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Forest floor full of pretty flowers

PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG A forest floor full of Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) greets hikers at more than one county park. After rounding a corner of a walking path trail, this scene greeted me. It can greet others also. And all people have to do is go to Timmons Grove, one mile south of Albion, along Highway 330, north side of the river. There are literally thousands of bluebells waiting to be observed. Hiding under some unique places of the forest one might also encounter morel mushrooms. People will experience fresh air, obtain exercise and find lots of space far removed from other people. Go hiking in the forest this Mother’s Day. Mother Nature’s free gift to all mothers on Mother’s Day is very appropriate.

By GARRY BRANDENBURG

MOTHER’S DAY is today. It is a time to give thanks for those special people in the family that help bring us into the world. That is awesome indeed. And since mom’s like flowers, give her some that you do not have to pick or purchase. Just put on your hiking shoes, or rubber slip-on boots, for a stroll through Mother Nature’s wildflower gardens.

Bluebells have nodding clusters of pink buds that open into light blue, trumpet-shaped flowers. Each flower is about one inch long and has five lobes to its bell shape opening. Floodplain lands or moist forest environments are good places to find bluebells. And when people find these plants growing in large masses, they put on a spectacular show, especially in portions of local county parks. And do remember that county and state parks remain open for day use activities.

WUHAN VIRUS has been a constant news feed all over the world. One of the unintended consequences of such an event has been negative effects on the meat food supply chain. Some items are getting harder to find. The United States’ well orchestrated production of foods, including meats, was something many people took for granted…until a hiccup or two or three interfered with the supply chain. It is not taken for granted now.

Which brings me to hunters and a bit of overdue credit to those sportsmen and women who like to hunt. They may prefer waterfowl, upland game birds like pheasants or quail, wild turkeys and others. Hunters routinely take white-tails, mule deer, elk, caribou, moose, black bear and other critters during specific seasons each fall. All can be excellent food sources.

All across the USA and all of North America, hunters partake in conservation programs, lending hands-on volunteer labor to many fisheries and land based habitat improvement programs. And during fall hunting seasons, they fill freezers with wild meat sources that will furnish high quality protein all year long for family and friends.

Now it seems that when the grocery stores may experience a lag in meat protein supplies, some people are wondering how to obtain good protein sources. Well folks, this is OLD NEWS to hunters. It may be NEW NEWS to some city folks who live in bubbles of unreality. For the latter, it may be an awakening that lots of perfectly good wild game could help fill the household freezer.

Humanely taken, and legally taken wild game is a supplement to many household food supplies. So what if the food supply chain has a temporary hiccup. Just get that duck, or goose, turkey or deer steak or moose ribs, or bear roast out of the freezer. Use specialized cooking recipes to make a delicious meal.

While many people have dropped out of hunting for a wide variety of reasons, the current state of affairs in the nation may signal a rekindling of the need and desire to obtain wild foods. There may be a rekindling based on memories from long ago when parents or grandparents routinely told stories of how they hunted to help feed the family. In some cases it was not at all unusual to rely entirely on wild game and garden grown vegetables, with trips to a grocery store needed only to get a very few supplies.

Perhaps we have become a tad lazy with all the convenience foods options where someone else put all the labor into it just so your microwave could heat up dinner in 5 minutes. Well, big doses of reality are upon us right now. A wake up call is still a wake up call.

According to the National Deer Alliance, a national organization and advocate for conservation issues, almost 90 percent of its members have wild game meats on hand, right now, in home freezers. When asked how long those meat supplies could sustain the family, 69 percent said it would last from 6 months to one year. The typical variety of wild game is composed of one to two species, an example being deer and wild turkey. Twenty-five percent said they have three to four varieties of wild game meats, such as venison from deer, elk, or moose plus waterfowl of several kinds. Add fish species to the freezer list of available foods and you can easily see that hunters are prepared very well.

Obtaining wild meats has been shown in a big uptick of 28 percent for spring hunting license sales in Indiana for wild turkey, just in 2020. How this will translate into fall deer seasons is still unknown. This we can be confident of….adapting to changes is entirely possible and doable. Hunters know this. It is old news to them.

DAVID CROCKETT, the legendary real life person from Tennessee, was born in 1786. He lived until 1836. He was so well ‘educated’ into the real world of survival and making do with what the land offered, that he could go for months as he explored the hills of his home territory. If a new family moved to within three miles of his cabin, he considered that a sign it was time to move to someplace less crowded.

As for formal education, he had some but not much. However, his home state did elect him to the Tennessee legislature and later to a seat in Congress. While other so-called ‘enlightened’ Congressmen may have snubbed their noses at Crockett for his backwoods talents, Crockett had wit and observational skills well beyond others in Congress. He stated that many in Congress “talked too much and did too little.” So you see nothing has changed in Congress.

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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.

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