Reflections

Clean Deer Tips

In the excellent article about cleaning deer in your September issue, Bryan Hendricks omits an important point.

One should always carry at least two knives. Immediately after tagging the deer, remove the "stink pads" from the back, lower legs with one knife and use the second knife for all remaining field dressing activities.

If this step is missed the meat tastes like a skunk smells and, in my opinion, is not worth eating.

Cheryl A Goddard,Union

I am a Missouri deer hunter and full time butcher. Last year alone we processed over 1,100 deer.

In the processing room when cutting beef, pork or sheep, there is very little blood on work surfaces. During deer season, after processing only a few deer the processing room looks like a slaughterhouse because of all the blood left in the carcasses.

The very first thing a hunter should do with any animal immediately after the kill, be it a deer, rabbit, turkey or fish is bleed it. In the industry, if I didn't bleed an animal it would be condemned and thrown away. Blood left in the carcass will taint the meat, causing it to look blood red, and enlarges the amount of meat affected by bruises and wounds. It's also the source of much of the "wild" taste in venison.

I would guess that more than 95 percent of hunters do not bleed their animals.

An entry or exit wound will most likely not properly bleed a deer. Gravity will bleed the animal after the arteries running between the heart and the cranial are severed. After an injury, some of the blood may also accumulate in the cavity, where it should be washed out promptly after gutting.

John S. Beck Jr., Independence

Mourning News

Your picture of the female mourning dove on the back cover of your September issue caught my attention.We recently had a pair of doves returning to our yard.My husband and I wondered if the birds were hurt, or if maybe they were going to lay eggs. As you pointed out, the babies are leaving the nest in late summer and were probably moving on.

Amber Ripple, O'Fallon

Spearheads

I enjoyed your article about hognose snakes. In my part of the country,we called them "spread heads" or "spreading vipers." I have tried everything to get one to strike, and make contact, but I have always failed.

One difference between eastern and western hognoses is that the western's snout is more upturned. I found one in Knox County more than 50 years ago.

John W. Nicol, Knox City

Nutcracker

I was so excited when I read about the Clark's nutcracker in your magazine. When my mother and I filled our bird feeder yesterday,we stayed to watch the birds eat. One bird was a Clark's nutcracker! I didn't think they would come around here, but at least one did.

Sara Lalk,Ware

First Award

I just wanted to thank the Conservation Department for sponsoring the First Turkey/Deer Award program. My son, Zach, received his certificate in the mail today.What a wonderful way to preserve a young hunter's memory of his first successful hunt!

Being able to have his picture included on the certificate made it really special. I hope the program will still be available when the time comes for my youngest son to go on his first hunt with Dad.

Angie Regan, Columbia

Mussel Memory

After reading your article on mussels, my husband found a mussel shell along a drainage ditch that runs into the Missouri River.

The mussel looks like the Curtis' pearly mussel shell pictured in the article. It measures 8 1/4 inches by 6 inches, the largest shell I have ever seen.

Joe & Doris Samson, Malta Bend

Whatnot

My nephew, who will be turning five, has fallen in love with your magazine. Since he was very small, my family and I would show him pictures in your magazine of deer, fish, bugs and what-not. He now knows the different kinds of fish, and insists that there are dogfish that go along with catfish.When we ride in the car, he constantly looks for deer.

I could go on and on about how your magazine has touched my family.

Lisa Capestro, Tipton

No Negatives

I greatly appreciate what you do for our state and support your efforts. My father-in-law is quite a negative person who finds fault with a lot of government issues, but he is quite proud of the Conservation Department. He says several other states fashion themselves after us.

Douglas McKinney, Seneca

Ossie & Harriet

In "There's something fishy about these hawks," in your October issue, the writer omits telling your readers that the cellular transmission tower housing a family of ospreys just south of Jacksonville is a U.S. Cellular tower.

The nest was discovered in June by a tower construction contractor. U.S. Cellular dubbed the osprey babies "Ossie and Harriet," and engineers have made every effort to make sure the family of fishhawks remains undisturbed.

U.S. Cellular officials in June contacted Senior Conservation Agent Tom Skinner, who confirmed that the birds are at no risk from nesting in the 300-foot tower.

The U.S. Cellular Central Missouri Team

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Is it illegal to have venison in your freezer in September?

A: The August deadline for disposing of venison was rescinded several years ago because it was impractical to limit possession of deer meat when hunters could take multiple deer in a season.

The Conservation Department has a time limit on the possession of turkey meat, however. Here's what Chapter 4 of the Wildlife Code says: "Turkeys may be possessed or stored not later than February 15 next following the close of the season when taken."

If you harvest more venison than you can eat, you can donate meat through the Share the Harvest program. Contact your nearest Conservation Department office for details, or the MDC website.

Q: I've hunted in states which require you to have a hunting permit as well as a deer permit to hunt deer. What's needed in Missouri?

A: A deer permit is all you need to hunt deer, but If you want to hunt small game, then you'll also need a small game hunting permit. For details on permits, their costs and the privileges provided please see Chapter 5 of the Wildlife Code online.

For details on hunting other wildlife during the deer season, see the Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet, available wherever permits are sold, or online.

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>