Friday, September 22, 2017

A Horrible Disease - Kruetzfeldt-Jakob


         I had a sad conversation only a few days ago with a lady from Camdenton who told me that several years ago her husband died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Her name was Carol Schroeder. Her husband’s death was due to the same horrible disease that biologists call ‘Chronic Wasting Disease’ in deer and elk. It has also been called mad deer disease, or mad cow disease when it occurs in cattle.

         You have not heard the Missouri Department of Conservation talk about whether or not the disease can spread from deer to humans, but it is known that it does, whether it comes from deer or cattle.  For some reason, the news media has helped the MDC keep people very uninformed about this disease.  But there is much that you need to know if you hunt deer and eat deer.

         First of all, NEVER eat Venison that someone else has killed and butchered, and though it was an accepted thing to do for years past, DO NOT EAT DEER MEAT THAT COMES FROM THE SHARE YOUR HARVEST PROGRAM which the MDC has carried forth for years and years. You cannot be sure there are no prions in that meat you receive.  

         It is believed that prions, which are the diseases infective agents in deer, elk, goats, and cattle is not found in blood or meat, but rather in the brain and spinal fluid of the animal.  It might possibly be found in bone marrow, but that is something they aren’t sure about.  It might well be that you could eat the meat from a CWD animal without getting the disease, but if that animal has been shot in the spine or brain, prions may be found throughout the body of the animal.
         If the spinal column is cut as part of the butchering who knows where prions may be in the meat.  The MDC knows that.  This year all deer killed in a selected twenty-five county area in the state MUST BE checked at a designated check station for CWD… the animal term for the Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs malady in man.  I believe if deer hunting is to continue in states with a good percentage of CWD deer, that testing has to be part of it. I don’t think I ever want to eat another deer if it hasn’t been tested.  Maybe if I hadn’t talked to so many people in this state who have lost loved ones to that disease, I wouldn’t be so nervous about killing a deer and butchering it, putting the meat in my freezer that will be eaten by several others than just me.
         But in a dozen or so cases I have been contacted about, all were men and all were deer hunters.  Relatives talked of the horrible consequences they witnessed in the death of their loved ones. In each case, the Center for Disease Control out of Atlanta has required the victims to be immediately cremated, no embalming or funeral allowed.
        The lady I talked with told me that her husband had died in a St.Louis hospital in a quarantined room and that his body was taken to the crematory by police escort to be sure that if any accident occurred on the way his body would not be handled by unknowing first responders.
         “I never believed in assisted suicide,” she told me, but I would have given anything if it could have happened for my poor husband.  It took him two months to die and what he went through, what I saw as his brain deteriorated, I cannot even talk about it to this day.”  So because of what I have learned I would recommend that no one in the future take deer meat they know nothing about, and that would end the economic viability of deer processing plants and those who make deer sausage and jerky often for gifts or sale.
         I don’t like that, because the great percentage of those people are fine folks and have nothing to do with what created this disease.  Of course those who handle deer meat on that kind of scale use rubber gloves, but no one can be absolutely sure that they won’t be in contact with prions when you are dealing with dozens of deer. That’s because no one seems to know exactly what those ‘prions’ are . They are some kind of strange protein, not a virus or bacteria.  I have asked my daughter, a doctor, to tell me more about it, but even though she saw a patient with disease in medical school, she hesitates to say much about the disease, or the prions, because doctors really aren’t sure what to say about, and how to adequately inform the public about it.

         If you research it, you will learn that it is pretty much known that Kruetzfeldt -Jakobs disease was first diagnosed in England, sometime in the seventies and eighties of the last century.  The cattle industry in that country was giving cattle all kinds of medicines and hormones to put more weight on steers and produce more milk in dairy cattle.  The beef producers got the great idea that man could go against the way God had created things to make more money.  He had created herbivores and carnivores and omnivores on this earth, if you really do believe in a Creator.  Herbivores are plant eaters, carnivores are meat eaters and omnivores are those creatures which eat both plants and meat.

