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Wild day afield

What a lousy weekend for the opening of the 2012 deer season! Then, on Monday morning, we had the ideal weather for a hunt. Temperatures around 30 degrees, no wind, and the rain-dampened leaves on the forest floor were frozen and crunched underfoot. Anything moving through the woods could be heard before seen.

At daybreak I could hear turkeys vocalizing prior to flying off the roost. They were 75 yards away in trees along the power line cut. As I looked out over the field, I saw a large-bodied bird gliding, head high, toward me. At 20 feet in front of me it suddenly veered to my left and landed on a branch just 10 feet from me. It was a great horned owl, a real beauty. Minutes later, I spotted a buck 50 yards into the field I was watching. It must have entered the grassy field while I was preoccupied with the owl. I waited until it turned broadside and took my shot. He only went 40 yards. This was a small-rack 8-point but good eating size. In the afternoon I went back to try and fill my doe tag. Three deer jumped and ran as I approached the edge of the woods. That would be the only deer I’d see that evening. I did have another encounter, though. Around 5 p.m., as dusk was settling in, a nearby coyote let out one of those “Call of the Wild” howls that curled what little hair I have on the back of my neck. What an awesome day today was! I had to write this down and share it because days like these don’t come along too often. I hunted for the rest of the season but did not take another deer.

We’re having venison for dinner tonight, a celebration of this year’s success. Thank you, Missouri Conservation Department. I am an outdoorsman who benefits from living in a state committed to providing a top-notch outdoor experience for all to enjoy. Thank you to all the sportsmen and women who support such conservation efforts. Thank you to the youth of Missouri who continue taking part in our outdoor heritage. Pass along the family traditions you learn so that others may marvel at the lifelong experiences gained from time spent in our natural world. Life is good!

Charlie Vollmer, via Internet

Camouflaged surprise

I love getting my Missouri Conservationist magazine monthly. Whatever is in the mail with the magazine takes a backseat to the current issue as I immediately start going through the pages and articles.

The piece on the Osage copperhead on Page 30 of the November issue was very good, and the picture was incredible. My daughter and I were hiking in Castlewood State Park along the Meramec River bottom trail an early evening in July 2011 when I saw a slight movement. I swung the camera toward the brush and fallen timber and had to look closely to see what was moving. As your article indicated, Osage copperheads blend into their environment. My photo is not as vivid but it does show the camouflage effect.

Bob Kusky, Ballwin

Thanks for reading!

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your magazine. Now that I am in my 90s, it takes me back to days when my family enjoyed birdwatching, fishing, and exploring the wilderness. I am also a fan of the cartoon. My favorite was the one about the Canadian Geese playing hockey on the frozen pond. Terrific!

Doris Amison, Ellisville

I read lots of publications. I believe Missouri Conservationist is one of the finest publications available—not just in the genre of nature and conservation but across all genres. It maintains a consistently high quality of print and photo media and has for years.

Your publication makes me proud to be a Missouri native. The work you do is an incredible asset not only to Missouri, but certainly to our neighboring states and beyond.

Dan Blevins, via Internet

Reader Photo

Duck Creek Sunset

Dani Dunn of Scopus in Bollinger County, captured this image of a sunset at an icy Duck Creek Conservation Area in Southeast Missouri. “My husband, Matt, and I were out looking for eagles,” said Dunn. “We were leaving the area and just happened to look behind us and saw the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen.” Dunn said her husband is an avid deer and turkey hunter, while she prefers to shoot things with her camera. “Matt and I frequently enjoy taking off and going to local conservation areas to hike and just get away for the day,” said Dunn. “My camera goes everywhere with me. I love landscape and nature photography.”

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