REMOTE CAMERAS are very popular with sportsmen and women. These never tiring devices allow for round the clock surveillance of wildlife movements along likely trails. The photos will show the time of day or night that a critter passed, all interesting stuff for the hunter or wildlife enthusiast.
Just because a trail camera is hung on a tree does not mean its memory card gets filled only with great close-up images of huge antlered deer. It has been this author's experience that I get hundreds of images of squirrels or little brown birds for every one photo of a deer. And since the trail is likely to get random passings of doe deer, fawns and occasional bucks, there is never any guarantee that a big boy will show up. To date, I have never had a trail camera photo of a big buck deer to entice me to hunt harder in one particular area.
Trail cameras are offered by many outdoor outlets such as Cabela's, Bass Pro and even local sporting goods stores. Check out their features and costs. Hint: High cost and ease of use do not necessarily go together. Hint number two: A device like this is a great Christmas gift. Enjoy.
T-R PHOTO By Garry Brandenburg
Remote sensing trail cameras catch images of more than just deer. For this author, the camera has brought interesting shots of deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkey and an occasional bird. Sportsmen use them to check likely areas, allowing the camera to work 24/7 and never get tired of waiting. Meanwhile, I’m anticipating what the next round of images will bring. It is fun. Nature is full of surprises.
Oct. 16 through the 24 was Iowa's early muzzleloader deer season. All 7,500 licenses for residents were sold out. Upon checking the deer harvest report system on-line with the DNR, it appears that Marshall County hunters took 30 does, 26 bucks and 5 button bucks. The statewide total take of deer went from about 4,600 deer prior to the muzzleloader opener to 11,400 at the close of this early firearm season. Most of these were attributed to muzzle loading weapon users however there are some archery deer harvest within that data, since the bow season is on-going. Final analysis of deer harvest numbers will come in early 2011.
Deer meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees before being consumed. And meat that is frozen for at least a few days also helps kill some of the organisms that may cause toxoplasmosis. For some hunters in deer camp, cooking fresh deer heart or tenderloins to a nice medium condition is a temping delight. Be careful.
Lurking in any meat, fresh game or domestic products, are microscopic organisms, some not so bad and others potentially very harmful. Proper cooking of these meats to the minimum temperature for a prescribed length of time will kill those nano-sized critters that could do harm to people. Deer meat sometimes has the organism called Toxoplasma gondii. It also goes by a common name of cat scratch fever. If your get it, you will wish you hadn't. Flu like symptoms, a nasty fever, aches and terrible night sweats may ensue. Vision impairments can also manifest themselves with a gray spot in the center of whatever you may be looking at. The vision may get better but still have lurking impairments. It is not worth the risk.
PHEASANT season opens today at 0800. The tradition of chasing Iowa's colorful game bird goes on. Hunters are well aware of the severely reduced overall population of ringnecks. The total take of rooster pheasants this season is expected to be about 200,000 to 300,000. Even with this reduced take, hen pheasants are not on the list, never have been. Biology fact: One rooster can serve 10 to 12 hens come next spring. Roosters and hens need lots of good habitat, an item constantly shrinking in an intensively farmed state like Iowa. The hen especially needs permanent grass habitat so she can raise her clutch of 12 to 15 young.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for pheasants ... if we put our mind to it ... and have several years of cooperative weather from Mother Nature. Relatively dry warm spring conditions help hens bring off their hatches with increased success ratios. Cold wet spring weather does the opposite. Locally, the Marshall County Pheasants Forever chapter tried what they could with tree, shrub, grass and food plot plantings. More is planned for 2011.
For comparison, the year 2006 survey data from the US Fish & Wildlife Service shows that main street USA in small Iowa towns had 170,000 pheasant hunters spending $80 million on food, lodging, gas and other purchases during their hunting trips. One can adjust these numbers down for 2010 and speculate that a reduced pheasant population will bring in fewer hunters and fewer dollars, only about $30 million this fall.
Our neighbor PF chapter to the south in Jasper County will hold their 25th fundraising banquet on Nov. 12, at the Newton Speedway. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the meal will be served starting at 6:30.
This year there will be three special raffle prizes well worth a ticket purchase. Close to the beginning of the night's festivities, a new freezer filled with $500 worth of meat will be given away to one lucky winner of a $20 raffle ticket. The second prize in this special raffle, to be drawn about midway through the night, will be a 47 inch flat screen television. And the last special ticket holder later that night will win a Benelli 12 gauge M-2 shotgun. These raffles are in addition to regular raffles, games and door prizes.
Tickets to the Jasper PF banquet can be obtained in advance from Darrell Batterson. Call him at 641-792-8398. The cost in advance is $55 which covers a PF membership for one year and the meal cost. If you are already a PF member and just want to attend, you pay $25 for the meal only. Join the Jasper County PFers for a great night and help raise money for habitat needs in central Iowa.
When you vote next Tuesday, don't forget to turn your ballot over and vote "Yes" for Question 1, the constitutional amendment to provide much needed money for conservation in the event the legislature raises the sales tax sometime in the future. Your Yes vote will not raise taxes, only the legislature can do that. It does provide for a trust account where 3/8 of a cent will be safe for conservation in the event a future legislature raises the sales tax.
Mark your calendar for this week on Thursday for the Brown Bag Bunch Program at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center. The time is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring your lunch and join MCCB naturalist Diane Pixler for a program on Monarch Migration. Come and enjoy beautiful photos taken on her trip to Mexico last winter to view the thousands of Monarchs that made the trip south. It is an awesome sight to see trees weighed down by thousands of butterflies.
For your funny bone: Did anyone see any 'flying squirrels' during this weeks earlier wind storm? The squirrels I saw were hanging on very tight to any tree branch they were on.
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.