Until I saw your carp article, I was beginning to think I was the only one who ate those fish. I was born in Minnesota, and we always had carp. Up there, my father would soak them in salt water overnight and then smoke them the next day. He used to sell them in bars and to people that wanted to eat fish on Friday.
Clarence E. Schueler, Waynesville
Last summer, my partner and I visited a Missouri State Visitor Center on I-29, not far below the Iowa line. We spent a full hour looking for any mention, even one word, that the Missouri River flowed through this state. Despite the fact that it has 553 miles of fishable water, 920.5 miles of Missouri bank and is within an hour's drive of at least two-thirds of the state's people, we were not even able to find any word that it existed.
In the Missouri River, you might catch a 50-pound or even a 100-pound fish, and most of the fish have never even seen a baited hook. The problem is that it is one of the best-kept secrets in the state of Missouri, as well as one of the most consistently badmouthed, poorly managed, unpublicized, hidden, difficult to access and generally wasted resources one could ever imagine.
To its credit, the Conservation Department has built and maintains many-and most of the best-river accesses in the state. But people have to know the river is there. To quote one of your publications: "The Missouri and Mississippi rivers are our state's most significant water resources, totaling 264,000 surface acres or 29 percent of Missouri's total surface water acreage. Together they exceed the combined area of the state's 15 largest reservoirs.
Let the water skiers and jet skiers have the reservoirs and help the fisherpeople go back to their roots. In Missouri, those roots are our rivers. Not just the pretty, clear-water streams of the Ozarks, but the big brown rivers on or near whose banks most of us live. Even damaged as they are, they offer unsurpassed fishing and view after view as beautiful as anything in our state.
Jeff McFadden, Richmond
Monster Set Free
I bet you never realized what a monster you unleashed when you published the information about buying seedlings from the Conservation Department. I ordered the deciduous holly bundle (25 plants) in hopes of growing a hedge across the front of my yard. My son and I spent the entire month of March digging up sod. The first two weeks of April were taken up with laying weed block and shoveling eight tons of gravel.
The seedlings are growing now. I thank you very much, but my son thanks you hardly at all! He is trying to talk me out of ordering the wildlife bundle next year.
Bonnie Henson, Doe Run
When I was growing up in Livingston County, my father would take us to local lakes and sloughs where we would take out the boat and throw out jug lines. Every couple of hours we would go out and check them-or chase them, if our luck was good. The excitement of chasing a jug and the possibility of catching fish was really a big thrill for a kid.
My father was always adamant about making sure our jugs were all accounted for and collected before packing up and going home, but I understand how people not so conscientious could make the "attendance requirement" necessary.
Mary Foxworthy, Avalon
After reading about the Niangua River, we decided to camp at Bennett Springs and fish and canoe the river last fall. What a disappointment! The river and its banks were full of litter, especially cans. In many places you couldn't see the bottom because of the cans.
We were given a trash bag and filled it within 300 yards of the landing.
I used to live by the Wolf River in Wisconsin. They solved the litter problem on that river by passing a no-cans, no-bottle law and strictly enforcing it. Missouri may need to clean up its rivers the same way.
Gary Corsi, Tucson, Ariz.
I really liked your May issue. It had a balance of material in it, instead of just fishing and hunting. The article about the birdman was good, because it told about the beloved hawks and falcons that fly so gracefully as they hunt for prey. I learned a lot from the "Duck Design" article, and "How Fish Swim" was a good article for kids.
Jerry O'Neill, Aurora
Can you tell me how much a hummingbird can consume in 24 hours? I have feeders and can't count the number of customers, but right now they are eating about 1 1/2 quarts each day. Last year I recorded every sack of sugar I used-65 pounds! This was at a mix of 1/4 cup to 1 cup water. I tried to count the hummingbirds, but they swarm around so fast it is impossible. My son-in-law once counted 18. They are so tame that they get on the feeder while I am hanging it.
Elsie Tevis, Centralia
Editor's note: Bird expert Jim D. Wilson estimates that a hummingbird might consume a few ounces each day. A rule of thumb ornithologists use is that around a busy feeding station you usually have twice as many hummingbirds as you can count.
The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: I've noticed that some wildlife areas are now called conservation areas. What is the difference and why the change?
A: Until a few years ago, Conservation Department areas were listed by a variety of labels, including conservation areas, wildlife areas and state forests. To simplify things, the agency decided to refer to all such properties as conservation areas. The exception is public fishing accesses, each of which is now called an "access." A few areas, mostly gift acquisitions, continue to have special wording in their names because of deed stipulations. For example, we have the Ed Sears & Leda J. Sears Memorial Wildlife Area and the Kessler Memorial Wildlife Area. Some areas known for their special or unique features are designated "natural areas." Examples include Allred Lake Natural Area and Hyer Woods Natural Area.
Signs on some areas still use the old names. Rather than replace all the signs at one time, signs are being replaced as they become unserviceable. The Conservation Department plans to provide detailed conservation lands information (official names, maps and regulations) on the "Conservation Atlas" portion of the "Places to Go" page of its web site: www.mdc.mo.gov/areas/.
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. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.