Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Intelligent, adaptable, unbelievably resilient; the white-tailed deer is one amazing creature.  The white-tail’s resilience – its ability to survive under extreme circumstances — has never been more evident than it has this spring and summer.  Everywhere I go, I see does with fawns. So, what makes this noteworthy?  To put things into proper perspective, we need to look back to last winter.  I hang my hat in extreme northern Iowa where, even by our standards, last winter was regarded as exceptionally...

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Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Posted by on Aug 7, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Following months of austere reclusion, resident families of sandhill cranes are beginning to appear.  Stealthily prowling marsh edge, cow pasture, and bean field; crane parents are busily teaching youngsters – more properly called crane colts — the useful art of frog spearing.  Learning to successfully hunt frogs, snakes, and other edible creatures is a trial and error process that will eventually allow juvenile sandhills to survive on their own. Accompanied by their adolescent offspring, a pair of sandhill cranes hunt...

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Goose Production

Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Goose Production

Goose Production

The Iowa skies are getting louder.  This year’s crop of Canada geese are testing their wings.  The gosling’s initial flights are entertaining — often humorous — endeavors.  Facing into the breeze, the flights begin with an awkward, wing flapping, running start.  Like an airplane taxiing down the runway, the speed gradually increases until the goslings are suddenly airborne.  Many appear surprised that it’s really happening — “I can fly!”  A goose’s first flights are...

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Hard Winter and Spring Flooding May Have Negative Impact on Iowa Pheasants

Posted by on Jul 2, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Hard Winter and Spring Flooding May Have Negative Impact on Iowa Pheasants

Hard Winter and Spring Flooding May Have Negative Impact on Iowa Pheasants

A hard winter followed by a wet spring will make it hard for Iowa pheasant populations to show significant gains during the 2019 nesting season, according to DNR Upland Wildlife Research Biologist, Todd Bogenschutz. “We had an unusual winter last year,” said Bogenschutz.  “It started out mild and dry, and then we had a winter’s worth of snow – 23 inches – in February.  Not an easy winter for pheasants to survive.” Factor in more bad news — abnormally late snow cover, widespread flooding, and record...

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Year ‘Round Deer Watching

Posted by on Jun 5, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Year ‘Round Deer Watching

Year ‘Round Deer Watching

White-tailed deer are fascinating creatures.  Watching them is one of my favorite pastimes; not just during the fall and winter archery seasons, but all year ‘round.  You never see it all.  No matter how many hours you spend observing; there is always something to learn, something new to see.      Late spring is an important time for Iowa deer.  It’s when the fawns are born; the season when fall and winter losses are replenished.  Most fawns are already on the ground, and indications...

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Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun-Leave the Wildlife Babies Alone!

Posted by on Jun 3, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun-Leave the Wildlife Babies Alone!

Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun-Leave the Wildlife Babies Alone!

It’s that time of year again.  Iowa’s Baby Bird & Bunny season is officially underway.  For me, each new sighting of a recently hatched brood of Canada geese, spindly-legged fawn, or baby robin is cause for celebration – a vivid portrayal of the annual renewal of life.  The sightings also serve as a visual reminder for me to fire off this column.  Doesn’t take long to put this one together.  Filed under the title — “Leave the Wildlife Babies Alone” — I’ve been blowing the dust...

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Although Prickly to the Touch Wild Gooseberry Provides Many Outdoor Benefits

Posted by on Jun 2, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Although Prickly to the Touch Wild Gooseberry Provides Many Outdoor Benefits

Although Prickly to the Touch Wild Gooseberry Provides Many Outdoor Benefits

The wild gooseberry is one of my favorite woodland plants. Although its thorny exterior can make the gooseberry a prickly customer, the shrub does have some redeeming qualities. During spring, its thick greenery becomes a protein rich pantry for insect eating warblers while, at the same time, provides safe nesting for many other songbird species. In summer, the gooseberry’s tart fruit is relished by songbirds and humans alike. Birds take them as they are; humans are prone to convert the fruit into gooseberry pie. Earlier this week, I...

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The American Little Torch Is One Amazing Bird

Posted by on Jun 1, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on The American Little Torch Is One Amazing Bird

The American Little Torch Is One Amazing Bird

Of all the warblers migrating through Iowa, the energetic American redstart is perhaps the easiest to identify. With its coal black head and back, burnt orange wing and tail patches, and white underbelly; an adult male is hard to mistake for anything else – although the orange and black plumage does occasionally lead people to mistake it for the more sluggish and much larger Baltimore oriole. Like most wood warblers, redstarts feed almost exclusively on insects. When compared to other species, they can only be described as...

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Spring Bird Migration is Reaching its Peak

Posted by on May 27, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Bird Migration is Reaching its Peak

Spring Bird Migration is Reaching its Peak

Late May is a time that no Iowa birding enthusiast would care to miss. With thousands of northbound songbirds arriving at local woodlands daily, it is one the year’s premier outdoor events – the grand finale of the spring migration. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak The diversity is daunting. More than 200 bird species nest in or migrate through Iowa each spring. And while birds such as orioles, tanagers, buntings or grosbeaks may be hard to miss, others – such as the more than 30 visiting species of wood warblers – provide greater...

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Muzzleloader Turkey Hunt Goes Full Circle

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Muzzleloader Turkey Hunt Goes Full Circle

Muzzleloader Turkey Hunt Goes Full Circle

It’s been several years since I’ve killed a wild turkey with a shotgun. When I first started pursuing the birds during the late 1970s, my weapon of choice was a muzzleloading Navy Arms 12-bore. Fitted with straight cylinder bore barrels, the scattergun’s range was restricted to around 20 yards; 15 was optimum. Not exactly what you’d describe as a turkey hunter’s Dream Gun. So why carry such an obsolete weapon? About the only answer I can come up with is that hunting with traditional black powder firearms is just plain fun. ...

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