Fishing derby ‘Iowa Connections’ a big hit

IOWA CONNECTIONS is the title Denny Baker, of St. Anthony, applies to the fall excursion to Kettle Lodge, Halley’s Camps, Ontario, Canada. For the last eight years Denny has organized this fun fishing adventure for people from Iowa or with Iowa ties. For the 2013 gig, 23 central Iowans made the northern trek to the waters of Ontario. It was well worth their time because of great fishing, new friends made and lots of fun.

For Howard Hennis, his first year as a participant at this derby, this will be one he’ll remember for a long time. He consistently caught big walleyes at least 20 inches long of longer. He would call it skill. His fellow fishermen would call it being lucky. In the final analysis, great memories were created that will last a lifetime. That is the beauty of fishing as just one facet of fantastic outdoor sports.

The 2013 Derby participants came from Marshalltown, Story City, Ellsworth, Stanhope, Zearing, Nevada, Ames, Oskaloosa, Muscatine, Lakeside, Thornton, Manchester, Jewell, Grundy Center and Radcliffe. Out-of-staters with Iowa ties were from Ironwood and Marquette, Minn.

KIDS FISHING will be the focus on Sept. 7 at the Green Castle Recreation Area. The water in this formerly 16 surface area lake is at least 12 feet lower than its normal pool level. It is part of a renovation project to rid the water of carp and other rough fish. While the water is low, extensive shoreline work is being accomplished to create fish habitat for the time when the water will be allowed to refill the basin. The Sept. 7 event will be one of the last fishing efforts before DNR crews will complete the task of fish removal. This mini-fishing derby is for kids ages 15 or less, for which a fishing license is not required. There will be prizes and random drawings for giveaway items. Time for this derby is 9 a.m. until noon. Hint: Wear old shoes as the saturated soils near the water line are not able to bear the weight of humans. There will be muddy feet before the end of this day. Hopefully there will be several nice fish taken out of these waters. Give it a try.

Marshalltown’s URBAN ARCHERY DEER season begins Sept. 21 for those eligible bowhunters that have completed their training and annual proficiency test. Many Iowa cities have special urban bow hunts for deer to help reduce the number of doe deer that live within the city limits. Surveys by Iowa DNR biologists continue to show numbers in excess of what is considered more ideal and tolerable by local citizens. The success of this program speaks for itself. Without some continual pressure on the deer, escalating populations can grow too much and aggravate landscape damages or increased vehicle/deer collisions. This natural resource must be managed. Taking doe deer out of the population assists in this effort.

The following is a basic outline of what must happen for a bowhunter to become eligible to partake in an urban deer hunt. First, complete a regular hunter safety course. Most archers already have this. Second, complete an online International Bowhunter Education Foundation (IBEF) course and finish this requirement by attending a bowhunter education “field day.” Many archers have this already. A city deer bowhunt requires this step. There is no way around this important educational process. Once this course is satisfactorily passed, there is no need to take it again. It is good for your lifetime.

Regarding the field day, central Iowans and in particularly Marshalltown area new prospective hunters, should mark Sept. 7 from 1-5 p.m. at the Marshall County Izaak Walton League as the date and place for the bowhunter field day. Entry to this class requires your personal voucher that was printed at the end of the online course. This is the entry ticket. To sign up for the field day, go to the DNR website for bowhunter education and look for the Marshalltown event for Sept. 7. Fill in the registration information and you are ready to go.

The third step for any urban archer is to complete a proficiency test. This involves shooting 10 arrows from 20 yards and 10 from 15 yards at a standard 10 inch diameter target. A score of 80 percent or more is required to pass. Once this step is documented, the prospective hunter advances to step four. The signed score form and proof of hunter safety and bowhunter safety tests are presented to the Marshalltown Park and Recreation Office at 10 W. State Street. When all the paperwork is submitted, a $10 fee is paid and a plastic ID card is printed with your photo. Step five is to take that city ID card for urban deer hunting to the General Store. This is the only authorized vendor that can issue special hunting licenses from the DNR for the city of Marshalltown.

Step six involves access to private lands within the city. Talk to landowners that are desirous of allowing a hunter to use their land in and along travel routes deer use. Get the permission forms signed, keep a copy and submit another copy to the Parks and Recreation office. Step seven involves setting up for the hunt, spending as much time as one’s schedule will allow, and hopefully take a doe deer, or two or three or more, out of the herd. Step eight is tagging the deer, obtaining the DNR confirmation number and also recording the deer kill by registering it at the Marshalltown Fire Department. The record of doe deer taken for each hunter counts as possible incentive for one of three buck tags that will be available after Nov. 1.

For more details, contact the Marshalltown Parks and Recreation office or call 754-5715. That office has packet of materials with all the rules and regulations. This scribe is also available to answer questions regarding the urban hunt at 750-4914. Roger Kaput (753-7446) is another contact person as he also serves as the Chief Hunter Safety Instructor for Marshall County. Good luck this year. Stay safe.

Tomorrow is SEPTEMBER 1. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, fall is fast approaching. It will be here quicker than Superman jumping over tall buildings in a single bound. For sure, the weather is going to change. Leaves of the trees will soon loose the green pigment of the photosynthesis process, cooler air will return and many birds will begin moving south. In fact, the migration of birds and monarch butterflies is already underway. There may be a slight notable increase in robins as they filter southward. This is also the case for swallows, pelicans and some early duck species like the Blue-winged Teal. Warblers are also beginning to show themselves in the forest lands along the Iowa River valley. Get ready, there are many more to come.

Today, Aug. 31, is also the opener for Iowa’s cottontail rabbit and squirrel seasons. The rabbit season runs through Feb. 28. Squirrel season’s last date is Jan. 31. Oak trees and their mast production is one indicator of the abundance or distribution of squirrels. Oak trees acorns also are favorite foods of deer and turkey. Even Bluejays are noted for their feeding activity on acorns. Acorns randomly dropped by these blue feathered critters helps explain in part the natural distribution of oak trees across the landscape.

Squirrel hunters in Iowa last year, an estimated 21, 700 of them, are credited with taking approximately 158,000 of the bushy tails. Silent stalking or patient waiting in a oak timber will pay off in the long run. Many a young hunter received their mentored guidelines about hunting and safety by hunting with a .22 rifle for squirrels. It is still a fun way to introduce a young person to shooting sports.

HUNTING is one big keystone for conservation. Did you know that nationally sportsmen contribute over $5.4 billion in state and local taxes? If federal taxes are added to the mix, the total jumps to $11.8 billion. The purchase of licenses, stamps, motorboat fuel, and excise taxes accounts for $3 billion of the total. If one looks at the federal side of the ledger, those investments toward conservation are less than one percent of the federal budget.

One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.

Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.