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Outdoor memories last a lifetime

December 31, 2011
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

MEMORIES of a lifetime will be the focus for many future stories to family and friends for eleven year old Ashlen Young. Her first deer was a nice buck, a worthy trophy indeed. What made it extra special is that the deer came from grandpa's land while her father Greg supervised. According to Ashlen, all went well when she noticed the deer before her tree stand buddy father was aware of the buck approaching. A bit of a wait and careful aiming put the buck down from a close 20 yard shot.

Earlier in the year, Ashlen and her dad practiced on the range with the .50 caliber muzzle loading rifle at targets up to 70 yards away. The good thing about practice is that one gets well acquainted with the firearm, its sighting picture and recoil. That way during an actual hunt, there will be no surprises.

Youth hunters in Iowa are in good hands with mentors that care about proper conduct and safety during hunting seasons. Learning by participating is a time proven strategy. Enjoying the outdoors during a hunt is one of the most precious memory building things a youngster can do. Ashlen has her memories of 2011 ... and nice venison table dishes to remind her of that special day when she took her first deer. Congratulations Ashlen for a job well done.

Article Photos

Ashlen Young, age 11, proudly holds her first deer taken on December 11. She was mentored by her father Greg as they sat in a tree stand on Ashlen’s grandparents Mormon Ridge farm. She used a .50 caliber Traditions muzzleloader to take this nice buck. Ashlen is a fifth grader at West Marshall. Parents are Greg and Kris Young. Her grandparents are Royal and Paula Young.

OUTDOOR MEMORIES along the Iowa River, as told last week in this column, sparked a response from one reader who detailed some of his escapades in and on the river. It was an outdoor playground for him and his buddies, fresh with all the excitement young boys could dream of or make up. It was a most interesting letter full of details of excitement as the Iowa River lured them to explore.

One portion of the story told of his hiking up stream many decades ago. He was on the ice in early spring, with river ice still locked in but getting rotten and weak. Danger may not have entered the mind of this young lad as he walked the icy pathway. Then it happened. The river ice began to groan, moan and split into huge chunks. Several segments of the ice split and formed tent-like projections into the air as the pressure of moving ice forced upheavals of great proportions. Once up in the air, the huge ice blocks would come crashing down, making awful dreadful sounds that did not need explanation. He was in trouble! Within 15 minutes, the entire river of ice was flowing silently as a unit of broken up ice. The author of this story noted that he was not a church-goer, but he prayed that day, as he scrambled to shore in the water and mud and got on his knees to pray. Life is precious. Memories are precious. Being able to tell the stories now, precisely because one's life was not taken that day, is also a treasure.

The Iowa River was kind that day to this man who is now 72 years young. It could have turned out much different. This scribe gives a big thank you to this true story of adventure on the Iowa.


Gary Sicso, Iowa DNR game warden in Monona County, Iowa along the Missouri River, was in the news last week. Sisco did serve a bit in Marshall County several years ago before his transfer out west. He was part of the investigating team into a mountain lion (cougar) in a tree in the back yard of a resident at Blencoe. Monona County Sheriffs deputies arrived at the scene in the dark hours of the morning, specifically at 12:10 a.m., to see a cougar perched in a tree a mere 15 feet away. The animal was dispatched for safety reason. Iowa does not have a season or protected status on mountain lions. Sisco noted that the animal was a male weighing about 100 to 120 pounds. Tests are being conducted on the animal to determine its origin, what it ate for its last meals, and any other biological information for scientists. Dispersal of this young male cougar out of the Black Hills of South Dakota is likely to be the case. DNA tests will confirm or discount this theory after the lab tests are complete.


BALD EAGLES are very common now all over Iowa. Concentration points are open waters of rivers, especially on the Mississippi. But back home along the Iowa River, it is not uncommon to see them. In fact, this scribe and his spouse observed at least 12 of the big raptors last Monday near the Iowa River bridge at Timmons Grove. What a sight to see these majestic birds, adults and sub adults, playing the airwaves with graceful curving circles of outstretched 7 foot wingspans.

Bald Eagle watch festivities are now scheduled all over the state. Every weekend in January will have something going on related to eagles from Lansing to Keokuk. For us in the center of the state, Lake Red Rock is a hot spot for eagles, especially below the dam where stunted shad fishes provide an on-going food supply for the big birds. Pella Bald Eagle days are way down the line for March 2 - 3 with outdoor viewing at the Howell Station, and indoor programs at Pella Central College. Make your own eagle day, any day, by driving to Sand Lake, Three Bridges County Park, Riverview Park, Center Street, Timmons Grove, Stanley Mill Bridge, Indian Bridge or just about anywhere in between. Enjoy.


DEER numbers for this fall continue to trickle in. Total take is now in the range of 104,500 plus. The county with the highest reported deer kill is Clayton (northeast Iowa) with over 4,450. The county with the lowest count is Grundy at 120. Calhoun County is at 123. Marshall County deer hunters have a total of at least 762. Approximately 32,000 late muzzleloader deer hunter will try to be out and about from now until season closure on Jan. 10. Marshalltown's urban management archery only deer hunt continues through Jan. 29.


Tomorrow marks the first day of 2012. A new set of memories will begin by all outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the fresh air, fishing in area waters of lakes and streams, hiking the trails and pathways in Marshall County parks, family camping spots, secret morel mushroom honey-holes, duck blind hideouts, or tree stand seclusion. May every fishing site bring you hungry fish at the end of your lure. May your spring turkey hunt be successful after the first 30 minutes of opening day. Next fall, may that big buck deer trophy of a lifetime stand broadside at 25 yards with no clue he is about to become table fare for you and your family. That is my new year resolution to you. If we are going to wish for things, we might as well strive for our dreams, knowing full well that reality will down-size our dreams considerably. Have fun outdoors in 2012.


The Marshall County Conservation Board invites the public to a Full Moon Tower Hike to be held Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center (2359 233rd Street). Participants will join MCCB naturalist Diane Hall for a moonlit hike up to the new observation tower and take in the view of the moonlit countryside from the observation deck. Participants should dress warmly and be able to walk the just under .5 mile trail. Pre-registration is encouraged by Jan. 3 by calling the Marshall County Conservation Board at 752-5490.

The Mildred Hach Grimes Memorial Observation Tower was completed in the spring of 2010 and sits on the highest elevation point of the Grimes Farm. The main viewing platform, which stands 30 feet above ground, offers panoramic views.

The Grimes Farm & Conservation Center is located at 2359 233rd Street just west of Highland Acres Road between West Lincolnway and Iowa Ave. For more information contact the MCCB at 752-5490.


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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