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First deer = lifetime memories

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — Levi Brown, 7, proudly holds his first deer that he took on Oct. 17, first day of early muzzleloader gun deer season. Levi’s father Tyson was the mentor watching and coaching from inside a ground blind. Levi used a .50 cal CVA muzzle loading rifle to make the shot from 30 yards. Levi is happy to have the deer meat made into family food. And for Christmas his first deer has had an appointment made with a taxidermist. And the bonus for this hunt is that the private land where the deer was taken is owned by Levi’s great grandfather.

A FIRST DEER makes for a proud moment for any young boy or girl. Good mentors are essential to assist youth in learning what it takes to hunt ethically, legally and responsibly. These are lessons well taught. And these lessons will be retained for a lifetime when as adults themselves carry on the traditions of hunting and other outdoor pursuits.

So how did this youth hunt begin? Well, that is a seven year old story. Since Levi is the youngest of two sons, he watched his older brother, who, after the older sibling took deer, and turkeys, wondered how he was going to duplicate hunting episodes of his own someday. And the fact that their home has a certain amount of animal mounts holding up the walls may have factored into discussions about wildlife. In this family mom and dad hunt and fish and so do their two sons. And they eat what they take.

So it came to pass this fall, that Levi would get his chance to hunt deer on great grandfathers land in Poweshiek County. Levi’s father Tyson helped set up a ground blind in advance. And when opening day for early muzzle loader deer season came on Oct. 17, the duo was inside their ‘tent-like’ ground blind watching and waiting. The nice thing about pop-up ground blinds is that movements inside can be accomplished without spooking any game animals outside. Just be very quiet and whisper instructions to help guide the young person through the process.

The duo did get to see deer, and in particular this nice little 4 x 4 point buck came into view. At 30 yards, Levi was ready. His shot was correct and accurate, just as they had practiced. Tyson watched as the deer ran a short distance and tipped over. However, Levi in his excitement did not see the deer fall. Another teaching moment now presented itself. First was to wait a bit and talk with dad about how this hunt came about. Tyson reinforced for his son how using patience and making a single accurate shot paid off. Now it was time to find the deer. Tyson showed Levi where the deer was standing, then together they found a blood trail. Levi followed the evidence all by himself. Soon they were standing next to Levi’s first deer. Congratulations were in order. And photos to remember the event were made.

Levi took photos to school for a bit of show and tell the following Monday. Another nice thing about small Iowa town elementary schools is that no one tried to impose political correctness nonsense into Levi’s excitement for his first deer. A new hunter, for a lifetime, had just graduated into the big leagues at age seven. Well done young man. And the mentoring father just added a new memory to his family’s heritage.

MENTORING YOUNG HUNTERS is very rewarding. As a hunter safety instructor for more than 40 years, I and my fellow class instructors have played a part in getting young people started into hunting sports. We provided a foundation to build on. Family members helped take it from there, going hunting with their sons or daughters to duplicate in their own way the joys of safe and successful hunts for game birds or large game animals.

I have had a few students at hunter safety classes come to me after the event and ask more questions. Since my major emphasis was and still is on the archery aspects of hunting, their questions were addressed in straight forward fact-based information. When they asked for help to get started, I took those opportunities to do more one-on-one instruction. Several of those former students are now on their own. I periodically see them while shopping or at some other function. We immediately know that our time together for their learning experience about archery hunting was special. It is a bond that hopefully will be a life-long memory.

PHEASANT SEASON opened at 8 a.m. on Oct. 31. Today, Nov. 1, 8 a.m. has been turned back one hour to adjust for central standard time. Goodbye to daylight savings time until next March. Anyhow, this past week while this author was out and about in natural areas, pheasants made themselves known. I listened to the cock pheasants cackling as they flew somewhere close by. Close enough to hear but not close enough to see. It was good to know they are thriving.

Then later last week, while driving about the country roadways looking for new photo opportunities, at a completely random and unexpected time, a rooster pheasant had launched itself from a nearby farm field. Its flight path took it directly in front of my windshield. We missed each other….. but not by much. Timing was good, this time, for the pheasant as it will live to see another day. The big bold and beautiful cock pheasant glided into an adjacent unpicked cornfield where it could disappear into a jungle of corn stalks.

If your hunting party is able to take several pheasants this weekend, feel free to contact me for possible use of a new hunting story. I may share your day with the readers of this column. Will that story be a case of a new young hunter with their first pheasant?

ROBINS, a big flock of them, greeted me this past week. I was hiking at a natural area admiring nice blue sky, cool temperatures and a line of deer rubbed small tree saplings. Those saplings had their surface bark stripped off by antlers digging into the woody stems. While contemplating the deer that made its mark, for other deer primarily, a large flock of robins were using an adjacent grassland to feed for insects. No doubt these birds are part of a southerly flow of lots of birds, including robins, who are escaping cold weather further north to find wintering areas with milder temperatures and insects to eat. Those birds know winter is coming. They know it because day length is getting shorter quickly. Watch for many other migrating birds during November. Go bird watching as your excuse to get outside.

NOVEMBER brings with it big changes in our expected weather as winter season approaches. Outdoors enthusiasts such as duck hunters can expect peaks in waterfowl migrations. Cold fronts forming over Canada seem to push some ducks and geese ahead of severe cold or rain or snow or sleet or wind…or combinations of all the above.

On this date in history, in the year 1940 on Nov. 11, a blizzard came out of the north at a very fast rate. Nice warm and mild duck hunting conditions found many hunters enjoying outstanding numbers of waterfowl….by the thousands. But a dark sky to the northwest should have been noticed sooner. As temperatures plunged, rain turned to sleet and then snow. Wind piled the snow deeper and deeper. Hunters caught outside without adequate clothing were in deep trouble. At storm’s end, 160 hunters died across the Midwest in the Upper Mississippi River valley.

And for deer hunters, the first two weeks of November are the rut time for white-tailed deer. Deer movements will peak as the animals seek out each other. If driving along roadways, be especially careful for deer bounding over a roadway. If you are an archer, all day sits in a ground blind or tree stand could be what you need to do.

Trapping seasons in Iowa begin on Nov. 7. This outdoor activity requires special equipment and tactics to enable taking furbearing critters like coyotes, fox, mink, muskrat, beaver and others.

And November brings election time. Outdoors enthusiasts, in some states like Utah or Colorado, will have to vote on measures, some good and some not so good. Utah will have on its ballot a measure on their constitutional amendment E, to codify an individuals rights to hunt and fish. Utah natural resource specialists want hunting and fishing to remain the preferred way to manage wildlife.

In Colorado, Proposition 114 would undermine the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation by forcing an introduction of wolves. “Ballot biology” is bad biology, bad management and bad politics. Hopefully enough Colorado citizens will vote NO on this. What is already known is that wolves have already begun the process of new territory establishment in northern and northwest parts of the state. It would be a waste of time and funding to impose ballot box biology onto an already stressed natural resource department.

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