A month ago an email came across my computer from the regular scribe of this column, Garry Brandenburg. He tempted me with the idea of being a guest writer. My first reaction was, "What would I ever write about?" After looking back over Garry's 1,000's of article covering topics from Bluebirds to Bluegills, I found one thing that stayed the same: the title: "Outdoors Today." That title got my mind turning about what people do in their time outdoors.
When you think of the word "outdoorsman" or "outdoorswoman" what image do you picture? A grizzled bearded man dressed in camouflage standing over a freshly slain (insert large hairy creature here). Maybe you see a woman hiking through the woods with binoculars around her neck in search for the mystical Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Or do you visualize a kayaker gliding over the churning white water rapids? These scenarios seem endless to me. Hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, boating, nature photography, swimming, golfing, rock climbing, hunting, biking and on and on. The outdoors offers a place to exercise, see new and amazing things, an opportunity to learn about the world around us and what sustains life here on planet Earth. Regardless of what you do when you get outdoors the important thing is that you are spending time in the great outdoors. It is also important to make sure that our youth are exploring the outdoors with us.
If one was to head out into the great outdoors during this time of year there are many things you may find, including some of the next generation white-tailed deer. Fawns are born odorless, with a back covered in white spots, and the ability to lie extremely still. These adaptations are to aid in the camouflage and protection from predators in the first part of life. Doe deer will often leave their fawns for long periods of time to look for food and to keep their smell away from their young. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon one of these newborns, leave it be. You may not see a doe, but she is nearby. A wildlife rehabber once told me that humans don't give mammals enough credit. So if you a see a fawn, give it distance and do not move them.
CONTRIBUTED?PHOTO BY MIKE STEGMANN
Free Fishing Weekend is June 3, 4, and 5, for Iowa residents. Fishers are allowed to fish with out a license but are reminded that all other rules and regulations still apply for fishing. Both public waters and farm ponds can produce tasty meals Bluegills and Bullheads like these caught recently by Allison Stegmann and Summer Langenbau.
Also this time of year you can find fledglings fresh from the nest. Often times these birds have left the nest a little bit too early or their first flight did not go as planned. Although they look helpless, they're not, and the mother bird is more than likely nearby providing the chick's food. The best thing to do is leave it alone. If there are cats in the area and you know what nest it came from you can put it back into the nest.
New life can also be found out at Green Castle Park right now. This spring two bison calves were born to the captive herd located on the south side of the park. Both calves were born the same weekend and both are healthy and doing great. Bison mating occurs in the fall and the gestation period is around nine months, with the calves being born in April or May. The calves are light brown in color and are able to walk a few hours after being born.
You may have noticed there are some improvements taking place around Marshall County Conservation Recreational Areas. If you travel out to the GrimesFarm you will find heavy equipment that is being used to develop the connection bike trail between Linn Creek and the Highway 330 trail. Construction began in late April and is progressing nicely. Plans are to have the trail completed in the fall, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. Please respect the construction area and stay off the trail until work is completed.
You will also find improvements taking place at Gander Lookout Shelter House. Last summer staff put a large and improved deck onto the shelter house and this year they will be renovating the inside and outside of the shelter. The plan is to completely enclose the shelter. There will be 11 windows and two French doors incorporated into the shelter to give the users an excellent view in all directions from the shelter, with the comfort of being indoors. The north 8 feet of the existing shelter will be left completely open to give an outdoor covered porch setting. Lighting will be upgraded and expanded to allow for more lighting options inside the shelter. A ceiling will be placed inside the shelter to allow for year round rental. The exterior finish on the walls will be steel to decrease future maintenance. We are going to be very creative with the interior wall coverings. We recently had some ash logs milled down to 1" lumber and we hope to incorporate them in a wainscoting along the walls. If we have enough native lumber we will completely line the interior. We look forward to have the shelter upgraded and ready for rentals this fall. If you are interesting in making a monetary donation to the shelter house renovation or another Marshall County Conservation project contact 641-752-5490.
This weekend the Iowa DNR is once again offering a free fishing weekend for Iowa residents on June 3 through the 5. No fishing license is required on June 3, 4 or 5 but all size and catch limits apply. Fishing is considered a gateway recreation. That is because research by the American Recreation Coalition found that more than 77 percent of anglers participate in other outdoor activities. So if you are looking for a great way to get your son, daughter, grandchild or friend interested in the outdoors, take them fishing this weekend.
The Izaak Walton League will be hosting two more classes of Hunter Safety this summer. The first class will be June 16 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and June 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The second class will be held Aug. 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Aug. 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both classes will be held at the Izaak Walton League grounds located 1 mile south of Iowa Ave on S. 12th/Smith Ave. Completion of a hunter safety course is required for anyone who wishes to buy a hunting license born after Jan. 1, 1972. Must be 12 or older. Register for this free 10-hour class at www.iowadnr.gov/training.
Emily Herring graduated from Iowa State University with a BS degree in Natural Resource Management. She is employed by Marshall County Conservation Board and can be contacted at 2349 233rd Street Marshalltown, IA 50158.