Reflections

RAISING HELLBENDERS

I enjoyed reading "What's Hurting Our Hellbenders?" by Jeff Briggler.

This August I will begin my second year at the University of Missouri-Rolla, and while most students in the work study program have jobs in offices, computer labs or the library, my job is working on a research project involving hellbenders and water quality.

On weekends, we travel to two sites in southern Missouri to snorkel for hellbenders. Once caught, the animals are put to sleep and a safe amount of blood is taken from them. The blood plasma is sent to a lab and tested for estrogen levels and other parameters. Hellbenders are amazing creatures. I feel privileged to work for their benefit.

Jennifer Jacobi, St. Charles

HAMMING IT UP

I've been eating deer for 40 years. I used to disguise its taste in chili or tacos, but today I'd rather eat venison than beef.

My friend who works at a meat processing plant said that's because, comparatively, beef may not be as good as it used to be. You rarely get corn-fed beef anymore. The meat is leaner than it used to be, and cattle are often given supplements to make them grow faster.

I'd suggest people try deer hams. I haven't found a processor that wasn't willing to cure the hind quarters or shoulders. Most do stipulate, however, that you to bring 6-8 hams to them at a time. You can collaborate with your buddies and take in several hams (accompanied by your tags).

Specialty meats are great, but they're expensive. The hams have run me $6 to $8 each. You won't believe how good they are for breakfast with eggs, or in ham and cheese sandwiches, salads, casseroles or other ham dishes.

Guy Defenbaugh, Savanna

CROPPING SERICEA

The July issue with the story on sericea lespedeza was outstanding. This invasive plant is one weed that can literally create its own monoculture, leaving behind no value for wildlife or livestock. Landowners are becoming more and more aware of this plant's impact on our wildlife and livestock grazing areas.

In my experience as a rangeland management specialist, I have seen this plant invade and conquer fescue and native warm season grass pastures, move rapidly along waterways, and even into heavy, late succession forest areas where we would have thought there was not enough light.

Awareness is the first step in managing invasive species. Knowing how to recognize it before it becomes a problem is next. Your efforts and great photography will be a great help to landowners who are needing this information.

Rodger A. Benson, Dow AgroSciences

HUNT AT HUNT

Congratulations to Joshua Simpson on his winning a hunt at J. B. Hunt Lodge. It was incorrectly stated in the July Conservationist that J. B. Hunt Lodge is located in Barry County. It is located in McDonald County.

I am sure that Joshua is going to enjoy his hunt. This is beautiful country.

Mary Lou Shaddox, McDonald County

MAGNETIC MAGAZINE

Thanks for doing such a great job with the Conservationist. It's a great visual aid for young and old alike. Your magazine is a magnet for our 20-month-old granddaughter. She grabs it over other children's books, and we sit on the floor, her in my lap, going over every page in detail.

Carole Neumeyer, Reeds

CARP SALAD

I enjoyed your article about carp. You discussed cooking methods and I wanted to share one of mine with your readers.

One year my son and some friends brought a pickup load of carp home from a conservation area when they were allowing people to net them.

I placed the cleaned fish in jars, covered them with water and pressurecooked them. The result was delicious. The cooked meat tasted identical to canned salmon.

I took some carp salad to several dinners and everyone complimented me on the "salmon salad." Also, when I was a child, my grandmother would fry the eggs. She rolled them in flower and corn meal. They were very good.

Darla Halterman, Norborne

BUOYED BY BUZZARDS

Thank you and congratulations on the articles and photos of both the black and turkey vulture (buzzard). I find them very inspirational. It would seem we share a fondness for these big graceful, flying birds.

I have your close-up photo of the buzzard head in a frame over my work bench. I enjoy watching for these high fliers each morning as I drive to my shop in Benton County.

Jim Maxwell, Cole Camp

UNNETTLED

When I was a child and my dad and I went hiking in Ohio, I would sometimes wander into a patch of nettles. Ow!

My dad got mud from a nearby stream and coated my legs. I got instant relief.

Margery Vosburgh, Ste. Genevieve

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Last September I noticed a number of persimmon limbs (about a half inch in diameter) cleanly cut, lying around the base of the trees with the fruit still on them. Can you shed any light on this?

A: Squirrels will sometimes nip off small limbs, but this sounds like the work of a twig cutter. Two types of longhorn beetles cause this type of damage--twig pruners and twig girdlers. A twig pruner larva tunnels within a branch, making a series of cuts out from the center of the branch, leaving only the bark intact. The branch eventually breaks and falls to the ground. The female girdles a branch by chewing a V-shaped notch completely around the limb. She then deposits her eggs in the branch. The larvae develop in those dead branches, which also fall to the ground. Branches attacked by these two beetles range from 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch in diameter and from a few inches to three feet in length. These beetles prefer oaks and hickories, but persimmon, elm, basswood, dogwood and some fruit trees can be damaged, too. Where pruner or girdler infestations are heavy, you can rake and burn fallen twigs and branches to reduce population levels. For online information, try a web search using the key words "twig girdler."