Pheasants do very well - if they have adequate winter escape and roosting cover to shelter them from predators and adverse weather. Such places do exist locally. One is the private property of Ed Siems and Teresa Vokoun. Many years ago, they planted many conifer trees, prairie grasses and shrubs as part of the landscaping for their land. In addition, three ponds were built to hold water for fishes, ducks, geese and great blue herons. The success of their endeavor is proven by the large number of critters that call the place home.
Winter time finds this oasis of habitat to be a critical factor to benefit the survival of wildlife. All the surrounding land is intensively farmed. Once the crops are harvested, this oasis works like a magnet to draw in wild critters from far away. It is the pheasants that put on quite a show for Ed and his guest photographers. Using specially built blinds set at strategic locations, the photographers wait patiently with camera at the ready.
The Ikes welcome any potential new members to attend and enjoy the food, fellowship and great wildlife photos.
Pheasants will be the primary subject for the Izaak Walton League's Wild Game Feed meeting and program next Wednesday, Feb 10th, at 6 pm at the Fisher Community Center. Each year the Ikes feature a special event in which members prepare all kinds of meat dishes from the ducks, geese, pheasants, quail, deer, moose, antelope, elk, bear, and fishes they have taken over the past year. The serving line has enough choices to easily fill ones plate. After the meal, Ed Siems and Mark George will present slide shows of pheasants at close range. All the photos were taken from blinds located in prime winter habitat of pines and prairie grasses. Today's pheasant photo was made by Mark George in 2008.
PHEASANT FEST is coming up soon in Des Moines, IA on Feb 26 -28th. This is a huge event that rotates host sites in the Midwest. This year is Iowa's turn to hold the extravaganza. It is billed as the largest event for upland game hunters, sport dog owners and wildlife habitat conservationists. This is the 6th Pheasant Fest but the second for Iowa. It was last in Des Moines in 2007.
More than 30,000 dedicated fans of upland game hunting will pass through the doors over the three day running. Habitat planning, planting equipment, seed and tree supplies plus much more will be offered. Fine hunting firearms, clothing and outfitter signups for your next pheasant hunt will be there too. If you are interested in the best of the best hunting dogs, you will not be disappointed. There will be demonstrations by the dog owners, pros who know what it takes to make a great canine companion for the bird hunt.
Check it all out on-line at www.nationalpheasantfest.org. Enjoy.
DUCKS UNLIMITED's IOWA RIVER CHAPTER is all geared up with the planning and prizes for their membership banquet on Feb 27th. The Regency Inn will be the site for the 5 pm gathering. A great meal will be served starting at 7 pm. As usual, the DU package of fine art prints, special gifts including jewelry items for the ladies, decoys and other novelties will wet the appetite of the bidders at auction.
Habitat projects for waterfowl have great side benefits for a wide range of other non hunted critters. In fact, the species list for wildlife using wetlands as their homes far outnumbers the seasonal spring or fall migratory peaks of ducks and geese. In order to have places for waterfowl, habitat must be secured, managed and regulated in just the right way to help all wildlife in the long run.
Waterfowlers are one very big component of conservations legacy year after year. It is the hunters that are the primary payers of the bills to acquire, maintain and regulate wetlands and other natural lands. They also help finance wildlife research and fish and game law enforcement. DU can be very proud of its long standing assistance for wildlife causes.
DU began in 1939. It is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to conserving wetland habitat. On average, DU is able to find $6 to use as a match for every $1 raised through membership and fundraising programs. Eighty-seven percent of all DU funds go to projects on the land; eleven percent is used for promotion and development. Two percent is used toward administration of DU programs.
Early Bird tickets purchased before Feb 26th cost only $40. Contact Max or Tanya Thomas at 2460 Malta Way, Marshalltown, IA or call them at 641-752-9496. Tickets at the door will be sold for $45.
February 20th is the local Whitetails Unlimited gathering at Marshalltown's KC Hall. Social hour begins at 5 pm followed by a prime rib dinner served at 6:30 pm. For avid deer hunters, this is another great way to help raise funds for woodland wildlife protection. The local contact is Ron Wacome, 1959 140th St, Liscomb, IA 50148. A WTU banquet ticket goes for $40. Spouse or child tickets are $20. Add this event to your cabin fever busting things to do list. You'll be glad you did.
Another year, 2009, is down the tubes. So now all of us lucky Americans get to pay state and federal taxes in early 2010. One great way to help lower your tax bill is by contributing toward known state and local causes. For sportsmen and women, wildlife enthusiasts in general and many others that want to assist with financial gifts, do seriously consider Iowa's Chickadee Checkoff, the unofficial name for the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. There is a specific line on Iowa's tax forms, line 58, to enter an amount you wish to give. If you have taxes prepared for you, be specific about your desire to contribute. If you do your own taxes, look for line 58 and make a contribution.
Iowa's Wildlife Diversity Program is just one beneficiary of Checkoff dollars. Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles and Prairie Chickens continue to be assisted with these funds. Do what you can. Thanks. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m., the Amateur Astronomers of Central Iowa invite the public to a program entitled "Messenger Mission to Mercury, It's Really Cool" by Elwynn Taylor at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center. Elwynn, Biological Meteorologist at Iowa State University, is a charter member of the Solar System Ambassadors Program of NASA-JPL. He was involved in the initial calibration, data acquisition/analysis, and imagery production for our first Geo-stationary environmental satellite. He was a project officer and Sky Lab Team Member.
Elwynn learned to heat his house for 1/10 the amount that everyone else has spent, and in the summer he can air condition his house to total comfort for 1/10 the price his neighbors pay. He says it is not magic, just simple physics of emissivity. It is that simple physics that allows sensitive electronics on the Messenger space craft to survive in close proximity to the sun.
Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country. The tricky part is getting them on the bears.
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 PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.