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Bass Pro Outdoor Days moves to expanded venues at Table Rock Lake

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An Eastern Screech Owl at Outdoor Days is actually relatively small among owls.

An Eastern Screech Owl at Outdoor Days is actually relatively small among owls.

The Eighth Annual Bass Pro Outdoor Days has been a fixture at Lake Springfield the past seven years. However, in 2015, the popular event moves south to Table Rock Lake on Sept. 12-13, where it will be significantly larger and scattered over seven venues, says Martin Mac Donald, Bass Pro’s Director of Conservation.

The two-day partnership event combines the resources of Bass Pro Shops, U.S. Army Corps, Missouri State Parks, Missouri Department of Conservation and Springfield/Greene County Parks. Last year activities at Lake Springfield drew at least 12,000 people. This year Outdoor Days is expecting significantly more people at the much-expanded Table Rock Lake event.

Free shuttles will run 9-4 on Saturday, Sept. 12, and from 10-2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13.A list ist of village sites, activities and events is available online at www.conservation.basspro.com.

Mac Donald says Bass Pro Shops has an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to promote youth outdoor activities, water safety and improvement of fish habitat, and Table Rock Lake offered a good venue for promoting that goal.

“Outdoor Days started to run out of room at Lake Springfield, and there were a couple of weddings scheduled at Lake Springfield Park that weekend,” Mac Donald said.

Outdoor Days visitors will be advised to use free parking and shuttle buses at the Celebration City parking lot in Branson to reach the Outdoor Days hub at the Dewey Short Visitors Center at Table Rock Dam. The shuttle buses will deliver visitors to the various Outdoor Days villages and venues. Park rangers and other security officials will direct visitors to the parking area and shuttles.

Public parking won’t be permitted at most venue sites, although exceptions will be made for boaters to launch at two boat ramps — one each south of Moonshine Beach and the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery.

If Outdoor Days is new to your experience, Jessica Hayes, Outdoor Days coordinator, explains:

“It’s a way for people to learn outdoor skills, and learn about wildlife and natural resource conservation,” says Hayes. “We will have things out here that will allow everyone to experience what the outdoors has to offer. You’ll find just about every aspect of what you can do outdoors.”

Everything is free, except for food and registration fees for the annual canoe and kayak races and an open-water “Swimming in Moonshine” race at Moonshine Beach.

There will be two dozen stand-up paddleboards and 30 kayaks available to try for free at Moonshine Beach, and also through Springfield/Greene County Parks at the Dewey Short center.

Other things to do and see:

• Free pontoon boat rides from the Dewey Short center.

• Youth fishing at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery pond (catch and release), along with tours of the hatchery.

• Fly-tying, fly fishing and casting with artificial flies near the hatchery and on Lake Taneycomo (a fishing permit is required for adults).

• Activities from the 1800s at the America’s Wildlife Museum & Aquarium Village (formerly Wonders of Wildlife village).

• Bald eagle and wild animal-handling area.

• A two-foot-deep pool for test-paddling a real kayak.

• Off-road camping club, with tents, pop-up campers, gear and equipment on display.

• A mountain-biking skills area (bikes and helmets will be provided) connecting to a nearby biking trails.

• A Native American Village at Moonshine Beach peninsula, featuring teepees, birch-bark canoe building, drum performances and traditional native people story telling.

• A pre-1840s Mountain Man Rendezvous primitive skills village where visitors can heave a atlatl spear, tomahawk and even compete in a cast-iron skillet toss. On display will be two covered wagons equipped as pioneers would have used them.

• Air rifle and pistol shooting ranges, pony rides, trail hiking and an inflatable obstacle course.

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