Reflections

Bones to Pick

I prepare my carp and buffalo and suckers the same way as described in your article about big head carp, except I soak my fish for 30 minutes in equal parts of vinegar and water and then rinse them, before rolling them in batter and frying them. There are no bones to worry about and it does not change the taste of the fish at all.

Richard Clayton, Parkhills

Your article on big head carp does a bang- up job of whitewashing another worthless trash fish that is now becoming common in our large river systems. No doubt some of our prize native fishes will suffer irreversible damage due to the presence of this alien, which should never have been permitted in our waters.

Jack L. Fritsch, Owensville

Paddlefish Booster

I may be only a 15-year-old kid, but I'm worried about the paddlefish. I heard rumors that the paddlefish season may stop for a few years to bring the numbers up.

If the numbers are in decline, I would rather see a length limit change to 30 inches, instead of 24 inches. This would give the paddlefish a better chance to mature. Besides, the small amount of meat you get off a small paddlefish is not worth the killing of them.

Brandon Brell, Linn Creek

Editor's note: No changes are in the works for paddlefishing in the year 2000. Paddlefish numbers are stable, thanks to supplemental stocking by the Conservation Department.

Room for the Night

Your article on getting bird houses up by March 1 reminded me that in January, when we had 4 to 6 inches of snow and freezing rain on top of that, I noticed some movement around the bluebird house that I didn't take in this winter.

One by one, bluebirds-eight in all, that I counted-snuggled into the house and spent the night. Glad I was lazy and didn't bring it in for the winter.

Jan Mason, Catawissa

Save Your Receipts?

Over the years, I've collected old fishing tackle and other related items. Old fishing and hunting licenses are also highly sought after, but I think it would really stretch your imagination to believe that someone 20 to 25 years from now will want to matte and frame a Missouri fishing license, now a receipt.

Jim Barksdale, Steeleville

Photo Fan

The biggest reason I enjoy your magazine is the great nature photography by Jim Rathert. He can do it all: macros of flowers, telephotos of wildlife, landscapes in beautiful light, etc. And he can do it so well!

Why don't you feature him in a story and give him the accolades he deserves? Who is he? Does he have a specialty or favorite subject? What kind of equipment and film does he use? Does he teach workshops?

Linda Garrett, Blue Springs

Editor's note: Jim Rathert was the subject of "The Perfect Light," which appeared in the December 1995 Conservationist. He also was interviewed for "Capturing Wildlife on pn the November 1990 Conservationist. Jim Rathert's tips about landscape photography are scheduled to be included in an article in the May 2000 magazine. Meanwhile, his pictures appear in every issue, keeping him too busy to conduct many workshops.

Renewable Energy

Relative to the letter in April about saving trees: Wood has been our sole source of heat for 11 years. We have 20 acres that's mostly woods, and we've never run short of fuel. It's a rare year that a few trees don't blow down in storms, so we don't have to look very far. It makes good sense to keep your woodlot a year ahead, so that it's all well cured.

We use primarily oak, but also small amounts of walnut, hickory, elm, sycamore, etc. Even used some Osage orange once, but we had to watch out for sparks! We have a catalytic stove which utilizes its fuel to the utmost degree, so we obviously get more heat from our trees than a lot of stoves might provide.

Shannon Westrup, Crocker

Freezer Meat

Concerning "Mixed Success" in your April issue: The trapping of deer in Town and Country has been a failure and should not be allowed to continue another two to three years. The cost per deer and the trauma caused are too high. The deer should be harvested and the meat provided to shelters and kitchens or, for that matter, my freezer.

Paul Bartelt, Maryland Heights

Connectivity

Living 2,000 miles from the only place that will ever hold the true title of "home," I was so excited to open the Conservationist to find my old stomping grounds featured in an article. Roaring River is truly a wonderful park. In addition to trout fishing, there are so many fun things to do. Its beauty is breathtaking.

Thank you for the wonderful story with such vivid, colorful pictures and for helping me stay connected to home.

Dawn R. Cope, McKittrick, Calif.

Beaver Tail

A letter in your March issue talks about a lack of beaver tail recipes. In Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's journal of his trip through the Ozarks in 1818 1819, he stayed overnight at the Lucas Yocum cabin on the White River.

The meal served that evening to the famous ethnologist and his companion was roasted beaver tail. It was skinned out after cooking over the fire and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was reported to have a mellow, luscious taste, melting in the mouth like marrow and tasting much like boiled perch.

Charles H. Williams, El Paso, Texas

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I've been seeing "Land For Sale" ads placed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Why would the Department buy land and then sell it?

A: The Conservation Department has some property that isn't suitable for public use. Often these parcels are inaccessible to the public because they are surrounded by private land. Other tracts are old forest fire tower sites that are no longer used (most fire spotting now is done by aircraft). The old tower sites are small and of little public value. Some land is sold or traded in an attempt to even up boundaries on existing areas. This reduces costs and makes for more efficient management.

The Department of Conservation doesn't sell a lot of land, and land sales aren't a method of generating income for the agency. However, land sold by the Conservation Department usually brings appraised or above appraised value. When land is available, local sale bills and classified ads are posted. Future postings should also appear on the Conservation Department web site.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at: P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 848 or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.