         Omnivores include man but not deer or cattle. But the industry started feeding cattle meat by-products and bone meal mixed into the feed in feedlots.  That is how the mad-cow disease began, as a result of greedy men wanting to make beef cattle heavier and dairy cattle bigger to produce more milk.  In deer it started with that same kind of greed.  Mix in meat and bone meal to feed elk and deer and it would make them bigger, with bigger antlers.  In North Missouri, an Amish man who wanted to raise and sell big bucks in pens, bought several CWD infected deer from a deer breeder in Ohio and it has been reported, but not verified, that as hundreds of people started to raise deer in pens, they were worried that a unhealthy looking deer might infect others, so they released them into the wild.

         The first cases of wild deer dying from the disease took place just a little ways from a penned-deer operation in North Missouri.  Those operations are now found all over Missouri, and I am not sure if all of them, or even the greater percentage of them, have had their stock tested.  It is a big time moneymaker for those who raise deer, because the bucks they raise are put in enclosures where they can be hunted by very wealthy trophy seekers. 
         I was told by a man who worked at such a place that he helped inject bucks with two chemicals so they could be moved from pens where they were raised, to a pen where they could be shot.  He said the chemical given to the buck had warnings on the boxes to not inject the chemical into any animal that would be eaten. He said that those deer were all processed and given to the MDC to go into the “Share Your Harvest” program.  He said it is likely that many poor families ate meat that was chemically tainted by those dangerous injections and never knew it.  Another reason that this state should immediately stop that practice of giving deer meat away to poorer families.  People are dying from eating CWD deer meat.  The MDC no doubt knows there is a risk but if you look at their announcements and their concerns over the disease, they never ever acknowledge that it might be a risk for hunters and their families who eat venison.

         In fact, I doubt if there are any records to be found about the number of people in this state or any others who have died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Why not?  Don’t you think there are accurate numbers on deaths from other diseases?  CWD is a threat to Conservation Departments because they will lose great amounts of money if deer hunters stop buying deer tags.  If non-resident hunters quit coming here, it will harm the state’s economy. 
         If you want to realize how deep all this might go, you should realize that this article cannot be used in a large number of Missouri Newspapers… not even as a letter to the editor.  As far as this problem may extend into today’s deer numbers in this state or how much of a problem it may become, you are never going to know what the whole truth is.  But the people of this state needs to hear from Mrs. Schroeder and others who have witnessed the disease, people like Bill Zippro from Joplin who lost his brother to the disease the year after his brother killed a big buck that didn’t seem to be wild.

         But none of that is going to happen.  So I pass on the one thing that seems to be a way for hunters to be a little safer.  Don’t even touch a sick or dying deer, and do not clean a deer shot in the spinal column or brain.  Don’t cut through any bone, cut the meat off the carcass without causing any cuts or damage to the spinal column.  In that way, even if the prions are there, you are not likely to contact them or release them into the meat.  The day has to come, and soon, that all deer killed in this state are immediately tested, so the meat can be utilized by a hunter and his family, safely.

         And I would recommend that everyone who hunts read the article in one of my past magazines written by a Texas doctor about deer and CWD.  To get a copy of it call my office…417-777-5227.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Spiders Snakes and Mushrooms

           One of the bad things about this time of year is all the spider webs that are across woodland trails.  I don’t get bothered much with mosquitoes or ticks or  poison ivy, but I hate spiders with a passion.  Still have two scars on my arm resulting from spider bites back when I was a kid… likely a brown recluse.  But what I hate most is how a doggone spider web feels across my face when I walk into them.   Makes me itch all over.

            Also this time of year I warn readers that copperheads, and cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are more dangerous at the close of summer than they are in the spring, because this is the time they are molting and moving.  At night as it cools, they come out onto surfaces that hold the days warmth, like sand, concrete, gravel and asphalt.  Beware when you are out at night.  Do you know why there are no poisonous snakes in the Ozarks?  It’s because they are ‘venomous’—not poisonous.  Living creatures which kill with a bite or sting inject venom into their prey, not poison.  Things that are poisonous are certain plants and certain mushrooms, and man-made chemical compounds. But truthfully, poison ivy is not poisonous!

