Reflections

NATURAL PRAISE

After reading "Renaissance at Snake Ridge," I would like to express my admiration for Dick and Esther Myers for what they have done for our great state-and for nature!

Catherine Gaines, Raytown

DRIVING ISSUES

I'm a school bus driver. To make sure we have a nice, quiet ride, I take old issues of the Missouri Conservationist to keep the young boys and girls occupied.

Thanks for the help.

Eloise Morgan, Polo

MENTOR MEMORIES

The cover photo of what looked like a mother and daughter on your November issue brought to mind the importance of having an "outdoor mentor."

Thirty two years ago, I was introduced to the Missouri Conservationist by a seventh-grade art teacher, Tex Edwards. His frequent use of the magazine and other Department publications in everyday lessons sparked an interest in the outdoors in many students.

Though not required by the curriculum, he took several of us camping on the banks of the Gasconade. I vividly remember cooking potatoes by campfire and looking for wolf spider eyes with a flashlight.

I am grateful to Ted and to the Conservationist for planting many good seeds.

Captain Kevin Dodd, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

THIN SQUIRRELS

I just finished reading "Scattergunning for Squirrels."

When I was young, I hunted squirrels with 12- and 20-gauge shotguns, but I could never get the knack of shooting them in the head.

Because the pattern spreads out, you have to know the distance, and at the edge of the pattern the shot is very thin, which makes the chance of a pellet hitting the squirrel in the head just as thin, or more so.

William Black, San Mateo, Calif.

IN SEARCH OF TROPHIES

The little girl's remark, "Oh look, Grandpa! It's just a baby!" in your "Trophy Does" article reminds me of the 1971 deer season, when I was assisting at a biological check station in Van Buren.

We had a fellow bring in a deer on a motorcycle. The deer's legs were sticking out the side slits of his hunting coat. This drew the attention of lots of bystanders for the weighing and measuring.

The deer proved to be a button buck with some spots still visible. It weighed 23 pounds. One of the men declared that at least it would be easy to cook: "Split it down the backbone and fry each half in a skillet."

George Fadler, Columbia

"Trophy Does" was very interesting. I learned a lot about why deer do what they do. Knowing things like what you describe should make me a better hunter in the field.

You're right that bucks live the rut with their noses to ground. I never gave a thought as to how this might reduce the quality of the meat, but it only makes sense. It's very helpful to know what puts the best venison possible on the table.

Jack Dotzman, Roach

HOTDOG!

I just love reading your magazine. It's the only one I can read from cover to cover and stay interested.

I began fishing when I was 20 and have continued for another 23 years. It is the only sport that is both exciting and serene at the same time.

About six years ago, I was introduced to catfishing, using hotdogs as bait. After I figured out how to use the drag on my ultra-light rod, I was catching 10- to 12-pound fish on 6-pound-test line. If you have never felt that kind of fight, I can tell you that it is a great experience, and that the thrill lasts for a long, long time.

Rhonda Ruiz, St. Charles

HOG REFLECTIONS

I am a transplanted Missourian and recently read the article in the Missouri Conservationist concerning feral hogs and noted a mistake. Specifically, the article stated that the hogs "lack the reflective layer (tapetum) in their eyes that deer have, so their eyes don't shine when hit by artificial light."

Feral hogs are non-game animals here in Texas and may be hunted and taken by any means, to include "spotlighting." On the ranch where I hunt, we use red lights and hunt the animals at night. I can assure you that their eyes do reflect light. Many times they are outside visual range of the light, but you can see their eyes clearly through your scope.

We have far too many (33 of them in the road to my blind one evening this week), and they cause problems.

Allen Rhodes, Seguin, TX

Editor's note: According to most sources, hogs do not have the reflective layer in their eyes. Some hunters report that red or blue lenses make a hog's eyes shine brighter.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: We have a huge walnut tree in our yard. We've been told it's worth a lot of money because of its size, and we're not fond of the mess created by all the nuts in the fall. Can you recommend a logger who would be interested in cutting it?

 

A: Walnut lumber can fetch a good price. Unfortunately, due to this tree's location, you probably won't find anyone willing to bid on harvesting it. Loggers have a lot of expense just getting their equipment to a site. It would be rare for them to take a job for just one tree, and liability concerns at an urban site would be unappealing. Another potential drawback is that yard- or town-trees are notorious for containing foreign objects such as metal, clothes line, fence, gate hinges, etc. These items discolor the wood and make logging and sawing extremely dangerous.

Because of these issues you may have to consider hiring a professional to remove the tree. Another option may be collecting the nuts for personal use or selling them. For information on the latter, try a web search using the key words "black walnut" or contact your local Conservation Department office.

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>.