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GOD'S OUTDOORS | Charitable conservation: Trophy buck rewards hunter, feeds the hungry

Tim Phillips, a parishioner at St. Paul in St. Paul, harvested this 31-point buck on the opening of the Missouri firearms season. While he will mount the head, he donated the meat to a state charity that distributes it to food pantries.

When Tim Phillips harvested the deer of a lifetime, he knew two things: The organic, high-protein meat would go to charity; the 31-point antlers would reside on his wall.

Phillips had been hunting this deer for years. It had been documented by remote trail cameras since 2012. He saw it opening day of the 2014 firearms season, but had to vacate his stand because a friend was getting married that day. A buddy had named the deer "Walter." (Hunters commonly name bucks so that they can speak to each other about an individual deer they're watching over seasons.)

MAN OF THE HOUSE | Being grateful for the opportunity to play the game

Mike Eisenbath

A look in the mirror often makes me wonder whose face is there. That guy has mostly gray hair, somewhat weather-worn skin and a white beard. It's a serious face with eyes peering somewhere beyond, appearing to be reflecting on something only mirror man might understand.

"He looks a lot older than me," I think. "Probably 50s, maybe getting close to 60. He's probably seen a lot in his life. I'll bet I could learn a lot from that guy."

Of course, I am that guy.

LIVING WELL | Problems with packaging

Do you struggle with packaging?

In opening a fresh box containing an over-the-counter pain reliever, I now need a double dose because of the discomfort caused by opening the bottle.

My neighbors probably think I ordered all of my Christmas gifts in one purchase because of the huge cardboard shipping "crate" blocking my front door — but all I did was order a few, small items from an online retailer.

And oh, the puzzle of plastic wrapping tightly around my latest compact disc purchase. I really didn't need my fingernails, did I?

FAITH AND CULTURE | Lessons learned from the shop on building the Church

In the current scientific and digital culture, working with one's hands or learning to play with mechanical systems and structures seems to be a thing of the past. We're more adept at engaging digital and virtual realities, yet our familiarity with physical labor often goes lacking.

Some may recall a family member or acquaintance whose mechanical abilities were impressive. He or she would easily break down and rebuild something that needed fixing. Others remember visiting friends or colleagues and discovering wood-working or craft shops in their homes and garages.

FAITH AT HOME | The ones who won’t be home for the holidays

This season sparkles with joy. We open our homes to family and friends, greeting each other at the doors under twinkling lights.

But a small moment often catches in our throat. We set one less place for Thanksgiving dinner. Or we cross a name off this year's Christmas list.

Wherever we gather around holiday tables this year, there will be holes left by those who aren't there. Relatives who have died. Loved ones lost to addiction. Babies who never got to be held. Families divided by divorce. Gaping holes left by grief.

FAITHFUL FAN | Author gives plenty of reasons to embrace Blues hockey

Have faith, St. Louis sports fans. The Houston Astros baseball team began in 1962, and it took them 55 years to win the World Series. That brings hope for the St. Louis Blues, which became an NHL franchise in 1967.

Despite the lack of a Stanley Cup championship, the Blues have missed the playoffs only eight times and have a plethora of highlights throughout their 50 seasons.

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