           I notice that some conservation departments put out little pamphlets which list ‘non-poisonous’ snakes.  Well, it does convey the message, but it is a little inaccurate.  In some of those publications the harmless hog-nosed snake, also known as a spreading adder, is inaccurately portrayed as non-poisonous.  Hog-nose snakes have a venom in their bite which is deadly if you are a toad.  Their small fangs are in the rear of their mouth and they do indeed have that venom back there.  But they do not bite anything in defense, and cannot get those fangs into a person unless you put your finger back there and jerk it into the fangs.  Believe it or not, a herpetologist did that once and his finger swelled up and he got fairly ill.  A herpetologist is a snake biologist… someone who studies reptiles.

            As you may have heard they found a two headed timber rattlesnake down in Arkansas recently and it is now alive and well in a Game and Fish Commission nature center at Crowley’s Ridge, near Jonesboro.  It is not a small one, obviously has lived through a few winters.  I got to thinking that if one rattlesnake head could be really dangerous in the amount of venom it could inject, think how awful it would be to be bitten by two different rattlesnake heads… four fangs and twice the venom.

            And then I got to thinking, what if one head ate one rat and the other head swallowed another rat at the same time.  Two rats in one snake belly might present a problem. I say that because no snake I ever heard of eats more than one rat or one rabbit or one gopher at a time.  True, they will often eat several eggs at one visit, but an egg ain’t a rat.  Rats have legs that stick out and claws and teeth and hair.  So if they each ate a rat at the same time, which head would suffer if the body developed a case of indigestion. 

            Because of my scientific background I am forced to think of things like that and answers are not easy to come by.  But if I came across a rattlesnake like that I wonder if I cut off one head if it would kill the whole snake.  Or would the other head crawl off with the body and live out it’s life thanking me for getting rid of the other head, or would it get mad and try to get revenge.  I guess it depends on the personality of each head.  I have seen a pair of brothers, or a brother and sister, get along very well their whole lives, but then there are those who have been at each other’s throats since they were big enough to walk.

            Whoever found that snake, or those snakes, whichever the case may be, sure passed up a golden opportunity by giving it away.  He could have taken it to fairs and carnivals around the Ozarks in the summer, set up a tent and charged a quarter to anyone who wanted to go in and see it.  Then he could just put it out in the shed in the winter under a pile of rocks and not have to worry about spending anything on it in the way of snake food until next April.

            My daughter Christy is a science and biology teacher who followed in her ol’ dad’s footsteps, working several summers as a park naturalist in a Missouri State Park.  She roams the woods up here on Lightnin’ Ridge looking for mushrooms, and this is a good late summer-early fall for mushrooms.  There are many that are edible, and many which are very,very poisonous.  I think if we’d get a good rain that we’d soon have lots of coral mushrooms, which I really like to cook with venison or other wild meat.  Christy has found an assortment of mushrooms so variously and vividly colored that they make a good rainbow.  Every color you can imagine is out there.  If you would like to see a couple of her photos of them, go to the end of this column and you can see them.  You will be amazed!

            The fall issue of The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal is coming up soon.  I would love to get you a subscription fixed up before it does, but you need to arrange that before the first of the October because if your magazine doesn’t get mailed out with the whole big bunch of them mailed then, the post office charges four times as much to mail one individually.  Isn’t that a heck of a note? The Post Office makes more money out of my magazines than I do!  So does the printing company!  If you want to subscribe, or order one of my books, just call me at 417 777 5227.  But if you are wanting to talk about fishing, I have to limit the calls to one hour.  You can also email me at or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613

Bright-colored mushrooms, all found by my daughter, Christy, on Lightnin' Ridge

Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria

This poisonous mushroom is called Fly Agaric  (photo by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)

This is an edible mushroom... the Coral mushroom.  (photo by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)
Amanita arkansana buttons. The Yellow Caesar.

These two photo are of  The Yellow Cesar. The second, is one that hasn't fully opened. (Photos by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)


This beautiful white mushroom is called White Brain.  

White Brain - Tremella fuciformis

  The Golden Ear - Tremella aurantia is an orange parasitic fungus of the shelf fungus Stereum hirsutism or False Turkey Tail.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Floods and Famine

       The floods are awful, but I can see the first settlers of Texas long, long ago, saying… “this will be a good place to build a town, and we’ll name it after ol’ Sam Houston hisself.  We’ll have a good view of the river from here and it’ll never get this high.”

