Arbor Day 2019

Missouri Department of Conservation Forester Patrick Curtin taught Ozark Middle School students about using leaves to identify trees during a program at The OC May 14.

Being outdoors is good for us. Nature and fresh air help us relax and feel less stressed. Most of us can sure use that after all we have been through, and are still going through with COVID-19.  We need to be taking care of our immune systems to be able to fight this virus. Exercise, sunlight, and the outdoors can all help with that.

A Harvard Medical School study showed that outdoor exercise can contribute to general good health and to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. You don’t have to go to a gym. Outdoor activities are a great way to get plenty of exercise.

A study conducted by Georgetown University Medical Center acknowledges the role sunlight plays in vitamin D production, but also found another surprising benefit. Sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement. “T” cells, a type of white blood cell crucial for immune response, were found to be more mobile after test subjects were exposed to sunlight. All of this is vital in protecting you and your family from COVID-19. 

Simply spending time outdoors in the sun and the exercise you get from being there has been associated with a range of other health benefits as well, from lower incidence of diabetes to decreased blood pressure. So, do you need any other excuses for getting out and enjoying our great Ozarks outdoors? 


“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” 

 ― John Muir


Keep clear fingernail polish in your tackle box. Use it to give your old lures a hard and shiny finish, keep rod wrappings from unwinding or becoming frayed, seal a crack in a plastic bobber, and apply it to insect bites to relieve itching. However, you might want to tell your wife or girlfriend why there is fingernail polish in your tackle box, so you won’t have to try to explain later. 


While scouting for the dove food sources, try to determine flight patterns and roosting areas both early and late. Remember that doves like to fly along tree lines and usually use open corners of fields to enter or leave the feeding areas. Use a few dove decoys to help these high flying acrobats feel at home.

A FUNNY QUOTE                 

“It is best not to use a sleeping bag on your first attempt to sleep outside alone in the dark. Sleeping bags are not made for running.” 

—Patrick McManus


In summer, it’s hard to resist the lure of an Ozarks river, for it promises pleasure as endless as the river itself. So we go to the river.

We go to the river to soothe our souls, to wash away cares, and often yearning to be one with nature. This we do, each in his own way. Some approach the river almost reverently and some exuberantly, but all expectantly.

We go to the river to fish, to swim, to camp. We go to soak up its cool refreshment, drifting easily with the river’s rhythm as we mark its many treasures – plants and animals linked to the flowing water. When it’s time to leave, we do so reluctantly, though we take with us always a souvenir of the river: a bit of its calm, a bit of its peace, a bit of its beauty. 


Find a farmer with a stocked farm pond or someone who has strip pits on their property and ask them for permission to fish. Tell them you will honor all their rules, pick up litter, share your fish with them, bring them gifts, clean their barn, help put up fence or whatever else they need done. 

If they grant your wish, clutch them to your chest and love them like you would a wealthy uncle, for verily I say unto you, they are worth their weight in gold.  


Cricket songs can remind you of the carefree summer days of childhood. They sing day and night but their song is noticed more at night. Their songs may be music to some but noise to others. The males are the ones making the sound we hear. They do it by rubbing a sharp-edged scraper at the base of one front wing along a file like ridge on the bottom edge of the other front wing. They make the call primarily to attract females.

Summer temperatures cause the cricket’s song to be quicker and they slow as it gets cooler. Their call is so accurate you can count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40, and you will know what the temperature is at that time. Don’t believe me? Try it some time. Or, just lie there and relax while you listen to cricket songs.


-Bear bells provide an element of safety when camping in bear country. The tricky part is getting them on the bears.

-When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side of you vacant.

-Shine a flashlight into one ear. If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go camping in remote places alone.

Larry Whiteley was born and raised in Nixa. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in honor of his more than 40 years of communicating the great outdoors all over the world through his outdoor articles and radio shows.

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