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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2004

March Flies

I enjoyed your picture of the mayfly in the March issue. In 1955, I was inducted into the military at Camp Perry, Ohio, during the spring. In late May and early June, the mayflies were so thick that businesses put up black curtains to discourage them.The highways would become slick as ice, and the flies would clog automobile air cleaners.They didn't really hurt anything, but they were a nuisance.

Up there, the mayflies were called Canadian Soldiers.The wings on them were green, as opposed to the dark wings of the specimen in your picture.

Bill Haase, Salem

Stranger Identified

I want to tell you how glad I was to see the March front cover. I have been trying for about two months to identify a strange-looking and strange-acting bird that I found in my back yard.

The bird hid among the fallen leaves in our yard, and it was there for about two or three days. I thought it might be hurt because it preferred to hide rather than fly away. However, the last time I saw this bird was when I came too close and it did fly away. I've never seen it again or any other bird quite like it until I looked at your front cover.

At first I thought I might be mistaken about my identification of the bird until I read it is found in Missouri--particularly when woodcocks migrate back to Missouri in February or March.

No one else in my family saw this bird, and I think they thought I was seeing things. It is true that this is the first woodcock I have ever seen.

Marilyn Starks, Sikeston

Wildlife Addition

This morning, I was walking around my lake on my property near Blackwater on the Lamine River.

All in a span of about 30 minutes, I saw 14 deer in a field next to our house, 20-plus turkeys in the same field, two bald eagles on the river in a tree, two beavers in the lake, six geese and one opossum. That animal comes every night to eat the cat food.

These numbers are typical for almost every day. Thank you for what you have done for the state!

Benton Fox, Blackwater

Tractor Tale

In 1949, my family moved to a farm just inside the Pike County line and west of Gazette, a small country town with a store, post office and blacksmith shop. After hearing booming sounds the day before ,we hid one morning in the hedge tree row to see if we could see what was making the noise. In a short time, we saw at least a hundred prairie chickens in front of us. The male birds were strutting and making booming sounds.

In the spring of 1950, we stood and watched over our north fence line as two tractors plowed up a section of prairie grass. The prairie chickens flushed all day as the tractors plowed. Within a couple years, we no longer heard any more booming.

Larry Hendricks, Montgomery City

Fishing First

I would like to thank you for your letter, the picture and the First Fish Certificate you sent to my daughter in January.

It came just in time for my daughter to take it to "Show and Tell" and share it with her third-grade classmates. She was very proud. It definitely brought back some exciting memories for her, as it really was her "first fish."

I realize the First Fish program must be an effort that takes time and money, and I think it is wonderful that there are resources for a program like this.

Andrea Rueckerl, Carl Junction

Overseas Duty

I grew up in Arnold, but learned to hunt and fish at my grandparents' 40-acre farm in Harviell.

I am currently serving in Iraq, and one of the things that helps me get through this deployment is the copy of the Missouri Conservationist that my mother sends me each month. I brag to other soldiers about Missouri's great conservation agency that works with private landowners to preserve our ecosystems for future generations.

The whole magazine is great, but the part I most enjoy is "Reflections." It lets me look into other Missourians' lives and see how the great outdoors has changed or shaped their way of life.

T. Chilton, Sgt.U.S.Army

Risk Taking

I've enjoyed your publication for years, but as a retired construction safety consultant, I feel I should point out some safety concerns in the pictures accompanying your January article about building a dugout canoe.

On page 21 and 22, the men working on the canoe are not using the face, eye or foot protection recommended in the text. The photo on page 21 shows a man swinging an adze while wearing only moccasins on his feet.

A good demonstration should include teaching the use of personal protective equipment and safe working procedures. Safety equipment can only prevent injuries if it is used.

John H. Wheeler, St. Paul,Missouri

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: We have a beautiful sweetgum tree in our yard. The foliage is stunning in the fall, but the "gum balls" that fall from the tree are a real nuisance. We rake and bag for days. I've heard about a chemical that will get rid of them. What can you tell me about it?

A: Your local lawn and garden center should be able to provide you with information about FlorelĀ® Fruit Eliminator. There's also helpful information from the University Extension web site.

Another possibility would be to keep raking the fruit capsules and use them as mulch around your trees. Some folks have also found some creative uses for the fruit capsules in craft projects.

Q: Can I hunt mushrooms on conservation areas?

A: Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code covers special regulations on department areas. Here's an excerpt that addresses foraging:

3 CSR 10-11.135 Wild Plants, Plant Products, and Mushrooms

(1) Nuts, berries, fruits, edible wild greens and mushrooms may be taken only for personal consumption, unless further restricted in this chapter.

(A) On Conservation Commission Headquarters, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, Runge Conservation Nature Center and Springfield Conservation Nature Center, taking of nuts, berries, fruits, edible wild greens and mushrooms is prohibited.

(B) On Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area and Rockwoods Reservation, taking of nuts, berries, fruits and edible wild greens is prohibited.

(C) On areas designated by the Conservation Commission as Missouri Natural Areas, taking edible wild greens is prohibited.

Please note that root collecting is prohibited by another portion of Chapter 11 which forbids digging.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <>.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Director - Ara Clark
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Circulation - Laura Scheuler