept plenty of chickens for their eggs. When they wanted fried chicken for Sunday dinner, they would just grab one, cut off its head, pluck the feathers, then fry it up on the old wood stove in lard made from the pig,
They always looked forward to April and May when sucker fish would school together in great numbers on the shallow shoals of local streams and rivers to spawn. Fish from the sucker family include yellow suckers, white suckers, blue suckers, and redhorse. They were a special treat to the hard-working local families, and they caught them any way they could.
In later years both farmers and city folk started using fishing rods with 20 to 30-pound test lines, heavy sinkers, and big treble hooks. A small white cloth was attached above the hooks, so they always knew where they were in the water. When they saw a sucker swim past the white marker, they would jerk hard and hope the hooks sunk into the fish.
Fishermen would stand on the gravel bars or elevate themselves on trees, rocks, and even ladders to better see the fish in the water. Some even used stable flat bottom boats. Polarized sunglasses became popular because they could better see the fish. There was no limit on the number of suckers you could keep back then.
Suckers are delicious, but they are filled with tiny, thread-like bones. The fish were scaled and fileted, leaving the skin attached, to prepare for eating. Cuts were then made through the filet about 1/8 inch apart to cut the tiny bones into small pieces. The filets were then covered in a flour and cornmeal mixture, making sure to get the mix down between the cuts. Then, on to be deep-fried at 325 to 350 degrees for some of the best eating you could ever experience. Some locals canned or pickled sucker filet chunks to enjoy all year long.
Grabbin’ suckers was so popular and was such a longstanding local tradition, the local town folk suggested they have a special weekend to celebrate this fish and the fishermen. The first “Nixa Sucker Days” was held in May 1957. Businesses closed, and so did the school. Main Street was lined with booths and games. Fishermen in their boats and floats of all kinds came parading down the street. There was musical entertainment, awards for the biggest sucker, a Sucker Day Queen was crowned, and, of course, fried suckers were served along with all the fixins. You could even have a bowl of ‘sucker soup’.
I was an 11-year old Nixa boy at the time, and I loved it. I wanted to be a sucker grabber, too, someday. My uncle was Rex Harp, who won many of the awards for biggest sucker fish. He was considered “King of the Sucker Grabbers” and always took his vacation when the suckers started their spawning runs.
When I was older, I worked to save money to buy everything I would need to be a sucker-grabber. By then, I was married with kids and my weekends were spent grabbin’ with friends. We enjoyed it because there was always plenty of action compared to regular fishing and having to wait and hope a fish took your bait.
When my sons got older, I started taking them. We have some great memories of sucker grabbin’ together. By then, suckers were a 20-fish limit per day, instead of all you could catch. I fried a lot of suckers back then. The egg sac found in female suckers was a special treat when fried up, just like I did the suckers.
For many years we went as a family to Nixa Sucker Days. It was an excellent time to see old friends and family, have fun, enjoy music, and eat suckers. Sucker Days was always on the local news and was even featured one year on the national news.
As my sons and grandkids got older, we fished more for crappie, walleye and bass in the spring, as well as going turkey hunting. The desire to go sucker grabbin’ faded.
There doesn’t seem to be as many folks sucker grabbin’ anymore. Nixa Sucker Days has changed too. Most of the old-timers are gone. This year the event will celebrate its’ 63rd year. It is now known as the Nixa Sucker Days Music, Arts, and Craft Festival. Visitors can still get a chance to taste real fried suckers, they say, along with other fried fish. There’s even a parade and music, but it’s mainly an arts and crafts festival now and not like the good ole’ days.
I have fond memories of grabbin’ suckers with friends and family. I remember great times spent at the old Sucker Days. My grabbin’ rods are stored in the barn, and grabbin’ suckers is back on my bucket list. I keep telling myself I am going to go one more time. I am getting old. I need to do it while I still can.
A few years ago, I was in Minnesota for an outdoor writer’s conference. During an interview with the local Visitors Bureau, I asked what fish species were in that area. They gave me a sheet showing and talking about all of them. They wanted to talk about the walleye, pike, crappie, and yellow perch. I wanted to talk about the fish that was at the bottom of the list – suckers.
I asked them if people actually fished for them. They said, “No way! It’s a trash fish. Nobody eats them. They sometimes catch them when fishing for other species and just throw them out for the eagles to eat or take them home and grind them up for fertilizer for their gardens.”
I smiled and said, “Let me tell you a story about grabbin’ suckers and a special day a town has every year in their honor.” I even told them I would be willing to come back and teach them how to fish for them, show them how to cook them, and pass out samples to the locals. I told them it could start a whole new fishing industry for them. They had no idea what they were missing. I’m still waiting for their call.
Author Note: Be sure to check your local rules and regulations before trying this where you live.
All students are equal, not based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability
MoNASP State Tournament will run March 22 – 24, 2019 at Branson Convention Center in Branson, Missouri
By Larry Whiteley
In 2001, Roy Grimes was the Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources. He was assigned the task of creating what eventually became the National Archery in the Schools Program better known as NASP®.
Roy designed it as an in-school program to aim at improving educational performance among students in grades 4 – 12. Through the sport of archery, he wanted them to learn focus, learn self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life.
Since the program officially started in 2002, it has seen over 10 million kids all over America discover a great activity that doesn’t discriminate based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability. The program is open to any student and the biggest supporters are professional educators, because student participation improves school attendance, increases student confidence, improves behavior and provides them with increased exercise in the form of physical activity.