       My late Uncle Norten once told me about an Ozarks deluge in 1933 when it rained so hard and the wind was so strong at times that it washed away the clay mud chinking on the west side of the cabin and started blowing rain in through the cracks.  He was only ten but he remembered that for awhile the sawdust that they used to cover the dirt floor was floating in water.  Fortunately, the oak shingles didn’t leak, and so their beds in the attic stayed dry.  Those beds consisted of makeshift mattresses filled with duck feathers mostly. He said it was a lot better life than the first Ozark settlers had enjoyed, when they had to live primitively.

       Eventually the rain ended, the sun reappeared, the flood ended and life returned to normal.  Then they just had the heat of summer to contend with… and the depression.  For a ten-year-old the depression was no problem. There in the hills, times didn’t get much worse than they had been, just because the stock market crashed.
       My heart goes out for those in the path of the storms, those who have lost so much because it seems that nature has become an enemy.  It will get worse as each decade passes.  Many of us have felt it was coming … those of us who feel we live a little closer to nature than the masses who crowd together in a world of concrete and pavement and glass and computers.
       No, I am not one of those global warming nuts…I have no scientific evidence to call upon to help me predict the future course nature might take, and I don’t know for sure what is happening or what is coming.  But  something is happening, and I am fairly sure it is going to get worse.  It is the consequence of huge, ever-increasing numbers of people, and the idea that whatever we do to the earth will have no lasting effect.  It is the problem of man not realizing that the earth is, after all, the boss…and man is not.

       What we are doing isn’t any great secret.  We are destroying the earth’s ability to protect us. But what is coming as a result of that, I can’t predict. I guess there will be more old timers sitting around and saying, “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like this.”

There is no turning around; there is no changing the course.  We are going wherever we are going, and good or bad, global warming, global cooling, or global chaos, ….it is coming eventually.  I would hate to be living in a huge city, where all of a sudden, there might be no course to take but trying to get out of it, to someplace where there aren’t so many millions of people to compete with and run from.  Some things a man can’t do a thing about.  When a massive black cloud forms on the horizon, you just can’t change its course or take away the power of the impending storm.  Not even with a computer.

       There is one thing that gives me a good feeling.  I know a place or two where the woods are deep and the trees are big, and the spring water is still clean and when I am there, there’s no one else to ruin it. There’s a cave there to protect me from wind and rain and ice alike.  If times get too hard, I intend to take my computer and television and a good sleeping bag and some matches, and move there.

       I have a few of the fall issue of my outdoor magazine left and will be glad to give them to those who have never seen it to those who will pay the postage.  Be one of the first callers and I will throw in the envelope free!  Just call me at 417 777 5227.  You can also email me at or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The First Days of the Hunting Season

Dove hunter in a sunflower field

       I don't know if the opening weekend of dove season really is the best time to hunt doves.  Migrating doves often come later, but hunters in the Ozarks are at least getting first shots at doves hatched locally before many of them move out.  The warm weather we usually have the first week of September means most of the doves north of us are still there, and most of ours are still here.

       If you could you'd like to hunt doves when there's a nip in the air and that can happen later this month, or early next month.  But probably 80 or 90 percent of the dove hunting in our area is done and over with after the first week of the season.  Usually, the doves leave the heavily hunted areas for awhile, but in time, a new group will migrate in, and the harvested grain fields will provide more hunting.

       Successful hunters are those who find the feeding areas days before the season opens...and because doves do not perch on grain heads as other birds do, you have to find grain fields like wheat or sunflower seeds which are on the ground.  They come to any kind of grain or weed seed found on fairly open ground.  And they fly very erratically, so they are a challenge for a shotgunner, though probably not as much of a challenge as the heat.

       To hunt doves on opening day you have to get out early, wear good camouflage, and have a couple of boxes of field loads.  I advise hunters to use 7 and 1/2 shot, and shoot modified-bore shotguns.   Doves were made for modified-bored barrels, an open choke gun is O.K. on opening day if all your shooting is at 25 yards or so.  But usually, dove shooting is a 35 to 40 yard challenge.   Full chokes restrict the small shot pattern too much.

