Reflections

STAR PILOT

The "Bright Star" in Gary Lucy's painting on the cover of the August issue was piloted by my great, great great grandfather, Archibald Bryan. We're going to distribute posters of the painting to 55 of his direct descendants coming for a reunion from as far away as Switzerland.

My husband and I consider ourselves fortunate to live in a state that places such a high value on the preservation of its natural resources.

Ann Ruger, St. Louis

HELP FOR LAKESIDE

Thanks to Gene Fox for writing the wonderful article about the Lakeside Nature Center, which is trying to raise our portion ($500,000) to begin this important project.

Would you please let people know that they can send money to help us reach our goal to Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, 5600 E. Gregory, Kansas City, 64132. The organization is non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.

Sharon Goff, Kansas City

FLOWING WITH NATURE

The article on the Great Flood of '93 reminded me that we sometimes treat nature much the same way we treat people, expecting it to change to our standards, instead of accepting it as it is.

Hopefully our relationship with Mother Nature will some day be based on respect and common sense, and not on our need to control her for short term economic gain.

Sandy Laughman, Hardin

OPINE ANYWAY

You didn't send me a survey form, but I want to give you my opinion of the Conservationist.

I have only lived in Missouri four years, but I love this state very much. Your pictures and articles have provided me the opportunity to learn so much about the outdoors and the things around me.

Emily D. Mayer, Chesterfield

BIG BIRD TREATY

In September Reflections, you said cowbirds are protected by law. What law? And why cowbirds? Are all birds protected by law? Just curious.

William Vierling, St. Louis

Editor's note: Cowbirds and many other birds are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Missouri Wildlife Code allows and regulates the taking of gamebirds only, with the exception of European starlings and house sparrows, for which there are no limits or closed seasons.

NUTKINS A PEACH

Professor Nutkins in the September issue is an outstanding way to get children and adults to learn from nature. Your outstanding magazine continues to allow us all, young and old, to see a wider vision of nature. Keep them rolling off the presses!

Jo Anne and Ray Smith, Winooski, Vermont

HOOK AND RELEASE

The subject I have never seen in your magazine is how to take a hook out of a fish so it will live when returned to the water. It does no good to return fish to the water if they are injured so much they die.

I reach through the gills with needle-nose pliers and turn the hook upside down, which then comes back out the mouth without much harm. At least the fish swim away and are not seen again.

Those new to fishing and children need more information on this subject.

W.D. Long, Adrian

Editor's note: There's no sure way to guarantee survival of a released fish. Studies have shown that the odds of fish surviving increase if the fish is played and released quickly, is handled carefully and is not allowed to flop on the ground or boat floor.

Don't grab your catch with dry hands. Try to cradle it, rather than squeeze it, and don't entangle your fingers in the gills.

The gills of a fish are extremely fragile and bleed easily. You can put your hand or hook remover, needle-nose pliers or hemostat among the gills to remove a hook, but be gentle and don't rip or damage them.

Don't lift a fish vertically by its gill flap and avoid the standard photo shot in which the angler grabs a bass or crappie by the lip and then rolls his wrist inward to force the fish into a horizontal pose. This maneuver can break the jaw of a bigger fish and make it unable to feed normally.

Opinion is mixed about whether a deeply hooked fish has a better chance of living if you cut the line and leave the hook in or if you carefully and gently remove the hook. If you plan on releasing fish, it is better to use barbless hooks and set the hook before it is drawn into a fish's gills or stomach.

LIFE TO DEATH

I enjoyed "Wildlife Less Life" by Robert W. Fluchel in the September Conservationist. Death is a part of life - has always been and always will be. A lack of understanding of this fact of nature is exactly why we have the problem with animal activists today. People want to stop the death of all nature by natural means.

Carl Joe Decker, El Dorado Springs

The "Wildlife Less Life" article should be required reading for today's children. It wouldn't hurt the Baby Boomers to read it, either.

Frank and Sharon Horton, Warrensburg

TOURING GUIDE

A special compliment is due for Missouri's Conservation Atlas. With it, I've toured parts of the state I've never traveled, visited counties I've never heard of and discovered many new fishing holes in conservation areas I didn't even know existed (some rather close to home.)

I'm sure that come winter, when the snow falls, the sleet pecks at the windows and the freezing rain slicks the highways, I will pick up my Atlas and continue my "tour" and plan for spring.

Roger S. Davis, Union

Editor's note: The new Missouri's Conservation Atlas provides detailed maps of every county in the state and shows the boundaries of all Conservation Department owned or managed lands. The 264-page Atlas is available at conservation nature centers and service centers throughout the state for $15.93, which includes sales tax. Or you can order an Atlas for $19.93, which includes tax and shipping and handling charges from Missouri's Conservation Atlas, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180.

AGENTS NOTEBOOK

The hunter is beaming. He made a good shot on a nice buck and now, with the help of his companions, is loading the gutted trophy into a pickup truck. An agent pulls up and even before he exits his truck sees that the deer has not been tagged. He sighs and pulls out his ticket book.

A common violation found by conservation agents during deer and turkey seasons is hunters failing to tag their kill.

The regulations state that deer or turkey must be tagged by the taker with the transportation portion of the permit immediately after the kill.

There are several good reasons for this regulation. Requiring hunters to tag their kills immediately helps assure that hunters will take a harvested animal to a check station and not continue to hunt illegally.

The regulation also keeps hunters from having a hunting partner, spouse, child or other friend tag their kill so they can continue to hunt and kill more than the limit allowed by law.

For many years, the transportation portion of deer and turkey hunting permits were self adhesive and could be stuck around an animal's leg. Since 1994, hunters have been required to supply a piece of string to tie their tag to the harvested animal's leg.

Hunters should read and know the tagging and transportation regulations concerning deer and turkey to assure themselves a worry free hunt.

Clay Creech

Ste. Genevieve County