Thanks for the article "Nature Journaling." The American artist Robert Irwin titled a book "Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees." He put into a nutshell how categorizing blocks the road to seeing and learning.
Thanks, too, for the lovely drawings by Betty Grace. They may inspire me to get out my own sketchpads again.
Lois Malone, Licking
"Nature Journaling" was an excellent lesson in outdoors appreciation. During a lifetime of camping adventures, I have always jotted notes in a journal. Now I realize I might have enhanced my words with simple sketches.
Field journals provide lasting mementos of outdoor experiences and force us to truly observe nature.
James P. Jackson, Marthasville
I saw my first painted bunting the day before I received your magazine with the article about the birds. I was also glad to know about indigo buntings -- they visit my bird bath daily.
Margaret Morgan, West Plains
I am writing to congratulate you on your outstanding photographs in the July 1997 issue. In my opinion, your photo of the male painted bunting on page 11 of the July issue is the most spectacular wildlife photograph ever taken -- period. I don't know if you qualify for a Pulitzer Prize, but you certainly deserve it.
David N. Guthrie, Colorado Springs
In the July Conservationist, paddlefish are described as native only to Missouri. The Conservation Department publication, "Fishes of Missouri" by Bill Pflieger, shows on a map that it is found from Montana to Pennsylvania and down to the Mexico.
Louis Pushkarsky, Trenton
Editor's note: Good catch! The paddlefish is native to Missouri, but not native only to Missouri. Long before settlement, this big river fish ranged up and down the waterways, inhabiting areas of what are now many different states.
I am a high school biology teacher and have been impressed with the quality of your publications, especially the Conservationist.
I am so excited to find your web page. It is done just as well as your publications and contains your magazine articles. Everything on this site is very accessible, and I will certainly recommend it to other teachers, students and friends.
Carrie Samsel, St. Louis
My husband serves in the Air Force and we find ourselves living somewhere new every couple of years. Receiving the Conservationist each month is like taking a little trip home. Your spectacular photographs and well written articles always trigger my memory and remind me of the diverse bounty and beauty of Missouri.
Angie Werner, Beale AFB, Cal.
I grew up in Fredericktown and spent many summers working the hayfields on my uncle's farm near the Castor River. The reward of many long, hot days was to run to "Pink Rock," as Castor River shut-ins is known to many locals, for a refreshing swim. As your article and photos show, it is a beautiful spot.
I recently took my children to Pink Rock to see one of the state's most scenic areas and found many new additions, all manmade. Litter is everywhere in the shape of cans, cups, bottles, used diapers, broken glass, bottle rockets, old shoes, etc.
I commend you for writing about one of my favorite childhood spots, but, unfortunately many find it necessary to leave some unwanted reminder that they were there.
Don R. Allen, Fenton
Last fall, my wife and I spent a few weeks in Shannon County, where I grew up in the 30s and 40s. I have to write about all the trash we found on almost every forest road. There were not only small items, but refrigerators, water heaters, sofas and other items that will never break down.
We live in eastern Oregon and do not see that much litter. Our throw-away era needs to be brought to a better conclusion than littering our state and federal lands with debris.
Joseph G. Nichols, La Grande, Ore.
My favorite part of the Conservationist is the photography. Every month I look at the cover and if it is one I especially like, I tear it off and frame it. I hang the pictures or just lean them on my china cabinet to enjoy every day. My favorite has always been the photograph of the baskets from the June 1994 issue, but my new favorite is the June cover of the Missouri primrose. I grow this flower in my garden and love when it blooms.
Sue Kasparek, Florissant
Calling all birds
Thanks for putting together the Conservationist each month. We have so many birds and little animals, especially deer and rabbits, come up from the field and woods behind our house. It is a pleasure to watch them from our kitchen window.
I have a tape of Missouri bird calls but would like to have a video so we could see and hear the birds. Do you sell these, I hope?
Mrs. & Mrs. Wm. C. Stroud, Puxico
Editor's note: We do have some help for birders available. Although it won't show you every bird in the state, "Birding for Beginners" is a 14-minute videocassette that shows you the colors, behaviors, shapes and sounds to watch for when you are trying to identify birds. The video costs $9, plus $2 shipping and handling. Missouri residents should add 56 cents sales tax.
Should birds be fed in the summer, and does feeding birds tend to attract less desirable species which drive away song birds? Also, can red sugar water harm hummingbirds' digestive tracts?
Robert Wyatt, Kansas City
Editor's note: Summer feeding attracts birds to your yard for easy viewing, but they do not require this food source. The best foods for song birds are black oil sunflower seed, niger and suet. Commercial mixes and table scraps are more likely to attract abundant, sometimes aggressive species, such as grackles and house sparrows. Sugar water is considered safe for hummingbirds. Red dyes, which might be harmful, are usually not needed to attract the birds.
The sport of hunting contains many ingredients. Certainly it involves more than just shooting or going out to obtain a limit.
Some hunters measure the success of the hunt by the "body count." Numbers are paramount. If the limit is 10, getting only a few or even eight or nine means a bad day. Sometimes people don't quit as long as there is shooting to be done and a limit to be procured. They turn a pleasant day afield into an obsessed race against the magic number: the daily limit.
When the limit is only one, as in most deer and turkey hunting, other aspects of the sport come through. We experience the sunrise and other natural beauties, the stalk, even the mistakes or "goofs" that inevitably crop up in hunting. It seems the smaller the limit, the more each bird or animal is prized and the greater the total experience.
Some hunters have learned to abide by self-imposed limits. Their hunting experience does not involve numbers, regardless of what their buddies may think of them.
In this group may lie the future of hunting, for the sport gains respect as hunters become sportsmen and leave the number-minded aspects of hunting behind. Numbers are OK, and we all deserve a harvest for our hard efforts, but hunting is more pleasant when we keep the numbers in perspective and focus on the whole experience.
John E. Thomas, Greene