Outdoors Today

Waterfowl wait for cold winds

WATERFOWL migrations can be a bit fickle. Where are they now? When will they make a big migration push to show up at any local marshes, ponds, lakes or rivers? Avid waterfowlers want to know. So in this day in age, computer tracking and posts from other waterfowl watchers keeps a fairly good ...

Be informed on new gun deer regulations

GUN DEER SEASONS beginning on Dec. 2-6 and Dec. 9-17 will allow what had been exclusively a shotgun only weapons regulation. That changes for 2017 with the allowance of straight wall ammunition choices. The regulations booklet page 31 lists what is allowed. The regulations are the result of ...

Natural history moments energizing

It is the season when the weather is really unpredictable. Colder air blasting down from the northwest, rain with snow flurries, then followed by a bright sunny day that seems so peaceful. We humans sometimes wonder if Mother Nature is having a hard time making up her mind. I think she likes ...

Pheasant trials and tribulations

RING-NECKED PHEASANTS are highly sought after by hunters young and old. For new young hunters, accompanying a dad, mom, big brother or sister, uncle or aunt, it is a special time to be allowed to participate in a long standing tradition of pursuing wild game. The sights of large grassy fields, ...

Wild and wonderful wetlands

OTTER CREEK MARSH owes its history to many geological events that shaped the flat floodplain land of the Iowa River valley east of the City of Tama. Over thousands of years of time, water leaving the land surface cut the river channel in a series of long meandering twists and turns. As some of ...

Fall is fantastic

FALL is fantastic, fun and an exciting time to be outside. Dress warmly for the conditions of the day and let nature be your instructor, mentor and guide. Some activities are easy to do from the window of your home. Leaf color watching will work. Fall bird migration at the backyard feeder will ...

Same river, two tales

The IOWA RIVER can be tame and docile. Or it can be a rampaging flood of historic proportions. Anyone that has lived long enough in this county knows full well the extremes of water flow in the river. And we all know how quickly the river is capable of responding to heavy rainfall events ...

Mantids: Methodical predators

This week's featured creature in a very large, very long-bodied and long-legged predator from the insect world. It is called the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis). Only two species, both introduced to North America, known to Iowa. They are the Chinese Mantis and the Carolina ...

Pathways to environmental education

At the beginning of October, I will have worked for Marshall County Conservation for one year. As I continue to get settled into my role as naturalist, the project list continues to grow. Leading the list of the many programs and projects I would like to accomplish at Marshall County ...

A different side of the outdoors

While I've considered myself a fisherman ever since my dad showed me how put worm on a hook, there is another popular outdoor activity that, until recently, had been a mystery to me: hunting. It's one of those activities that is much easier to get into when you have a friend with the ...

Links in the food chain

Small critters are everywhere...if we take the time to look for them. We need to observe carefully, and hopefully learn how they fit into nature's life cycles. What follows is just a minute amount of information about arachnids (spiders). And of course you should know that spiders are not ...

Coyotes adapt and improvise

COYOTES are smart, cunning, adaptable and almost everywhere. Even our cities and towns have this animal cruising at its leisure during night time hours while us humans are asleep. But in the morning, if our pet's food dish left outside is empty, it could just be that a wild canine helped ...

Mighty migrators on beautiful wings

MIGRATION is not something just for birds. As today's image suggests, a Monarch butterfly could be compared to "Flowers of the Wind." Monarchs are easy to see and a delight to watch. Since the last generation of Monarchs is nearly completing its chysalis stage, it will be programmed with all ...

Lazy summer, lazy river

The IOWA RIVER just keeps poking along, steadily and silently giving an outlet to surface water runoff and ground water table seepage. Granted, this summers lack of significant rain has not added appreciable amounts of runoff water. From its headwaters at Crystal Lake in Hancock County to the ...

Fish & Game

FISH & GAME numbers and trend lines of population dynamics is full time work for Iowa DNR wildlife biologists. At research stations, data is collected and the numbers are crunched to help provide an overview of how any wildlife population is doing. Iowa's winter weather has a lot to do ...

Birds are preparing for migration

SANDHILL CRANES are cool. Maybe a series of other terms would be more appropriate such as majestic, regal, powerful, graceful in flight and smooth sailors of the airwaves. Whenever I see them, or just hear them, a mental image of this big bird comes instantly to mind. A smile from my face is ...

Straight shooters earn awards

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS are what they call themselves. They are students from all area high schools that have chosen to take up a shooting sport as part of their education. They learn lots of things and primary on this list is respect for firearms, not fear of them. They learn safety essentials ...

Green Castle celebrates 40 years

GREEN CASTLE as a public park will soon be 40 years old. To help celebrate, you all are welcome to join in activities, good food, visit with friends, go hiking, fishing, paddle around the 16 acre lake in a canoe or kayak, play volleyball at a newly installed deep sand court, and listen to ...

Explore the magic of a tall-grass prairie

SPRING HILL is the name Carl and Linda Kurtz gave to an 80-acre parcel of land they purchased long ago. Kurtz being a native prairie enthusiast, saw the potential of bringing back the native grassland vegetation of the area. They have been successful in achieving that goal. The grasses and ...

Keeping what matters in mind

Leaving behind a beloved space is always difficult, whether it’s an apartment, a childhood home or, in my case, a house with a view of the Olympic Mountains. Those who graciously read my outdoor column about a year ago know that, throughout my childhood, I’ve made trips to western ...