You Discover

By | October 1, 2013
From Xplor: October/November 2013

With birds flying south, leaves changing color, and hunting seasons gearing up, there’s plenty to discover in October and November. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Write with a turkey

There’s no better way to write in your nature journal — you do keep a nature journal, right? — than with a quill pen. To make one, find a turkey wing feather and soak its stem in hot water to soften it. Have an adult cut off the tip of the stem at an angle, dig out the membrane inside, and make a quarter-inch slice up the middle of the stem’s tip. Dip the tip of your pen in ink, and you’re ready to write.

Make Walnut Ink

Need ink for your quill pen? Here’s how to make some. Gather a dozen walnuts. Unless you want stained skin, put on rubber gloves. Remove the nuts from their husks. Place the husks in a pot, cover them with water, and simmer on the stove for several hours. The longer you simmer, the darker the ink will be. Pour the ink through an old t-shirt into a quart jar. Add a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to preserve the ink, and it’s ready to use.

Share Your Harvest

If you have too much deer meat to eat — lucky you — share some with needy folks. Last year, hunters donated more than 300,000 pounds of venison to local food pantries through the Share the Harvest program. To share your harvest, take your deer to an approved meat processor and tell them how much of it you want to donate. You’ll have to pay the processor, but funds are often available to cover the cost. Learn more about Share the Harvest and find participating processors at


The Show-Me State’s forests become showiest in mid-October when oaks and hickories are ablaze with fall color. To help plan a leaf-peeping adventure, get your paws on the Conservation Department’s “MO Fall Colors” smartphone app. With it you can view leafy photos taken around the state, use your phone’s GPS to navigate to the places where the photos were taken, share your own photos, and read weekly fall color forecasts. Download the app at

Feed some squirrels

With winter on its way, squirrels are busier than usual gathering food. You can make their bushy-tailed lives easier by building a feeder. Have an adult drill a pilot hole through a 1-inch-thick, 1-foot-long board. Insert a long screw into the hole so about 2 inches sticks out the other side. Twist an ear of dried corn onto the screw, and hang the feeder in a tree you can see from a window. In no time, you’ll be entertained by all kinds of corny, squirrelly behavior.

Get Wild For Halloween

This Halloween, instead of dressing up as a princess, superhero, or scary monster, choose a costume that’s a bit more wild. How about trick-or-treating as a white-tailed deer? Or a great horned owl? We bet a striped skunk will get plenty of laughs — but maybe not much candy. For costume inspiration and plenty of fascinating facts about hundreds of Missouri’s coolest critters, check out the online field guide at

Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.

  • Build your own bird buffet at Bird Feeders. Rockwoods Reservation, Wildwood; October 12, 9:30–11 a.m. Register at 636-458-2236.
  • Learn to build bows and flint arrowheads at Primitive Skills Day. Springfield Conservation Nature Center; October 6, 1–5 p.m. For info, call 417-888-4237.
  • Harvest a deer during Youth Deer Season. Statewide November 2–3, 2013 For info, visit
  • Battle Missouri’s least wanted plants and animals at Alien Invaders. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center; October 25 and 26, 6:30–9:30 p.m. For info, call 573-290-5218.
  • Overcome your fear of creepy-crawlies at the Spooktacular. Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center; Kansas City October 5, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For details, call 816-759-7300.

Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at

What is it?

  1. I may look blue, but I’m really a fun guy.
  2. Sometimes I get green around the gills.
  3. Trees need me, and I need trees.
  4. I’m great with eggs and ham. Try me, try me, Sam-I-am.

Indigo milky mushrooms are well-named. Their caps, stems, and gills are eye-popping blue, and they ooze a milky liquid that starts off blue but slowly turns green. Milkies tap into tree roots to get food. In return, the milky’s rootlike mycelia (mysil- ee-ah) help trees gather water and nutrients. When these edible, blue mushrooms are cooked with yellow eggs and ham it makes — you guessed it — green eggs and ham. Yum!

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White