Outdoors Today

Fall is baton-passing time

There are four runners in this ageless 'track event' account of geologic time. There are four runners to the ebb and flow of earth's orbit of the sun. We human observers of life on earth have dubbed the inevitable, cyclic, and natural changes of the seasons as Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. ...

Big Bluestem likes fire

TALL GRASS PRAIRIE once covered 140 million acres of North America's plains states. Now less than 4 percent remain nationally. In Iowa, the percentage is less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Iowa native prairie sites in large settings exist now in a handful of preserves dedicated long ago for ...

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 ...

Young wildlife prospering

WILD TURKEYS are being seen more regularly by passers by traveling along rural roadways near or in the vicinity of forest lands. It is good to see them. It is proof that this past Spring's nesting season was very good due in part to relatively warm and dry weather conditions. Wild turkeys nest ...

The big ones did not get away

IOWA CONNECTIONS WALLEYE DERBY is now in the record books. The 2016 event organized by Dennis Baker was a smooth operation with many satisfied folks who enjoyed the great wilderness setting of boreal forests, clear blue water lakes and lots of hungry walleye fish. Baker arranges for a group ...

Last nest for the year

ROBINS (Turdus migratorius) are one of the most common feathered critters of the bird world. A few stay all winter feeding on berries or fruits. Most however fly south to areas that are warmer and have more food sources. Each spring, robins returning give rise to the saying "the early bird gets ...

Wild foods a good thing

The COMMON SUNFLOWER, Hileanthus annus, look like the sun, standing tall on sturdy stalks, pointing their faces to the light. The bright yellow petals around the future seed head glow brightly at early morning sunrises. This plant was domesticated a long time ago by native peoples. To them ...

A deer’s nose knows

DEER are members of the family biologists call Cervidae. Worldwide there are about 40 species of antlered animals. And to add to the complexity of it all, there are maybe four times that number of subspecies. In North America, we have five cervids, namely whitetail deer, mule deer , moose, elk ...

An Olympic Peninsula adventure

As a fisherman for the majority of my short 21 years of life, I can confidently say my favorite area to hike, adventure and interact with nature is the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state.I was lucky enough to make it out there this month, and of course I had to wet some flyline ...

Straight-shooting students excel

STUDENT STRAIGHT SHOOTERS know how to compete in a very structured, safe and disciplined sports activity, namely to shoot clay targets with shotguns. And it is all conducted as part of the school approved sports program. In this case, the students from five area middle and senior high schools ...

Living with wild things

The IOWA RIVER WILDLIFE AREA (IRWA) is just one of several county owned natural areas dedicated to wildlife habitat. Management goals for the area have been established and are being implemented as time and finances allow. Acquired in 2007, it was opened to the public in September 2008. ...

An ecological mechanism

What does a naturalist at heart do in the middle of a hot summer day. Go for a hike, camera in hand, and hike into natural settings just to see what can be seen. Careful observations are a key element of an inquisitive mind. There is always something new to find, to smell, to see, and to ...

Good-bye for now

I moved to Marshalltown in the summer of 1999 to pursue my career as a teacher after graduating from UNI. I thought I would teach here for a couple of years and then get back to my roots in Northeast Iowa. I grew up in Independence and love the area for many reasons, fishing the rivers of ...

Sizzling summer fishing fun

KIDS FISHING DERBY on Saturday, June 25th was a big hit, again, for the 150 attendees plus dedicated volunteers. The weather was perfect, no rain like last year. The fish cooperated. Kids caught lots of bullheads of all sizes and brought them to the official scale tent for weight. And the ...

Prairie history and notes from Lewis & Clark

PRAIRIES are grasslands by definition. And within this broad brush stroke label, botanists refine that definition into three categories; mesic, dry and wet. Marshlands and savanna plant communities are often associated with the three named prairie types. Specific unique plant communities can ...

Cheerful chattering chipmunks

CHIPMUNKS are small and fast. Cute is a human term sometimes misapplied to this critter. Cute however has its limits as this animal can quickly become a pest of major proportions should it decide to invade your house, its foundation, or even the attic. They typically inhabit mature woodlands ...

Time to head west to Hickory Grove

Hot weather, and hot water temperatures have hit Central Iowa lately. When water temperatures near the 80 degree mark, it is time to start fishing early and late in the day, as well as the deepest areas of area lakes. This weeks' local lake review travels west to Hickory Grove Lake. This lake ...

Fawns find a new world to explore

FAWNS of the White-tailed deer are out and about. Single births have happened for first time doe deer. The majority of older does will have twins. About 10-15 percent of the older and definitely mature does will have triplets. A high birth rate for this species is one of nature's methods to ...

Hendrickson Marsh is wildlife oasis

HENDRICKSON MARSH is not a huge wetland complex, but it is just one of many wildlife havens each spring and fall during migration times. Wetlands from the prairies of Canada, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana function as a place for waterfowl, shorebirds and ...

Meadowlarks love grasslands

THE EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) is a true grassland/prairie species. We typically hear them singing, and simultaneously see them, perched on the top of a fencepost overlooking grasslands. The male will point his head and bill skyward to announce his defense of territory to other ...