       Bring along a stool or bucket to sit on...on opening day you don't have to hide as well as you will on day two or three. The temperature at sunrise should be 20 degrees lower than it will be at 11:00 a.m.  The birds will feed early and late in the day, but if it is a good field, some will be flying in and out most all morning and all afternoon.
       Sometimes we get really lucky here in the Ozarks on opening weekend and don't have the  hot weather during the late morning and afternoon.  But when the humidity is high and it gets up in the mid 80’s, I’d druther be fishing.

       Inexperienced hunters sometimes lose a lot of crippled or downed doves because the weeds are high around grain
fields and there's lots of green undergrowth to contend with.  Mark birds down well and make a special effort to find them.  Dove numbers have been dwindling over the years, and no hunter should wink at the bag limit, nor give downed birds a half-hearted search.  If you are going to call yourself a hunter, act like one, and don't waste game nor exceed the limit.

       A dog helps reduce crippled bird losses and a panting, young retriever might gain some experience from dove hunting, if he doesn't have a heat stroke.  Be sure so you to take some water along for him if there isn't a good pond or creek nearby.  And you'll have to help him get the dove feathers out of his mouth, which may make him decide the last thing he wants to do is go retrieve another bird.

          A dog helps reduce crippled bird losses... and a panting, young retriever might gain some experience from dove hunting if it's not extremely hot. Be sure you take some water along for him if there isn't a good pond or creek nearby. And you'll have to help him get the dove feathers out of his mouth, which may make him decide the last thing he wants to do is go retrieve another. 

        That's why I like hunting small ponds in the evenings, ponds which doves use for water holes before they go to roost.  Such a pond is used as a watering hole only when there is a flat, barren, gravelly bank without weeds, where they may land and walk to the water's edge. And your dog can stay right there beside you and retrieve your birds in the kind of environment retrievers are made to hunt in.  Remember, for those who want to wait, there are plenty of new doves later in September, and cooler weather sure to come. 
       It isn’t a good idea to break a young dog in on a dove hunting trip.  Old Bolt will retrieve them but he doesn’t like to because those dove feathers get stuck in his mouth.  Right now I have a pair of ten week chocolate Labrador puppies much like the ones I have raised for 50 years.  In fact they descend from my first great Labrador, old Rambunctious.  These two are beauties, and I want to keep one.  But  it is tough to play-train them when they are together because they begin to bond to one another and it is hard to keep one chasing a dummy when it wants to go back to the kennel where it’s sibling waits.  I use to raise a lot of hunting Labradors and even today I get lots of calls from hunters wondering if I have one from that old-style heavy, hunting stock. 

        Most old time duck hunters aren’t enthusiastic dove hunters because they want to spare their dogs from hot weather and those feathers.  And us old timers wouldn’t eat doves if they had squirrels to eat.  Of course I have to admit, back in the good old days no one would eat squirrels if they had chicken.   But squirrels were easier to get than chickens, and cheaper, and squirrel hunting was a great deal more enjoyable than chasing a chicken around the barn-lot, half scared to death that the farmer would come home and catch you!

     If you would like to get our upcoming fall magazine… the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, or if you’d like to get information on any of my books, just call my office—417 777 5227.  Or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at

Friday, August 25, 2017

Old Time Things

Wooden johnboats from another era
       A few years ago I was in West Plains Missouri at some local community event when I met some fellows who called themselves ‘flintnappers’. They were making arrowheads and spear points and they were really good at it. Each had wooden bows and arrows they had made themselves. They also had ‘throwing sticks’ also known as atlatls which you can use to hurl a spear as the early bluff dwellers of the Ozarks most likely did before the bow came along. If you know how to use one, you can use an atlatl to throw a spear, or something like a long arrow, completely through a deer if you can get close enough. One of those men had actually killed a couple of deer with his homemade bow and flint tipped arrows, and one was planning to hunt deer that winter with an atlatl.
       These guys were old-timers who amazed me at what they could do, and I always wanted to see them again. I found out that they are going to have another get-together on the weekend of October 7th and 8th at a little place called Chapel Grove 15 miles east of Ava Missouri. It will be billed as “The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks”. The whole thing is free, for visitors or vendors. If you make or use things from that era like tools, knives or rifles, baskets, buckskin clothes, or blankets, etc. that were used in the settling of the Ozarks from 1800 to 1900, they’d like to have you join them. 
Building a johnboat in 1975 for the National Park Service at Buffalo River.
       They will welcome you and allow you to sell your goods or just put on a demonstration. I am thinking of attending and building one of the old time Ozark river johnboats out of white pine. I have a friend who still makes sassafras boat paddles and I hope he will join me. If you have an interest in this weekend event, call Donna Eslinger at:
417-496-2711, or Nina Carter at: 417-543-3401. Or you can email for more information.

