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CAP FEATHER

My family and I recently attended the Deaf Outdoor Skills Camp at Osceola, and it was fantastic!

The level of coordination and service exhibited by the Conservation Department, the Missouri School for the Deaf and all the other sponsors and volunteers was unparalleled. You have a great asset in Conservation Agent Dennis Garrision, who coordinates this event.

I grew up hunting and fishing and enjoying Missouri's outdoors, and have always been aware of what the Conservation Department has done for us. It's just one more feather in your cap to provide these great programs for our kids with special needs.

Glennon Whitworth, Lake St. Louis

MILK MARINADE

Many thanks for the article on "Savoring Venison" I've added it to my collection of game recipes.

In addition to the marinades listed, I also recommend milk. I've found that it tenderizes venison (presumably because of the lactic acid) without affecting the flavor, like some other marinades.

Tom Schlafly, St. Louis

Great article on preparing venison! My wife would not fix venison because she hadn't seen any recipes for it. Now you have given Momma some ideas on how to fix ol' Dad's deer, and we are going to try several of them.

If they are as good as they look, ol' Dad will probably be expected to get a deer every year. Hence, the problem of a growing deer herd is being taken care of by ol' Dad and any other member of the family that can carry a gun.

Jack Dotzman, Roach

DEALING WITH DOVES

I have been receiving the Missouri Conservationist for several years now.

I just took up dove hunting last year. I would like to know the best way to skin or to dress a dove. Since I have been getting the magazine, I haven't seen anything in there that pertains to this. Can you help?

Theodore J Abramovitz, Purdy

Editor's note: Many dove hunters use their fingers to split the feathers and skin to expose the breast meat. After removing the wings by hand or with wire cutters, they insert a thumb beneath the lower part of the breast and lift while holding the legs down.

TALKING LEAVES

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the article "If Leaves Could Talk" by Travis Moore.

I have re-typed it and printed it on photo paper to have it framed.

Dick Bailey, Willow Springs,

In "If Leaves Could Talk," the words are pictures. I could see the leaves falling and enjoying a short break in my day.

K. Boysen, via Internet

LAID AN EGG

I enjoyed the picture of the yellow-billed cuckoo on your October back cover. I had the opportunity to watch one this summer. I heard the bird hit one of our windows and went to investigate. I had no idea what kind of bird it was, but I got my bird book and saw it was a yellow-billed cuckoo.

She was dazed and wobbly on her feet and her eyes were half open. I returned to check on her about 10 minutes later, and to my surprise she placed her breast on the ground, raised her back and tail and laid an egg. What an exciting moment!

Janis Decker, Greenfield

Editor's note: We would like to correct a "goof" in the caption accompanying the photo of the yellow-billed cuckoo. We stated that "early settlers called these birds ‘fish crows.'" In fact, "fish crow" is the common name for the southern cousin of the common American crow. Yellow-billed cuckoos are often called "rain crows."

AVOID "FRUITS OF AUTUMN"

Tim Smith's "Fruits of Autumn" article neglected to mention that the fruits of Arisaema spp. are poisonous. "Fruit" may be the botanically correct term, but most people hear the word and think it means edible.

Elizabeth M. Boyle, Willow Springs

Editor's note: We're sorry if we implied that the fruits are edible. All parts of jack-in-the-pulpit and green dragon plants contain needle-shaped crystals that cause an irritating, burning sensation if eaten fresh. Some people also develop dermatitis from contact with the plants. Native Americans prepared a flour by grating the well-dried corms (enlarged, underground stems) of jack-in-the-pulpit plants, but we can't find any record of people eating the berries.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Is hunting along the railroad tracks legal?

image of ombudsmanA: Railroad rights of way are private property owned by the railroad. I'm unaware of any railroad which will allow hunting on their property. Many railroad crossings have no trespassing signs.

You can find many hunting opportunities on Conservation Department areas and other public land. For details on conservation areas, see the Conservation Atlas or you may want to purchase "The Missouri Atlas and Gazetteer," available at most Conservation Department offices and online.

For more information on other public land, contact the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Forest Service, or the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Between 7 and 8 percent of the state is considered public land, leaving more than 90 percent of Missouri in private ownership.

Hunters should contact landowners to request permission to hunt private property. Likewise, responsible hunters should learn about special regulations that may apply on public land. In the case of conservation areas that information is found in Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code which can be accessed electronically. Regulations are also posted in area parking lots, or you can contact a nearby regional office for details.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.

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