It is called spongiform encephalopathy and it amounts to little more than malformed proteins called prions, getting into the brain. That’s what it is, period!! You can call it chronic wasting disease, mad cow disease, scrapies, Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease… whatever. But it is a malady involving those ‘prions’ in whatever variants there are, getting into the brain.

A few years ago, a little over 300 brain samples from people who had died and were diagnosed as Alzheimer disease victims. There were prions found in more than 30 of those brain samples, meaning they had died of what the disease is called when found in humans–Creutzfeldt-Jacobs’ Disease…(which IS Spongiform Encephalopathy) and had been misdiagnosed. If you talk to the right people, especially those who are afraid they will lose lots of money if there is a scare among deer and elk hunters that it is a danger to humans, they will tell you that humans cannot get the disease from deer and elk, only from cattle. That is not true! I know seven people died of prion infestation in Arkansas in 2019 and one was a taxidermist. He wasn’t mounting cow heads!

So I will repeat… the disease, whether the prions vary in shape or not, is Spongiform Encephopathy, and you sure as heck can get it from a deer that has it! In research I have done on the disease, I have talked to people whose relatives have died from the prions in their brain, which they got from eating deer. And if you talk to the conservation people hoping they don’t sell fewer deer tags because hunters learn the truth, they will tell you….Prove it!! How do you know that person didn’t get the disease from sheep, cows, goats, antelope, or buffalo?

And no one CAN prove it… prions are prions. But what has happened in French and Italian Labs where they are studying the prions, might make any hunter cautious about eating deer meat. Lab workers have died simply because they ran a prion-filled needle through rubber gloves into their fingers, and from that, developed spongiform encepalopathy and died from a prion infestation in their brains which developed. One of the two died within a short time, but the other lab worker died of the disease thirteen years later.

I had a sad conversation only a few years ago with a lady from Camdenton who told me that her husband died from the human name for Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as Cruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Her name was Carol Schroeder. Her husband’s death was due to the same horrible disease that biologists call ‘chronic wasting disease’ in deer and elk, determined by the Center for Disease Control in Atllanta Georgia. He had died in a St.Louis hospital in a quarantined room and that his body was taken to the crematory by police escort to be sure that if any accident occurred on the way his body would not be handled by unknowing first responders. All that was set up and controlled by the CDC, not local doctors.

“I never believed in assisted suicide,” she told me, but I would have given anything if it could have happened for my poor husband.” Mrs Schroeder told me. “It took him two months to die and what he went through, what I saw as his brain deteriorated, I cannot even talk about it to this day.”

Deer hunters and those who eat venison, need to hear from Mrs. Schroeder and others who have witnessed Spongiform Encephalopathy, people like Bill Zippro from Joplin who lost his brother to the disease the year after his brother killed a big-antlered buck that didn’t seem to be wild. He thinks it had been released from a nearby pen-raised deer facility, after they saw it was sick and wanted to protect other deer in their operation.

If you want to hunt deer, do it. I won’t! Not ever again. I have learned too much about the prions. I can’t say one way or another in any uncertain manner if deer hunters are in danger of getting the disease. I CAN give some sound, solid advice… NEVER eat venison that someone else has killed and butchered, and though it was an accepted thing to do for years past, DO NOT EAT DEER MEAT THAT COMES FROM THE ‘SHARE YOUR HARVEST PROGRAM which the MDC has carried forth for years and years. You cannot be sure there are no prions in that meat you receive.

Have any deer tested BEFORE YOU GUT IT! If you disregard that advice, DO NOT clean a deer shot in the spinal column or brain. Don’t cut through any bone; just cut the meat off the carcass without causing any cuts or damage to the spinal column or any bone marrow. And don’t even touch any deer that appears to be sick, or acting strangely.

Next week, as deer season begins, I will write more about what I have learned through investigating this disease and what is being learned about it. I will still have an article on grouse hunting soon, as I said I would last week, but right now I think some more info on deer and the prion disease needs to come forth. You will not hear any of this anywhere else in the news media. Many newspapers will not print this column, as the conservation departments do not approve of it. It might result in fewer deer tags being sold.

My fall magazines, one on the outdoors, and one on the history of the Ozarks, are finished… 82 pages, all color. If you want to see past magazine issues and the eleven books I have written, go to my website, If you want to order any of them you should call me at 417 777 5227. Photos and past columns are found on