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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Iowa Gopher Mound Yields Rare Sighting

Posted by on Oct 6, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Gopher Mound Yields Rare Sighting

Dig your way through a few fresh gopher mounds, and you’re likely to find just about everything but gophers.  Discoveries may include napping toads, salamanders, garter snakes, and an impressive array of multi-legged invertebrate wildlife.  During early fall, the excavations can occasionally yield something a bit more exotic.  That’s what happened earlier this week when Carol and I were poking around the Beaver Dam Wildlife Area. Located in Northern Iowa’s Cerro Gordo County, Beaver Dam is a DNR managed, restored...

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Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

Posted by on Oct 5, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

DULUTH, MN. — In the dense evergreen forests of America’s North Country, the fall raptor migration is gathering a full head of steam.  Pouring down from Canada, the flight includes birds of prey of all shapes and sizes from tiny kestrels to gargantuan twelve-pound golden eagles.  Although the grand passage can be viewed from a variety of locations, there is no better place to witness this World Class spectacle than at the famous Hawk Ridge region of Lake Superior.     Lake Superior is the world’s...

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Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Iowa’s September teal season is the best thing that’s happened to duck hunting in the past half century.  Timed to take advantage of early migrating blue-winged teal, the season is offered to Mississippi Flyway states by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a sixteen-day, teal only bonus hunt.  The special season is referred to as a bonus because the sixteen days are not subtracted from Iowa’s “regular”, sixty-day duck seasons.  The math is simple.  Iowa teal seasons turn a normally scheduled, 60-day duck...

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