Seeing the turkey hunting article with the lady wearing orange made me feel good. My wife and I always wear orange when walking in the turkey woods, and when we stop to work a bird we tie blaze orange material above us about 6 feet off the ground to warn other hunters that it's a human making turkey sounds, so they don't try to sneak up on us.
I know the orange doesn't spook the longbeards, because I've done this since I was 13 and killed a lot of birds. I've never had another hunter mistake me for a turkey.
My wife mails the Conservationist to me in Japan, where I'm serving as a U.S. Marine, so I don't feel so far from home.
Greg Long, Okinawa, Japan
I have lived in Florida for 24 years and have experienced some beautiful ocean views with breath-taking sunsets, flowers and greenery of tropical delight, magical sunlight and weather to die for.
But raised in Missouri, I miss frost-bit toes, mushroom hunting and violet picking in the spring, when nature begins to show its beauty.
Your magazine brings back memories that I enjoyed so much, such as trout fishing in January, when the water froze at the tip of the pole only to be broken when a trout began the fight.
Veronica Foster, Sarasota, Fla.
When I was a young boy in Osceola in the early 1930s, we used to see a lot of snakes we called spread heads, especially after mowing hay. I still spend a lot of time outdoors, but I haven't seen one in 20 or more years.
And what about blue racers? Even a person who doesn't like snakes would say they are beautiful, but one seldom sees one anymore. Where have they gone?
Sherman Cameron, Lincoln
Editor's note: "Spread heads" is a common name for hog nose snakes, of which there were once two species in Missouri. The plains or western hog nose snake is no longer found here; the eastern hog nose snake is still common statewide. Blue racer is the common term for eastern yellowbelly racers. You may not encounter them because of local changes in habitat, but they generally are doing well in Missouri.
I was returning to my home from a visit with relatives in Poplar Bluff on Mother's Day when, about 15 miles east of Bunker in Reynolds County, I was forced to brake for a black bear loping across the road.
The bear was full-grown, jet black, sleek and graceful as a dancer. I have seen bear in Montana and Wyoming, but it never entered my mind that I would see one in Missouri.
I'm not ashamed to tell you I wept as I watched it. To know there are bears in Missouri is to witness a miracle. Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard for so long to make our state once again hospitable to these magnificent animals.
John V. Pyle, Rolla
Jim Loveless's article about building wood strip canoes reminded me of a similar experience when I was a boy.
We used cypress to build a canoe that was 18 feet long. Floating and paddling was a great way to spend a day with your friends and their canoes. Twenty years after I left home, a workman saw the canoe in my folks' basement and offered $60 for it. I don't know how long he used it, but he said it was great.
I often think about that old canoe and all the enjoyment it gave me. Perhaps someone is still paddling it.
Jack J. Constance, Bonne Terre
Thank you for the article on Roaring River State Park. It is truly one of the gems in the Missouri State Parks system. Due to the foresight and generosity of one individual, this beautiful area has been enjoyed by the public for over 70 years and will also be enjoyed by future generations.
W. Dudley McCarter, St. Louis
I very much enjoyed Mitch Jayne's article concerning wildlife that lives with or around us. One day in April, a groundhog weighing approximately 10 to 12 pounds was standing on its hind legs scratching at our glass storm door.
Living near the highway in a built-up area, we have the usual run of birds (grackles, robins, cardinals, wrens and others) and enjoy watching them gather worms and bugs from our yard, but this is the first time a groundhog has come so close to the house.
Robert C. Conner, El Dorado Springs
"Brother Coyote, The Ultimate Survivor," brought back to me something my grandpa told me many years ago.
He said, "If they dropped the big one on us today, there only would be two things that survive--cockroaches and coyotes. They are the hardest things in the world to kill."
Ken Kilburn, Marshfield
Page 29 of the April 1999 issue has a lovely picture of a bridge spanning a wetland. If that location is somewhere I could visit, I would sure like to know how to find it.
Cathy Lampe, Chesterfield
Editor's note: The photo was taken at Allred Lake Natural Area, a 160-acre Conservation Department area in south-central Butler County. To reach the area, travel 5 miles east from Neelyville on Highway 42, and 2.5 miles south on Highway H to a gravel road that heads south. Allred Lake Natural Area is .25 mile down this gravel road. The "bridge" in the picture is part of a .25-mile boardwalk trail that meanders through a cypress-tupelo swamp. Some of the bald cypress trees on the area are over 500 years old.
Q: I e-mailed you weeks ago, and haven't heard anything. Should I be calling you or writing instead?
A: Sorry you didn't get a prompt reply. E-mail is probably one of the quickest and easiest means of getting a response, except when there's an electronic problem or the sender incorrectly enters his or her e-mail address. These things happen fairly frequently, and when I get a message back "undeliverable," there's not much I can do, unless you've included your mailing address. If the mailing address is included, I print the response and send it to you through the mail.
Any of the methods of contact you mentioned work well. Turn-around time on correspondence and messages varies. I try to respond as quickly as possible, but as volume increases, it takes longer to return messages. The Conservation Department wants to serve you as quickly and efficiently as possible. We appreciate your patience and value your questions and input.
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) 751-4115, ext. 848 or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.
Editor - Tom Cwynar
Assistant Editor - Charlotte Overby
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer