Three named Warren County conservation champions

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mark Beason loves to hunt and has the usual batch of stories of the ones that were bagged and the ones that got away.

For Beason, editor of Mississippi Outdoors magazine, a bimonthly publication of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks, hunting for turkeys is something of a science for a self-described “turkey whisperer.”

“You gotta understand,” Beason told attendees of Thursday’s annual awards dinner for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, “in the turkey world, it’s completely different from what we’re used to. We’re used to, as men, we chase the girls and use all kinds of lines. In the turkey world, it’s just the opposite.”

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At a glance

The 2009 Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District award winners:

• Louis A. Smith Jr., pasture land

• Eddie Henry, forestry

• Rock Lake Planting    Company, cropland

Beason, the awards ceremony’s keynote speaker, led off a string of hunting stories straight out the woods by demonstrating turkey calls in the wild, using an unsuspecting Jennifer Bowen, one of approximately 70 in attendance, as his foil — though in the role of the male gobbler.

“The hen would say, ‘You sure do look nice.’ The gobbler says, ‘Thank you very much.’” To hear Beason tell it, a staccato-laden call might as well be a turkey pickup line.

“Right there, she’s saying, ‘Know my daddy’s got money?’

A sports editor for The Daily Times Leader in West Point before moving on to edit the magazine in 2006, Beason stressed the importance of involving youths in outdoor appreciation and respect for the land.

“At some point in time, you’re going to have your kids or grandkids or somebody else’s name on it,” he said. “You want to leave it better than you found it.

“The great thing about the outdoors is the opportunities and the unique things to see and do,” Beason said, adding that the growing number of women who are taking up hunting is a plus.

The Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District focuses attention on related water and land resource problems and is the conduit for federal funding to address conservation programs, such as anti-erosion efforts following storms through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. More than $4,120,000 in federal funding has gone to assist private landowners, the City of Vicksburg and Warren County in such programs, district conservationist Raymond Joiner said.

Award winners for this year were Louis A. Smith Jr. for pasture land, Eddie Henry for forestry and Rock Lake Planting Company for cropland.

Smith’s pasture in southeast Warren County saw control structures installed to manage severe erosion. He has also worked to improve quality of soil and plants.

Henry has converted several east Warren County acres to bottomland hardwood from pasture land.

Rock Lake Planting Company was recognized for outstanding nutrient management conservation practices at its land in Blakely.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at