100 Hikes in a Year
What one hiker learned along the way, and some of her favorites for you to try

A Little Night Music
Still playing at 86, Silver City musician Dane Dexter knew all the greats

Mining Santa Rita's History
Terry Humble has a passion for the mining district's past

A Real Hoot
Meet the burrowing owl, Frank Sinatra of the owl clan

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Our Readers Write

Counting Critters

It was with great interest that I read Larry Lightner's article regarding New Mexico wildlife ("Natural Disasters," September). I have only been here seven years, but I have noticed the cyclical nature of many life forms, for better or worse. We ranch in the southern part of the Burro Mountains, and the last few years, we have totally despaired for our quail population. This summer, however, we could scarcely go anywhere without encountering hens with large broods. We do not see Montezuma quail very often, but my husband encountered a pair with 15 chicks — a first!

Our deer population is not anywhere near what we think it should be. Of course, deer season finds us with approximately five hunters camped out for every deer we have actually seen. I admit I am a bunny-hugger, but even my husband says the hunting licenses are way oversold.

We work very hard at our wildlife habitat, and enjoy "harvesting" it with a camera. Some years I am overrun with bird species like black-headed grosbeaks; other years not. Spring 2011 we had dozens of pairs of lazuli buntings; spring 2012 we had about two pairs. We have cardinals that are daily visitors and bring their offspring.

This year, our resident pair of ravens fledged three youngsters, and we were privileged to watch them go all the way through their young phases until mom and dad finally ditched them at the end of August. It was incredibly entertaining. They are very comfortable with us, so we got to witness the schedule of "baby raven nap time," "baby raven fly in formation time," "baby raven land on top of the windmill time," all accompanied by very vocal instruction from mom and dad, and very vocal complaints by the kids. It was hysterically funny. We got to see the kids flail around and knock each other off the chosen tree branch. Or crash land on top of a cypress. Or sit on the fence at "nap time" and finally start asking each other: "How much longer till they come back? Do you think they'll bring food?" It was a riot. Our resident golden eagles also successfully fledged one youngster, a beautiful experience.

As Larry said, we generally have more mountain lions than coyotes. We have some established bears; we generally leave them and our established lions alone.

I had not heard about ritual combat between snakes ("The Great Pretender," September). Last year I surprised two huge snakes in what I assumed to be the throes of passion.

Erin Evans

via email



Day Breitner

The article "To E.R.R. is Humane" by Bina Breitner (August) is incredible, simple and to the point. I started to cry a little because I had some experiences like the ones she wrote about. Thank you. It made me feel alive and happy afterwards. I enjoyed it, and I will be waiting for her next articles.

Luis A. Ibanez R.

via email


Editor's note: Wait no more — Bina Breitner returns with more wisdom in this issue's Body, Mind & Spirit section.




Pat Gill, current president of the Las Cruces Storytellers ("Tell Me a Story," October) and president many times since 1971, is a widely recognized catalyst in keeping the local group active. She has not, however, been president of the group without interruption since 1971.

Contrary to Larry Lightner's response to a letter from Richard Earnheart in our October issue, there was in fact a Hornocker study of mountain lions in New Mexico.




Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email letters@desertexposure.com. Letters are subject to editing for style and length (maximum 500 words, please), and must be in response to content that has appeared in our pages. Deadline for the next issue is the 18th of the month.



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