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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2005


Do you know anything about a wild plant called mountain dittany? My mother used to make tea out of it for bad colds.

Don Branstetter, Warsaw

Editor's note: The dittany that grows in Missouri, as well as all over the eastern and southeastern U.S., is Cunila origanoides. Mountain dittany is probably another common name for this species. The plant, which is in the mint family, has been used medicinally for centuries to treat headaches, fevers and snakebites. There is no information about its effectiveness. Many herbal remedies have not been scientifically tested.


Thanks for the article on praying mantises. My neighbor recently found one of the egg cases in my yard and, after examining it, we tossed it in the grass. When I saw the article, I went out and poked the egg case into a pyracantha shrub. I hope we didn't destroy the mantises inside the case.

I wish the article had emphasized that mantises are harmless. I was at a picnic last year where a couple of teenagers saw a large one and reacted with horror. I picked it up and let it stroll along my arm. They said, “That thing'll kill ya.”

I explained that they only ate insects, but I don't know if it sank in. I was surprised that such superstition still exists. They must not have gone to school in Licking, where the science teacher knows better.

Lois Malone, Licking


Someone told me that they read in the Conservationist that hummingbirds travel south for the winter on the backs of geese, nestled in their feathers. Is this true?

Karen Jarrett, Mountain Grove

Editor's reply: Hummingbirds do not hitch rides on geese. The little birds travel to the tropics and back under their own power. They fly low while geese usually fly high. Hummingbirds also tend to winter farther south than geese. The amazing distance of their migration and their small size likely led people to believe that hummingbirds receive travel assistance.


I am right-handed and am right eye dominant, but for some unknown reason I naturally shoot left handed. You guessed it—totally messed up.

A wrong eye dominance can be overcome while shooting a rifle or pistol, but a shotgun at flying targets gets to be a problem. The experts say that one should shoot a shotgun with both eyes open in order to judge distance and angles better.

My Dad tried to get me to shoot right handed, but it was just too awkward. Bringing the gun to the left shoulder just seems natural.

The 7-year-old mentioned in your article has a long road ahead of him. At least he will always have a built-in excuse for missing a target.

Tim Baker, Springfield


Your article about cooking wild turkey looked so delicious it made my mouth water.

I have to agree there's more good meat in a turkey than the breast. We made “Cashew Turkey” out of the breast meat, and then I cooked the rest of the meat in a slow cooker so it would be tender.

Sharon Miller, Crane


I have read about the 150-pound blue cat that your article said Dr. “JGW” Steedman bought at a Missouri fish market. Actually, Steedman's name was Isiah George Washington Steedman. IGW Steedman.)

Steedman, Missouri, is named after IGW Steedman's son, Edwin Harrison Steedman. Dr. Steedman is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. He was my great-great grandfather.

Dick Sant, Crestwood


Being a Brownie leader I was especially interested in reading “Missouri's Most Irritating Plant.” I had thought that the 5 leaf vines growing up many of the oaks leading down to Table Rock Lake were poison oak. I am now gratified to know that poison oak has not been seen in Stone County.

Cathy Morton, Branson West


Even though I'm only 15 years old, I have contributed to your Share the Harvest program since I was 11.

I'm very fortunate to have what I have, and giving venison to the hungry makes me feel that I've given something back.

As long as I live to hunt, I will give all I can.

David Schallenberg, St. Clair

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: What are the regulations for boats and motors on Conservation Department lakes?

A: Special regulations for conservation areas are found in Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code. Here's an excerpt pertaining to boat and motor use that covers most (but not all) Conservation Department lakes:

“3 CSR 10-11.160 Use of Boats and Motors ... only electric motors are permitted on lakes and ponds of less than seventy (70) acres. Electric motors and outboard motors are permitted on lakes of seventy (70) or more acres ... Outboard motors in excess of ten (10) horsepower must be operated at slow, no-wake speed, ...”

For the electronic version of the Wildlife Code please go online.

Matters pertaining to general boating regulations, such as registration requirements and mandatory boater education, are handled by the Missouri State Water Patrol. You'll find their site on the Web, or you can call them at (573) 751-3333.

Note to fishing tournament organizers: A Regatta Permit from the Missouri State Water Patrol provides for safety and better distribution of activities and is a requirement for state waters.

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 - TomCwynar
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Editor - 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