I had a fun morning fishing in a favorite lake at St. Louis County's Queeny Park: three reasonable size catfish, bunches of small bluegill and crappie with the ultra-lite, a snapping turtle and a mussel.
Yes, a mussel. I was baited for catfish on the bottom with a worm, and a mussel clamped down on my hook. For real!
Your mussel article said nothing about mussels eating worms. What gives?
Fred Boeneker, Glendale
Editor's note: It's unlikely the mussel tried to eat your worm. They rest open on the bottom filtering food from the water. Your worm apparently landed directly on a mussel, startling it into closing. I've "caught" them the same way in the Mississippi River.
Mike Roux's catfish story brought back memories of the time my sister and some other kids were swimming in a deep hole in Mill Creek (Washington County) close to the Big River.
My sister was bitten on the back of her leg hard enough to break the skin. That same evening, my father and a neighbor caught a 54-pound flathead catfish from the same hole.
Jim Coleman, St. Peters
I am not a hunter because of an injured leg, but I go fishing once in a while and your article on poachers sure made my day. Poachers are the ones who would whine the loudest if there was no longer any game available. It's the law-abiding citizens that make Missouri such a great state for wildlife.
Harold W. Swofford, Stover
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for such a good magazine. I don't approve of hunting and fishing (I have difficulty killing bugs), but you have many other wonderful articles. What I appreciate the most is the photography of Jim Rathert. He is an Artist!
Helen Brandenburg-Banks, Hermann
Joel Vance's "Hunting for a Good Dog" was interesting and informative, but it contained a date that bothered me: "In 1517, Dr. Johannes Caius, University of Cambridge, said . . . " During that year, Johannes Caius (1510-1573), Queen Elizabeths I's chief physician, was only seven years old. Likely the work Joel was referring to was De Canibus Brittanicus, which Caius published in 1570.
Tom Cravens, Kirkwood
The article about the collared lizards, "A Helping Hand, " was terrific! Another gold star for Tom Johnson and the Conservationist.
Over the years, reintroductions have had mixed results. The successful ones have matched habitat/food to the wildlife's habits/peculiarities. Eastern wild turkey and white-tailed deer have been a huge success because the match was right. It appears the collared lizard reintroduction program is a great match and should be another success story.
Bob Foreman, Harrisonville
Our cats stay indoors but our neighbors all allow their cats to roam, and they used to head straight for our bird feeders to lay in wait for the ground-feeders that ate the grain underneath.
After the cats had wiped out a family of cardinals, we were about to quit feeding, but as a last resort my husband placed a ring of wire fencing about 5 foot in diameter around the feeders. When a cat charges, it first has to leap the fence, giving the birds time to escape. Since we've installed these, we haven't had one bird caught under our feeders.
Elizabeth Willson, Neosho
I know I am a chocoholic, but not until last week did I become aware that groundhogs also fit in this category. A restaurant in Liberty had been storing the bits of chocolate used for cookies in the back of the restaurant in a cardboard container. Groundhogs discovered this and began feasting. Wire placed over the containers did no good, the groundhogs just went underneath it. Apparently raccoons are not the only wildlife bandits.
Elisabeth H. Angel, Liberty
Was there an article about 35 to 40 years ago that told how to catch gars with nylon rope?
I remember it said to comb the strands of the rope until they were very fine. The gar would bite and their teeth would become tangled in the thin strands of the rope. In other words, a hookless lure.
When my sons and I fish, we often see many gars. Some are good size. They look like they would put up a good fight. It would be fun to catch and release them. Hooks do not work because of their hard mouths.
Mike Hazel, Caruthersville
Editor's note: Our index shows only two articles that mention using nylon rope to catch gar. Joel Vance commented on the technique in "Fish for Gar" in the August 1984 issue. And in June 1994, an article featured a father and his son who used 4-inch rope lures like the one in the photo to catch gar. The rope should work. A long time ago people thought about replacing fishing hooks with a Velcro-like patch that would latch onto a fish's rough tongue and prevent it from letting go.
The photo of the muskrat midden on Page 19 of the August Conservationist was taken by Richard J. Neves. The energy center mentioned in the ........waiting for one letter.
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: What do you do if you shoot a deer and it runs off the property on which you have permission to hunt?
A: The only thing the hunter can do in such a case is ask the landowner for permission to track and retrieve the deer. The hunting permit does not authorize trespass.
Q: If a hunter sees two bucks with locked antlers can he shoot them both? What should he do?
A: A hunter cannot legally take two antlered bucks during the firearms season. I recall an incident from a past season where a hunter came upon this type of situation and killed one buck, sawed off an antler and freed the live animal. That could be tricky, and I don't think I'd try it alone. Of course, your hunting companion may want to take the other deer. Just remember, party hunting (one hunter killing deer for another hunter to tag) is not legal in Missouri.
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>.