Monday, November 17, 2014

The Buck that Ran Away

My daughter Christy, with her buck and the Winchester rifle she uses that doesn't shoot straight.
I missed the son-of-a-buck… I can’t figure out how but it wasn’t my fault. It was dark because of the snow clouds, and he was behind me and he was walking in some brush and I wasn’t at all accustomed to the rifle I was using. So he’s out there somewhere and I have to keep on hunting all this week. Well something good comes from every bad situation, if you look for it, but really I think I’d druther be hunting ducks this week.

I missed him, and I guess confession is good for the soul, because too many of my readers think I never miss what I shoot at, and that all my fish are lunkers. Those of us who write about the outdoors, too often skip over the times we goof up and fall out of the boat or have a big fish break the line… or miss an easy shot.

Deer season began cold and cloudy and my daughter didn’t get up in time to be in her deer-stand by first light. I went with her about an hour after dawn, helping her get all her pack of snacks and thermos and safety harness and ammo and rifle back to the stand, which sets 15 feet above the ground. It is one heck of a place to hunt deer.

She has been in that tree stand every opening morning for the past ten years and every year she has killed a buck there before noon. None of them have been monsters, one eight-pointer, a couple of sixes, and at least three or four fork-horns. For about five consecutive years she killed a deer with one broken antler, the darndest thing I ever saw.

But neither of us are after antlers, I have so many antlers I can’t find all of them. Some of them have been gnawed severely by squirrels and mice. I like killing a year-and-a- half or two-and-a half-year-old buck because if you take care of the meat right, they are pretty good eating, with good-sized loin steaks and ham steaks.

Using a mixture of 40 percent pork and 60 percent venison in a meat grinder, you can make the best hamburger for spaghetti and chili and stuffed peppers. Really, the meat of a year and a half old doe is the best venison you can put in a freezer, but a young buck isn’t bad at all as long as his neck isn’t all swollen and he’s in the rut. Younger bucks usually aren’t early in the deer season.

­Christy had never killed a two hundred pound buck. But Saturday morning an older buck, I estimate about four or five years old, came past her looking for acorns or does, maybe both. She passed up the shot and he ambled away behind her. An hour or so later he came back and she called me on her cell phone telling me she would need some help hauling him to the pickup. He had three points on one side and four on the other.

With her little 30-30 Winchester carbine, she had made a good shot and I estimate the weight of that deer would have been about 220 pounds. We always hang our deer from the same spot, and most of the bucks hang with their feet twenty inches off the ground. This one was so big his back hooves touched the ground. He may be one of those deer destined for jerky, summer sausage, hamburger and steaks that have to be run through a tenderizer.

About noon, I headed for my little cabin on the creek, about 25 miles to the north. It was beautiful and peaceful, without a blaze orange jacket in any direction, on any horizon. Not a sound except the crackling of the fire in the fireplace. The creek was closed over in one spot by ice, open in other places. Where there had been two-dozen wood ducks or so for a week, there was white ice, colored by the spitting snow that went on much of the day.

By two o’clock it was 30 degrees or so. I relaxed awhile, opened a can of beef stew and made some coffee. It was too early for me to go climb up in my tree stand. I am by nature very impatient and I can only sit anywhere about three hours before I get the urge to walk and take pictures. I had forgotten the .300 Savage carbine I usually hunt with. But I didn’t worry about that. I had Christy’s little 30-30 in the truck and I would use it. “When you can shoot like I can, what difference does it make what you hunt with?” I thought.

A little after three, I walked slowly through the woods to a beautiful spot and climbed up in my treestand. The place I have selected for it is a spot made for an outdoor calendar, but my stand is new and I have never hunted there before. About an hour before dark I watched a couple of does angle out into a small clearing about 100 yards away. One walked off into the woods going the wrong way, but the other one, just perfect for the kind of venison I like to put in the freezer, came slowly my way, and passed to the right of my stand only about ten yards away.

I thought about it. If I take this doe, I said to myself, I probably won’t have a chance to hunt deer during the muzzle-loader season. So I just watched her walk away, down behind my treestand. About twenty minutes before dark, I could hear her in the leaves coming back around on my other side and I glanced back at her. I don’t think it was the same doe. About fifteen yards behind her was a buck with just medium sized antlers, probably about 180 pounds.

