Wildlife taxidermy art on display March 23

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — Next weekend is a meeting of the members of the Iowa Taxidermy Association. They will hold their conference and workshops at the Meskwaki Casino near Tama. Public viewing of mounts of all kinds — fish, small, medium and large mammals, game birds and waterfowl of various species, will be open to you on Saturday, March 23, from noon until 5 p.m. This opportunity to see the art and craft of excellent taxidermy works to preserve memories for their owners. Competition is intense. The common goldeneye duck depicts this waterfowl type with great accuracy. Its award winning ribbons attest to the skills of the artist. Not on display at this show, but which was observed by thousands of Deer Classic attendees was the deer mount owned by Mike Weatherly. He found this deer dead lying under a big evergreen tree. Weatherly suspects the deer died from the effects of EHD, a hemorrhaging disease caused by the bite from a midge insect. This disease can take a healthy deer down in a matter of a few days. A taxidermist named Terry Hindgardner mounted the deer and did an excellent job.

Taxidermists know how to get the job done, of creating artful replicas of the trophies that hunters, fisher persons, or trappers may have encountered during their respective seasons outdoors.

Outdoor memories are as varied as the people that pursue them. The amount of effort, time and special equipment and lots of outdoor natural history knowledge that went into the taking of a specific animal is part of those special memories.

Every hunt has a story to tell. Every hunter is usually very willing to repeat those hunt details to other outdoor enthusiasts who have experienced the good times and not-so-good times of hunting forays.

At the Iowa Taxidermist Association meeting/conference/workshops coming up next week, the judging and awards will culminate by Saturday, March 23, and from noon until 5 p.m., the display room will be open to public viewing of these intense artworks. It is always a treat to

see a wide variety of animal mounts skillfully detailed and presented often on miniature habitat scenes.

In today’s image of a portion of many display walls from 2023, one can see deer, ducks, fish and pheasants. Rest assured that there were many other species free standing on several aisles and adjacent tables.

If you and your family have the time and make a journey to Meskwaki Conference Center on March 23, you will be rewarded in what you see. And you will have an opportunity to cast a vote for your favorite animal mount.

Do bring a good camera, or use your best techniques with a cell phone camera, to record this well done exhibit of taxidermist art. I hope to see you there.

And as a footnote to a future taxidermy art show, the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships is coming to Coralville from Aug. 6-10. This is a huge convention to illustrate the trade and specialties associated with taxidermy art on a much bigger scale.

Do check the website for more details. As I learn more, I will share times for public walkabouts on the show floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Coralville. Stay tuned.


Iowa spring wild turkey hunting seasons will be upon us next month. Area youth get the chance, with the aid of a mentor, to go afield and listen, call to or just wait out the strutting tom turkeys who may, or may not, decide to come close enough.

Youth turkey season dates are April 5 and 6, 2024. That is followed by the traditional four time frames for gun hunters — April 8-11; April 12-16; April 17-23; and season four is April 24-May 12. Resident archery only turkey tags can be purchased and used during the entire April 8 through May 12 time frame.

Wild turkey toms like to strut about with their large fanned out tail feathers on full display. They also hold their wings down low so as the wing tips drag the ground.

Puffed up chest feathers make the big bird look twice as big as its body actually is, and if he gets excited enough, his multi-tissued featherless head and neck will show a lot of red/white coloring.

His display is meant to look pretty for any nearby hen turkeys. If the hunter’s hen turkey decoy is realistic enough, it may draw the tom to investigate.

Normally the hen goes to the tom, and not the other way around. A tom turkey decoy may draw a big tom to investigate and do battle with his supposed competition. If so, the decoy will get attacked with great vigor by the spurs on the legs of the big tom.

The fight will be on. It may take a while for the real tom to discover that his opponent was fake.


Trout will be coming to Sand Lake on April 19 at about noon. Mark your calendar for this time next month to be ready to trout fishing at Sand Lake.

This is part of the fisheries bureau of the DNR to bring hatchery-raised trout to area lakes. Between 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout will be hauled in via a special tanked truck from Manchester.

