Kudos to your staff for providing your readers with yet another enjoyable and meaningful edition of the Conservationist. As always the articles, photography and artistic illustrations are first-rate.
The outstanding article, "Shaped in Stone," by David Feidler conveys three important values we've identified in your publication over the years. They are an appreciation for history, respect for the environment and commitment to family values.
Neal F. Rabe, Union
I can relate to the article about hunting artifacts. I have walked many miles in their pursuit. It is a thrilling hobby.
Last spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find a perfect arrowhead in my garden. This has been my garden spot the last 40 years. How did I miss it all that time?
Ted Corder, Cincinnati, Iowa
Tops at the Bottom
Thank you for your informative article, "Where the River Bends," about the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area. After being selected for the opening day managed deer hunt, I scouted the area's sunflower fields and hiked a 10-mile loop to the confluence overlook and back to the parking area. The land offers many possibilities. I'm glad to see it is in the capable heads and hands of our Conservation Department.
Kip Crandall, St. Louis
I'm glad the Conservation Department bought the Columbia Bottom area from the City of St. Louis. Last December I went fishing there for 45 minutes. During that time, I caught two blue cats--one was 10 pounds and one weighed 45 pounds. I haven't been back fishing since, for I'm afraid I may be pulled into the water.
Gerald French, St. Louis
A Fine Point
Thank you for "How to Hunt Quail." The article brought back some of my fondest moments with my father. He was a great quail hunter, and he had 10 to 12 dogs, which he took great pride in.
It amazed me how smart the pointer puppies were. He worked with them every day with a quail feather on a fishing pole, making sure they would not jump too quick. As the years went by, he hunted less and less, and before I knew it all the pointers were sold.
Tamela Herman, DeSoto
I am a retired teacher and have been receiving the Conservationist for more than 30 years. The photography has greatly improved in the many years I have enjoyed the publication.
I was able to use your magazine many times in the classes I taught. One of my goals in teaching children was to inspire my students to look beyond the classroom for inspirational subject matter. Many times the Conservationist helped achieve this goal. Please accept my words of praise and encouragement.
Norman E. Brooks, Scott City
Nature by the Bunch
I didn't know beavers begin breeding in January or that house wrens begin arriving in April. I just learned a bunch of stuff about Missouri outdoors from your 2000 Natural Events Calendar. It's terrific, full of all kinds of info--even the usual calendar stuff like days and dates. It's for everyone!
Fred Boeneker, Glendale
Our family has initiated a program of collecting fruit and vegetable seeds, drying them and setting them out in bird feeders. We have found takers for all varieties.
Cantaloupe seeds prove most popular. Squash and pumpkin seeds rank next, along with apple and pear seeds. Citrus fruit seeds seem to appeal only to blue jays, orioles and, occasionally, a cardinal. Squirrels get peach and plum gems.
My wife, Eleanor, wholeheartedly and meticulously saved seeds from all the fresh fruit she ate at home. Eating at a meeting in a restaurant, she caught herself separating seeds from the fruit salad to take home for the bird feeders.
Rev. John E. Schroeder, St. Louis
Gypsy moths, starlings, English sparrows--just three pests I can think of that were brought into the United States by irresponsible people.
Zebra mussels also could have been prevented had our government acted wisely. Ships' ballast water should be decontaminated before being dumped in our waters, and the importation of gypsy moths should be banned.
Joseph Engels, Gravois Mills
I want to publicly thank one of your employees, Bryon Putman. While I was trout fishing at Lake Taneycomo it started raining heavily, so I hurried to my truck and quickly got out of my waders and into some dry clothes. Unknown to me, however, my wallet had slipped out of my waders onto the ground and I drove off without it. I only missed it when I returned home.
I drove back down to the hatchery to check the parking lot and the visitor center myself, all to no avail. When I returned home, I received a call from Bryon, who told me a lady had found my wallet and he had gotten my phone number from my fishing license. He then drove the wallet to my home.
He saved me all the problems of getting a new driver's license and replacing credit cards, etc. He even offered me a personal tour of the hatchery! I commend the Conservation Department for employing him.
Patrick E. Chaput, Springfield
Ask the OMBUDSMAN
Q: What precautions has the Conservation Department taken to ward off any Y2K glitches?
A: ll Conservation Department infrastructure applications (subscriptions, publications, merchandise, hunter education, etc.) have been modified and tested and are Y2K compliant. Also, point-of-sale vendors have assured us that their systems are compliant. For more complete information about Conservation Department Y2K readiness go to <http:// www.y2k.state.mo.us/stategov/agencies/conservation/y2kreport. htm>
Q: I heard the deer season was in danger of being canceled due to the dry conditions. It wasn't, but could that happen?
A: This rumor circulates almost every time we have dry conditions. I've never known of a season being canceled. Of course, hunters and everyone using the outdoors are encouraged to always be careful with fire. That note of caution is worth mentioning now, even though the November season is over.
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>.