I watched him, and I just couldn’t tell if he was legal. My cabin sits just across the line where you can only kill a deer with four points, due to the most ridiculous law the Conservation Department has ever levered on hunters. Most hunters pay little attention to it if they want to shoot a buck on their own land; they just call in their kill as an eight-pointer or more even if they have shot a fork horn.

If you don’t transport a deer out on the highway where agents are found, you have nothing to worry about and everyone knows it. Since they passed that stupid regulation, hoping it would attract out-of-state trophy hunters and allow them to sell a ton of high priced non-resident tags, I’ll bet there have been thousands of 4-and 6-point bucks called in as 10-pointers.

But I don’t intentionally break any laws, so I watched that buck, straining to try to count antler points. It was impossible, as he walked through the brush in the dim light. When I finally was about 60 percent sure he was a small-antlered eight pointer, I aimed at his heart and pulled the trigger. He left, actually passing the doe in his haste to escape.

I have determined the sights on Christy’s little Winchester are all messed up. I actually cut a tuft of white hair off his chest. Six inches higher and he’d be hanging down by my little creek-side cabin right now. So I will hunt deer again this week, and enjoy staying off in the wilderness, at peace with the world, watching the fireplace a little when it gets too cold to sit in my stand, where cell phones won’t work, and computers are taboo.

Or maybe I will hunt ducks. Who wants to work at a time like this?

Write to me with your own opinion of the MDC’s four-point rule covering the northern one third of our state. I will use some of your letters, for or against it, in this column. Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at The website, where I put my new photos each week, is

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Brown Trout and Bad Leaves

Advances in raising nursery trout mean that today's stocked fish are a little larger when released, and they can grow faster and more can be raised.
In the winter, before and after the spawn, big brown trout are more aggressive, but anglers should keep rainbows to eat, and turn the brown trout back.
If you catch trout, try my way of cleaning and cooking them… heads off, rib bones gone.
If you like to catch trout, the White River below Bull Shoals Dam is a great place to fish in November because as it gets cold, the fishermen are far fewer. The winter spawning season is drawing near and both rainbow and brown trout are hungrier because of it. And there’s an abundance of rooms available if you want to fish several days.  

If you want information about trout fishing, call Gaston’s Resort, which is only a mile or so below the dam, or call the White Hole Resort, which is perhaps five miles below the dam. Either of those old-time trout fishing resorts can tell you everything you need to know and they are knowledgeable folks who don’t mind telling you all about it, even if you don’t come to their resorts.

After the spawn, in late January and February, the weather keeps down the fishing pressure and that’s when the big brown trout are caught. My biggest ever was 8 pounds but you wouldn’t believe how many brown trout are caught each winter between 10 and 15 pounds.

Fishermen don’t often keep a brown trout; the big fish are released to grow larger. Rainbows seldom exceed a couple of pounds, and they do not spawn successfully in the white as the Brown trout do. A 13- or 14-inch rainbow may not excite some people but if you use a fly rod or ultra-light spinning tackle, you aren’t going to get bored fighting a rainbow trout.

And while I have heard lots of folks say they didn’t like trout, I think they need to learn how to clean and cook them properly. Guides on the White teach people to quickly remove the entrails and leave the heads on when they freeze the fish. I do that too, but when I thaw them out I take a filet knife and before they completely thaw, I filet each side off the backbone and cut out the rib bones. If the skin is a problem for you, just filet it off. Then grill or fry the trout filets and see if you don’t decide they are excellent eating.

Well, deer season is upon us. The orange clad carnival is about to begin, a time when a man’s hunting and outdoor prowess is determined by the size of the antlers he brings home. For the first time ever, I won’t buy a deer tag… I will just hunt on my own place with those free landowner permits, and most likely I will wait until muzzle-loader season when I can hunt deer the way I like to.

I’ll help my daughter get a deer on opening day and take care of the meat properly. But I continue to stress this, because of the mad-deer disease which we now have in our wild deer in Missouri…do not shoot any deer in the spine or head, and in butchering it, don’t cut the spinal column or cut into bone marrow. The prions which make this a horrible disease which men can indeed get from eating a sick deer, don’t seem to exist in the meat, but in the brain, and spinal column and possibly in bone marrow.

I got three letters last week from readers who have lost loved ones to that disease found in deer, elk and cattle. I’ll let you read a couple….

