Records made to be broken

The 2017 DEER CLASSIC is a fantastic show of whitetail deer trophies and related sporting goods. The event was held last weekend, so it too is in the record books. Hundreds of exhibitors, about 20,000 paid admissions, and lots of fun awaited those who made the effort to attend. They were not disappointed. The Deer Classic takes over all of Hy-Vee Hall for the weekend. Seminars downstairs offered a variety of deer, turkey and how-to programs. One special show was the West Texas Rattlesnake show that was popular. Not to worry, none escaped and yes, a few balloons were popped by the sharp fangs of a rattlesnake.

Deer were the focus of why exhibitors and attendees made the trip in first place. Iowa has a rich variety of outdoor natural resources living in all kinds of natural habitats of forest, wetland or grassland. However it is important to note that close by in our own backyards, whether urban or rural, whitetail deer have adapted to us while still retaining and maintaining their wild character. Hunting deer is part of a multi-million dollar annual endeavor for Iowans and a few non-residents who apply for (usually a three to four year point accumulating process) and are lucky to draw a coveted any-sex deer license.

The Deer Classic staff invites a special group of past Iowa deer trophy owners to return with their Hall of Fame deer for display. One hundred are invited each year. Sixty were able to attend for 2017 bringing with them some of the best of the best from past Iowa deer seasons. Hall of Fame deer are displayed on their own special green carpeted aisle where onlookers can marvel at this impressive lineup. When one looks at the counties represented, year taken, by youth, ladies or men, with gun, bow, crossbow or muzzle loader, the entire State of Iowa is well represented. We grow some good ones in Iowa indeed.

The new Iowa record non-typical archery deer had a 22 6/8ths inch inside spread, right side total of 91 3/8th, left side at 92 1/8th, making the first sub-total of 206 2/8th. Subtracting differences between right and left of 6 2/8th made the second sub-total 200 0/8ths. Because if its non-typical nature of this antler set, all “extra” measurable points can now be added in. Non-typical total was 82 2/8ths. The grand total and final score is thus 282 2/8ths inches. Congratulations to Deric Sieck for his good fortune during the 2016 archery season.

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Last weekend, high school ARCHERS competed for awards and scholarships at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Almost 1,500 archers from 84 schools participated in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) state tournament. Lily Machart of Anamosa swept the girls categories winning the 3D competition with a score of 291. Her bullseye competition score was 297 out of 300 possible. She received two new bows as her awards.

Ben McAtee of Solon won the boys bullseye course with his score of 296. Logan Kelly of Mount Vernon won the boys 3D course with a 292 score. Each boy won a new bow.

Senior boys scholarship winners were Blake Stonehocker for East Union who got $1,000 for his high score in the 3D course and an additional $1,500 for the bullseye course. Theodore Davis of Cardinal High School took home a $500 scholarship for second highest score. Matt Bolton of Independence took home $1,000 in scholarship money for his second highest score among seniors in the bullseye competition.

The gals did very well also. Senior Cynthis (Grace) Shafer-Smith of Washington High School got her $1,000 scholarship for highest 3D score. Morgan Cichran of Chariton took home $500 for second place senior division. Sarah Kuhlman of West Des Moines Valley got her $1,500 award for highest score. Megan Bussan of Independence has $500 in scholarship funds for her second highest score.

While all the timely excitement and credit at this time of year may go to boys and girls state basketball teams in the play-offs, it important to note that lots of other dedicated sports participants from high schools are pursuing other options of interest. NASP archery competition is just one of those options. Other teams are working on sporting clays and will be ready to hit the clay bird ranges soon. Shooting sports options are out there for middle and high school kids. Check it out.

The NASP State Tournament is sponsored by the Iowa Bowhunters Association, Whitetails Unlimited, and the Iowa State Archery Association and Safari Club International.

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Marshalltown will be the host city, again, for the IOWA TAXIDERMISTS ASSOCIATION on March 25-26 at the Regency Inn. Public hours to visit a display of artists creations of preservation for fish, furbearers or big game will be on Saturday, March 25 from 12-5 p.m. The public will be given a chance to vote on ‘Best of Show’ which is strictly based on what you like best. Admission is free.

If this show of superbly done specimens is like past years, then this little but important show will be worth taking a peek at. It is fun to see what can be created as taxidermists apply their skills to make lasting mounts of wildlife moments. The Iowa Association of Taxidermists is dedicated to education and excellence.

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Iowa River Chapter of DUCKS UNLIMITED will host its fundraiser banquet on Saturday evening, March 25 at the Impala Ballroom, Marshalltown. Games, raffles, silent auction and live auction will help fill the evening. Funds raised at this DU function will go in part toward Iowa wetland projects.

In fact, in 2017, the Little Swan Lake enhancement project in northwest Iowa will install a new water management system and carp barrier. The goal is to transform this lake from an open water with turbid quality into clean healthy and abundant natural wetland habitat. DU money is part of a partnership in this case with private landowners and several other conservation organizations.

Another Iowa DU project in North Central Iowa at Rice Lake (Worth and Winnebago Counties). It is part of the Living Lakes Initiative in cooperation with Iowa DNR. The goal is to enhance the 1,200 acre lake via control of water levels to mimic natural high and low water cycles which in turn promote more natural waterfowl and fish habitat. Wright County is another site is a cooperative work with an existing CREP program. CREP stands for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. It provides voluntary incentives to landowners who establish wetlands or riparian habitat. New wetlands under this program collect runoff from surrounding watershed lands and the vegetation in the wetland does the work of clarifying and cleansing the water. Similar projects have shown a 40-75 percent reduction in nitrate by wetlands. The final example for DU money this year is in Plymouth County where a 160-acre acquisition will be restored to native prairie. This project is on-going, starting with a gift in 2012 to DU from the estate of Shirley Vannorsdel, a lifelong resident of northwest Iowa. DU partnered with the Plymouth County Conservation Foundation and Pheasants Forever to acquire this land near the City of Westfield.

DU can be trusted to a partner with private and other county and state agencies to accomplish wetland projects we already know about, or for projects still on the drawing board. Your help to raise money for DU will go a long way to make this a good long term investment. Support DU. Tickets to the DU banquet can be ordered by calling Rich Naughton at 1826 Wiese Garden Road, Marshalltown, or call him at 641-328-0124.

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TAMA COUNTY’s FUN NIGHT will be March 25 at the Nature Center at Otter Creek Lake Park. This is their 28th annual Fun Night. Money helps go toward educational exhibits. Call for ticket availability at 641-484-2231. The catered food is great, so are the auction items, and a good time to meet and greet old and new friends.

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Think SPRING. TROUT will be stocked at Sand Lake on April 22 at noon. Just mark the date on you calendar now. Watch as 2,000 trout slip out of the hatchery truck hose to enter the water in the northwest pool of Sand Lake. Bring the kids and have fun.

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Take your pick: “Work is cancelled due to hunting (or fishing) season.”

— Author unknown

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Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at P.O. Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.