YOUTH DEER seasons went well for several kids who spent valuable time outdoors with their fathers over the last several weekends. Mentoring kids to hunt safely with guidance from a parent is a great way to introduce kids to the tremendous satisfaction of shooting sports and the associated contribution to conservation.
Each of the fathers noted the patience of their child as the moment of truth drew closer. The excitement of hunting was just one factor, but then having a deer within range adds to the moment. In each case, the kids had to control their breathing, slow down, let out half of their breath and hold steady on target. At the shot, the deer was down. For the muzzle loader weapons used, a big puff of gunpowder smoke temporarily hid the deer from their vision. But in each case, the deer was down.
The smile factor on the dads faces was probably even bigger than those of the youth. Their child had just taken another step toward learning how to hunt the right way, legally and with great respect for high ethical standards.
Youth deer hunters scored well, while mentoring fathers whispered words of advice and support. Haley Stahl,12, and a seventh grader at Green Mountain school, used a Knight 50 caliber muzzle loader to take her buck at 20 yards. Garett Tierney, also a seventh grader at Missouri Valley, Ia. took a nice 8 point buck, after watching it spar with another buck in a hay field. The shot distance was about 100 yards. Nick Burton, of Marshalltown, is also a 12-year- old boy that used a 20 gauge shotgun for a perfect hit at 100 yards during his Tama County hunt. Venison steaks, roasts and burgers will help fill the food freezers for these families. Congrats to all the youth for a successful season this year.
This weekend is also the start of YOUTH WATERFOWL season in the north zone of Iowa. Resident youth hunters ages 15 or less may hunt waterfowl without purchase of a hunting license, federal duck stamp or the Iowa migratory bird fee. Mentoring is the requirement by law for each youth, a one-on-one situation, whereby a properly licensed adult can whisper advice on where, when and how to make attempts to bring down a duck or goose. Youth waterfowl season opens for the south zone next weekend, Oct. 13 and 14 and Iowa's third zone of the Missouri River opens Oct. 20 and 21.
Because Iowa is experiencing a drought year, available water for ducks and geese may be limited. This factor alone may concentrate other hunters into areas with water. By all means, take proper steps to keep safe shooting distances from other hunters. And if hunting with the mentor from his/her boat, a reminder that the total weight carrying capacity of the boat must be adhered to. A blind built onto the boat adds weight along with the dog, hunting gear, floatation devices, life jackets, outboard motor and fuel tank.
DEER can get sick from many things. One disease that is much more common this year in all of the midwest states is EHD, Epizootic Hemorrahagic Disease. This disease is transmitted by the bite of an insect, a midge, that seems to flourish in extra dry years. Iowa has reported cases of EHD in 47 counties. Iowa's "hot spot" seems to be in the area of Madison and Warren Counties with 317 and 271 known cases respectively. As a comparison, one west central county in Michigan has over 1,600 reported cases of EHD. A killing frost from the weather will end this siege.
EHD does not spread from deer to deer. It is only caused by the infectious virus from the biting midge. The virus causes the animal to spike a high fever, followed by cell wall breakdown, thus cell contents leak causing fluid build up and swelling. Internal hemorrhaging occurs next. All of this will take place in anywhere from one to four days of the onset of fever. The deer die quickly. When found by people, the deer's body condition is clearly in good shape at time of death. Deer infected are usually found near water where their high fever and dehydration forces them to seek out water.
A similar disease is called blue tongue. Its symptoms are almost identical to EHD. Iowa deer are not often exposed to EHD in comparison to the white-tailed deer of southeast USA. For those deer, long periods of time have allowed the deer to build up immunity. Domestic cattle are resistant to both EHD and blue tongue. Sheep are more prone to being affected by blue tongue. A DNR report also notes that these diseases are not a risk to humans.
This fall, if area deer hunters see a deer behavior that shows lethargic actions, stumbling, drooling excessively or just unresponsive, you might want to let that deer go. That is a judgement call you will have to make. Do report this type of sighting to John Steinbach, DNR conservation officer at 751-5246.
STEALING TIMBER will likely result in serious jail time if convicted of numerous felony charges. A Des Moines man was recently apprehended after an eight month long investigation on Corps of Engineers lands of Lake Red Rock and the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. He is alleged to have cut and stolen walnut trees and scrap metal from federal property. The estimated value of the walnut trees is $40,000, so says the four count indictment. If convicted at an Oct. 29 trial, he may face a maximum of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each of the counts against him.
Now onto something more pleasant. If you want to travel this weekend to Marquette, Iowa, the annual HAWK WATCH is taking place for birds of prey traveling south along the Mississippi River. The place to meet is at Effigy Mounds National Monument. Hours are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. Hawk watch will feature live raptor demonstrations, beginning birding, Iowa's peregrine and osprey reintroduction programs and lots of colorful autumn foliage on the trees. Expect to see Cooper's Hawks, eagles, all the falcon families and ospreys. It is a free event.
Locally, one could also go to GRAMMER GROVE in Marshall County. Grammer is located northwest of Albion or southwest of Liscomb. Migrating birds of prey use the Iowa River valley during their migrations. From a bluff top observation point, birds passing through a gap in the trees will be temporarily offering themselves for identification. By the time the migration is over next month, literally thousands of birds of prey will be tallied on Mark Proescholdt's ongoing list. He and his late mother Beth started the local hawk watch at Grammer as a neat thing to do outdoors. Carry on.
A SPORTING CLAY BIRD SHOOT takes place tomorrow at the Marshall County Ikes grounds. Sign-ins start at 8 a.m. Team or individual shooters are welcome. All proceeds will go to Iowa River Hospice programming, a very worthy cause. The Ikes grounds is located at 2601 Smith Avenue on the southeast side of Marshalltown, two miles south of Iowa Avenue.
The Ikes will also have their annual chili and soup supper on Oct. 10th at 6:30 p.m. You are welcome to attend to enjoy good friends and look into possible Izaak Walton League membership possibilities.
PHEASANTS FOREVER has its banquet set for Oct. 13 at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds. The doors open for the evening at 5 p.m. for games, raffles and auction. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. If you are planning to go, get your tickets before Oct. 9 by calling Steve Armstrong at 641-751-1668 or Traci Eldridge at 2704 Binford Ave, State Center, IA 50247. Pheasants Forever is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland conservation. They have more than 135,000 members in 720 chapters in the USA and Canada.
This weeks joke: Money cannot buy happiness, but its more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle.
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.