       I think it was 2001 or 2002 when my Dad, my Uncle Norten and I spent the whole of October at the annual Fall Festival at Silver Dollar City building a wooden johnboat and making boat paddles… talking to visitors about another day and time decades ago. Norten made the sassafras paddles, and Dad built the johnboat, with my help.

       People flocked around us to watch and ask questions. At the time, I had published only 3 or 4 books and we were set up in front of the bookstore. Folks would buy my books in the bookstore and they would bring them out to me to sign. If back then I had all ten of my books available there, they would have sold well more than a thousand. On some days they would actually sell more of my books than all the others they had combined.

       As it was, they sold more than 200 of my books and paid me a little more than half of what the bookstore collected. For some reason, that didn’t set well at all with the two old ladies who were in charge of the October event. Another thing they didn’t like was the fact that uncle Norten sold a bunch of paddles to people. He had to make about 25 or 30 that winter, and only got 30 or 40 dollars for each. But those ladies did not like that at all. They wanted him to set there and attract a crowd and make paddles for nothing. Seems like Silver Dollar City bought Dad’s johnboat and when it was over, the three of us had made way too much money for the satisfaction of those two old ladies.

       Besides that, the whole operation attracted crowds that sometimes jammed up that narrow walkway and it detracted from the candle-makers and butter churners and other craft people. At any rate, the two women told us they didn’t want us back the next year. Dad was the last of the serious johnboat makers. I still make a few, but my dad and grandfather likely made several hundred over a period of 60 or 70 years. Dad made one at a time but Grandpa sometimes was working on 3 or 4 at a time, at different stages, sitting on saw horses outside his cabin.

       You know why I intend to have another wooden johnboat built somewhere, before November?  Because this winter I want to use it… when no one else is on the river, to fish or hunt ducks or deer or trap an otter or two.

       I’m not the only one who likes to paddle them. Last spring I stopped at a truck stop and there were three johnboats on trailers just like the ones we made for years on the Big Piney. They were owned by some young men who were master craftsmen, apparent by the way those boats were trimmed and finished. I found out they had built them after they bought my book, Rivers to Run, and used the johnboat building plan I had added toward the back of my book, in one entire chapter, with all measurements, blueprints and photos of Dad building one that he used for years.

       My Dad and Uncle are gone now, as are most men and women who lived in the early decades of our last century, the days before technology put aside that way of life, and those kinds of people forever. Today, as young generations curiously like to learn about their roots and a slower, more peaceful time, you will see demonstrations on all old-time ways, crafts and works at festivals and events around the Ozarks each fall, but there is no one ever building johnboats. But it was on display once about 15 years ago at Silver Dollar City. There may be a few of you who remember.

To contact me, email or write to box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613  our office number is 417-777-5227.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017



         It is not the change in climate that will destroy our nation, but the change in people!
         In my last column I talked about the new requirement the MDC has handed down concerning the mandatory checking of all deer taken the opening weekend of the gun deer season in some of the states counties.  Hunters ARE NOT required to check their deer any other time, only on the opening weekend.  As to what happens if you call in to check a deer on opening weekend, November 11 and 12, and you do not take it to a local CWD checking station, I don’t know… you might receive a citation.  Anyhow, this is mandatory in 25 counties, and at the end of this column, I will list them all.

         I talked with wildlife regional supervisor Debra Burns who grew up in a town in Massachusetts, and now works out of a Kansas City office, and she assured me that when hunters bring bucks to the check stations, they WILL NOT HAVE ANY DEER HEADS CONFISCATED or kept.  She cannot assure me however that if you have killed a very big buck, some agent might not look you up at a latter time and take your antlers or mounted deer head as a result of some violation they say you committed.

