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Reflections

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Trail mix

Thank you for the information on the two new multi-use trails at Mark Twain Lake. I'm always seeking public lands where off-road bicycling is permitted.

Bringing bicyclists into the "trail mix" of users can be controversial and, when bikers behave irresponsibly toward other users or the resource, public sentiment rises against us.

I encourage all mountain bike riders to behave as if their personal actions determine the fate of bicycling on public lands, and I hope others can see the sport as an appropriate, healthy way to enjoy the back country.

Don Huber, Springfield

Bad eggs ample

Our senior Girl Scout troop safety monitor was quick to point out the stupidity of Hobo Eggs in "Campfire Cooking," in the February issue. Most campers are too far away from medical help to take chances with exploding egg shells in one's eyes.

Also, please don't encourage green stick cooking. Campers would be destroying wildlife habitat and some trees are toxic.

My girls have been cooking over campfires since they were in the third grade and camping for entire weekends. Our most prized possession is our box oven; we can bake virtually anything in it, and it doubles as a packing box for supplies.

Ellen Gardiner, Troop 1751

When I was a child - some 60 years ago - my mother sometimes cooked eggs in the coals of burned brushpiles. She did not puncture them; she merely wrapped them in a thick coat of Missouri mud. They were buried in the coals for several hours and when done, the mud was dried and peeled off easily with the shell.

Ireta Greer, Adrian

Sorry to hear about your troubles with Hobo Eggs. I have never had one explode. The problem may be the coals being too hot. I usually use the ashes from a large fire the following morning. Try them again; it's worth it.

David Matthews, Reeds Spring

Gnawing problem

The front cover of your February issue features a "cute" beaver gnawing on a small twig. Our beavers should be so cute. Over the last three years, we've lost weeping willows twice, a pink dogwood, a young fire-red maple, a long-needled pine, trumpet vines, a weeping crabapple and the cattails my husband planted.

We've spread moth balls, put up a high-frequency motion sensor and caged most of our shrubs and trees with chicken wire, but that hasn't stopped them.

Ursula Heiy, Lake Ozark

Editor's note: Your regional wildlife damage biologist should be able to help you prevent damage by beavers. "Missouri's Beaver" is a guide to management, nuisance prevention and damage control. For a free copy, write Beaver, Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180.

Great expectations

The comments in Agent's Notebook about the fisherman who was peeved he had only caught about half of the limit brought to mind the time I was fishing just before dusk on a beautiful warm day.

I felt a peck on my plastic worm and set the hook into a dandy. A couple of boats came near to watch me battle the fish. Finally the fish made an amazing leap and flipped the worm out.

As it landed with a splash, I heard some people say "Oh, no!" I could only think that the fish deserved its freedom. I had no fish, but it was what I call real fishing.

George Kvaternik, Trimble

AW, Shucks

You have fallen into the pit of folk etymology when you stated that a tomahawk is so named because the curve of the metal blade looks like a hawk's beak.

The word molded itself from the Algonquian "temah," which means to cut and from that language's lengthened "a," which sounds like "aw" and means instrument or "tool for."

Historians are not supposed to pass on distortions or verisimilitudes of veracity. How many Missourians are going to repeat your error?

Please undo some of the misdirection you have given others.

Dr. Carl Masthay, Creve Couer

Blast of blue

Your editorial in the December Conservationist generated wonderful response. We have mailed out 290 Project Bluebird information sheets. Many people told us that they wanted to build boxes from our plans and place them in their neighborhoods.

Harold and June Cox, Joplin

Magazine ahoy!

The Conservationist was really popular while I was in the U.S. Navy. Each month my shipmates and I looked forward to the interesting articles and green trees of Missouri's landscapes. The magazine made me glad I am from the Show-Me state.

Now that I'm a resident again, I look forward to utilizing the many hunting and fishing areas the Conservation Department provides.

Timothy Henley, Peculiar

Critique

In the past, each issue of your magazine usually had one article that caught my eye. The February issue had a friendly tone, and I wanted to study several articles in depth. If that issue represents an editorial change, I like it! Your new glossy cover is pretty, but I'm not sure I want to pay for it.

Incidentally, in the lunchroom at work I found a 1985 Conservationist. The articles were timeless.

Dorothy A. Tice, Dearborn

Editor's note: The glossy new look to the Conservationist is a result of a UV coating applied as the magazine is being printed. It preserves the paper and costs less than 1 cent a copy.

Trout summary

I trout fish at Bennett Spring, and I think Agent Larry Evans of Phelps County summarizes the essence of that fishing very well.

I have witnessed splendid dawns, watched and listened to nature awaken and heard the water ripple over the rocks. To be there and take part in the experience is the true meaning of being outdoors. By the way, I'm 66 and have not caught any trout yet.

Ed Keys, Springfield

AGENT'S NOTEBOOK

As my weekly radio segment was winding down, the program host asked me if the recent heavy rains and water pouring over low water bridges interrupted my routine duties.

"Not really," I said. "I try to stay away from those places under these conditions." My answer may seem a little flippant but, when you think about it, doesn't it make pretty good sense?

People tend to think of streams as benign and placid and don't take into account the power of flowing water. But that same force that is rushing over a low water bridge powers hydroelectric dams and provided the energy for the numerous grist mills that were once part of the rural landscape.

A rain swollen river can be an uncontrollable monster. A passenger car, pickup or even a large, 4-wheel drive truck is no match for it. The water can lift your vehicle off the bridge and send it downstream in an instant. You won't have traction. Your steering won't work. You will be as helpless as a log in the flow.

The best solution is the most sensible one. Don't take chances. Avoid crossing low water bridges when the water is high.

We all seem to be rushing from point A to point B, but all the hurry won't help if we never make it to our destination. It may take a few extra minutes to reroute yourself around a questionable area, but consider how much longer you might live if you take the detour.

LARRY MILLER (retired)

Webster County

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