Reflections

WOULD IT SELL?

Your answer in the January issue about the folks wanting to get rid of the big walnut tree seemed to me a bit off the mark.

You should at least steer the owner of the tree in the direction of some walnut buyers. It is very possible that a buyer would come in for one tree, especially if the tree is of veneer-quality walnut. We’re not talking black oak here. For Pete’s sake, don’t tell them to hire a tree remover until they have at least researched the market.

Gary Blair, via Internet

HUNTING EXPERIENCE

My twin 7-year-old boys and I did not get drawn for a waterfowl hunting blind at Fountain Grove on a Saturday this past fall. When one of my sons pulled number 38 (out of 39) on Sunday, it seemed like our luck was going the same way. I told my sons we’d hang around to see if a blind became available, but the crowd started to get pretty thin, and it didn’t look good.

Then a gentleman approached and said his group would like to give up their blind for us. He said they had plenty of time to hunt during the 60-day season, but that I needed to get the boys out.

“We need more kids involved,” he said.

For someone who doesn’t hunt, this might not seem that exciting, but I was so happy I had tears welling in my eyes.

We ended up empty-handed as far as the ducks go, but the three unknown gentlemen reassured me that the sporting tradition is alive and well in Missouri’s duck hunting community.

Tex Rabenau, St. James

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

BEAGLE MUSIC

Your “Beagle Boogie” article made me reminisce about and reflect on several hunting memories.

I was lucky enough to be raised on a large tract of land in St. Louis County where I could roam freely, oftentimes with an old over/under shotgun. At some impressionable point, when I was under 10 years old, a friend of my parents came over to beagle-hunt.

Both he and the dogs amazed me as they worked the fields and the hedge rows. He would let the dogs know where he was by whistling. The dogs, working with controlled agitation, would cut-off and turn rabbits right into our path.

What fun!

Joel Amant, Valley Park

LIVING ROOM

The Nodaway Valley art on the cover of your December issue was beautifully done and was a familiar scene to me. From the agricultural backdrop to the wintry wetlands in the foreground, I found myself gazing into a scene from my very own living room window. Except that my view is of Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area in Mississippi County.

Although I am not an avid duck hunter, I respect and admire the sport, the hunters and the hard work and dedication put into the maintenance and preservation of such a beautiful refuge.

Michael Bub, East Prairie

BIRD STRIKES

Recently a few mockingbirds have come in and “taken over” our entire deck and back yard. They aggressively chase off any and every other bird that tries to feed. Any suggestions?

Cindy & Tom Wolk, St. Louis

Editor’s note: According to Conservation Department ornithologist Brad Jacobs, mockingbirds in winter defend territories that usually include fruit bearing shrubs and trees. If a bird feeder happens to be within the defended territory, they will battle all invaders. Removing the fruit trees and shrubs would solve the problem. A better suggestion might be to move the feeders away from the defended area, or just enjoy the antics of the mockingbirds.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Do skunks hibernate?

 

A: While skunks become inactive as temperatures get cold, I didn’t find anything that said they truly hibernate. “The Wild Mammals of Missouri” by Charles Schwartz states, “(skunks) are active until the temperature nears freezing, when the females start to become drowsy. Males continue their activities until the temperature reaches about 15 degrees F., when they too become dormant. During the periods of stupor, the body temperature of both sexes does not become lowered as in the cases of most truly hibernating mammals, and sleep is usually intermittent. Depending upon the weather conditions adults seldom remain inactive for more than one month, but young skunks may be dormant for as much as four months.”

The text goes on to mention large numbers of skunks using the same den in the winter. As many as 20 skunks have been found in one winter den.

This is the time of year when skunks will become more active. As temperatures warm, they will be seeking mates, and you’ll start to see more road kills along the highways. Unfortunately, they may also make a nuisance of themselves during this time of year by taking up residence in locations that you may deem unsuitable.

The Conservation Department has an excellent publication on nuisance skunk control. It can be found on the Department web site.

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>.