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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 1997

Go back to Missouri!

Reading about the Conservation Department's new director, Jerry Conley, reminded me of an incident some time back when my job had taken me to the southern part of California for a few months.

Being a fly fisherman, I called the California Fish and Game and asked them to recommend some local streams.

"You say you are from Missouri and would like to do some flyfishing in our area?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Well, I recommend you go back to Missouri," he said. He then explained that he felt Missouri had the best conservation program in the nation and that the fishing in California would not be as good as the streams in Missouri.

He was right.

Bart Coleman Jr., Ballwin

Strange lights

The story about the spooklight brought back memories from around the year 1967, when a bright orange ball appeared over the Missouri River one night in Jefferson City. It appeared, disappeared, reappeared and finally faded away. I remember the local radio stations talking about it as it happened. I still wonder to this day what that could have been.

Dennis Stieferman, Jefferson City

When I was a young teenager, several hundred movie-goers at a drive-in theater practically centered between Piedmont, Van Buren and Ellsinor witnessed a strange and inexplicable light. From beyond the giant screen rose a light so bright as to be blinding. It then dimmed and left the area quickly and without a sound.

Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking story which, for some, did not cross the borders of believability.

Reg Everhart, Blue Springs

Now knows why

My father has said he never could hit a quail, and until Joel Vance's article "Why?" I had no idea how the birds could fly through a volley of pellets. Now I have written proof: You see my father is a Vance, and it seems this curse has carried forth in the Vance blood.

Virginia Pautz, Kingston

Celebrate all species

Over several years of reading the letters to the editor, I have noticed that many Missourians write with enthusiasm about growing populations of deer, turkey and other game species, but a large number of them don't have an understanding and appreciation for biodiversity.

Some of our least common and little known treasures have value beyond our ability to harvest them.

My hope is that hunters, anglers and hikers will take a moment to see the nongame species that make Missouri diverse. Maybe in the future, I will read a letter from someone who is as equally amazed to discover a coachwhip snake on his or her property as a record number of pheasants.

David Huth, Ballwin

Caws for praise

"No Caws for Alarm" stirred memories of when I was a boy of 10 (72 years ago). I had two young crows as pets. Although they never learned to speak, they had other ways of letting me know when they were hungry, and it was a full-time job for a boy to keep them fed. I still have a lot of respect for the "lowly" crow.

Ted Corder, Cincinnati, Iowa

Crows can be amusing, intelligent, noisy, nosey and annoying, and let me share an observation about their cooperative defense behavior.

About two years ago I saw at least a hundred crows circling in the sky. Then I noticed some teen-agers trying to feed a crow to a cat. They changed their minds quickly!

Matt Kellner, Affton

The article on crows said it is now a violation of both federal and state law to have a crow as a pet.

There is a season to shoot crows and leave them lay on the ground, but it's against the law to have one as a pet. Does this make any sense?

Lynn Nitzschke, Branson

Editor's note: Crows are not the only creatures people can hunt but may not keep as pets. Game animals, such as deer and fox, cannot be taken from the wild and kept as pets. Crows fall under federal jurisdiction and are protected under international treaties, as well. As is the case with waterfowl, crow season is dictated by the federal government.

Froggy, froggy dew

As my uncle and I drove home from church one night in the 1950s, we saw in the car's headlight frogs peppering the blacktop highway. They were all the same size - about an inch long - and there were millions of them cascading from the sky. It was an unforgettable sight; they were bouncing higher than the raindrops.

Frank Berry Sr., Kansas City

Remembering honey

The article about the honey war was very interesting. I knew Charles Longnecker (now deceased) and have been past his farm home many times.

I own a farm that has the ghost town of Sweethome on it. It had a government post office there between 1832 and 1845 and a trading post, blacksmith shop and boat dock. I found many artifacts, including arrowheads, gun barrels, oxen shoes, and storekeepers' account books.

Robert McPherson, Kahoka

Fish chase doldrums

We were inspired by the picture on the back cover of your January issue of a panfish caught through the ice on a frozen pond.

My father-in-law and brother-in-law and I loaded up the 4-wheel drive and set out to my grandmother's farm. The ice was almost a foot thick and very safe. We made several holes in the ice and pretty soon we were catching fish like crazy - in January! It gave us a chance to get outdoors and beat the winter doldrums.

George Wisdom, Hannibal

Sparrow spreading

Regarding Mike Arduser's sidebar to the article about starlings and house sparrows, the St. Louis area is no longer the only place in North America where the Eurasian tree sparrow lives.

In recent years, the nonmigratory sparrow has expanded into Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Missouri, they have been found west to Columbia and south to Farmington.

Robert R. Knickmeyer, Hazelwood


The last time I worked the opening weekend of the paddlefish season, I discovered many anglers who had not measured their fish before including them in their daily creel and possession limit. As you can imagine, after I talked to them, they really wished they had.

Regulations state that any paddlefish less than 24 inches in body length, measured from the eye to the fork of the tail, must be returned to the water unharmed immediately. This differs from the way other fish are measured, which is from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail, with the fish laid flat and the tail lobes pressed together.

Some people ask what is the big deal if a fish is a little short. Or they might say 'what's one quail over the limit.'

Strict bag and size limits help us protect the overall population of a species. Extensive research has determined how many of each species can be harvested without threatening the health and viability of the entire population.

A quarter inch of fish or an extra dove may seem insignificant, but the rules are not. They are tools to help us protect our current fish and wildlife resources and ensure that we have those resources tomorrow.

Good management of our fish and game requires anglers and hunters to follow all the rules listed in the fishing and hunting summaries of regulations.

If you are unsure of any rule, check with a conservation agent, before an agent approaches you.

Kevin Patterson

Regional Training Specialist, Camdenton

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Kathy Love
Assistant Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Composition - Kevin Binkley
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Staff Writer - Charlotte Overby
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer