My friend Rick Mansfield sent me a book he just wrote and I want to share some information about it with you.

A year ago the carcass of a mature bull elk was discovered slain near the Current River, below Log Yard gravel bar in Shannon County, Mo. The elk had been poached and the antlers removed by chainsaw. 

A full year later, there have been no arrests and no promising leads. When the story broke, most pictures used were taken by Mansfield, a retired educator and writer. They shocked outdoor lovers across the nation.

Mansfield is a writer (this is his fifth book) and does presentations as a historical storyteller. His columns have appeared in the River Hills Traveler for several years now.

“The Elk Killings” is a short fictional novel of mystery and murder set around the real-life atrocity that took place near where Mansfield now calls home. It weaves a tale of suspense that engages the reader in a captivating “who done it” while informing them of some of the factual concerns of repatriating a wild animal into an environment from where it had been extinct for more than 150 years.

Readers will follow along with Park Ranger Mark Williams and lawyer/conservationist/journalist Rachel Hunt as they attempt to unravel the web of deception and criminal behavior invading their entire community.

With this book, Mansfield hopes to spur conversations about poaching and a culture seemingly less respectful of not only game laws, but the game itself.

Mansfield runs the Ozark Heritage Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the best of the Ozark culture and environment.

He believes our traditions of pursuing native wildlife are important, as are the protection of the game and the physical environment that support it.

“This book needs to be in every home in America,” Mansfield told me. “It can be the basis for talking about the concepts of ‘fair chase’ and ‘familial obligation.’”

Proceeds from Mansfield’s books help fund historical presentations in Missouri, river clean-ups, and structural and environmental restorations.

“The Elk Killings” can be purchased by calling Mansfield at (573) 663-2269 or emailing him at emansfield2004@ yahoo.com.

You can also keep up with Mansfield and his book signings by following his Facebook page, “Stewards of the Ozarks.”

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Two Missouri River Runner stations, Kirkwood and Washington, made the Top 10 list in the Amtrak station customer satisfaction survey for 2016.

Customers gave Kirkwood and Washington stations high rankings for friendliness of staff, ease of train boarding process, cleanliness of station, and personal safety. Kirkwood tied for first and Washington ranked eighth.

I’ve never taken an Amtrak ride, but it’s on my “journey list” for this year.

Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner route travels daily between St. Louis and Kansas City with stops across the state at Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.

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Other things on my mind:

• Everyone at the Traveler is excited about some pretty cool features we will be adding in 2017, including: more outdoor gear reviews, books about the Ozarks, travel destinations that you’ve never heard of as well as places to eat along the way, new advertisers and writers, and “how do I…” stories.

This last one I’m pretty excited about! I get a lot of emails from readers asking how to do certain things, such as what gravel bars are open to public camping and which Missouri rivers are more family friendly than others. The “how do I” series will answer those questions and many more!

If you have such an outdoors question, please call or email it to me and I will add it to my list.

• We will be adding more books and Traveler apparel soon.

• Our weekly email newsletter — TravTalk — now reaches over 8,000 people! It features links to stories not in our print edition as well as other cool outdoors stuff. You can sign up for it on our website or Facebook page.

By Jimmy Sexton

(Jimmy Sexton is owner and publisher of the River Hills Traveler. He can be reached at (800) 874-8423, ext. 1, or jimmy@riverhillstraveler.com.)