Community stocking of trout is a way of bringing the fish close to where people live rather than having the people gear up for long travel to northeast Iowa trout streams. Each alternative is good, but for kids, a community trout release is a great way to catch a first fish.

This program of raising trout and bringing them to local water areas is supported by funds acquired from the sale of trout fees purchased by anglers. Adult fishermen or fisherwomen must have a license to fish, a first basic item to buy, and then add a purchase of the trout fee additionally. That makes it legal to fish for trout and possess trout.

The daily limit is five trout and a possession limit of 10. Children aged 15 or under can fish for trout with a properly licensed adult, but they must keep the trout they catch to just one daily limit, which is five fish.

Once a trout fee is purchased, one can fish all year long at any community trout stocked lake or water area anywhere in Iowa.


The spring season officially arrives on March 19, 2024. Sunrise that day will happen at 7:15 a.m. Sunset will take place at 7:21 p.m. From the perspective of the earth’s orbit around the sun, the northern and southern hemispheres will get equal amounts of sunlight time.

Gradually, the northern hemisphere will gain the advantage as spring takes stronger holds. The tilt of earth’s axis will have tipped more and more toward the sun until June 20, the first day of summer. Lots will happen with the arrival of Spring. Enjoy.


Another natural history moment, or in this case four minutes, will be the total eclipse of the sun. Our moon will align itself perfectly between the earth and the sun on April 8. The pathway across the USA where the total eclipse can be viewed will go from Mexico, across portions of 14 states and into southeast Canada.

Iowans will need to travel to southeast Missouri Poplar Bluff vicinity or to Perryville, Mo. Other alternatives can be found in southern Illinois at Lawrenceville or Mt. Vernon.

If you go, be aware that lots of people may be traveling to any community along the eclipse pathway. To safely observe the blocking of the sun, you will need special glasses or other methods.

Do not look at the sun with your naked eyes. Avoid permanent eye damage by finding sources for special filtering glasses, those with dark lenses that filter the light at about 100,000 times more than regular sunglasses.

From one location on the ground, the total eclipse will last just 4 minutes! You can be sure that astronomers and other scientists will be dutifully observing this phenomenon with great interest. If you are a farmer with chickens outside in the total eclipse pathway, they may decide to go to a roost early, only to wake up four minutes later.


Birds of prey, also known as raptors — hawks, eagles, falcons, or even vultures — will be the featured critters on a PBS science show slated for your living room theater. It will premiere on April 10 at 7 p.m.

This nature program will illustrate the intricate lives of birds of prey, those birds with hooked beaks, dagger-like talons and keen eyesight. They have a taste for meat, and know how to kill to get it.

They are all part of nature’s plan and serve many ecological puzzle points during their active lifestyle. The photography will be outstanding in and of itself. Learning more about birds of prey will be your reward.


Archery in the Schools program had a great showing of student bow and arrow athletes. I want to congratulate Ava Boldt and Timm Chandonia from South Tama for their great scores in both bullseye targets and 3D targets.

Iowa had over 2,300 students in 140 schools shooting bows and arrows to compete in the 18th National Archery in the Schools Tournament held at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines March 2 and 3. Winners will now be eligible to participate in other national tournaments, either the Western Nationals in Sandy, Utah, April 26-27, or the Eastern Nationals in Louisville, Ky. on May 9-11.

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) tournament is sponsored by the Iowa Hunter Education Instructor Association, the Iowa Bowhunter Association, Chuck “Coach” Hallier Memorial Fund, Haney Family Foundation, Whitetails Unlimited, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Pheasants Forever/Quails Forever.


Lastly for this week: The Izaak Walton League is preparing to host a huge garage sale at their clubhouse at the Ikes grounds in Marshalltown. This sale is in part to specifically focus on fishing and hunting equipment of all kinds.

It was spurred by the estate of the late Larry Runnells, who passed away in 2023. Larry’s wife Barbara donated many items to the Ikes for this special sale.

Good outdoor equipment will be made available for sale on Friday, April 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. and again on Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Come and see what will be offered in the sporting goods line or outdoor products.


Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology.

Contact him at:

P.O. Box 96

Albion, IA 50005


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