Acorns Yellow Leaves and Free Deer

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 8/18/21

I don’t think I ever witnessed what the squirrels are doing here on Lightnin’ Ridge this summer. They are chewing up the white oak acorns in my back yard, and it started the first week of …

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Acorns Yellow Leaves and Free Deer


I don’t think I ever witnessed what the squirrels are doing here on Lightnin’ Ridge this summer. They are chewing up the white oak acorns in my back yard, and it started the first week of August. 

Of course they always go to gnawing up hickories in August, but not acorns. Never saw that here before. Squirrels are thick as I have ever seen them right now, both colors. I ate a ton of them as a kid.     You have to boil the older ones, then bake them with dumplings or fry them. But you want to know how to eat squirrels in this modern day and time? Clean them, cut them up and marinade them in some good marinade in the ‘frigerator for a day or so and then cook them over hickory chips and charcoal on a grill. My old friend Rich Abdoler taught me that, but I surely would have come up with it on my own if he hadn’t beat me to it. 

You know what the first indicator of fall is? Look up into the walnut tree branches and watch for a few yellow leaves. They will begin to drift down in a week or so just before a cool rain. When they do, you know that the ducks are starting their staging flights over the Canadian prairie country. I always start cutting firewood when the first yellow leaf falls off the walnut branches. Either then or when it snows a couple of months later!

I am heading to Canada this week to fish and help my old friend, bush pilot and guide Tinker Helseth, and try to forget the rest of the world that we all hear too much about any more I am sure that if I come back I will have a story or two for this column. Tinker wrote a great book about his life as a Canadian outfitter, which we published for him. You can get a copy by calling my office.

Oh yes, I about forgot to tell you…I am going to get to kill ten deer this fall on my place without buying one deer tag! I will even get paid to have them processed! The Missouri Department of Conservation sent me a letter this past week telling me they want me to do that. So if you are a landowner who is not among the list of us lucky hunters you need to contact that department and ask why you haven’t been included. All you have to have is five acres now, in an area where chronic wasting has been documented. That is the gist of the letter.    Then you can contact friends who want to hunt and you can go out and kill ten deer on your five or ten or twenty acre tract. And you can get a 75-dollar check from the MDC to pay for the processing of your deer. The letter doesn’t make it clear whether that is just a one-time payment or whether or not you get that for each deer you kill. If it is for each deer, and you do kill ten that means they will send you 750 dollars. Some of the local meat processors have a very profitable year ahead if that is the case.

I will try to find out how many hunters in Missouri got this letter turning them into government hunters like me, and also what areas you have to live in to apply for your ten free permits. The letters and applications I received will be printed in my fall Outdoor Journal magazine in their entirety, so that anyone who doesn’t believe me can read them there. Please do not tell anyone about this, but if I were a no-account scoundrel, I would run an ad in the local newspaper advertising two free deer permits to five different hunters and a special deer stand for them to hunt out of. All those free deer plus the free deer processing, for only 20 dollars!! The MDC is going to provide me with those ten permits and I can say what hunters can use them. It is confusing but I’ll ask if that would be legal. If it were I would volunteer to bring hot coffee to each stand twice a day. I am not going to do that because I am only a small-scale scoundrel and that kind of thing is beyond me. I don’t want ALL my deer killed. But maybe if I had 200 acres….?  After all novice hunters lease acreages to hunt all the time. And twenty dollars is reasonable for a tree stand and coffee. Next week I will tell you if you can apply for such a good thing, by finding out where the areas are you have to own land in. And I will see how many of us government hunters there were who didn’t have to apply, but are qualified through these letters we lucky ones received. Apparently there are thousands of landowners who are eligible for those free tags and ten deer limits.

In more than 250 speaking engagements over the last 20 years I have never had anything happen to me like what happened in Mt. Grove, Mo. last week at their bicentennial event on their square. At the time it made me madder than a hornet, but it was a little bit humorous now that look about it. What a mess it turned out to be. You can read the whole story on my blogspot, Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email me at




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