Our mild winter weather up to now has been replaced by the reality of bitter winds, severe cold and snow, lots of it. This simply means that if we don't like the weather now, just wait five minutes and it will change. I'll have to admit that getting used to the formerly mild conditions was too easy. Adjusting to new conditions of true winter is taking a bit more time. Our choices are to adapt or adapt. Weather in Iowa is what it is, take it or leave it.
Across the country, and all over Iowa, indoor shows about the outdoors are popping up again like mushrooms under dead Elm trees in the forest. It is our way of coping with winter when outside activities become more troublesome due to too much snow, too much wind, or closed hunting seasons. So we turn to preparations for spring, summer and fall of 2012 by attending sports and vacation shows, boat and RV shows or other seminars of interest concerning promises for great escapes later this year.
The 2012 Deer Classic features many standard fare exhibits of equipment, hunting concessions, and great exhibits featuring Iowa deer. It is a continual awe inspiring sight to view some of the big bucks that did not get away. Then I'm reminded of the deer that did evade hunters and will live into the 2012 season and beyond for someone else's right time-right place story to tell. Deer Classic programs include Lee & Tiffany, Stan Potts and the Drury Pro's. Iowa's Big Buck contest is always a hit as is the All-Iowa B & C Whitetail Hall of Fame. World Record Trick Shooting will be open to view. Archers can participate in Vegas style 300 and 3-D targets. Kids from many Iowa schools will participate in the National Archery in the Schools shoot-off. So this scribe recommends the Deer Classic as one of the cabin fever cures for this winter. Enjoy.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
The season for indoor shows about the great outdoors begins again. Today’s photo is from the Deer Classic of 2011 held in Des Moines. For 2012, the Deer Classic returns to Hy-Vee Hall and the remodeled Vets Auditorium on Feb. 24 - 26. Since the remodeling work is complete, all 160,000 square feet of exhibit spaces will be in one location, a great asset for exhibitors and clients. More than 20,000 people buy tickets to go through the doors of a typical Deer Classic event.
Cold weather now equals thicker ice and in the days to come, is just what the ice fishing set desires. Thicker ice means safer ice. Ice auger drills will cut holes in area farm ponds and lakes. Lurking underneath will be fish, somewhat more sedate due to colder water and limited food supplies. However, if the big bluegills, crappies, or even bass, northern or walleye can be coaxed to bite, the thrill factor spikes to new levels. It is what keeps dedicated ice fishermen going all winter. With the right equipment and the right clothes, one can be quite comfortable on the ice. This scribe recommends teaming up with an ice fishing friend for a day or even just a few hours to share the possibilities of fresh fish from under the ice. This cabin fever busting activity can be lots of fun. Go for it.
When it comes to play time in the environment for our children and grandchildren, nothing beats allowing them time to play in the "wild." By that I mean leaving all electronics in the off position, and venturing outside to a forest, wetland, prairie, river or lake. These adventures and time to play outside can be great teachers that help build a foundation of knowledge concerning the real world. They build trust between the adult mentors and foster a true understanding of the world and the environment.
It is increasingly too easy in today's world to allow electronic gadgets to fill time slots. I was reminded of this when a friend noted that the greatest achievement for one particular 11-year-old boy would be his advancement to the next higher level on one of his electronic games. How sad. When offered the possibility of doing something different, like taking a woodland hike with his parents, riding a horse, going fishing, doing anything hands-on in the natural world, was almost terrified with fear. He was isolated within himself. His exposure to the real world was such an alien thought that he wanted to avoid it.
Time to step in and find ways to pop his bubble of isolation. Hurray for the teachers, parents and others who recognize the fallacies and shortcomings of the artificial electronic world. Hurray for those activities and actions that exposes young people to become comfortable in the natural world. Conservations future and the future of natural resources demands that reality checks be made available, participated in often, so that learning takes place. The way to get young people to care about nature is to use every opportunity to get them outdoors for pleasurable experiences. Give them time to play, get muddy, have fun and learn about the real world. It will pay dividends in the long run.
Naturalists programs, such as those offered by the Marshall County Conservation Board, are just one way to engage kids in learning by having fun. The natural world is full of mysteries. It can be fun to work with the youngsters to get past any pre-conceived myths, turning the unknown into the known. For the year 2012 and all it has yet to offer us, pay attention to the programs offered for adults and school kids of every age. Attend and participate. Learn and love it. Be a mentor to a young person who shows interest in beetles and bugs, snails and salamanders, fishes or flowers, mice or muskrats. Explore together the natural world.
The deadline is fast approaching for the Marshall County Conservation Board's eleventh annual natural resource/conservation photo contest. All entries are due by noon on Feb. 3. Entries, which should fit into one of three themes: People and Natural Resources, Scenic (Natural Resources), and Native Wildlife, are to be taken in Marshall County by amateur photographers. There is also a special open class for youth age 14 and younger using the same themes. Entries should be delivered to the MCCB office at 2359 233rd Street just west of Marshalltown. There is a limit of two entries per person per category and an entry fee of $3 per photo. A $20 gift certificate will be awarded to the winner in each category.
Photos can be black & white or color and should capture an aspect of Marshall County's natural resources and fit into one of the three themes. All photos must be mounted and unframed and there should be no hooks or wires attached. Only prints with a minimum size of 8 inches by 10 inches and maximum size of 16 inches by 20 inches will be accepted. Entrants should label the back of each photo with their name, address, and telephone number and indicate where the picture was taken.
Photos entered become the property of the MCCB and cannot be entered in subsequent MCCB photo contests. MCCB employees and their family members are not eligible to enter the contest.
The photo contest winners will be announced following a chili supper on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center. The public is invited and tickets for the chili supper are available in advance at the MCCB office; $5 for adults and $3 for children12 and under. People entering the photo contest will receive one chili supper ticket per entry. For questions or more information call 752-5490.
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.