The pristine and fragile cave speleothems shown in your March issue are disappearing at an alarming rate. For example, the "aragonite bush," along with all the others shown on page 7, has been broken off and removed from this Ozark cave.
Although cave resources are protected by state and federal laws, vandalism seems to be on the rise. Tom Aley has it right when he states, "Damage is easy, fixing is difficult (sometimes impossible) and prevention is best." I hope your readers will join cavers in helping prevent the further degradation of Missouri's cave resources.
Jim Huckins, Columbia
Your speculation as to how the Great Scott Cave got its name makes an interesting article, but as a member of the Scott family I feel I must respond.
The cave is on Indian Creek in Washington County. The surrounding area was recorded in the name of our great grandfather, George Reynolds, in 1850. His daughter married Henry L. Scott in 1875. Their son, Thomas, was our father, and the property where our family grew up was recorded in his name in 1924. When the cave was surveyed and mapped, it became known as the Great Scott. A cave east of that area, off Highway 185, was named Little Scott.
The big spring in the cave was the source of our refrigeration for milk and butter and of the coldest drinking water imaginable. We never thought of the possibility that it was flavored with bat guano.
Geraldine Scott Harman, Sullivan
I read with great interest your "Vantage Point" comments regarding Washington School in Cape Girardeau. I am also an alumni. I think my first appreciation of the outdoors (and poison ivy) came from walking through the woods to get to the school. I also have fond memories of a small creek that ran through the college farm. Thanks for sharing the memories and for putting out a fine magazine. I very much enjoy the articles, pictures and perspective.
Nanci Burchell, Kansas City
Your story about vultures was very informative; however, you totally forgot to mention a great treasure of our state, the World Bird Sanctuary. It has a traveling show featuring raptors, including vultures. We hope you tell your many readers about the World Bird Sanctuary, which is dedicated to the rehabilitation and preservation of our native bird species.
Sue Owens, Winfield
Ganging up on trout
I enjoyed "The Rainbows of Crane Creek." I have a question about trout fishing in trout parks.
When I was trout fishing in Montana last year, an outfitter showed me how to tie a dropper. We tied a weighted fly onto our leader and then tied a black ant fly on a 2-foot section of leader tied to the weighted fly. Is this legal in Missouri trout parks?
Rev. Eddie Bone, Park Hills
Editor's note: In Missouri's trout parks you are limited to fishing with one rod only but, as in the rest of the state, you are allowed up to a total of 33 hooks. Treble hooks count as three toward the total. This means droppers off the fly line are legal. If you added 32 of them, however, you likely would spend all of your time untangling lines, instead of fishing.
Your article on woodpeckers left me with one question. I was in Australia during World War II and always wondered why there are no woodpeckers there.
Louis Volo, St. Louis
Editor's note: Australia has no woodpeckers, but it has other species of birds that perform the same ecological role. Sitellas and treecreepers eat insects from tree limbs and bark. Parrots excavate nest cavities in trees and riflebirds often strip tree bark and tear apart rotting timber to extract grubs, insects and larvae.
The February issue said veterans with 60 percent or greater service related disability are exempt from selected hunting and fishing permits. I am a World War II veteran, 100 percent disabled and was a prisoner of war. Could you explain what "selected hunting and fishing permits" means?
Grover C. Mullins, Windsor
Editor's note: Permits exempted are resident fishing and resident small game hunting. All other permits would be required, as would adhering to all hunting/fishing regulations (methods, limits, seasons, etc.). The exemption applies to honorably discharged Missouri resident veterans with disability of 60 percent or greater and to former prisoners of war. You can find more information about the exemption in Chapter 5 of the Wildlife Code.
Your January issue had an article about a hunter who shot another hunter while turkey hunting. The shooter did not, as you said, help the injured man to his vehicle. He ran off and left him in the woods. I am the man who was shot. Otherwise, it was a fine magazine.
Randolph Scott, Kirkwood
I have just finished reading a Missouri Conservationist given me by a friend, and very much enjoyed not one of the articles, but all of them. Kudos to Tracking Missouri's Exotics," "Missouri's First Botanists," and "The Conservationist's Kids." I rate them as excellent.
Buck Riney, Caruthersville
Ask the OMBUDSMAN
Q: Why can't we hunt turkeys until sundown in spring like hunters can during the fall turkey season?
A: Our early afternoon closing allows turkeys an undisturbed portion of the day to breed and tend to nesting. Although male birds are the only legal game during the spring season, allowing hunters to pursue them all day could disrupt the nesting activities of hens. Nesting isn't a concern during the fall season. The year's crop of turkeys has been established, and hunters can harvest either sex without much impact on the overall population. For more information on turkeys check out the following page from the Conservation Department's web site <http://www.mdc.mo.gov/nathis/birds/turkey/turkey.html>
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>.