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Nature is OKAY

February 11, 2012
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION are what a film maker may call for when the conditions are right to proceed. Well for everyone that is a nature enthusiast, that is virtually anytime. Grab the camera and go outside. For this scribe, local hiking trails at county parks are only minutes away. The Iowa River is only minutes away. Forest lands and prairie lands are just minutes away. My front yard prairie plantings of wild flowers are only seconds away. I never go on these most pleasant of excursions without my camera.

However, when I return home to process the new images I've created in my camera, those memories of my outside forays provide hours, days and years of great experiences. Prairie flowers and grasses bending slowly in the breeze with a white puffy cloud background are made more impressive because I was there. I've seen warm morning sunlight slanting through the trees of Timmons Grove during an early morning foggy day. In addition, the water filled oxbow of the old river channel reflected images of soft maple trees on the shoreline. It impressed me and the setting seemed to scream out loud....take this picture. I was there. The Iowa River offers many opportunities too, from ice and snow covered surfaces, spring ice breakup, summer floods and fall quiet times of smooth flowing glassy water with its own reflective images of sky, clouds and forested edges. I was there. I remember. I captured many images with the camera.

But for all the thousands of photographic images I've made over my many decades of nature investigations, hikes, vacation travels and bow hunting excursions, I have another observation. Cameras can't do it all. Yes, they record an instant of time and hold it there forever. But consider one's own mind are literally billions of images called memories, to be recalled in an instant whenever we want, of people and places, good times and bad, of life going on that never stops. Cameras record an image and hold it still. Life goes on and is never still. Nature is never still. Do enjoy nature and if a camera helps you do that, well....just do it. Mother Nature makes the call for us to appreciate her beauty with lights, camera, action. Enjoy.

Article Photos

Unique reflections on the East River waters made a very interesting shape. That was “OKAY” with me as I was there to record it all with my camera. To obtain this photo, I shared some quality time with my wife Bobbi and son Craig on his bass boat during a ride on the East River of west Florida in early February. The air was calm, the river current was very slow, and every portion of the river edge had perfect reflective images of the shoreline vegetation. This year in Iowa, you to can make yourself available at waters edge to enjoy perfect reflections of clouds, sky, trees, shadows in the on-going play of light that Mother Nature offers completely free of charge.


DEER ANTLER MEASURING will be offered soon; in fact the date is February 21st, 7 pm, at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm. Deer hunters that are curious about their recent success with a big buck can have a chance to see how those antlers compare in the official scoring process. A brief review of the scoring process will be provided by Rick Trine, DNR Wildlife Management Supervisor. He and other official measurers will set the tapes and tabulations to work to find beam and tine lengths, circumferences and add it all up. Every deer is different. The numbers is a method to compare how that animal grew its antlers last year. Two factors are important here. One is mass. The other is symmetry.

Come learn how it all works. See you there.


Iowa's DEER CLASSIC exposition is coming on Feb. 24-26 at Hy-Vee Hall and the remodeled Vets Auditorium in Des Moines. I know that all of the hundreds of booth spaces are sold out. Vendors from all over the country will be there. And best of all, Iowans will be there to proudly display the best of the best for Iowa whitetail deer. It is an awesome show that will be attended by over 20,000 folks. Hint: Friday afternoon is a good time to be at the door waiting for the late afternoon doors to open. You'll have fewer shoulders to bump into on Friday. See you there.


HUNTER SAFETY CLASSES for 2012 have been announced for Marshall County. Write these down on the home calendar so that you can schedule a best date for your 12 years old or older daughters and sons. Choose from these dates: May 17 and 19; June 21 and 23; and Aug. 16 and 18. The Thursday night session is three hours, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. that covers hunting ethics, safety and DNR fish/game laws. The following Saturday portion of the class starts at 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. with more ethics, safe gun handling, firearm identification, live firing of clay birds with shotguns, targets with 22 rifles, archery safety, game care and more. At the end of the class, a test is taken and all who pay attention will pass. All of the instructors make sure the participants pay attention. It is fun and a good learning experience. Parents are welcome to take the class along with their daughters and sons. To register login in at


In IOWA last year, most hunters got along just fine and obeyed common sense lessons learned from hunter safety classes. A few didn't. Here is the scoop. Iowa has about 250,000 hunters. Compared to safety data from the 1960s until now, much gain has been made to avoid accidents and incidents with firearms. However, a human being human, getting in a hurry, forgetting something, or not paying attention has its consequences. In 2011 there were 28 incidents, 20 with injuries and 8 with property damage. During the past decade, the tally has shown about 20 to 24 incidents/accidents each year. Part of the goal of hunter safety classes is to impress upon everyone who hunts, how easy it is to have an incident. Thinking safety all the time is essential.

One incident/accident is too many. Causes for these happenings trace back to some basic problems on the part of some hunters. Pay attention to what is behind the targeted animal. Is it safe? Most accidents happen during shotgun deer seasons when the focus on a deer and not on what is behind it. Officers investigating a hunting accident document as many factors as they can. For the injured person, it is too late to make amends for what could have taken their life or the life of another. Those are sobering times when people have to learn the hard way.

Iowa has 1,800 volunteer hunter safety instructors. Each year more than 10,000 students go through DNR hunter safety classes to learn about the fun they can have during outdoor adventures of hunting seasons. Much emphasis is placed on ethics, safety, game identification, firearm handling and laws.


The Marshall County Conservation Board will announce the winners of the eleventh annual Natural Resources/Conservation Photo Contest at a chili supper from 6 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center. Over 30 entries were received featuring Native Wildlife, Scenic views in Marshall County, and People and Natural Resources.

The public is invited and tickets for the chili supper are available in advance at the MCCB office, 2359 233rd Street, Marshalltown. Adult tickets are $5 in advance. Tickets for children 12 and under are $3. For more information call 752-5490.


Registration is now open for the Marshall County Conservation Board's "Woodworking for Wildlife" program which will be held on Feb. 18 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center 2359 - 233rd St. just west of Marshalltown. Individuals and families may build a house for wrens, bluebirds, wood ducks, or bats to take home.

Participants will be able to build a house of their choice, but need to preregister so materials can be prepared. Interested persons should call 752-5490 by Feb. 15 to register and specify which type of house they are interested in building. Space is limited. Donations for materials will be accepted. Participants should bring a hammer.

MCCB Director Mike Stegmann states "This will be a great way to think spring. Now is the time to get houses ready for the birds which will be returning soon."


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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