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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Local hunters give the gift of grain

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Bill Henry, right, uses a map to show Mike Hall where to spread the corn.
NEW MADRID - Bill Henry of New Madrid said he wishes he could have seen those turkeys Tuesday when corn and milo rained down on their heads like manna from heaven.

The grain is a gift from "just a group of guys who are avid hunters but also conservationists," Henry said. "We just wanted to do something for this wildlife."

Birds and beasts along the river have had hard times recently with flood waters crowding them in on high ground like the levees. "The wildlife in that flood area was under a terrible amount of stress," Henry said.

Flood waters are finally receding but leave the land without enough food to sustain all the wildlife.

Henry said he doesn't know how many deer and turkey have been lost to starvation so far, but he and his fellow hunters/conservationists are concerned the numbers might drop too low for them to hunt - especially if the river rises before spring to flood the area again before the populations can recover.

"Some of us talked it up a bit at the barbershop," Henry said. "We got corn and milo donated to us. The largest portion we bought hoping we'd get some donations toward the expenses."

A total of 550 bushels of grain was spread along a 10-mile long strip of land. "We seeded on the Donaldson Point conservation area," Henry said. "It's southeast of New Madrid about 10 miles."

Included are No. 8 Island and the area known as No. 10 Island "even though its not an island anymore," Henry said.

The grain was spread by plane. Kewanee Ag Service pilot Mike Hall volunteered his time to fly and only charged for the fuel, although that turned out to be fairly costly.

"We covered a lot more area than we originally talked about - it was triple what we thought the fuel cost was going to be," Henry said. "We used 200 gallons. He made about seven trips."

Henry said they hope turkey hunters and deer hunters in the area will help cover the cost.

"The biggest beneficiaries are going to be deer and turkeys," he said. "We're hoping it will be a group effort when we're done. We didn't realize it would be as costly as it was."

A wildlife relief fund is set up at the Bank of New Madrid to accept donations, Henry said. If the fund ends up with a surplus after the costs of the first feed drop are covered, they will purchase more grain and do another drop in a couple of weeks.

County commissioners agreed to close County Roads 404 and 405, which run through the area seeded, to prevent traffic from disturbing the wildlife as it feeds, Henry said.

Hall reported seeing turkeys in a field and dropping grain right on their heads during one trip, according to Henry.

"I bet they thought heaven was falling on them," Henry said.