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Broad Base Support

Thanks for a delightful magazine. I send a subscription to my parents in England. (How can you do it for only $10 per year?) My mother frequently writes to say how exciting it is to see places in the magazines that they have visited on their many vacations here. She is always sure that anyone caught in the background of photos who wears jeans and a T-shirt and has a broad rump is me.

Janet Herrin, Mexico

Ex-potato farmer

Thanks to your groundhog article, I now know what it was that cleaned out my sweet potato vines last summer.

I blamed it on deer but did not see any deer tracks. I also heard that shrill sharp whistle one night. Since I do not intend to feed the groundhogs, my sweet potato growing days are over.

Phyllis Kipers, Lebanon

Reordering

There was an error on page 15 of the February issue's Outside In section. Locusts, as stated, are really cicadas and not remotely related to grasshoppers. Cicadas are in the insect order Hootera; grasshoppers, the true locusts, are in the order Orthoptera.

George Fadler, Columbia

Outlaw

Your reply to the reader wondering if he should feed orphaned baby birds canned dog food should have said that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri State Wildlife Code state that it is illegal to hold and possess a native or migratory wild bird except under terms of a valid permit.

Carol Carr, Independence

Miscircled

In the Outside In section of the February magazine, the female flower you circled in the picture on page 8 is actually a year-old baby acorn. What should be circled is the small red dot of new growth out past the catkins.

Albert Cox, Piedmont

Editor's note: The circled area and inset show young acorns of the previous year. The two curly stalks (old styles and stigmas) that we show were part of the female flower, albeit the previous year's female flower. At the time of the photo, however, they are part of the young fruit.

Memorable magazine

My father, Herbert Bunners, always had the Conservationist laying around. He was a great dad and one of the best foresters I ever knew. He harvested white oak, mostly for barrel staves. He taught us kids the different kinds of trees, their different leaves and bark and what they were used for. He also taught us conservation in many other ways, such as hunting and fishing.

Now that he's gone, I find many memories of the things we used to do together inside your magazine. Thanks for the excellent years of service and the ones to come.

Michael Bunner, Farmington

Mushrooms can kill

While reading "The Wild Morels," I started getting cold chills. My father owned a farm in southeast Missouri and dearly loved mushrooms. One night when I was at school in Kentucky, I got a call to tell me that my family was in the Poplar Bluff hospital from mushroom poisoning.

One brother died, my father was bedridden for over four months, my older brother was discharged after two weeks and my mother, who said she only ate two pieces, was discharged after one week.

Although we have beautiful, large mushrooms growing here in the Lake of the Ozarks area, I would not consider even touching one of them.

Carol Martin, Osage Beach

Editor's note: This story underscores the importance of properly identifying mushrooms before you eat them. Some people may not be able to tolerate mushrooms that are generally considered edible. Play it safe by eating a small amount first and observing any reactions.

Birds of a feather

I have read several times in the Conservationist that it is against the law to pick up a bird feather. In the February issue, I read that it is OK to pick up and keep deer antlers because the deer doesn't need them anymore. Well, the bird doesn't need its discarded feathers, either.

Can you explain the reasoning here?

Audrey Blandford, Hillsboro

Editor's note: Deer are native wildlife and are regulated by the Wildlife Code of Missouri. Birds are migratory and are regulated by the federal government. The Code of Federal Regulations 50CFR21.11 states, "no person shall take, possess, import, export, transport, sell purchase, barter, or offer for sale any migratory bird, or the parts, nests or eggs of such bird."

The eyes have it!

The brown-colored great-tailed grackle on page 23 has yellow eyes, so it is likely a juvenile male, not a female.

Joe Whittington, St. Louis

Shooting Urge

To the new quail hunter who wrote in: When you flush a covey, resist the urge to shoot at the whole covey. Instead, pick out an individual bird as your target. I'm an old quail hunter and know that there's a lot of space between birds in a covey.

Joe Engels, Gravois Mills

The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why did the Conservation Department open a youth turkey hunting season? Doesn't this just open the door for poachers?

A: The youth season is an opportunity to allow youngsters a quality experience with ethical hunters/mentors. We understand your concerns about opening the door to illegal hunting, but this type of violation isn't limited to a special season; it happens during the regular season, too. Party hunting and disregard for seasons and bag limits are violations which rob legal hunters of success. While the main reason for the youth turkey hunt is to instill an appreciation for the tradition of hunting, it's possible the youth season may actually dissuade violators by putting hunters in the field early. The more hunters, the more opportunity to see and report violations. Unfortunately, some folks are content to turn a blind eye to this type of cheating. If you witness a wildlife violation, contact your local conservation agent or sheriff's office immediately (this is a good use for a cell-phone) or call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111. A reward is possible, and callers can remain anonymous.

For more information on the Youth Turkey Hunting Season please see our web page.

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. 3848 or e-mail him at drenok@mail.conservation.state.mo.us.

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