Young wildlife prospering

WILD TURKEYS are being seen more regularly by passers by traveling along rural roadways near or in the vicinity of forest lands. It is good to see them. It is proof that this past Spring’s nesting season was very good due in part to relatively warm and dry weather conditions. Wild turkeys nest on the ground. And the hen turkey is surprisingly secretive about where she decides to make a nest in tall grasses, fenceline areas or brushy sites near good escape cover. Her primary objective is to avoid predators from above (hawks, owls) or from ground attacks by skunks, raccoons, coyotes or foxes.

A wild turkey nest is a shallow depression formed mostly by scratching, squatting and then laying eggs in the nest bowl. There is no construction of a nest by gathering arrangements of twigs or leaves. What constitutes nest construction is just using available leaf or grass litter to help hide herself and blend into the background vegetation. She will always want a good view of the sky above and approach points from ground predators. If she must leave the nest, she will do so early enough to avoid the eggs being found. However, later during incubations late stages, she will sit tight and motionless to avoid detection. It works most times. Ten to 12eggs will be typical, laid one per day. Incubation takes 28 days.

Young wild turkeys are called poults. They eat berries, insects and seeds. Adult turkeys know more tricks of the trade and will include acorns, small reptiles like frogs or small snakes. If danger appears, the adult birds can run at 25 miles per hour or take flight to put more distance between themselves and the predator. Young poults are most vulnerable on the ground during their first six weeks of life. After they can fly, perching at night on tree limbs gets tem off the ground and safe from many predators.

Eastern wild turkeys range from the hardwoods and mixed forests from New England and southern Canada to northern Florida and west to Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. Successful transplants have been made to California, Oregon and Washington, states outside its suspected original range. From a low population level of the early 1900’s when fewer than 30,000 turkeys roamed the states, we now have over 7 million birds thanks to restoration programs across North America. The National Wild Turkey Federation is just one conservation organization that cooperates with state and national conservation agencies to enhance habitat and if needed, supply trapped birds for transplanting into new habitats. The NWTF has chapters in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico and 14 foreign countries.

The archaeological record, and geological records, indicate that wild turkeys have been around for over 45 million years. That is quite a history for a bird that had to adapt to dramatic natural climatic changes over the course of time. Yet it survived and is still with us. Early native people, the Aztecs, were in some instances able to domesticate the turkey. If done successfully, food for the tribe and family was readily at hand, and a whole lot easier to acquire than hunting wild illusive birds. The Spanish brought some turkeys back to Europe. Later the pilgrims brought turkeys back to to North America. Of course there was always a population of wild turkeys remaining on North American soil.

There is a fall turkey hunting season in Iowa for residents. The season dates begin on Oct. 1 for archers. Combination gun/bow dates are Oct. 10 through Dec. 2.

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Iowa’s special TEAL SEASON begins soon on Sept. 3. This is the third year for an experimental early teal season. A good hatch of blue-winged teal happened in the north country and they had a wet summer to provide good pond numbers for rearing young birds. The north and south zone dates are Sept. 3-11. The Missouri River zone dates are Sept. 3-18. Iowa waterfowl hunters had requested a gap between teal season and the early regular duck season. Correct identification is required as only teal species will be legal. Avid waterfowlers pick up quickly on the flight pattern, body shape and calls of teal. It is a real challenge. An early teal season also offers great opportunities for youth accompanying more experienced mentors to learn the details for successful teal hunting. Enjoying the wetlands and marshes is a part of a good outdoor experience.

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A FRIENDS of the NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION hosts fund raising banquets all across the nation each year. Locally a Friends of NRA is coming in about one month from now, on Oct. 1. The banquet site will be the Best Western Regency at 3303 S. Center St, Marshalltown. Doors open at 5 pm. Ticket prices are $35 per person or $60 per couple. Games, food, silent and live auction and raffles will enliven the evening. Funds raised go to support projects in youth education, firearms training programs, and hunter safety programs.

A Friends of the NRA event will entice participants with unique auction merchandise, great fellowship, great food and fun. Since 1992, Friends of NRA has hosted over 16,000 events, reached over 2.5 million attendees and raised over $600 million for the NRA Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization. They have funded over 32,000 grants to help with supplies to support shooting sports. Assisting with ammunition purchases for scholastic shooting sport programs is just one example of many. One-half of all proceeds go back to into the state in which it was raised. The other half goes toward national programs. In fact, there are over 180 national shooting sport programs supported with the help of Friends of NRA dollars. State grants equal to 81 percent of the Friends income goes toward youth programs, 13 percent to range development, 5 percent to education and training and 1 percent to conservation program support. In terms of supplies the list includes 2,400 firearms, 18 million rounds of ammunition, 635,000 paper targets, 1,900 bows, 31,000 arrows, 7.5 million pellets, 79,000 safety equipment items and 300 trap machines.

Tickets for the Marshalltown area Friends Of NRA can be purchased from Rosea Hamelau at 641-485-8499 or Joe Wagner at 641-485-1876.

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Here are some IOWA TRIVIA for you. Sprit Lake is the largest glacier made water body at 1,000 surface acres. West Okoboji is the deepest natural lake at 136 feet. But below the grounds surface, within the many deep set rock layers, are tiny very minute cavity spaces. These spaces are filled with water. Scientists call this water in natural aquifers the source for many city and/or rural water wells. How much water is there hidden in the small spaces between rocks? One estimate puts the number at 30 times greater than all the fresh water lakes, and more than 3,000 times greater than all the world’s river and streams combined. Another estimate puts the total fresh water stored on all of earth’s aquifers at 2 million cubic miles.

And about 50 percent of this water is within one-half mile of the surface. One cubic mile of water contains 1 trillion gallons!

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 P.O. Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.