Burning Embers and “A Sad Deal” in the Missouri Ozarks

Pictured: Brandon Butler’s Ozark cabin retreat after it was set on fire in a possible retaliation incident for reporting a poaching incident.

by Don Corrigan

The great outdoors is not always idyllic. It can be full of blood-sucking chiggers and mosquitoes, unhappy skunks, thieving bears and obnoxious rodents. Then there are other humans, who can be disagreeable, destructive and downright dangerous.

Missouri Outdoor Communicator Brandon Butler had an experience with the human kind recently that left him with a cabin reduced to burning embers and what he calls “a sad deal.”

Butler is pretty sure his cabin in the Ozarks near Timber was burnt to the ground in retaliation for reporting a poaching incident. The incident involved deer hunting infractions at the beginning of the rifle portion of deer season in November.

Butler is well-known in the outdoor community in Missouri and he is a former director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. He lives in Columbia, but has kept the cabin near the Pioneer Forest for family gatherings and for outdoor recreation with friends.

Butler said his cabin was destroyed by fire on Jan. 4 and the Shannon Count Sheriff said the fire was intentionally set. Law enforcement has identified a suspect who is now going through the legal process, according to Butler.

The suspect is believed to be friends with the poachers who have confessed to the deer hunting incident and who have received tickets for their infractions.

“It’s a sad deal,” said Butler. “I’m selling the land and looking for a new place to start over.”

Butler said he lost irreplaceable heirlooms and family history in the fire. It has also broken the hearts of his kids and their friends who have memories of camping and canoeing in the area that they called Driftwood Acres.

Butler is known for his outdoor observations on a podcast series entitled “Driftwood Outdoors.” The podcasts have included descriptions of the poaching incident.

“I had a great group of guys help me clean up the mess,” said Butler. “The outpouring of support has been wonderful. The Go Fund Me page that was set up has done well, bringing in about $24,000.”

The money raised far exceeds expectations and will be used for venues that will get people into the outdoors, despite blood-sucking chiggers and mosquitoes, unhappy skunks, thieving bears, obnoxious rodents and the occasional disagreeable humans.

The outpouring of support illustrates how the conservation family in Missouri can rally in times of adversity.

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