……“My dad, Russell Tibbs, was the best man, best person, I ever knew. He was always there for everyone. He passed away last Thursday from Cruetzfeld-Jacobs disease. He no longer has to suffer. Dad was an avid hunter who hunted in several states and has eaten meat that others have given him, but he has never hunted on any type of deer farm or near one that I know of. My dad’s doctor warned me ahead of time that no one would want to embalm his body. He was right; everyone is terrified of this disease. My dad was sent to Illinois to be embalmed then his actual funeral was two weeks ago. I hope something will help in shedding some light on this horrifying disease and some day families won't have to go through this Hell he endured.” Farrah

And this one….“My mom died from Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease. It was a confirmed case with an autopsy preformed; she too was treated horribly by the funeral home. She was raised on deer meat. I personally think the Center for Disease Control knows more than they are telling the general public. The doctors that treated my mother (they are the leading doctors in the nation) said they know it is killing more people and it is just often confirmed, but thought to be something else. Mom too was mis-diagnosed at first. It is a horrible disease and is in SW Missouri where she was born and raised and where she died. If anyone saw what my wife and I saw taking care of her in the end as this disease ravished her brain, they would indeed think twice about harvesting and eating their next deer! There is no cure or even treatment for this disease; we haven’t eaten deer since nor will we ever again.” Tony Grachelle

I talked on the phone with the son of John Zippro, the Joplin resident who killed a very large strange-acting buck and then died of the disease. I intend to do a more extensive story for our outdoor magazine, with Missourians who have seen relatives die from the disease commonly referred to as “mad-deer disease”.

Our conservation department fears that an unreasonable panic will cost them millions in the sale of deer permits. And one has to know the chances of killing an infected deer in the Ozarks and contracting the disease from a deer is very, very slim. But that doesn’t do the few who have died from it much good, and there is no telling how many have died from mishandling a deer with the disease and no one knew what they had contracted.

We have a long way to go in figuring out how those prions can be spread. But the disease will become more prominent because of about 100 deer-raising operations in Missouri which will never ever stop feeding their tame deer the food with meat and bone by-products which they believe creates bigger antlers, and a Conservation Department which never could adequately oversee those operations, or prevent them from buying diseased brood stock from other states.

Recently I saw a television newscast out of Springfield in which a young lady was repeating what she had been told…. That everyone should dispose of their fallen leaves as best as possible because if they washed into the local rivers they would pollute the rivers by allowing greater algae growth.

I had to shake my head in amazement. There are absolutely tons and tons of sewage solids dumped on our Ozark watershed, sometimes within a few hundred yards of our streams, and the majority of it comes from Springfield. We soak our gardens and lawns and pastures with every kind of chemical and fertilizer you can think of, which runs off into our streams and we set up feeder pens for great herds of cattle only yards away from creeks and rivers. We have thousands of cattle standing in our rivers year round filling eddies with manure.

All this is something they won’t talk about on television, but now finally the T.V. crews have found a pollution they want to talk about…. LEAVES! For centuries, the cleanest, prettiest rivers in the Ozarks were filled each fall with those terribly destructive leaves! They pollute nothing!

I love floating the rivers in the fall, hunting ducks and squirrels from my boat. This time of year, the rivers look less polluted, even if they aren’t, and except for a fur-trapper here and there, I am alone. When it’s about 30 degrees or so, you won’t see the chaos-and-capsize canoe crowd. But the sights on a winter river are magnificent---wondrous….spectacular. If only the doggone leaves weren’t so bad!

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo.65613 or email me at lightninridge@windstream. net. See some great outdoor photos on my website www.larrydablemontoutdoors.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Corn and Cameras

 I am feeding corn to wildlife on my place, and have one of those trail-cam things tied to a tree trying to get photos of what comes there. So far it has been only small deer and big fat raccoons. I have put up a sign there that reads… “This corn has been put here for squirrels and birds and other small creatures that have a hard time in the winter. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT to be eaten by deer. Any deer caught eating this corn WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT.” That should clear me in the eyes of any passing game wardens, who I am sure will understand better what I am trying to do.
As deer season approaches, there are corn feeders all over the Ozarks with game cameras attached to nearby trees or stakes. It is the way of things today. Trophy hunters, ever enamored with a big set of antlers, can set up the feed and cameras and tell just where to hunt to get a shot at the biggest buck. If you don’t get any photos of people or game wardens in your camera, you don’t even have to worry about taking down your feeder. Just do this, illegally of course, way off in a wilderness setting where conservation agents can’t get close to with their vehicles and there is little chance you will get caught.

