Hiking for Owls

Posted by on Feb 14, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Hiking for Owls

Hiking for Owls

There are a lot of good reasons to visit Iowa’s winter woodlands.  Listening to the eerie, nighttime serenades of resident owls ranks high on my list of favorites. As is the case with any outdoor adventure, being prepared is key to success.  It is, after all, the dead of winter.  Dress too lightly and you’ll freeze.  Wear too much and you’ll sweat; and then you’ll freeze.  If your woodland has trails or contains open stretches of mature timber, then skis or snowshoes can save a lot of the huffing and...

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Winter Wildlife Survival

Posted by on Jan 23, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Winter Wildlife Survival

Winter Wildlife Survival

Sub-zero temperatures.  Drifting snow.  Winds gusting to forty-five.  Near zero visibility.  How’s that for a chilling winter combo?  But those were the exact conditions we endured last weekend when a major winter storm system bulldozed its way across the continent’s midsection.  I’m guessin’ there were a lot of Iowans who were wishing they were someplace else. A female cardinal endures the brutal winter storm conditions that swept across northern Iowa last weekend. Looking through my cozy dining...

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Arctic Traveler from the Midnight Sun

Posted by on Jan 14, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Arctic Traveler from the Midnight Sun

Arctic Traveler from the Midnight Sun

PHOTO:  Ready To Fly – Like all peregrines, Aurora loves to hunt and will chase just about anything she sees.  Photo by: Carol Washburn If Jack Vooge had lost one more drop of blood; I should have called for a Medivac.  I was springing a leak or two myself, but my injuries were nothing compared to the sight of Jack’s hands and wrist.  Meat grinder was the term that came to mind. It was early October in northern Minnesota; and we were engaged in the painful process of removing an entangled peregrine falcon from...

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Lovelock Cave Canvasback

Posted by on Nov 27, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Lovelock Cave Canvasback

Lovelock Cave Canvasback

The scene is timeless.  At the edge of a shallow marsh, two hunters crouch in the cattails.  The sunrise is fast approaching and a rising breeze is providing lifelike movement to the group of eleven canvasback duck decoys swimming out front.  Anticipation is growing as the hunters anxiously await the arrival the day’s first flock. An ancient canvasback duck decoy constructed more than 1,500 years ago by Tule Eater Indians. The decoy, along with a basket containing ten others, was discovered by archeologists during a 1923...

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Thanksgiving Turkeys

Posted by on Nov 25, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Thanksgiving Turkeys

Thanksgiving Turkeys

I was beginning to feel the pressure.  With the Thanksgiving holiday less than a week away, my turkey dinner was still running wild and free somewhere in the big woods.  Perhaps I should backtrack a bit and begin by saying that Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays.  Roast turkey, homemade dressing, cranberries, pumpkin pie – I can never get enough.  I love Thanksgiving so much that we celebrate it twice.  The first celebration takes place on the official Thursday holiday – a huge family event...

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Honkers for Heros

Posted by on Nov 19, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Honkers for Heros

Honkers for Heros

North Iowans Pay A Unique Tribute to America’s Veterans Honkers for Heroes organizers, Zane Kantaris [front left] and Jason Hahn [front right] admire a Canada goose bagged by Vietnam veteran Gene Hockenson [right rear] of Plymouth while Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient, Matt Macke [left rear] looks on.  Staged last weekend, Honkers for Heroes was a two-and-a-half-day waterfowl adventure held to honor veterans serving in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. Crouched within the tight confines...

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Archery Deer Season

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Archery Deer Season

Archery Deer Season

After catching his breath, the victor seeming none the worse for wear. While pondering my next move, the deer suddenly turned and began moving up the trail, leading directly to my stand. For Iowa’s 70,000 archery deer hunters, November is the grandest month of the year.  By now, the annual rut is slamming into overdrive.  Restless, edgy, and itching for a scrap; high tined, broad beamed bucks are on the prowl.  Everyone agrees that Iowa bucks achieve heart stopping proportions.  Whether you judge them in terms of...

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Iowa Wood Ducks

Posted by on Oct 26, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Wood Ducks

Iowa Wood Ducks

I heard the ducks before I actually saw them.  Not the familiar quacking normally associated with waterfowl, but rather the screeching “Who-week, Who-week” that is the signature greeting of a female wood duck.  Sitting atop a downed log, I was huddled within the tangled confines of a shallow wooded swamp where the birds — eight or nine of them — had come in from behind.  Looking over my shoulder, I quickly spotted the web-foots.  With necks arched and legs extended, the woodies were descending through the...

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A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

Posted by on Oct 14, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

I wasn’t until I was in high school that I saw my first peregrine falcons.  Well, sort of.  The birds were actually a pair of mounted specimens perched atop a fake, papier-Mache cliff ledge behind the glass window of a wildlife diorama in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Bell Museum.  Although the work was flawless, the taxidermied birds lacked spirit – no more real peregrines than birds painted on canvas.  But according to the exhibit’s curator, those feathered effigies were as close as I would ever come to seeing an...

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2019 Goose Opener

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on 2019 Goose Opener

By mid-September, the Iowa landscape was drying up.  My favorite teal marsh was down to a depth of about two inches; many smaller potholes were bone dry.  And then, with just a week to go before the Canada goose opener, the rains came.  Deluge would be a more appropriate description; anywhere from 6 to 7 ½-inches in four days depending on where you were in the northern Iowa.  Like a dream come true, area marshes refilled overnight.  In local cattle pastures and hay fields, there were even some areas of sheet water;...

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