Deer image makes magazine cover

BEING PREPARED is a Boy Scout motto, and a wildlife photographer’s motto. Always have a camera available for those instances when everything comes together at the right time, right place to capture a special moment in time. That is what this scribe did on July 21 last year. The result is now a cover photo for a magazine. Members of the Iowa Bowhunter’s Association got their recently released copy in the mail this week. And membership to IBA is not just for Iowans primarily, but many supporting members are out of state residents and/or outfitters with strong ties to Iowa clients.

Here is how the image was captured. My wife and I were on a short road trip to visit family. As per usual, I take the back roads, those with gravel surfaces instead of hard surface, because of less traffic, more scenic vistas, and often more opportunities to see things of interest that the natural world is offering free of charge. We were casually making our way westward when ahead of us when two male antlered deer crossed the road from north to south about 200 yards ahead of us. The deer were running fast, went through the road ditch and over the fence and into a soybean field. I immediately slowed and simultaneously grabbed my Nikon D5100 with its 400 mm lens, opened the car window and slowed to stop at the point where the deer had just passed.

Luckily for me, still running but somewhat slower, the deer were in my viewfinder and images were being recorded. Then the deer stopped. More images, and the duo of deer looked back curiously to see if this “car predator” was still in pursuit. It wasn’t. They relaxed. For several minutes, the deer stood still with only their heads moving back and forth to survey their surroundings. You guessed it, more images from a rock solid setting from a car window with the engine turned off to avoid vibrations. The rest is history. Fortunate timing allowed me to capture this image. For an avid wildlife photographer, you know I’ll savor the details of this experience for the rest of my days.

The original image did have more bean foreground and background than desired. But through the magic of computer cropping, I could bring the subjects into a more pleasing composition. There were no special computer tricks needed to improve the image as none were needed. It was a case of being prepared, having the right photo equipment, the right light and knowledge of deer behavior to know when to stop the car and when to begin lots of shutter button pushing. I used the deer duo image in my Outdoors Today column published July 25, 2015. So if you faintly remember seeing the photo before, you are correct. Now you can enjoy it again.

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This scribe has another milestone to celebrate this fall during the Iowa archery deer season. This will be my 50th year of hunting deer with archery equipment, my preferred method of take for this big game animal. One does not endure the heat of early October, possible swarms of mosquitoes, heavy wet dew on the grasses and long hikes deep into the filtered light of a forest unless your motivation and preparation is intense. Later in the fall, cold winds, snow on the ground and no tree leaves will change bow hunting circumstances entirely while I sit safely strapped into a tree stand. The right clothes allow me to stay snuggly war. And like all the years and times before, I’ll endure long periods of not much happening, and then be surprised when a big doe or a nice whitetail buck mysteriously appears along a trail. Then I get ready to do one of two things. Decide if the buck may be one I want to take with an arrow, or capture its image with a camera. Being prepared again is my motto. No matter how any bowhunting adventure turns out, it is good for sure, and a learning experience to add into my bank of knowledge. And it is fun for me.

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Here is another deer story, a case where vigilant public and law respecting hunters called Iowa’s TIP hotline to report wildlife crimes. TIP is the acronym for Turn In Poachers, 1-800-532-2020. Several calls were made and Officer Lucas Dever began his investigations. He give a huge amount of credit to the callers who provided details that lead to an arrest.

Here is a summary of what transpired. Ryan Matthew Greiner, 30, of Morning Sun and Treyton Hartman, 19, of Yarmouth, were charged after search warrants were conducted last Jan. 22. Many deer had been shot with rifles at night. Greiner had 18 charges of unlawful take/possession/transportation of whitetail deer, 18 charges of not having a valid deer tag, seven charges of abandonment of dead or injured deer, two charges of hunting deer with a motor vehicle, one charge of unlawful possession of a raptor foot, one charge of failure to report harvest, one charge of hunting by artificial light and one charge of not having a state migratory bird fee. To add to the mix, he had charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of possession of methamphetamine, one count of possession of marijuana and two counts of possession of prescription drugs. Greiner’s charges have a possible total fine of $7,503 as well as $67,000 of liquidating damages for 18 deer.

Partner Hartman had charges of no fur harvesting license, one charge of abandonment of dead or injured deer, one count of hunting by artificial light, one charge of not having a deer tag, one charge of unlawfully taking a whitetail deer (with $4,000 damages assessed), and one additional charge of unlawful taking of a deer with a $1,500 damage assessment that must be paid.

This investigation was aided with the assistance of the wildlife forensic laboratory of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in analyzing DNA evidence relative to this case. Criminals come in all types and unfortunately some like to steal wildlife resources in the process of their bad deeds.

A big salute is in order the the public who observed and/or otherwise got wind of the criminal activity involving wildlife resources and made the call to TIP of IOWA. Good job well done.

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ROADSIDE WILDLIFE SURVEY COUNTS are in. Statistically, Iowa pheasant numbers are very close to last year. The numbers were submitted from 200 routes, each 30 miles long, from observations by biologists and game wardens. Pheasant hunters can expect a similar to better season when the opener on Oct. 29 begins. Statewide surveys found an average of 21 pheasants per each 30 mile route. In 2015, the average was 25 per route. Statistically this is no change. If one looks at a pheasant range map of Iowa for 2016, think of a general diagonal swath from northwest Iowa to southeast Iowa as best areas to hunt.

Quail populations show increased numbers of birds in southwest and south central parts of the state. About 80,000 upland hunters pursued quail last year taking about 400,000.

Cottontail rabbit numbers are down from their record level of the past two years but above the 10- average. Southern and eastern Iowa have good rabbit populations.

Gray Partridge numbers from the surveys are basically unchanged. Best locations are northern Iowa. This hardy bird can survive in a landscape of intensively farmed lands.

A map of upland game population distribution is available at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey.

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“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

– John Muir, naturalist

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.