The trophy hunters are doing this now on public land like Truman Lake, bringing the feeders and cameras in on posted private land that adjoins a remote part of the Truman Lake watershed where agents don’t go and can’t get to without having to really work hard. A few years ago, an agent sat in his running pickup all day, with the MDC insignia on the side, staying warm while within a few miles there were three such baiting operations. I got my photo taken at each one whilst out exploring and roaming those thousands of acres along the lake in October.

It is what deer hunting has become. There are few serious trophy hunters in the country now that don’t feed deer and photograph them with those game-trail cameras. And the real savvy deer hunters no longer talk about their deer as 8-pointers or 10-pointers or whatever… they refer to them in antler inches and scoring points. With the coming of the awful disease we call ‘chronic wasting’ they are the real winners, because you will have an excuse for leaving the deer carcass in the woods and taking only the antlers. You can say your buck looked sick, and in time, a large number of them will be. There may someday be as high a percentage of deer with that mad-deer disease in the wild as there will be in the deer farm herds.

This is a good place to print my confession as required by the two conservation agents who visited me last week. As I wrote in a newspaper column, I killed a turkey on my own place and found that in the string of nine different landowner tags I had received at Walmart, there were no firearms turkey tags. So while I was twenty-five miles from the Walmart store, I headed there to get the right tags late in the evening, knowing that if I got caught with that untagged turkey it would be the happiest day of some conservation agent’s life. I stopped to get some gas and found a man and his daughter at a truck stop that had been hunting with no success. The little girl was downhearted because she had missed a turkey, and I told her if she would tag it and call it in I would give her mine. That’s what I did, and let me say here publicly that I would do the exact same thing all over again if the same situation occurred again, because it seemed the right thing to do, rather than leave that turkey where it fell and forget it.

After the column came out, the two agents came to my home and we argued a lot of things for three hours without any ground given on either side. But here is what the agents want me to tell you, just to give their side of the story. First of all, it wasn’t anyone’s fault the machine gave me the wrong tags, but it was indeed my fault for not looking at them much more carefully to determine there was an error. 

  Secondly, upon finding that an error had been made I should have called a conservation agent to come and decide what to do. If he had decided to let me just drive back to Walmart, get the correct tag and put it on my turkey, everything would have been fine. If he had decided the whole thing was a technicality he could write a citation over, I could have given him my confiscated turkey and possibly my confiscated shotgun and went to court to try to present my side of the story. I could have even had a 50-50 chance in court if I would hire a lawyer for four or five hundred dollars, which is what judges prefer if they have to waste time on violators like me.

But mostly, the agents wanted me to tell all of you readers that you cannot give away a turkey or deer that you have killed unless you get their permission. If you have a problem, just call them. If you can’t get them, keep calling every hour until you do. Remember that commercial they had on all the radio stations a few years back… “If we don’t say you can… you can’t.” When confronted with any situation outdoors regarding the wildlife of the Missouri Department of Conservation, be sure they say you can. They did not say I could give away a turkey I killed and you can’t either. Remember that. I am so sorry for what I did. I feel so worthless! I should stop worrying about what I see as the RIGHT thing to do, and worry about what is the LEGAL thing to do in their eyes.

Now that I have presented their side of it, I might say that in my opinion… and this is only my opinion… they need to stop straining at gnats and swallowing camels. About half of the rules and regulations they want us to adhere to is strictly petty nonsense which they should repeal. They need to get out and try to catch real violators and poachers, and stop nailing innocent people on meaningless technicalities. 

The agents who came to confront me use technicalities in the law to oppress people who have no desire to break any laws, and what they do makes little difference in protecting our wildlife and restoring our woods and our waters. It will continue to be so, because they hold so much power they can actually break the law and get away with it, and they can ignore your constitutional rights and never be held accountable. 

I am a conservationist and will always be. I am glad to stick with the rules and go by the limits. I always have. But it is my belief that men in such powerful positions should stop trying to exploit innocent people with petty technicalities. They target the least of people, common citizens who can’t find defense in local courts because they do not have the money. 

