Monday, October 22, 2018


Chicken of the Woods... photo by Terry Morrison
       It is a heck of a good time to spend a day in the woods, with a pack and a lunch, shooting everything you come across… with a camera. 
Sulphur Shelf... photo by Christy Dablemont
Mushrooms are plentiful this fall, and some of them surpass the spring morels as far as flavor and edibility. And they are very photogenic.  Colorful… I reckon! There are so many different kinds… and there are few people confident in knowing the good ones from the bad ones. 
Blewits... Photo by Christy Dablemont
       Mushroom books show them all pretty well, but what is needed is a class in the early fall or late summer to show the best of edible mushrooms and teach folks how to find them.  I am going to try to get my daughter to go out and collect specimens to freeze and use in such a class next year.  Christy knows all the mushrooms like Audubon knew birds. She is a science and biology teacher and has worked many years as a park naturalist. 
       I can spend a day out in the woods with my camera now and enjoy myself more than I did when I once carried a gun all day.  In Canada a couple of weeks ago I got several extraordinary photos, one of a male ruffed grouse, just by easing along a Lake of the  Woods trail.  I will hunt deer some this fall, but only with the camera.  What I know about Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy has ended the deer hunting for me.
       News out of New York concerns that same disease in squirrels. Here is part of that news story…
“A 61-year-old who experienced a
severe cognitive decline before his death may have had squirrel brains to blame.
A new report on the 2015 death in Rochester, New York, finds that he may have suffered from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a rare brain condition you’ve likely heard of as “mad cow disease.”  The article ends with the statement…”There have been alarming findings related to CJD in humans—and a possible connection to deer.”

You can read all of that story on my website, as well as the letter I received from a retiring enforcement officer who sent me information on the present day telecheck system hunters used to check deer and turkey by phone. No newspaper can print it, but we will use it in our lightnin’ ridge outdoor magazine’s next issue. Being informed is being protected. That site is.

       Lots of old time squirrel hunters ate squirrel brains.  My grandfather was one of them.  About this time of year he and I and my dad would float the river and hunt ducks and squirrels together.   Back then, in my boyhood, wild ducks came into the lower Midwest much earlier than they do now.  In a future column I will talk about how we used a blind on a wooden johnboat to hunt ducks along the river, and what a tremendous change duck hunting has gone through… and how much wild ducks have changed as well.
        But back to the squirrels.  Along the river, fox squirrels were plentiful and that’s what Dad and Grandpa favored.  Grays were good to eat too, but small.  The meat on the lower back was what I favored but Grandpa would crack open the skull of a fried squirrel, or one baked whole with dumplings, and eat the cooked brains. 
       In recent years it has been said that such a practice is unwise, a possible way to get ‘encephalitis’.  Now there is the knowledge that ‘cjd’ (what they call cwd if humans get it) may sometimes be found as prions in the brains of squirrels.  We can add squirrels to the list containing cattle, elk, sheep, goats, caribou and deer, as animals found to have those prions in the brain. And hundreds of humans have died from prions in the brain as well. It has been fairly well covered up because of the fear of a great loss of money due to declining deer tag sales. Scientists and doctors are beginning to think that the number of misdiagnosed deaths in humans may also be due to those prions, wherever they may have come from.  One study says that in examining the brain tissue of 230 alzhiemer deaths, more than 20 were found to contain those prions!  That is scary. If you would like to receive copies of that study and others, I have compiled an eight-page printing of them and will send you a copy if you want to mail 2 stamps to me with your address. I’ll shoot lots of deer this fall… but only with that camera.

       The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that they are seeing Bovine Tuberculosis in deer in that state and they are worried about it spreading, and affecting cattle.  They do not say if it could be any threat to humans, but who knows.  You can read all about that on my blogspot as well, address given above.  Or go to Via computer.

       I do not recommend going out to enjoy the woods with a camera when the gun season opens for deer, at least during the carnival atmosphere of the first weekend.  Do it now and you will be all by yourself.  If you should see a sick deer anywhere, or a healthy looking one that seems tame, report it.  If a conservation agent doesn’t come to look at it, call me and I will.  My office phone is 417-777-5227. Email is, mailing address Box 2, Bolivar, Mo. 65613

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