In 2007, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agreed to coordinate the Missouri Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP). In these last eleven years, more than half a million Missouri students have participated. There are now 690 Missouri schools that participate and over 200,000 students that are learning the lifetime sport of archery and all the rest that MoNASP teaches as part of the school curriculum.
Last year, more than 3,100 Missouri kids from 140 schools competed in the state competition in Branson, MO and were watched by over 10,000 spectators. 1,490 of the kids that qualified, made the trip to Louisville, KY for the NASP National Championships. Some 129 Missouri students went on to the NASP World Tournament!
The MoNASP State Tournament is now the second largest state archery tournament in the nation and continues to grow. This year, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) will again partner with MDC to host the tournament from March 22 – 24, 2019, at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, MO. This year they are expecting 3,700 students to compete with more than 15,000 spectators. Proceeds from the event support MoNASP programs and conservation programs in Missouri.
There will also be an ASPIRE MoNASP Tournament for students who do not have a position at the state tournament due to space. This group will also include students who weren’t able to shoot a state qualifying score this year.
Even if you don’t have a child or grandchild taking part in the tournament, it’s a great event to watch and cheer on these kids. Plus, there are lots of other activities you can also enjoy over the three days of the event. Bass Pro Shops will have their Indoor/Outdoor Days with catch and release fishing, archery activities, bounce houses, air guns and animals from the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium.
Russ and Diskey – the Frisbee Stunt Dog Team, will also be there along with Mountain Man from Duck Dynasty. There will be special shows by Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Presley’s Country Jubilee. The World’s Largest Sidewalk Sale will be held at Tanger and The Landing. RVs, boats, ATVs and archery exhibitors will be on display along with a Corvette Club Show. You can even attend the Sip the Ozarks event and sample Missouri wine, spirits and beer.
Business sponsorship opportunities are also still available and are a great way to help these kids and conservation too, as well as gain positive public exposure for the business.
For more information and to book hotel rooms, go to www.mochf.org and click on the MONASP drop down.
Wonders of Wildlife provides Tribute to Fish and Wildlife
Wonders of Wildlife NATIONAL MUSEUM & AQUARIUM is Extraordinary
Founder, Johnny Morris, Has Provided a Trail to Lifelong Conservation in the Outdoors through Fishing, Bass Pro Shops and now, WONDERS OF WILDLIFE
Rick Clunn will Attend
By Forrest Fisher
One of the most respected professional bass anglers in the world is Rick Clunn. I was humbled to fish with Rick on three different fishing tournament occasions in the mid-90s. Having done that, It was easy to understand why this southern gentleman was such a successful angler.
In one word, Rick Clunn has “FOCUS” when he is fishing. He “TUNES-IN” to every spot, every situation, every cast. His success as a 5-time BASS Champion demonstrates his “UNDERSTANDING” for fishing. Above all his fishing success, Rick Clunn is humble, soft-spoken and a true conservationist. Today Rick will be in Springfield, Missouri, and he has this to share with everyone through his Facebook account:
“Melissa and I will be privileged to attend the Grand Opening of the Wonders of Wildlife. I am sure, like everything Johnny Morris has created, it will defy even the most complimentary descriptions possible. I made the statement after winning the B.A.S.S. St. John’s River Tournament, “Never accept that all your greatest moments are in the past.” This man has lived that philosophy his whole life and continues to. Most will see and be inspired by the Wonders of Wildlife, but I fear there are some who will see it as only a capitalistic venture or a monument to an individual’s ego.
For those of you who might feel that way, I offer my observations and understanding. I present this view because I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people ask, “Why does he build these museum style stores to sell fishing tackle? Why not be like others in the industry and just put up a metal building and have a lot less overhead?”
I will tell you, to me these are monuments, but not to Johnny Morris! These are monuments to all outdoors people and to the Natural World that he continuously and tirelessly fights for. At Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake, there is a Convention Center whose walls are lined with some of the greatest conservation mind’s, thoughts and quotes. If you think the many Bass Pro Outdoor Worlds are only about selling fishing and hunting tackle I offer the following: “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” Zane Grey.”
I grew up an Angler when being an Angler was observed as nothing more than playing hooky from school or work. It did not share the status of football, basketball, golf, or other sports. One of my supervisors at Exxon Oil would talk with you about golf all day, but don’t dare waste company time talking about fishing. Even after I quit my socially excepted profession, working for the 2nd largest computing center in the world, and started my angling career most thought I had a bad case of sun stroke. I confess, I will never forget the first time I was proud to be an Angler. I had gone to Springfield, Missouri, to represent one of my sponsors at the grand-daddy of all fishing stores, at their Spring Fishing Classic. I had been in a lot of tackle fishing shops, but nothing could have prepared me for this. When I walked in the front door of the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World, I was moved. It was beautiful and I had never seen anything like it. But more than its beauty, I felt a sense of pride in who I was that I had not felt before. To this day I challenge every outdoor person to tell me that they did not feel a little of the same, their first time there. I now know that Johnny saw the Outdoors – and those who enjoy it, as important elements in the conservation of the fast disappearance of our natural world.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Henry David Thoreau.
I recognize now, like Johnny did from the beginning, that to conserve the natural world we have to expose as many people to its Wonders as possible. He knew that fishing is one of the last remaining vehicles for the masses to experience the natural world and understand its importance to the sanity of man’s world. Johnny’s Conservation efforts are never ending. So when you tour the Wonders of Wildlife, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”