I was told that I need to remember that if I have a problem of any kind, I should call them and let them decide what is right. Last week I hit a young deer with my pickup and killed it about seven p.m.. It could have been cleaned and eaten. So I called both of those agents and let the phones ring about ten or twelve times. I got neither of them.

You can write me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email

Monday, October 27, 2014

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart!

Two weeks ago I had a birthday and someone who came by to eat some of my birthday cake reminded me how old I was. My gosh, I can’t hardly believe it. I was only complaining about turning 40 just awhile back, it seems. I started writing about being a grizzled old veteran outdoorsman back then just for a lark, and now I really am one!

Early in the day, when I am paddling my boat down the river or trying to call in a turkey or stalking squirrels, I feel like I am 30. As the sun sets, I feel like I am 90. I know now why my grandpa went to bed at 9:00 o’clock. There are times when I am sound asleep in my easy chair at 8:00.

Senior citizenship has caught up with me, but I will live as I always have, thankful for the day I have and the blessings of wild things and wild places where man has not intruded. I will make plans for tomorrow only, not for days ahead. God has blessed me, I still have a full head of hair and it is still the same color it was when I was 40.

I don’t have to comb it anymore. Older people can look scroungy and no one cares. I can still run pretty darn fast for a short distance on a gentle downhill slope if I absolutely have to, say if an old wild sow hog chases me away from her piglets. That happened not long ago. And I can easily walk five miles over and through these wooded hills with my shotgun on my shoulder. Most importantly I can put two people in my johnboat and paddle it all day long without missing a stroke, and load it in my pickup when I get there.

The best thing about growing old is the experience you have gained. I know how to do so many things so much better than when I was young. And now, I don’t care if I kill my limit of ducks or catch a limit of crappie. Anything you get is aplenty, as long as you can be outdoors and find a place to be alone and pretend it is 1965 again, or even 1975. I never enjoyed life more than I do now.

Since I am getting old, I have decided to retire just a little bit. The two magazines I publish, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal and the Journal of the Ozarks, will be continued one more year, through December of 2015. But if you are someone who has subscribed to issues much beyond that, don’t worry, I will return any subscription money to you that you have coming, a promise I made when we started them.

Amazingly, I never intended to publish a magazine, but I got the idea fourteen years ago to try to put forth a few issues of an old-fashioned outdoor magazine just like they were when I was a youngster. Now our winter issue, coming out in mid-November, will be the fiftieth one we have published. I hope that after next year someone will come along to take over and keep it going, but truthfully, the days of outdoor magazines like I remember them is over.
Today’s outdoor magazines are so product and technology oriented. Young outdoorsmen live for tournaments and trophies.  It is like today’s outdoor publications are being produced for a different type of human. And truthfully, they are. Who cares about real conservation, preserving the quality of our dwindling woods and waters?

The outdoors I have known is going away quickly, and in another 50 years the age all of us old-timers recall so fondly will be a forgotten time, and the woods and waters we knew will be gone forever. A different kind of society, a different set of values is ahead of us, and it might be merciful that you and I don’t have to see it. Our treasures were not colored gold or silver.

In a hundred years our descendants will not know that you could once drink from pure Ozark springs and rivers, they won’t know how big the trees once were, and they will have little notice of species of birds and fish and mammals that are gone or diminished. The truth then will be what the news media allows them to know, and what they are told by the television and the computer.

I have finished seven books on the outdoors, and in this semi-retirement I will try to do a dozen or so more. I will also continue to write this weekly outdoor column until all the newspapers are owned by those big conglomerates like Gannett, who won’t tolerate views and ideas they don’t agree with. Right now this column goes to about 30 newspapers in three states.

The readership may continue to grow as I have time to talk with more newspapers. But truthfully, the readership of a grizzled old veteran outdoor writer has, to a great extent, died off, with my dad and uncles and grandfathers. All things, in time, shall pass, just as the Bible says.

Over the years my friends and I have noted the hornets nests along the river. Speculation has been that you could sell the big ones for 25 dollars or so, but the woodpeckers destroy them in the fall, so you risk getting stung if you try to get one before it gets ragged.

