Reflections

Mesmerized

The January 2004 issue just arrived, and I have read it from cover to cover. It is excellent! Every article was well written and informative.

Not only are the articles outstanding, but the photos and illustrations are exceptional. I found myself studying every detail of the color illustrations on pages 4-5, 7, 8, 12, and 16.The photograph on pages 10-11, mesmerized me for several minutes, as did that on page 14.

The comparison of the old/new river on page 13 reminded me of the oxbow lakes I used to fly over at low altitude.

Although I will never build a dugout, I feel I could with the text and illustrations offered in the article by Jim Low. And believe it or not, I was so taken with the photograph on page 24, that I was actually trying to figure out a way to frame it."Our" conservation magazine is always well done and informative, but this one is a definite "keeper". Thank you.

Doyle H. Wyatt, Lawson

Michael Haynes, who did the cover illustration for your January issue, is absolutely amazing! I could almost hear the water churning as the ship sails along and the sound of the pole cracking as the mast hits the tree. I'd give it a perfect "10."

Also, the picture of river shoals on the back cover is beautiful with the different shades of blue and mauve and the fog over the water.

Mrs. Edward Russell, Cameron

Your article,"The Wild Missouri River," reminds us of what a joy and challenge the "real"Missouri River must have been for the Corps of Discovery.

Today's river is an example of nature rendered asunder. Hopefully, future generations will allow the river to at least partially regain some of its majesty.

Fred Boeneker, Glendale

Using Our Tools

In "Continuing the Voyage of Discovery," the author says we have better tools for information gathering than Lewis and Clark.That's true, but we better start using them or the quail and rabbits will be like the Carolina parakeet: extinct.

The problem is not just on farm ground, but on all the conservation ground that I have been hunting for some 50 years.

Dean Stroup, Eureka

Puke, Buzzard!

Your nice article on buzzards omits one important piece of Missouri cultural history. Mother, who would have been 103 if still alive, used as her favorite expression, "Well puke, buzzard, puke." I have imparted this vulgarism and the reason for it to students for more than 30 years.

Buzzards will stuff themselves in the course of their cleanup operations. If threatened, they often need to lighten the load, so to speak, and can do so with the accuracy of an old-time tobacco spitter.

Their gastric juice is so strong that it can blind an animal and take paint off a car or truck. Those who would run afoul of a turkey buzzard in the middle of the road may well find themselves unleashing even more direful curses.

Michael B. Dougan, Tecumseh

Counting Birds

In your article "The World's Best Birdwatcher," you state that according to the American Birding Association, Pete Winter is the world's top-ranked living birdwatcher.

On the latest list of the ABA,Tom Gullick of Spain is listed as number one with 8,195 world bird species. George "Pete" Winter is number two with 7,716 species.

David Easterla, Maryville

Dancing

The article on prairie chickens was a delight to me. Years ago,my husband and I lived in the Sandhills of Nebraska and often heard the birds booming. Only once did we see them. Along the road a big flock was going through the routine--dancing and booming and blowing up their beautiful orange sacs. I've never forgotten that mystical morning. What a sight!

I've heard that the American Indians copied the prairie chickens for some of their dancing.

Harriett Rumbaugh, Fulton

Hearing Voices

I want to commend the Conservation Department. Recently, I bought the CD "Fiddles and Forests" and the audiotape "Voices of the Hills, A Journey to Shannon County." The instrumentation, vocals and accompanying narrations are not only entertaining but historically informative about our state's early settlers, especially the Scots-Irish. Because I am of Scot's-Irish descent, this music plays well to my ears and soul.

Harry McGuire, Lee's Summit

More Fishing

I enjoy the Missouri Conservationist, which I have received for 42 years. I read the issues from cover to cover, and many times over! The magazine's quality has improved immensely during this time period.

I would enjoy seeing more articles pertaining to catfish and carp fishing. However, I understand that not everyone has the same desire to fish and read about those fish.

Your office in St. Joseph has always been ready and willing to assist me when I need information, lake and river conditions, etc.

Dave Estes, St. Joseph

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why do some trees keep their leaves through the winter while some of the same types of trees (oaks) lose theirs?

A: Conservation Department botanist Tim Smith addressed this matter in the November 1991 issue in an article titled "Nature's Procrastinators." It's an intriguing situation involving mostly oaks, but sugar maple, beech, hornbeam and eastern hophornbeam can also have this trait, known as marcescent (or late-falling) leaves.

Most leaves develop a separation layer due to hormonal changes, resulting in the leaf falling in autumn. Marcescent leaves delay the separation process. During winter the leaf appears to be dead, but the base of the leaf remains alive.As the weather warms in the spring, the leaf goes through a process similar to other leaves and eventually separates and falls.

According to Conservation Department botanist Tim Smith, the marcescent species are farther north than where they originated and haven't yet adapted completely to a shorter growing season.They don't take their cues from the arrival of fall weather and get their leaf separation business taken care of before it gets too cold for them to accomplish it.

Now is a good time to be thinking about tree care.The Conservation Department has a number of helpful publications. For details visit online.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.