         Some supporters of the Conservation Department doubt me when I say this is an ongoing effort by enforcement agents to gain through confiscation the larger deer antlers taken in the Ozarks.  But while you won’t be able to see this, you should realize that no does or small antlered bucks are ever confiscated.  Doesn’t that say something about what is happening. Have small deer been confiscated..ABSOLUTELY NOT. 
         I am going to attend the meeting held in Humansville on August 22, because the MDC constantly refuses to say if people have died in the Ozarks, and other parts of our state, from that awful disease.  I want to hear them either avoid that truth or confirm it.

         The white oak acorn crop in my back yard is not going to be anything like it was last year.  And this week’s nature question for the master naturalists scattered around the Ozarks…  Available acorns from white oaks and black oaks always depend on factors like late frosts in the previous spring.  True or False?

         Last year the acorns on my huge 300-year old white oaks behind my office were as thick as tadpoles in a mudhole, but this year they are just average in number, maybe a little less than average.  Acorns are about the most important winter food for a variety of wild creatures, and no matter how many there are, they get scarce in January.  But if the fall crop is abundant, deer and especially turkeys, go into the bottleneck of harsh winter with a little more fat, and a little more ability to survive through to spring.  In years of lean acorn availability, turkey and quail especially will suffer in late January and February.  So will many other larger bird species and small mammals.

But the thing is, while I see my acorn crop as less than desirable, it is a local or regional thing.  Someone with big white oaks a hundred miles in any direction may have a better production of acorns, and some may have less.

         It strikes me that in the Ozarks, there was a time when all country people knew all about the acorn crop because it was important to them, especially in a time when free-ranging hogs were raising little pigs out in the woods, and their main food was acorns.

Today I would be willing to bet that excluding all the master naturalists out there, 99 percent of the overall population of all suburbanites have no idea what each years acorn crop is.  But white oak acorns are the one forest food which can keep you from starving in the winter.  They are very bitter, but if you boil them several times, and pour the darkening water off until the boiling water is finally clear, they can be ground up to make a kind of bread, or eaten whole.  Yes, I have eaten lots of them, but I prefer to roll them in cinnamon and sugar, something you aren’t likely to have if you are starving.  Knowing this, should times get hard and you choose to go live in a cave in the wilderness you might remember to take an axe, fishing hook and line and cinnamon and sugar.

         The other evening I saw a television show entitled “Naked and Afraid” while I was trying to find the cardinal ballgame.  I think it was about two people, one man and one woman, who were set out in the wilderness ‘neked’, and were offered a lot of money to survive a few weeks.  Before Gloria Jean caught me and made me switch channels, I could discern that the two of them were worried about food.  Must not have been any acorns.  Any how it occurs to me that if I was out there with that beautiful blond lady that was running around looking for grubworms and lizards to eat, I wouldn’t be worrying about food, I would be concerned with keeping my hair combed and my belly pulled in so I wouldn’t look fat. And the only thing I would be afraid of is eating worms and snails. I would be collecting acorns!!

The answer to the acorn question….  False,-- this years black and red oak acorns are affected by conditions in the spring of 2016 while 2017 acorn crops depend on what conditions exist in the spring of 2017.

         I leave you with my conviction that while it is alright to be naked, you should never be afraid, and almost surely, if you are afraid, you should certainly not be naked.
I don’t know what channel that show was on, but will try to find it, as it is a great nature-oriented television show.

         I want to remind all of you that you can acquire any of my books or magazines with a credit card simply by calling my secretary, Ms. Wiggins at 417 777 5227.  If you want to get a description of what my 10 books are about, she can send that too.  Email me at or write me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A News Flash From the MDC

       It is not the change in climate that will destroy the United States… it is the awful change in people!