I was amused to see a little hornet’s nest about the size of a baseball under my screened in porch, the smallest one I have ever seen, obviously started and never finished. Then my daughter found the biggest hornet's nest I have ever seen in the woods only about 30 yards behind my office here on Lightnin’ Ridge.

The mile long trail my family has built here on Lightnin’ Ridge is absolutely beautiful now, and if you don’t have a really good woodland trail to walk, you are welcome to see and enjoy ours. The trees are big, the spring is cold, and you might see anything from a buck to a bobcat to a bobwhite. Just promise you won’t hire a lawyer if you trip over a rock and skin your elbow. I only have a couple of hundred dollars buried in a coffee can in the back yard and I don’t want to lose it.

Two game wardens came to my place this week to tell me what a bad thing I had done when I printed that column about the wild turkey I killed on my place. They want me to print another column confessing to doing such a despicable and illegal thing, and I promised I would. Look for that next week. We spent three hours out by my dog kennel disagreeing about many things. I know a great deal about both of them and what they have done on the job as conservation agents and so I brought those things up and we argued about that.

In three hours we didn’t agree on a darn thing. They are more concerned about what is legal than what is right. I guess they have to be that way. But I maintain that if the Conservation Department eliminated about half of their penny-ante, silly laws and regulations, then they might be able to concentrate on real violators instead of trying to stick innocent people with petty violations. Their half of the story comes next week.

In the winter issue of my magazine you can read the stories about three Missouri citizens who died recently from Cruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease, the technical name for mad-cow or mad-deer disease (chronic wasting). Nowhere else will those deaths, and the stories of their surviving relatives, be told….. because if people stop buying deer tags, the economics of deer hunting will be harshly affected.

My website, Address: Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email…

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Norten Dablemont Deadfall Trigger....

This is a deadfall trigger, made years ago by my uncle, who used them as a boy in the 1920's and 30's to help support his family. He would tie fish heads on the end of the bait stick, prop a heavy rock on top, and kill small furbearers. Back then, skunks, possums, weasels and even feral cats were taken with deadfalls. Cat pelts and skunk pelts might be worth as much as 50 to 75 cents, possums 25 cents and a rarely caught weasel worth several dollars.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Get Aholt of a Good Camera

