Letters

Pucker Up

I really enjoyed the article on persimmons [October; Page 8] and will try the bread and tea recipes this year. I am a Missouri transplant, and I am eagerly learning all I can about the beautiful natural world Missouri offers. Talking with friends who are Missouri natives, I heard it said that some folk look to the persimmon to predict the winter. The seeds are the key in this folklore or fact. It was said that when you split the seed coat, the embryo will be one of three shapes: a spoon, a fork or a knife. A “spoon” would mean plenty of snow. A “fork” would mean a good harvest or a “normal” winter, whatever that is. And a “knife” would predict a cutting cold. I have picked a persimmon this September and split a seed to see what we might expect—dust off the snow shovels, I saw a spoon! Thanks for your great articles.

Eric Jackson, director of education, Powell Gardens

Missouri is teeming with free produce if you know where and when to find it and what to do with it. For the adventurous home winemaker, I highly recommend persimmon wine. I discovered dry persimmon mead when I was given a 5-gallon bucket of very ripe persimmons a few years back. I’ll make wine out of anything, I consider it a challenge, and it’s best when the fruit is free. The sweet honey-like aroma of ripe persimmons got me to thinking that honey would make a good flavor combination, so I found a persimmon wine recipe and replaced part of the sugar with honey. The result was a complex and truly astonishing wine reminiscent of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc that all my wine-loving friends seem to enjoy.

Chris Cady, Ph.D., Columbia

Reading Larry Beckett’s story, I was fondly reminded of the hike my friend Darwin Portman led, for years prior to his death, for the St. Louis-area Gateway chapter of American Youth Hostels. He called it Portman’s Perennial Persimmon Picking Perambulation, and ended the day by giving each of us a copy of his own favorite recipe for persimmon bread. I, of course, rushed home to give it a try, and the recipe, somewhat worse for wear, is still in my collection.

Joel Achtenberg, Webster Groves

All aboard?

I suppose it was inevitable that Hunter Education courses would be handled on the web. I would hate to see the classroom method done entirely away with though. I took the course with my son in 1985. It was not convenient either, but we enjoyed it all. In fact, today we often speak of the class and share some laughs about some of the characters who were in it. As I recall, it was taught by a conservation agent, and a life-long hunter who volunteered. They shared some great stories from their personal experiences that made the learning fun. I feel certain that other instructor volunteers bring just such an approach to it as well. Online is fine, but do not do away with the classroom.

Jim Karr, Blue Springs

Careful dresser

The tips in Trophy Deer Care [October] were very good, especially coming from a veteran taxidermist. However, I oppose splitting the pelvis when field dressing a deer as it can result in broken knife blades and/or injury. I have broken two or three blades this way and know one man who cut his thumb so badly that he required surgery to reattach tendons. As noted in the article, the lower intestine and fecal matter can be removed without splitting the bone. Then I fillet the meat from the pelvic bone, allowing the legs to splay out and the hams cool. I begin my cut where the hams come together and slowly fillet along the pelvic bone in either direction. Harvesting larger game (such as elk) taught me lessons about the futility of splitting the pelvic bone, which I now apply to my whitetail harvests as well.

Mike Billman, Prairie City, Ore.

Submissions reflect readers’ opinions and may be edited for length and clarity.