Spring turkey hunting season approaches

TOM TURKEYS are on the menu for a lot of hunters. Getting the turkey to cooperate is another matter. It is a problem that lots of hunters are willing to face. All decked out in camo hunting clothes, shotgun or bow in hand, a few calls and lots of patience, the hunter can expect many great hours of time spent listening and calling to the turkeys. Sometimes it seems easy if the big bird shows interest, comes trotting in as if on a lease, and stands among the decoys until his lights go out. Others time not so much as he stands off and refuses to come closer no matter what tactics the hunter may try. That is the nature of hunting, no guarantees. What is guaranteed is the chance to give turkey hunting an honest effort. Good luck this year.

During 2013, Iowa wild turkey hunters took 10,546 toms. High take counties were along the Mississippi River from Allamakee to Lee counties. Marshall County hunters recorded 39 birds. Jackson County along the big river harvested 443. None were taken in Osceola County. An average statewide would be approximately 100, but Iowa habitat varies drastically from north to south and east to west. Timbered areas along major stream systems account for much of the best woodland and field edge places where turkeys can find shelter, roosts, food and nesting cover.

Iowa wild turkey season dates are as follows: Season 1 is April 14-17, season 2 April 18 22, season 3 is April 23-29 and fourth season April 30 May 18. A 2014 hunting license is required, and a habitat fee. Then the appropriate gun, gun/bow or bow only license tops off the paperwork requirements. Now add to the mix a motivated hunter willing to get up at 0430, pile on their warmest camo hunting clothes, rubber boots, full face masks, gloves and choice of shotgun or bow. Find a nice tree to set against well before the sun rises, hopefully within ear shot of roosted birds. If one is lucky, the gobblers will announce themselves from the tallest tree branches where they spent the night. As light steadily grows with the sun’s advance, the time will come when the flap-flap of wingbeats permeates the air. It is fly down time. Your advance purrs and light clucks of call may entice the gobbler to investigate. If so, the rest is up to you the hunter. Good luck.

Four national conservation organizations have teemed up for conservation. These private groups include Ducks Unlimited (DU), the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) who recently joined forces to ensure that our hunting heritage remain strong for generations to come. The leaders of these organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the goal of furthering sporting traditions across North America. Working together, they will be able to reach more than 1 million conservation supporters to engage them in partnership programs. The ugly fact is that 6,000 acres of habitat are lost each day across North America to a wide variety of land use changes. A cooperative venture by these four groups underscores that they are not competitors but rather full partners in wildlife land habitat preservation and retention.

Here is what you, the average citizen who may hunt, fish … or not. First, buy a hunting or fishing license. Buy a habitat fee or a trout stamp. Buy an Iowa migratory bird stamp. Buy a Federal Migratory Bird stamp. Join organizations as listed above or any number of other conservation groups that put their money where there mouth is, on the land where it counts. Money is important to help make long term conservation programs work. And license fees are the driving force for state departments of conservation who use those dollars to leverage other federal or private cost share monies. So there you have it. It is not hard. It does take a commitment on your part. This scribe urges you to be part of the solution for conservation interests.

TROUT will be coming to Sand Lake on April 12 at 11 a.m. Sorry for the mistake of last week where I said it would be April 11 at 11. Hopefully the ice on Sand Lake will be gone by April 12. Two thousand rainbow trout will be released from the big tanker truck. Two hundred or so of these finny fishes will have tags attached. The tags are redeemable for prizes. Contact the Marshall County Conservation Board at 752-5490 for details.

Another MCCB offering are really neat greeting cards. The staff is utilizing winning wildlife photos from past photo contests as the front cover of these cards. There is not script on the inside, just blank spaces where you can write anything appropriate for the person you wish to write to. For a donation of $10, a set of one dozen of these very attractive greeting cards can be yours. Buy a set of two at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm, 2349 233rd St, Marshalltown, IA.

Attention campers and fishermen/fisherladies: DAKIN’S LAKE is a Story County Conservation area on the north side of Zearing. The existing lake of 5 acres remains. A new 15 acre lake just downstream is being built along with a new campground facility. Coming up April 5, Saturday, will be a fish dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. at Dakin’s Community Center at Zearing. A silent auction will be available for great gifts. An update of information on progress for the project will be given at 7 p.m. From 7:15 until 8 p.m. will be a live auction of a variety of great gifts. Money raised at the event will be used for Dakin’s Lake fish fund. And in case of bad weather … an Iowa norm it seems …The next day, April 6, will be the alternate day for all the above. One way or the other, Dakin’s Lake project and improvements deserve your support. Thank you in advance for being there.

“There is no objection to a reasonable amount of hunting … the encouragement of a proper hunting spirit, a proper love of the sport, instead of being incompatible with a love of nature and wild things,offers the best guaranty for the preservation of wild things.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 1893.

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.