DEER SEASON for archers began this morning and this scribe will most likely still be in his tree stand as you read today's story. The special qualities of being in the forest before sunrise are a wonderful experience. I like listening to birds and squirrels as they begin their day. I like watching the sunshine peaking over the horizon as it begins to penetrate the spaces between trees and tree leaves. It is absolutely beautiful.
As an archer with 45 years experience under my belt, I know that deer hunting is never a guarantee that a deer will even come by my stand. That is the way it works. At other times, it seems that all the local deer decided to congregate close by where I was offered quite a show in deer behavior. Most times I do see deer, just maybe not close enough for a reasonable taking opportunity. Given enough time on a stand, the odds are that eventually a traveling deer will walk a trail close by the tree stand, an arrow is launched and the deer goes down.
I also participate in the DNR's bowhunter wildlife observation survey. This is the eighth year for the program. I record my time on stand, number of antlered or antlerless deer seen, and other potential critters such as Wild Turkeys, Bobcat, Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Opossum, Striped Skunk, Badger, River Otter and house cat. More than 2,000 bowhunter's will participate in 2011's survey. If the number of hours spent hunting is typical of past years, they will go on 31,000 plus hunting trips and spend over 105,000 hours in a stand. All this data is a supplemental to other biological data and to provide a long-term database for monitoring and evaluating wildlife population trends.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
Archery deer season opened statewide today at 1/2 hour before sunrise. Iowa has about 57,000 bowhunters.The hunters can expect to see fewer deer in some areas of Iowa as the trend line is going down for the population as a whole.Archers will take about 30,000 deer by Jan. 10, 2012.
Tom Lithcfield, DNR deer biologist says that "Our deer herd is in good shape statewide, but hunters can expect to see fewer deer in most areas of the state." While the antlerless quotas for 2011 remain unchanged from 2010, hunters need to communicate with landowners about the number of deer seen, take extra doe deer out of certain areas and refrain from taking as many doe deer in other locations.
Deer meat can be locally processed at the State Center locker for either home use or donated to the HUSH program. HUSH stands for Help Us Stop Hunger. The House of Compassion uses the donated venison for many of their prepared meals.
Any deer hunter taking a deer is required to report it to the harvest reporting system. It can be done via the computer or a toll free telephone number. Reporting must be done by midnight the next day after a deer is killed. Just follow the prompts to record the data, obtain a confirmation number write it down within the space provided on the deer tag, and then attach that tag in addition to the original tag already on the deer. It is easy and simple to do. And it is the law.
The following is an interesting perspective on the number of really big antlered whitetail deer submitted for the record book. The two organizations, Pope & Young Club, for archery taken animals, and the Boone & Crockett Club, primarily for firearms taken trophies, gather the data form all the states. While some hunting magazines like to put big antlered deer on the front cover, the false impression given is that a big deer lurks behind every bush or tree. Reality check time folks. Magazines produce copies to sell. Yes, it is true that every year somewhere, a hunter will be in the right place at the right time when a big buck presents himself. His big buck will make the photo circuit in a big way.
Now for the rest of the story: Of all the deer killed by archers in Iowa, only .06 percent are submitted for the record book. Boone and Crockett tabs the numbers for Iowa at .04 percent. I share these numbers to help you understand this point: A big buck deer is not hiding behind every bush or tree.
Next Saturday, Oct. 8, is the local PHEASANTS FOREVER (PF) banquet at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds. The doors open at 5 p.m. to be followed later with a great meal, fun, games, and live auction. PF has cooperated with area farmers to make improvements to private lands over the past decades. Your support of PF is an excellent way to continue that work. Call Steve Armstrong at 641-752-8322 for ticket information.
On Oct. 7 a half hour after sunset, join The Amateur Astronomers of Central Iowa at the Dean Memorial Observatory - Green Castle Recreational Area (1 mile south of Ferguson). The public is invited for a telescope view of the night sky and to learn about the fall constellations. For more information contact Jim Bonser at 641-751-8744.
Uncle Ikes Nature Program for Grades 1-5 will be held on Oct. 8 from 9 11 a.m. Celebrate 28 years with Uncle Ikes! This award-winning program is FREE and is co-sponsored by the MCCB and the Izaak Walton League to provide enjoyable environmental learning experiences. "Woodland Wanderers" is the theme for this year's program that meets monthly October April. This month the session is "Leaf it to Us" and will meet at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center. Kick off the new year of Uncle Ikes with a hike in the fall forest. Experience different kinds of trees and create an autumn treasure.
Facts to note: Americans hunt 228 million days per year. Hunters and anglers support more jobs nationwide than the number of people employed by Wal-Mart. Through license sales and excise taxes on sporting equipment, hunters and anglers pay for most fish and wildlife conservation programs. Americans annually buy 1.1 billion shot shells.
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.