Having known Warren Wiedemann for many years, I can well appreciate Catherine Downen's feature about her father. As Conservation Agent for Franklin County, Warren was not only a dedicated ambassador for conservation, but also an uncompromising enforcer of our hunting and fishing laws. , I have known his family well and can vouch for Catherine's wonderful recollections of being one of "The Conservationist's Kids."
James P. Jackson, Marthasville
If that recipe for rabbit in the December issue is "Southern Fried," then Robert E. Lee must have been a Yankee spy. The recipe sounds to me like smothered rabbit. Rabbit should be fried, like southern fried chicken. All you need is flour, rabbit, salt and pepper, lard and a cast iron skillet.
Ronald Lutz, Fulton
On the Edge
"Pearls of the Gasconade" brought back memories of the '30s, when I was growing up on a farm within walking distance of Apple Creek, which is on the border between Cape Girardeau and Perry counties.
We walked the riffles and found many mussels, which we brought home in buckets. We could open them clean them and dry them in the sun. Our mother would use the shells for edging around her flower beds.
Florence Richter, Uniontown
Two cents of sauce
May I please add my two cents' worth to Mark Goodwin's recipe?
Marinate squirrel/rabbit/deer meat in soy sauce, a bit of sugar and thin slices of ginger. After baking, stir frying, grilling or whatever, sprinkle on some finely chopped green onion.
My late father used to say that soy sauce and ginger brought out the secret flavor of game meats. In lean times, people of his generation would eat crow and rat this way.
Dr. Yasuo Ishida, St. Louis
I enjoyed Mark Goodwin's squirrel article, but I suggest you skip steps 1 and 2 and start at step 3, cut across the back and pull both ways (to front and back). It's not necessary to cut all around. Wetting the squirrel before cleaning sounds like a good idea.
Benedict Behrle, Arnold
Your description of the characteristics of a white oak are true to form.
In 1976, when the Conservation Department was looking for a Liberty Tree (200 years old) we felt extremely lucky to have a white oak that was 11' 9" in circumference. We received a certificate signed by then Gov. Bond.
We measure this tree about every five years, and since 1976 it has grown 11 inches.
The Blodgetts, St. Charles
Doyle Leppin of Meadville was flying a Cessna 182 over Locust Creek Conservation Area last April when he spotted a familiar shape in the flooded creek bottom. Although it lacks the Bootheel, the outline closely and eerily resembles the borders of the state of Missouri.
Our compliments on artist David Besenger's December cover. It is a special tribute to our wonderful state, which has so much to offer those who appreciate animals, birds and other wildlife. The picture is a keeper.
Stu & Dorris Davis, Wright City
In her excellent article, "Missouri Woodpeckers," Amy Salveter mentions hummingbirds feeding at sapsucker holes. In Howard County in 1982, I observed a sapsucker and a red-bellied woodpecker sharing the same small stand of hickories. The red-bellied fed at the sapsucker's fresh sap holes on one tree while the sapsucker worked on others. The next morning a downy woodpecker fed at the same holes. Orchardists may not appreciate the sapsucker's work, but a variety of other birds seem to benefit.
Cal Royall, Winchester, Va.
I especially enjoyed your otter article, "Controversy in Time of Plenty." In Colorado, trapping was "outlawed" several years ago by well meaning but uninformed voters who based their decision on emotion, rather than sound biology. Now it is common to see furbearers rot by the side of the road.
It is refreshing and encouraging to see that the Conservation Department recognizes trapping as a legitimate wildlife management tool.
Joe Lohnes, Greeley, Colo.
The article "Rabbits on the Run" mentions 12 and 20 gauge shotguns. I find it interesting that most hunters do not know what "gauge" means. From my days at Winchester Western Division at Olin Corporation, I remember that a 12 gauge is a measure of the diameter of a 1/12th pound of lead. A 20 gauge then is 1/20th pound of lead. Most common gauges are 4 (industrial) to 28. The 410 shotgun is a 0.41 inch bore and thus is not a "gauge."
Richard Bauer, St. Louis
Tall snake tale
You identified the series of photographs of two cottonmouth water moccasins as a mating dance. Florida naturalist Archie Carr wrote about this phenomenon a number of years ago in a book published by Life magazine. He interpreted this behavior as a contest between two males for territorial dominance.
The male who makes himself appear the tallest is the winner, and the loser must vacate the territory. He also stated that the two snakes do not bite each other during this contest.
The reader who sent in the photos was lucky to have witnessed this event, and we were lucky to have the opportunity to see the excellent photos.
Eric Puronen, Ballwin
I beg to differ with your claim that the red wolf has been absent from Missouri since the 1950s. My two youngest sons and I saw one up close and personal around noon one day in May 1996.
We were out walking when a huge white wolf, astoundingly beautiful and wild, came out of the woods to our west, crossed the field and the road and went into the woods. There was little underbrush, and the boys and I just stared at the wolf. He returned the gaze for a few minutes and then we went our separate ways. Wolves may be rare and endangered, but I do not believe they are totally gone.
Ann Pully, Willow Springs
Ask the OMBUDSMAN
Q: We really enjoy the weekly fishing report that the Conservation Department provides on their web site, but why is it only available from April through September? Some of the best fishing is in early fall.
A: Fishing often is good year-round, but the job priorities of those who provide information for the weekly fishing report change with the seasons. Many are conservation agents who must devote more of their time to policing hunting than monitoring fishing during the fall and winter. Others are seasonal employees who only work in the summer. We will continue to provide weekly fishing reports from April through September. For information during other months, you can visit the new Conservation Cafe Site on the Conservation Department's web page, where many anglers are sharing fishing tips and hotspots. For details go to <http://www.mdc.mo.gov/chat/>.
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