I got aholt of a cheap little camera when I was in college at School of the Ozarks, and took photos of our hunting and fishing exploits with it. ‘Aholt of’, is a term the old timers in the pool hall used to describe coming across something valuable or useful, strictly by luck.
The other day I got aholt of one of those old photos I hadn’t seen in years and it was like finding treasure. Every now and then that happens, and it brings back great memories. The reason I don’t know where all of them are is simple… there are thousands of outdoor photos in my office, and I don’t have the time to go through them and organize them!
I love taking photos, and sometimes I forget the rod or gun when I am fishing or hunting and just use the camera. That goes back to the time I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in wildlife management, and went to work the following week as the outdoor editor of the Arkansas Democrat in Little Rock, the largest newspaper in Arkansas.
They gave me one of those big, box cameras that took black and white photos, and I brought film back to their processing department on a regular basis. I hadn’t been there more than a month or so when I went out to do a story about Arkansas Power and Light Company planting food plots for wildlife under power lines. Maybe it was because I was new, but they made a big deal about the photo I took of seed heads waving underneath a big iron electrical structure, and I won an award for the best photo of the month.
I think Gloria Jean bought me a nice 35 mm camera that year for a birthday present, and I began to take color slides with it. Today I have oodles of those color slides, and due to my organizational skills I can’t find anything I want to find without a considerable amount of time spent going through dozens and dozens of sleeves of slides in a huge photo-holding cabinet. I find slides in there I don’t even remember taking!
As a free-lance writer back in the seventies and eighties trying to support a family, those photos played a huge part in my success. Writing articles for Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Sports Afield and many other outdoor magazines, I was paid extra when they used my photographs. In time, I began to sell photos for magazine covers, and the pay was good.
But I didn’t just take those pictures for the money it made me; I just got hooked on it. I never did learn anything about what I was doing, I just took lots and lots of photos, and because the camera did everything automatically, like adjusting for light conditions, etc., I got some great photos by accident. You just look through the hole in the back of the camera until you think you see a good picture, and then push the button.
It must have been about 12 or 15 years ago that I stopped taking those color slides and went to color prints, since they could be scanned and sent via computer. That changed things, because by sending out 20 or 30 color slides via mail to a dozen or so different magazines I worked with, a good number of them were lost.
I think it was only about six or seven years ago that Sondra Gray, who is the editor here at The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, took me to Sam’s, where she had a membership, and helped me select a really good digital camera that has a little card in it.
Now I can take photos all day, and come back to my office at night and slip that card in a little slot in this computer and put them all in a file in this gosh-awful machine that I hate so much, but am forced to use.
Looking back, it is just unbelievable what has happened, going from that big old box camera at the Arkansas Democrat in 1971, to the way things are today. It makes me feel a little like my grandfather must have felt when he watched a jet take off, and remembered how he once drove a horse-drawn wagon to town. I still don’t know a thing about photography, but I have sold hundreds and hundreds of photos, and if I can do it, anyone can. Just get a good camera and learn the fundamentals of using it, and take it with you everywhere you go. You don’t have to take classes, I never did. But I’ll bet if you do you’ll be glad you did. No telling how many more great photos I would have today if I had learned something about what I was doing.
I have noticed that if you forget the camera, that is the day that you will catch the biggest fish, or some giant buck or wild gobbler will walk up and look at you and say, “Where’s your camera.” I got a dandy photo the other day just by accident, of a deer running across a field with heavy dew and the sun behind her. If you want to see it, just go to my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors. and you’ll see it there.
And someone reminded me that I told everyone in a past column I would put a photo of a deadfall trigger my uncle Norten made years ago, on that website. I forgot… but I will do it this week, so you can see what a deadfall to kill skunks and armadillos looks like. But I repeat, it is illegal to use one, and no one should use one where there are cats or small dogs that mean a lot to a neighbor.
Our outdoor magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, and our Ozark magazine, The Journal of the Ozarks, always needs artwork, good photos and feature articles. If you think you have a good story for us, send it, but have it typed first. Or you can email it to us at lightninridge@ My mailing address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613. In a week or so I will tell you what about some of the stories coming out in our winter magazines, and how you can get a gift subscription for someone who likes to read. But if you have any questions about either, you can always call my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, here at our executive offices, located way out in the woods only 50 miles northeast of Springfield and about 500 miles southwest of Chicago. Ms. Wiggins has been to Chicago and Springfield too! I figure that anyone who has been to both places has the ability to answer any questions anyone might have. Ladies who have any questions about keeping their fingernails fixed up should ask Ms. Wiggins. She does more of that than anything else when she is here!
Huntin’ and fishin’ questions ought to be directed to me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Sick Deer-- Harbinger of Things to Come?

The sick buck is full of ticks and too weak to walk any farther. He shows no fear of man. Hunters should note that this is a four-point antler on one side which makes him legal. There are some antlers twice the size of these, with only three points on one side, which are therefore illegal. Is this buck a trophy suited to passing on trophy antler genetics to his fawns? This demonstrates the stupidity of our four-point rule, which has been adopted to create trophy bucks to make more money from non-resident hunters looking for a trophy buck.
I found this doe in late September a few years back, very weak and covered with ticks. She had no fear of me. I hoped she might recover but I found her dead two days later.
A neighbor a few miles away had a sick buck deer, acting tame, come up to his place covered with ticks and too weak to go much farther. He photographed it, and you can see photos of the deer on my website, given at the end of this column.

He called the Missouri Department of Conservation and was told to kill the deer and they would come and get it and try to find out what is wrong with it. I have seen that same situation at least three times in the wild… all three times the deer was a doe in the early fall so covered with ticks you couldn’t believe it unless you saw it. Once, the deer was very weak and sick, but the other two times they appeared normal and strong.

I always theorized that the deer had some sort of tick fever. It was not the blue tongue (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) you see in August and September of very dry hot summers. People who know about the mad-deer disease which is spreading in north central Missouri are going to be wondering if any diseased deer they see have that… chronic wasting disease as it is being called.

I think it is a few years away in the Ozarks, but it is coming. Trouble is, no one knows for sure how long it will take to spread throughout the state. When it does, hunters like me will likely quit hunting deer. The Missouri Department of Conservation fears that because it will cost them a lot of money.

