Outdoors Today

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS
Dove hunting is fairly accessible: the gear requirements are minimal compared to other types of hunting.

A different side of the outdoors

While I've considered myself a fisherman ever since my dad showed me how put worm on a hook, there is another popular outdoor activity that, until recently, had been a mystery to me: hunting. It's one of those activities that is much easier to get into when you have a friend with the ...

Links in the food chain

Small critters are everywhere...if we take the time to look for them. We need to observe carefully, and hopefully learn how they fit into nature's life cycles. What follows is just a minute amount of information about arachnids (spiders). And of course you should know that spiders are not ...

T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a true survivor. Outdoors enthusiasts seldom see this very common wild canine predator, but we all can attest to its presence when its yelps, barks and its eerie howls pierce the airwaves of early evening just before sunset. It seems the call of this wild dog perks up the ears of every neighborhood dog as a primordial trait kicks in to make domestic dogs howl back. This “coyote talk” is one way this four-legged predator communicates with others of its kind. Coyote ancestors have been around for millions of years. They are above all else very adaptable. And that is how this critter of the Great Plains originally has spread eastward into and colonized every eastern state, all of our northeastern states, southern Canada and even distributed itself across sea ice in the mid-1980s onto Newfoundland Island. Today's image is of a mounted specimen made at the Iowa Taxidermist Association meeting at Marshalltown in 2015. For this author and wildlife photographer, capturing quality images of a wild coyote remains a bucket list item.

Coyotes adapt and improvise

COYOTES are smart, cunning, adaptable and almost everywhere. Even our cities and towns have this animal cruising at its leisure during night time hours while us humans are asleep. But in the morning, if our pet's food dish left outside is empty, it could just be that a wild canine helped ...

Monarch

Mighty migrators on beautiful wings

MIGRATION is not something just for birds. As today's image suggests, a Monarch butterfly could be compared to "Flowers of the Wind." Monarchs are easy to see and a delight to watch. Since the last generation of Monarchs is nearly completing its chysalis stage, it will be programmed with all ...

T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
The Iowa River courses through Marshall County for about 29 miles from the Hardin County line south and southeastward past Three Bridges County Park before crossing into Tama County.  iewed today is only one small portion of the river between Timmons Grove and the highway 330 bridge (top) and the future bike trail bridge (bottom). Low river flow levels all summer have allowed many sand bars to become exposed, some long enough for green vegetation to grow on them.Canoeists and kayakers should find the river at this time as a fun place to paddle from put-in point to a designated take-out destination.

Lazy summer, lazy river

The IOWA RIVER just keeps poking along, steadily and silently giving an outlet to surface water runoff and ground water table seepage. Granted, this summers lack of significant rain has not added appreciable amounts of runoff water. From its headwaters at Crystal Lake in Hancock County to the ...

Fish & Game

FISH & GAME numbers and trend lines of population dynamics is full time work for Iowa DNR wildlife biologists. At research stations, data is collected and the numbers are crunched to help provide an overview of how any wildlife population is doing. Iowa's winter weather has a lot to do ...

T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) hunt for insects, small frogs, worms or small rodents in a harvested grain field in central Wisconsin. This is a family unit of the parents and their one surviving chick. A bald red crown and bustlelike rear feathers help define this species. Crane calls can best be described as a rolling bugled garoo-a-a-a that is repeated numerous times. The adult cranes stand three to four feet tall and have wingspans of six to seven feet. When flying, the neck is extended and its legs are normally held straight back. Formation flying is common for this big bird, a master at long range flying.

Birds are preparing for migration

SANDHILL CRANES are cool. Maybe a series of other terms would be more appropriate such as majestic, regal, powerful, graceful in flight and smooth sailors of the airwaves. Whenever I see them, or just hear them, a mental image of this big bird comes instantly to mind. A smile from my face is ...

