Reflections

Dapping Stones

My hearty compliments on the "Ye Old Stone Skippers" sidebar to the wonderful "A Peek at a Creek" piece in the Outside In section of the February Missouri Conservationist.

An enthusiastic rock (that's what we call 'em in the Ozarks) skipper with more than 50 years of experience, I'd like the younger generation to know that "dapping" also is a valid word describing this activity. Much of my earlier dapping involved competition with my longarmed Arkansas cousin, who was two years my senior and usually beat me. I doubt that either of us had heard of a physicist, but we knew instinctively that good spin helped us achieve our goal: to skitter the "perfect" flat rock all the way across the creek and onto the gravel bar across the river.

John R. Stanard, Poplar Bluff

Fast Water

I thoroughly enjoyed the special issue the Missouri Conservationist devoted to Lewis and Clark. However, the article the "Wild Missouri" in the January issue contained a passage on the velocity measurements of the Missouri River left the impression that the river velocity was 23.66 miles per hour near present day Waverly.

Unless the present laws of physics did not apply in 1804, Clark's measurement is in error. A velocity of 23.66 miles per hour would require an impossible river slope.

The most likely explanation for the error is that Clark's units of "poles" probably should have been "fathoms". All the rest of Clark's measurements were made using a logline marked off in fathoms. A stick (or log) was tied to the end of a logline to anchor the end of the rope in the water as the logline spooled off a reel. If one uses fathoms instead of poles, the river velocity measurement is 8.5 miles per hour, which is still very fast, but at least within the range of subsequent measurements made at that site.

In fact, a piece of tantalizing evidence for this error is contained in the quote itself:"The Current of the River at this place is a Stick will float 48 poles 6 feet in the rapidest part." Because a fathom is 6 feet, the insertion of "6 feet" into this sentence may have been Clark's attempt to correct the error himself, not an addition to the distance traveled by the stick.

Nevertheless, Clark's velocity measurements certainly call into question the common modern paradigm that today's Missouri River is much faster than the river ascended by the Corps of Discovery in 1804. Indeed, the Missouri River was notoriously fast, as noted by Lewis and Clark and many river travelers who would follow.

Dale Blevins, Hydrologist, U.S.G.S., Lee's Summit

Garage Files

Thank you for wonderful, eye-opening natural beauty you've shared with us through the years.

My son mentioned frost flowers in the mountains of North Carolina, and I recalled an article and dashed to the garage. Sure enough, in the October 2000 issue I found the article and pages of photos.

What a reference library these magazines are!

Dorothy Thomason, Springfield

Birds of a Feather

I am a recently relocated native Missourian living in Texas, and I was delighted to see the cover of your February issue. I instantly recognized the the erect pinnae, the thick yellow brows and yellow air sack of the prairie chicken.

I am the lead supervisor of birds for the Abilene Zoo, and we currently are holding 13 Attwater's prairie chickens for captive breeding purposes.

Kudos to Sharron Gough for her efforts in prairie restoration for the Conservation Department. I hope Missourians make room for this special little grouse.You don't want to let prairie chicken numbers to get as low as those of the Attwater's.They are part of your heritage, and once they are gone there is no way back.

Diane Longenecker, Abilene

Cut the Line

Regarding Missouri's Big Game Fish on Page 17 of your February issue, I also put out trotlines on the Mississippi River and have caught a 70-pound blue cat. It did concern me, however, that the article said little about the dangers of trotlining.

You should always have a a very sharp knife on you and on the front of the boat to cut the line if someone was to get a hook in them.The strong current can take a full-grown man under very easily.

Mike Ponder, Altenburg

Gem of an Issue

Your January issue was a wonderful tribute to Lewis and Clark.The artwork was exceptional, making the magazine a true "collector's item."

As a teacher, I can only hope that other educators use this accurate, history-filled issue in their classrooms.Over the years, I have enjoyed using Conservationist magazines as training aids. They are perfect for building units in history, reading, science and art.

Claudia Stubblefield, Stoutland

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: The summer of 2002 we had what we thought was a mother turkey with seven chicks on our property for several weeks, but "she" had a beard. Is this possible?

A: Bearded turkey hens (like antlered doe deer) do exist. The following excerpt from the spring turkey hunting brochure describes how to tell a gobbler from a hen:

Large size, black body and long beard are marks of the gobbler. Hens sometimes have beards, but color, size and behavior distinguish them from gobblers. Hens are smaller, brown birds with blue heads. Bearded hens produce young and help increase the turkey population. They should not be killed, but any turkey with a clearly visible beard is legal in Missouri. Hens without beards are illegal and must not be killed. The future of our wild turkey hunting depends on you.

Q: Our 12-year-old daughter wants to hunt the youth portion of the turkey season, but we're not sure what permit she needs.

A: If your daughter has completed hunter education, she can use a Spring Turkey Hunting Permit. That permit also is valid for a youngster qualifying for the youth portion of the season.

Youths from age 15 down to age six who have not had hunter education certification must use the Youth Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit. Holders of this permit have a reduced limit for the turkey seasons and they must be accompanied by an adult who has the proper permit and hunter education certification. Certain exceptions apply for landowners. This permit is valid for the youth portion and the remainder of the spring turkey season, as well as the fall turkey season and the firearms deer season.

Chapter 5 of the Wildlife Code covers permit privileges. Get a code book wherever permits are sold, or read it online. Learn more about wild turkeys 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>.