They were geared up to start selling non-resident tags for hundreds of dollars to the wealthier out-of-state hunters looking for trophies. That ‘seven-point or greater’ rule put into affect in two thirds of Missouri only a few years ago was to serve that purpose… create more “trophies”. Biologically and enforcement wise it is a ridiculous concept. Some of the older agents told me that confidentially they wouldn’t even attempt to enforce it because of the silliness of it.

But hunters looking for trophies do not worry about chronic wasting disease, they don’t intend to eat the deer, they want a cape and a set of antlers, and that is it. From that concept the Conservation Commission did well in setting up a ‘share the harvest’ program which turned over venison the trophy hunters didn’t want to poor families who could use the meat.

With mad-deer disease spreading, that program should someday be stopped. No one should take a chance on eating the meat of a sick deer harvested perhaps in some other part of the state just for its antlers.

My oldest daughter is a doctor and I question her about the chronic wasting disease and have a hard time getting her to give me hard medical answers. She says it a disease spread by organisms called prions, and there isn’t anything she can say that the medical profession is absolutely sure of. To a doctor, mad-deer disease or mad-cow disease is known as ‘Creutzfeldt-Jakob’ disease, and it is an absolute fact that humans can get it if they eat meat from an animal with the disease, whether it is a cow or a deer, or an elk.

My daughter tells me that in her early years as a doctor, she saw a case of it at the University of Missouri hospital in Columbia. That was about 12 years ago.

Bill Zippro, a resident of Joplin, Mo insists that his brother died a young man of that disease because he killed and ate a huge buck which was acting very strange, and didn’t make any attempt to escape. He said his brother was shown to have the prions in his system, and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia verified it. When he died, his family was refused a normal funeral, because his body had to be cremated quickly.

Some news agency somewhere should talk to Zippro and investigate this, but they won’t. The only thing you will ever see on this subject will have to be through the Conservation Department. Ozark news medias will not oppose them. Zippro thinks the huge deer his brother killed had been kept in captivity. He says that a similar death of a deer hunter occurred across the line in Kansas about the same time.

The Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was created by feeding meat and bone meal to cattle in England in order to make them heavier and worth more money. The same thing created it in deer and elk in the United States, feeding a commercial food with meat and bone meal to herbivores in order to create bigger antlers.

You will never, ever hear the news media or the Conservation Department mention that when they discuss chronic wasting disease. In dozens of meetings on deer management held around the state in recent months, that meat and bone meal diet wasn’t even talked about. Hundreds of deer farms are enabled to continue because of the huge amounts they make on individual deer.

The mad-deer disease in north-central Missouri spread into the wild because deer in several of those penned-deer operations developed the disease and a few were turned into the wild to get rid of them. Some of those operations paid thousands for brood stock brought in from other states, which apparently spread the disease.

My daughter will not say that anyone eating a diseased deer may get the disease, but she does admit it is very possible. Prions aren’t bacteria and they are not virus. There really isn’t a good definition of exactly what they are! The idea seems to be that the prions exist in the brain and spinal fluid and possibly bone marrow, but not blood.

The Conservation Departments depending on deer tags for millions of dollars do not want to lose that revenue. But in time, they will not be able to hide what they know, and what is the truth. Like I said, I love venison, but my days of hunting deer are limited and thousands of hunters who learn the truth about this disease will join me. But some hunters will never know, and those who hunt only for trophies won’t care.

The “share the harvest’ program has other flaws. A Mtn. Grove resident, Larry Baty, retired from a Texas County pen-raised deer facility and told me this story. He says he saw a big buck raised from a fawn and sold to a Texas hunter for 26 thousand dollars.

The hunter brought his young daughter up to kill the buck, which was about half tame, in order to have the head mounted. Baty said that he had to inject the buck with a chemical to calm it down in order to move it to the area where it was to be shot. Then the next day he had to inject it with another chemical to make it hyper and give the appearance of a wild deer.

He gave me the boxes the chemicals came in and both said… “Warning…Not to be used on food animals.” The Texan and his daughter didn’t want the meat, and the venison, like that of a dozen other deer similarly injected, was given to the MDC for distribution to poor families that fall through the ‘share your harvest’ program.

Whoever ate those deer never knew that they had a dangerous chemical in the meat. Now even more, it will be risky to eat deer meat you know nothing about. Don’t do it!!! Probably right now the risk isn’t very high, but it may increase as chronic wasting disease spreads.

My website is and the email address is My postal address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.