Roast Turkey – Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore!

Posted by on Jan 15, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Roast Turkey – Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore!

Roast Turkey – Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore!

I love homemade stuffing.  You know, turkey and dressing, pheasant and dressing; stuff like that.  Although exceedingly popular during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, stuffing quickly becomes a never-to-be-seen food item during the rest of the year.  It doesn’t have to be that way, of course.  There is really no reason that dressing cannot be used as a main side dish during any of the cold weather months.  Earlier this week, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t tasted any honest to goodness...

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Iowa’s Late Seasons

Posted by on Jan 7, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa’s Late Seasons

Iowa’s Late Seasons

The final segment of Iowa’s deer and turkey seasons is one of my favorite times to enjoy the Iowa outdoors.  OK, I know the obvious down sides.  By now, groups of already suspicious turkeys have assembled into large wintering flocks.  And following the conclusion of five separate firearms seasons, it’s no wonder that local white-tail populations are more than a little bit jumpy. But there are also some positives that combine to make getting out worthwhile.  During most years, the landscape will have become a...

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How to Quickly Identify Red Finches

Posted by on Dec 23, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on How to Quickly Identify Red Finches

How to Quickly Identify Red Finches

For thousands of Iowa wildlife enthusiasts, winter bird feeding is an increasingly popular winter pastime.  The more birds we attract to our feeders, the more fun the activity becomes.  Properly identifying those backyard visitors – chickadees, cardinals, jays and others — is generally an easy task.   There are exceptions, of course.  Take, for example, those colorful red finches that seem to have become increasingly common during the past several weeks.  The birds’ rosy plumage quickly narrows the...

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Christmas Goose

Posted by on Dec 16, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Christmas Goose

Christmas Goose

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which activity is most enjoyable – pursuing wild game, preparing wild game, or eating wild game.  What I do know is that all three rank high on my list of favorite pastimes which brings us to today’s topic – preparing the Christmas goose. Few flavors can match that of a corn-fed Iowa honker.  For our family, roast Canada goose is a long standing, time honored Christmas tradition.  When paired with high octane side dishes and festive desserts, it is a meal we look forward to all...

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Iowa Swans Enjoy Amazing Recovery

Posted by on Dec 3, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Swans Enjoy Amazing Recovery

Iowa Swans Enjoy Amazing Recovery

With only three days remaining in North Iowa’s 2020 Iowa duck season, the morning of November 29 had all the makings of a good hunt.   Temperatures hovered near freezing, overcast skies were dark and glowering and, best of all, a hurricane wind was ripping from the northwest.  If this wouldn’t have the birds stirred up, then nothing would.     Legal shooting time began a half hour before sunrise, and I was still fiddling with my blind when the first flock of around a dozen or so mallards took me...

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Notes on Coot Shooting

Posted by on Nov 24, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Notes on Coot Shooting

Notes on Coot Shooting

One of the things I keep an eye out for each year, is the peak migration of American coots.  Most commonly referred to as mud hens, coots are those large black birds that appear on local wetlands each autumn – often in incredible abundance.  Coots are our largest representatives of the rail family, and I never let a season pass without bagging and eating at least a few.  Although held in high regard in America’s Deep South, coots are generally viewed with distain in the North, mostly because of the widespread...

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Prime Time Wood Ducks

Posted by on Oct 15, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Prime Time Wood Ducks

Prime Time Wood Ducks

October is a month like no other — four full weeks of unparalleled beauty.  If I could figure a way to make it happen, I’d take October, put it in a bottle and then relive the month over and over again.  For the outdoor enthusiast, there are a million things to see and do in October.  It’s a time when autumn colors peak, blue jays get noisy, fish launch their fall feeding frenzy, and sleek white-tail bucks put the final polish on glistening antlers.  Best of all, October is the month I get to spend with wood...

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Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

Posted by on Oct 12, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

The first half of October is a premier time for Iowa birding enthusiasts to hit the woods and waters.  The weather is mild, fall color has peaked, and birds are moving across our region by the thousands. Winter Wren – While observing a group of warblers foraging through thickly wooded understory, I spotted a nearby movement in the ground cover. Turned out to be a winter wren, an uncommon species that I haven’t seen since 2014. Spotting a species that you never expected to see is just one of the things that makes fall birding a...

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There’s a fox in my driveway! Now what do I do?

Posted by on Oct 7, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on There’s a fox in my driveway! Now what do I do?

There’s a fox in my driveway!  Now what do I do?

I wish I had kept track of how many calls I’ve received this year regarding the dramatic invasion of red fox into the residential neighborhoods across Northern Iowa. There have been “fox on my patio” calls — Fox crossing the deck, fox under the deck, fox walking down the front sidewalk, fox with pups by the garden, fox chasing squirrels, fox chowing down on squirrels, and fox begging for food in the Ventura school yard.  The list goes on. Backyard Intruder – A red fox strolls through a residential backyard Where...

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Eight Minute Goose Breast

Posted by on Oct 5, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Eight Minute Goose Breast

Eight Minute Goose Breast

By now, I think it’s obvious to everyone that Iowa’s giant Canada goose flock enjoyed banner production during 2020.  The event has not gone unnoticed by area waterfowlers who have been cashing in on some fast paced, early season action. But although hunters are enjoying early season success, there is also a potential downside.  Regardless of age, most Canada geese are still in the process of completing their summer molt.  Pin feathers abound.  So much so, in fact, that most birds cannot be dry picked [plucked] for at least...

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