Reflections

Longevity

My father-in-law, Rev. Luther Hassell of Salem, is 95 years old. He has been a hunter all his life, and on October 23, 2002, he killed a gobbler that weighed 20.1 pounds and had an 11-inch beard. Rev. Hassell's wife is 101 and cooks the squirrels, rabbits and turkeys that he brings home.

In 1997 or 1998, Otto Shaw, was featured in your magazine as the oldest hunter in Missouri. He was Rev. Hassell's brother-in-law. He is now deceased, but he lived until he was almost 106.

Albert Gowan, Salem

Pause before pawpaws

We were most interested in your article on pawpaws. The pawpaw trees on our property are 10 years old. This is the first year we have had more than just a few small fruit.

We've experienced a lot of branch tip damage done by the larvae of zebra swallowtails. We question the value of using these trees as lawn ornamentals because, after being attacked by the larvae, they are not very attractive.

People should also be warned about the problem of root runners. The trees have no concept of family planning and produce offspring in great profusion.

Beverly Baustian, Camden, Ark.

Early art

The young artists shown in your November issue simply amazed me. If I had not seen the pictures and ages of the children, I would have bet my last dollar the pictures had been painted by adult professionals! They are indeed beautiful and look most like photos. I'm just thankful I was not one of the judges.

Barbara Sparks, St. Louis

Prettiest Ever

We've received the Conservationist for more than 20 years and really enjoy the beautiful photography throughout the magazine, but we think the cover of the October issue was the prettiest ever. The angle of the camera with the beautiful blue sky is very striking.

Ed & Anna Winkelman, New Bloomfield

New attachments

I enjoy hiking though Missouri's woodlands and appreciated your entertaining and informative "Natural Attachments" article.

While on the trail, I often look for unknown plants and trees that I can later research to learn their names and characteristics. The article brought a hunger to expand my search to some of the annoying, seed-dispersing plants.

Juanita Coco, Maplewood

Unfitting

Recently, I purchased a hat and Henley shirt through the Nature Shop. While the prices were comparable with those found in specialty catalogues, I knew the profits would benefit the Department of Conservation.

I ordered the items by phone and, upon receipt, I was disappointed that neither garment was produced in Missouri - not even in the United States.

I strongly suggest that the origin of manufacture and materials of items sold by the Conservation Department be included in the merchandise description.

Robert L. Noffke, via Internet

Editor's note: The items sold through the Nature Shop catalog are purchased through the bidding process. The state Office of Administration awarded the bids for the items you purchased to Missouri businesses, but we have no control over where the items were manufactured.

Mixed message

At Powder Valley Conservation Center, and also from the pages of the Missouri Conservationist, I learned that we need to cleanse our land of bush honeysuckle, because of its tendency to wipe out native species. I've sweated and bled (being less than handy with clippers and pruning saw) in this effort.

Today I ran across a newspapper article on feeding backyard birds that suggests planting bush honeysuckle in order to provide tasty berries for the birds. The article claimed the Missouri Conservation Department as an authority. Shouldn't we get consistent with our messages if we want people to be willing to sweat and bleed for a cause?

Margaret Katranides, Webster Groves

Editor's note: A search of the Conservation Department website, did not reveal any endorsements for bush honeysuckle. Several species, including bush honeysuckle, multiflora rose and autumn olive, have been promoted in the past as wildlife-friendly, but were found to have unsatisfactory results over the long term and are no longer suggested.

At the top

Regarding your article on tree-topping: I do agree that in most cases topping trees should be ruled out. However, some trees, including sweet gums silver maples and tulip trees, can grow towering limbs that are very susceptible to high winds and will snap off in storms, damaging whatever is below.

These trees can be made safe by topping, or crown reduction, as the experts call it. It gives the tree extended life without compromising safety or requiring the removal of the tree.

Dave Menderski, Eureka

Trapping dues

Thank you for the excellent trapping article. One important point left out was that Missouri has a trappers association. Dues include a subscription to the Trapper and Predator Caller magazine. For more information contact association secretary Joe Moser, (573) 593-4796.

Albert Cox, Piedmont

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: When planting acorns, should the cap be up or down?

A: A worker at the Conservation Department's George O. White State Forest Nursery said it doesn't make any difference. The stem and root both come out of the end opposite the cap and find their way to the proper locations. He recommends laying the acorn on its side. He said it's best to plant an acorn right away, before it dries, and to protect the planting from squirrels, blue jays, crows, deer, raccoons and many other animals that are very efficient acorn hunters.

The Conservation Department's seedling program might be more appealing than planting acorns. Each year the state forest nursery plants 50 to 70 million seeds to produce up to seven million seedlings. These are available to Missouri residents for a nominal fee. Orders are accepted from mid November through April 15th. For more information on this popular program contact your local Conservation Department office. This year, the nursery has 64 species available. They go fast so order early. For a recorded message on available species call, toll-free, (800) 392-3111.

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 <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.