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Cold weather tests hunters’ endurance 

December 11, 2010

Second season shotgun Iowa DEER HUNTERS will be tested, by skittish deer, and very cold temperatures in addition to more snow. This is to be expected in Iowa, in mid December, as the full effect of our little earth's orbit around the sun puts most of the sunshine into the southern hemisphere. No one said it would be easy and complaining about the weather won't change it.Outdoors people adapt.

Hunters have available to them today some of the highest grade outdoor clothing to keep warm and dry. Ice fishermen know how to dress for the elements. Deer hunters also meet the test. Layers are the key, composed of the right kind of materials to wick away perspiration from the skin. Each layer helps trap warm air and allow for venting away of the moist air from the body.Our grandfathers and their fathers before them used wool. Wool is still a great product in part because it will still retain warmth inside even if it is wet.


Article Photos

Yesterday will feel like a heat wave compared to tomorrow. By Sunday night, there is a good chance that the ice chunks seen in today’s picture of the Iowa River will have congealed into a solid non-flowing mass. Cold temperatures always test the outdoors person and the clothing they wear to stay warm and dry. For those that equip themselves with the right gear and dedicate lots of time outside, winter is just another day to enjoy. The Iowa River flows through Marshall County over approximately 29 miles. It also drops in elevation from about 900 feet above sea level at the Hardin/Marshall County line to approximately 830 feet at the Marshall/Tama boundary, an average drop of about 2.2 feet per mile.

This weekend, another 50,000 shotgun deer hunters will take to the fields, forests and other likely spots where the whitetail deer abides. Seventy thousand hunters just ended the five day early shotgun deer season. Unofficial total deer taken in shotgun season number one was a tad over 45,000 animals. Biologists anticipate that the 70,000 hunters over the nine day second season will kill another 60,000 deer.

Last years deer take as recorded by those hunters that participated in the deer registration data collection process was 136,504. Tom Litchfield, state deer biologists thinks that the overall take of deer in Iowa will be down from this number by four or five percent for this 2010-11 season. The main reasons for the decline are the fact that more and more Iowa counties are at management objective levels now and the number of antlerless tags was much lower or even zero for some locations. But there still is the need for hunting pressure on selected areas of eastern, southeast and southern Iowa. In the southern Iowa tier of counties, a late rifle season will go from Jan. 11 through the 30.

By the time the final numbers are all in, biologists' teams will have the opportunity to assess how the deer herd trend line is doing. From that point, a series of in-house options will be discussed and debated pro and con. Ultimately, the results will be shared with the public, and legislators, before setting seasons for 2011-12. Here is one thing to take note of. Iowa deer hunters will have to get used to a 'new normal' regarding the deer herd and deer numbers.

Why? Well, there are lots of factors. There are also undeniable social factors to consider by the DNR in addition to hard biological facts. While one group of people may want more deer, another group wants fewer. The balance is somewhere in the middle and the number being aimed at by the DNR is an overall deer herd similar to the counts of the mid 1990s. As in anything biological, it takes time to achieve the goal.

Does the taking of adult antlerless deer (which later, upon tagging by the hunter) prove to be a shed-antlered buck, affect the overall deer management scheme? The short answer is no. Those data numbers have been monitored closely by biologists. Shed-antlered deer tallies are ultimately added to the antlered buck numbers because 1, they are obviously not doe deer and 2, they are not button bucks. In the end, taking shed-antlered bucks does not have a significant population impact, does not alter the buck population or its age structure, nor does it hurt the genetics of the herd.


Local reports of the number of deer seen by hunters would tend to put some credibility into the notion that there are fewer deer seen during the gun seasons. But as soon as I visit with one group that agrees with less deer, along comes another group that says they saw an equal number of deer as last year. So I'm left to go figure. The big problem with observations of these kinds is the natural variability and timing of sightings. That is why a more scientifically based observation system is used over the course of an entire year to determine how the overall trend line is moving.


DEER hunters that were successful in taking a nice buck need to note this date: Feb. 22, 2011, a Tuesday, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. Either new antlers from this fall or older antlers from years past can be brought in and scored officially for Iowa records. A short informative program about the variability of deer antlers will be given to talk about typical and non-typical characteristics. This is always a fun night so mark that date on your calendar.


BALD EAGLES are here in bigger numbers. Locally the Iowa River just north of the River at Center Street is a good place to watch for them. Fish plucked from the river become tasty meals and if you are lucky, you can watch them from your car. Give it a check when out that direction. Bald Eagle day events at Saylorville near Des Moines will be Feb. 27 and at Red Rock on March 4 and 5.


The registration renewal period for Iowa owners of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) began Sept. 1. The deadline is coming up soon, Dec. 31, and should be done to avoid penalties. If just renewals are needed, that can be done at license vendor stores that have electronic licenses sales capability. One can always go the County Recorder's office if desired.

If a new purchase is made of one of the above named machines or to transfer ownership from you to another person, that transaction must be accomplished in person at the County Recorder's office. It can not be done electronically. The Recorder's office is in the courthouse, third floor, and is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Due to holiday times, they will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Plan ahead and get the registration work done. Thanks.

Another class of vehicles is ORVs or Off-road vehicles. There is usually a side-by-side seating arrangement on bad boy buggies or similar machines. These types of vehicles have a registration expiration of Dec. 31 however the re-registration time frame does not begin until Dec. 15. Remember that registration is required only if the vehicle is used on public land (where allowed) such as ice, land, select parks or designated areas. Titling these machines is a good practice in order to assist the owner for identification purposes.

Contact the County Recorder at 754-6355 for more information. E-mails can be directed to


Here is a tip to help avoid trouble. Sometimes sportsmen and women will give gifts of firearms to family or friends. BE CAREFUL of unintended consequences. Why? Well, a gun is a gun. Firearm ownership brings with it serious responsibilities and ethical considerations. Some advertisements say "Don't lie for the other Guy" in attempts to educate people about illegal acquisition of firearms that could land people in jail.

The first question to ask is ... can the intended recipient legally own a firearm where he or she lives? There are among the states over 20,000 laws on the books, and some of these laws vary from state to state of what law abiding citizens can and cannot do. Don't take a chance. If a firearm is being considered for a gift, do so via a gift certificate to a licensed gun dealer. Then when the certificate is presented at purchase time, an automatic background search is conducted. Even gifts of simply transferring ownership of a gun from one family member to another, often times a family tradition from generation to generation, should be conducted through a licensed gun dealer. That is the best way to accomplish the trade or transfer.


The theme for the Wednesday's Nature Story Hour for preschoolers is Frozen Water Wonders. The story hour is held the first and third Wednesday of each month from 10 to 11 a.m. at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center.


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.



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