Reflections

Improving Vance

I laughed and cried all through "Why," Joel Vance's story on quail hunting. I owe him one for making my health a whole lot better.

I offer him a way to get rid of the "curse" for good: If you were to use 20 gauge, No. 9 shot skeet loads, your luck would improve. These shells have extra hard shot for better patterns and have great energy. We were lucky to get one of five shots; now four out of five birds hit the ground.

Lyle Tucker, Golden City

Drizzling Amphibians

I was unusually delighted with your story "It's Raining Frogs and Toads," by Beverly Billings Fenn.

I'm rereading the works of Charles Fort, who spent years in libraries copying weird, unusual and horror news clips from other publications. Frogs and toads were the least of the unusual items that have dropped from the skies worldwide.

Katie Neatherry, Maryland Heights

I live in Dunklin County, on a slight hill, over 300 yards away from a stream. After a rain that would have made Noah start hammering, I found live turtles and little fish - species I had never seen before - among the above-ground roots of silver maple trees.

I never told anyone, for fear that I wouldn't be taken seriously, but thanks to your documentation my story now can be told.

Jim Wilburn, Farmington

Volunteers Needed

Please add the Nature Conservancy to the list of conservation groups that use volunteers. Our prairie preserves dot the western side of the state, and we recently opened a Lower Ozarks office in Van Buren. We have preserves near every major metropolitan area. People interested in helping can call (816) 252-4885.

Roger Still, Kansas City

Whose Lion?

Last week I found myself in a crowd who believed that mountain lions or cougars are becoming as common as visitors to Branson.

Please tell me how mountain lions in western states, where they are well established, can be so elusive, but in southwest Missouri, where there cannot be many - if any - they can be so conspicuous.

Paul Todey, Joplin

Editor's note: Many reports of mountain lion sightings are suspect, but there has been an increase in documented sightings. One mountain lion was illegally shot in Ripley County and another was recently videotaped by a conservation agent as the big cat returned to a deer kill in Reynolds County. Biologists are unsure whether the cats were wild or former captive animals.

Give Her a Fish

If the lady who asked you to stop writing about hunting and fishing had a fishing permit and hung into a 6 1/2-pound largemouth bass, she would see things differently.

Rickey Smith, St. Louis

Schooling Birds

The article "Avian Aliens" said Eurasian tree sparrows were basically located in the St. Louis area. We remodeled an old schoolhouse near Palmyra about four years ago and have had these birds around here ever since. It was the first place we had ever seen them anywhere. Our theory is that an old schoolteacher got them in St. Louis and released them here.

Alan and Patti Hinds, Palmyra

Cartoons First

I love the Conservationist, and the first thing I do when receiving a new issue is to look inside the back cover for the cartoon. The December issue held the primo of Chmielniaks, but I say that every month.

Cynthia Kothe, Cape Girardeau

Recognized Agent

Page 29 of the November issue has a picture of two men in a field of milo. One was not identified. He is our well respected Ray County Conservation Agent, George Hiser. We feel he does an outstanding job and deserves to be recognized.

Judith White, Excelsior Springs

No Artist's Touch

We were pleased to see "A Touch of Midas," which included our long time friend, Chuck Tryon. Chuck is the Show-Me state's most celebrated authority on fly tying and fly fishing.

Fly tiers and anglers are well acquainted with his style and admire his attention to detail, accurate proportions and impeccable neatness.

The photos of the Prince Nymph that accompany the article were definitely not of any flies tied by Chuck Tryon. We don't mean to offend the actual tier, but Mr. Tryon's reputation has been wronged with the selection of these photos.

Terry & Roxanne Wilson, Bolivar

Editor's note: Poor quality lighting made our photos of Chuck Tryon's flies unusable, requiring a last-minute change. We regret any misunderstanding caused by the substitution.

AGENTS NOTEBOOK

It's 6:30 a.m., the sun is rising with a bright and orangey glow. The sky is clear and the temperature is 60 degrees. A siren sounds and, before its wail has ceased, the air is filled with monofilament line, and hundreds of baits splash onto the quiet water.

The trout parks are officially open. In seconds, trout begin to thrash the surface as they are reeled in by waiting anglers. Nets dip and stringers unwind. The action is usually hot for the first 15 minutes or so, then slows down.

When patrolling the state's trout parks on opening day, I often hear anglers say, "They must not have stocked many today," or "Must have fed them before releasing them." Many anglers begin to leave before an hour is up, believing their fishing fun is over.

I remember approaching a departing angler with three trout on his stringer and asking how his luck was running.

"Not too good," the angler replied, holding up his three fish. "I didn't get my limit."

I went away thinking that the person seemed to have missed the true value of a fishing trip.

He had witnessed a splendid dawn, watched nature awaken in the forest and breathed clean, clear air. He even managed to catch a few sleek trout. Yet he was unhappy, because he had judged the world in terms of whether or not he got his legal limit of fish. A great day was there for the taking, but the angler was so obsessed about getting a limit that the opportunity passed him by.

Larry Evans, Phelps County

Archers Identified

Several people have prompted me to write and identify all the hunters on the October front cover. They are (left to right) Harry Weber (behind), Earl Hoyt (hand up), Jay Reeg, Jim Hillman, Ross Bristol, Paul Jeffries, Jack Compton (killed first deer in 1952) and Joe Hennessy (kneeling).

All were members of the St. Louis Archery Club and eventual members of the Missouri Bow Hunters Association and St. Louis Bow Hunters.

Three are deceased, the whereabouts of two are unknown and three of us are still archery deer hunting.

Paul Jeffries, Moberly