Reflections

Reunited

Although I had already read the article, my husband insisted I reread Doris Thatcher's, "Buck Fever Again." He thought she might be my relative. I looked up her number and called her. After a little more conversation and talk about our lives and memories, we realized we were cousins. We hadn't seen one another in 45 years!

She invited me, my husband and our kids for New Years Eve get-together, and it will truly be a celebration. Our connection was made because of the story in your magazine.

Donna (Cookson) Moss, Slater

A Can of Venison

I believe the way the canned deer is marked in your photo accompanying "Heads or Tails?" violates Missouri's storage and possession rules. The labels on the jars should include the hunter's name, address, permit number and date taken.

Tom Boyer, Jefferson City

I liked the article, "Heads or Tails?" Is there a recipe or instructions for canning venison?

Amy Woods, via Internet

Editor's note: The canned venison in the photo was labeled incorrectly. The photographer replaced the original labels with mechanically printed labels he thought would show the product better in the picture. According to the Wildlife Code, all wild game products must be labeled with the name and address of the taker.

A co-worker who cans venison every year for her family said canned deer is great for homemade vegetable soup, with barbecue sauce in sandwiches, in hash or right out of the jar. The broth can be used for gravy. She was willing to share her recipe:

Brown the deer chunks in water in a soup pot. Add a beef soup bone to give the broth some fat. Fill quart-jars with meat chunks within one-inch of lid. Add one teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon for pint-jars.) Fill jar with enough broth to just cover meat. Pressure-cook for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Birding the Gap

The November issue was among your best. The article by Jim Wilson on feeding birds in our backyards and the accompanying photos by Jim Rathert should have great appeal to suburbanites and ruralists alike and stimulate efforts to further protect this diverse, but dwindling, natural resource.

Clair L. Kucera, Columbia

What lovely pictures and what a terrific write-up about all our fine feathered friends in "Backyard Banquet." Your magazine is always great reading. I also look forward each month to the answers from the Ombudsman.

Chas Mathews, Sedalia

Changing Landscape

Has the geography of the United States changed? In your November "Habitat Hints" you say, "Observers in Kansas have spotted hummingbird species normally not found west of the Rocky Mountains." I thought all the species listed were west of the Rocky Mountains.

When you list bird feeder visitors don't forget downy woodpeckers, the big cousins of hairy woodpeckers. We fill 30 to 35 feeders each day.

Kathy Flippo, Morrison

Program Satisfaction

I want to thank the Conservation Department for its "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" program. My mother and I attended the program in the beautiful town of Conception. There were 110 women in the program from every age group.

I learned to tie fishing flies, survive in the outdoors and how to train my Brittany spaniel. My mom learned how to shoot a shotgun and rifle and about firearms safety and trapping. We sampled buffalo, catfish and venison and even ate a catfish.

Thanks to the program, I now have a large list of areas in Missouri I want to visit and experience and have less desire to vacation outside the state. BOW is a wonderful experience more women should share.

Madonna Lowell, Crestwood

I was part of the youth waterfowl hunt this past season and I want you to know how much I liked it. It was fun watching the ducks and shooting at them. The best was when the blue- and green-wing teal were flying everywhere. It was cool to see the Canada geese flying away, too. I'll bet I called in 100 mallards.

Wesley Titus, Loose Creek

New Hunter

I am a new quail and pheasant hunter. I have just bought my first bird dog. I loved "How to Hunt Quail," by Joan McKee and your articles on pheasant. Thanks for the much needed information. Too bad quail and pheasant numbers are down in northeastern Missouri.

Brian C. Day, Kearney

Tusked Squirrel

I saw a squirrel with a tusk feeding at my bird feeder during late summer. The tusk is like an elephant's, but much smaller, about an inch long. Is there a breed of squirrels that has this characteristic?

Nelle Cope, Lee's Summit

Editor's note: squirrels have to chew to keep their constantly growing teeth in check. This particular squirrel may have had an odd tooth that didn't match up and, therefore, couldn't be ground down through chewing.

The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Can you provide some information about future Hunter Education courses? My two sons, ages 12 and 13, and I want to take a course.

A: The 10-hour Hunter Safety course is a requirement for every hunter born on or after January 1, 1967. You must be 11 years old to take the course. Volunteer hunter education instructors handle the majority of courses, so scheduling often reflects their availability. There is a concentrated effort to provide courses in the months prior to deer and spring turkey seasons (September, October, February and March), but courses are usually offered throughout the year at various locations. The act of taking wildlife includes any act of assistance. Other chapters specify that a permit is required to take or attempt to take wildlife.

You'll find a weekly updated schedule of hunter education courses on the Conservation Department's web site.

Hunter education instructors also advertise courses locally, and the regional Conservation Department offices have information on courses in their area. A continuing decline in hunting accidents proves that hunter education works.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 3848 or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.