       The Conservation Department is holding a meeting at the Humansville United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, August 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (mad-deer disease).  CWD infected deer have been found in St. Clair County, so now the Conservation Department is requiring all deer hunters to check their deer at a designated site in 25 different counties. IF YOU DO NOT DO IT YOU CAN BE CITED AND FINED! 
       This is some more flailing around by one of the most inept conservation departments ever. It is a useless endeavor and attending such a meeting is a waste of time. They have made an attempt to evade the truth at every turn. The letter sent out says, “CWD is an infectious disease which affects the deer family.” They have never ever, in any communication, mentioned that it can and has affected humans as well.  There have been many, many documented deaths from this awful disease over the past few years. In humans though, it is called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease.

       Twenty years ago the MDC could have prevented the spread of this disease by doing what Colorado’s conservation department did… closing down all elk and deer pen operations in the state, where the operators were buying deer from other states, trying to get rich on huge antlers grown by feeding bucks MEAT BY-PRODUCTS, against every rule of nature. Deer are not and never have been carnivores. The disease was spread through that feed, and those operations would sometimes just release sick deer into the wild.

     When a weak and dying buck was found near my home a few years ago that I believe had CWD, the landowner called game wardens in that county and they never came to look at it or sample tissue from it.  I have never seen nor heard of an agent or biologist come to look at a sick deer and many of my readers who have reported sick deer say the same thing.  WHY?

        I got this letter only a month or so ago from Lucas Yeggy in Dent County…
       “I’ve seen what you have written concerning about sick deer (the mad deer disease. I have seen lots of sick deer for years and have pictures of many of them. The MDC has always said I am wrong about all the sick deer. I have had bucks hang around in the yard and when the kids go’s out and play they just lay there. I have posted in the papers about it and the MDC tries to have the photos pulled. I have enclosed the photo of a very sick deer. For the third year I have been seeing deer like this one on my game camera. I have sent these photos to MDC and they have blocked me and deleted he pictures.”

       If your newspaper doesn’t have the space to use Yeggy’s photo, you can see it on my website, larrydablemontoutdoors, or in the summer issue of my magazine, the Lightnin Ridge Outdoor Journal, on many newsstands now. If they have such an interest in doing what is best for deer and deer hunters, why doesn’t the MDC come to investigate sick deer found by the public. Of course they are very worried about the loss of revenue from dropping deer tag sales and I think controlling that loss is a main purpose of what they do.

       But there is one thing I will pass on, and I will have more to say on it in later columns… IF YOU HAVE A REALLY LARGE AND VALUABLE SET OF ANTLERS ON A BUCK, DO NOT TAKE IT TO A CHECK STATION, OR YOU WILL LOSE IT. It will be confiscated. In my fall magazine I will print a lengthy article about what has happened to so many who have had big deer antlers confiscated for drummed-up minor charges against a hunter.  I hope all deer hunters will read that article.

       For years, the enforcement division has lied about destroying the antlers taken from some poor hunter who lost his deer as a result of a false charge. THOSE VALUABLE ANTLERS ARE NEVER DESTROYED! I found out recently that many of them are given to a craftsman who puts together antler chandeliers. Some wind up in the home of commissioners or high-level employees or places like Bass Pro Shops. Other sets of big antlers are sold, some for thousands of dollars, to wind up on mounted heads found in offices and galleries of well-connected people. One southwest Missouri conservation officer has a shed just for confiscated deer antlers, which he has boasted about being his retirement fund.
       When you check your deer by phone this fall, notice they want to know the circumference at the base and how many points. Want to see if I am on to something? Report your buck as an 18 pointer with a large base. Then wait for the agents to visit you. Or call and say you have found a monstrous buck in the ditch along the highway and ask if you can have it? See how long it is before an agent gets there. If you report hitting a fork-horn with your vehicle, you can keep it with the proper paperwork. They have no interest in seeing it.

        If you kill a big-antlered buck, don’t put a picture of it on facebook, or in the newspaper or you will make yourself a target.  Again, my magazine this fall will have stories from readers who have been antagonized by agents who try to get the antlers.

        This goes to show the power the MDC has, because no large scale TV or print news media anywhere will investigate this or even mention the possibility it is happening. And this article will go to over 60 newspapers in three states, but some will not print it.

       That meeting in Humansville will be useless as far as changing anything in the spread of CWD.  NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO SLOW IT.  But that meeting will be an opportunity to say with a loud voice, that the MDC has decided to force you to do what they say, as useless as it is, or else!!