T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
Another good year of learning respect for firearms while also possibly earning an athletic letter from school is a great combination. On July 21, kids of the Central Iowa Straight Shooters met for their final fun event and awards banquet at the trap range near Marshalltown's airport. After a year of more practice, helpful coaching and matches with other schools participating in the Scholastic Clay Target Program, the students grew in knowledge, safety, team work and discipline. The group photo has representatives from Marshalltown, East Marshall, West Marshall, BCLUW and Grundy Center.

Straight shooters earn awards

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS are what they call themselves. They are students from all area high schools that have chosen to take up a shooting sport as part of their education. They learn lots of things and primary on this list is respect for firearms, not fear of them. They learn safety essentials ...

Green Castle celebrates 40 years

GREEN CASTLE as a public park will soon be 40 years old. To help celebrate, you all are welcome to join in activities, good food, visit with friends, go hiking, fishing, paddle around the 16 acre lake in a canoe or kayak, play volleyball at a newly installed deep sand court, and listen to ...

Explore the magic of a tall-grass prairie

SPRING HILL is the name Carl and Linda Kurtz gave to an 80-acre parcel of land they purchased long ago. Kurtz being a native prairie enthusiast, saw the potential of bringing back the native grassland vegetation of the area. They have been successful in achieving that goal. The grasses and ...

Keeping what matters in mind

Leaving behind a beloved space is always difficult, whether it’s an apartment, a childhood home or, in my case, a house with a view of the Olympic Mountains. Those who graciously read my outdoor column about a year ago know that, throughout my childhood, I’ve made trips to western ...

This big fish did not get away

BLACK CRAPPIE (Pomoxis migromaculatus) are just one of the Sunfish family of fishes. In general, the sunfish family is a group of spiny-rayed fishes native only to the North American continent. There are twenty-five species of sunfish and eleven are native to Iowa waters. Biologists further ...

Water is a magnet for recreation

SAND LAKE is a Marshall County-owned parcel of land and water. Today's image was made last Tuesday. Public land and the actual property lines would take in most of the middle segments. Land and water to the far west side and far east sides are still privately owned. The date was in 1999 ...

Ready, set, fish at Kid’s Fish Derby

FISH ON will be the shouts heard from near and far when July 8 arrives. Riverside Cemetery will be the location. Time for the Kid's Fish Derby will be 8 a.m. until noon. For young kids on their first fishing outing, or even if they have been there in past years, it does not take long for a ...

Dancing Duo

SANDHILL CRANES are cool, majestic, tall and big. As birds go this long legged marsh bird likes water and secluded places to live. They are easy to spot if you go to the right places such as bogs, marshes, wetlands or open prairies. Summer time will find them at these sites where nesting is ...

Some treasures come in small packages

The HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) is the featured creature of the day. This sparrow-sized bird is very common and has an interesting history to why it has become so bountiful over the entire North American continent. It was a bird originally found in the western United States and Mexico. ...

A worthy conservation connection

IZAAK WALTON was an outdoors person of the 17th century. He was an English philosopher and he loved to fish. A dedicated conservationist was another of his titles because his outdoor adventures and observations in England allowed him to understand the relationships between healthy land, clean ...

Some fun facts about fawns

FAWNS are being born at this time of year after a seven month gestation period. And with new spring vegetation sprouting all over the place filling forests and grasslands with green leaves, wildlife babies will find places to hide, their mothers will more easily find a wider variety of foods, ...

My spectacular trip to the Driftless

I knew going fly fishing in Iowa’s Driftless Area was a great way to get in touch with nature, and I learned last weekend that sometimes “getting in touch” can be quite literal. The windshield wipers got a good workout in during the three-hour drive to Yellow River State Forest last ...

Wetlands = Magical Places

Strutting its stuff, an all white GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) is a bird that likes water and wetland habitats. That is where its food is found. Close by in tall trees is where a pair will build a nest of twigs. Nests can be up to three feet in diameter and one foot deep, and are often over water. ...