Ozarks Viewpoints

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



As near perfect as it might be here in the Barry County Ozarks, it is a good thing to make a trip once in a while to see how another part of the country lives. A couple of groups and their love of fishing and hunting has provided a couple of instances in years past that have left long lasting and pleasant memories for a number of folks.


One of those trips was the first pheasant hunt in South Dakota for a foursome in Cassville. Providing the interest for the jaunt was the late John Pottebaum who owned Crystal Springs Trout Farm. He gathered up Herschel Stehlik, Carter Koon and myself and made arrangements to hunt and stay in the home of a custom farmer in Geddes, S.D.

This was back in the days when all the roads, even major ones, were two lane and speedy travel was not the best idea.


Our plans for the trip were to leave Cassville about 4 a.m. and drive straight through for a trip that consisted of just under 800 miles. This meant that with four drivers, Herschel's station wagon was going to get a good workout.

First experience of the trip when reaching a migratory bird flyway was to meet a cold front that was pushing south and with it there were sufficient ducks and geese to virtually block out the sun and turn daylight into dark.

On up the road, we stopped for a snack in Sioux (heck of a way to spell Sue) City, Iowa, at a Holiday Inn. We were seated near the front windows when another hunting party pulled in. Their cargo included a pair of Black Labs, which they decided to turn out. The minute they hit the ground, the dogs spotted a nearby swimming pool and were in the middle of it before the owners could stop them.

Top hunt

Our host, Joe Sanders and family, did everything they could to make our trip a good one. In those days the bird limit was five, and they were plentiful. Things happened which were an experience for these Ozarkers.

Carter was almost always on the short end of shooting skill. John once told him he could throw up his hat and our friend couldn't hit it. Up went John's hat, Carter fired and missed, and the whole party hit the ground laughing. At this point, Carter took aim at the hat on the ground, fired again and there was nothing but threads remaining and John went hatless the remainder of the hot day.

Small town

Geddes was a small town (even smaller today) where parking was available in the middle of wide streets. The gathering place was the Blue Moon, a tavern that permitted youngsters to enter but did not serve them except soft drinks.

There was a pair of brothers in town who were house painters. An attraction in the tavern, which found the two present each day, was to see which one got so full he fell off the stool.

Our first trip in this place, our host was greeted with, "Joe, how many did you kill for these boys?" His reply, was "By gosh none, these boys are from the Ozarks!"

We still drive a few miles from where we now stay to reach Geddes, just for old time sake. The first home we stayed in still stands. The second one, of a Sanders girl who raised eight children where a bedroom was added as each came along, has since been demolished and the place turned into a hog farm.

Stayed in touch

Since then, a group has purchased land in the area with the Sanders family share farming for the corporation.

Pheasants will probably never be in abundance again like they were in those first days, but the group stays together and keeps pushing the corn and milo rows. The latter isn't grown much these days as corn pays better. Alfalfa, however, flourishes in this area in most years permitting three and four cuttings in good years.

Natives in those parts tell us that when rural water lines were installed (well water was high in sulfur), roots from alfalfa were found as far as 15 to 20 feet below the surface of the ground that is virtually rock free.

Missouri River

The area is near Ft. Randall Dam on the Missouri River, which is a big tourist-fishing-boating area for that region. Two other hydro projects in the area are at Yankton and Chamberlin, where the whole region is steeped in Indian history.

Unlike the lower regions of the Missouri, in this north country the streams and lakes are clear.

In fact, the Yankton Sioux have a casino-hotel near Ft. Randall that is an excellent place eat.