WILD TURKEY season will soon be on the minds of sportsmen/women again now that spring has arrived in full force. April 1 is day one of the first season. This elusive bird has always offered many opportunities, but never any guarantees, to the camouflaged hunter hidden at the base of a big oak tree. With all the springtime sounds smaller migrating birds of forest and field serenading the ears of the hunter, he/she in turn is trying to bluff old Tom Turkey into getting a little closer. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Trying is the important word is this equation.
At the turn of the century in 1901, there were an estimated 30,000 wild turkeys in the entire USA. Why such low numbers? Well, the National Wild Turkey Federation points to many factors best summed up as "Go West, young man." Hidden within that phrase are things that brought turkey numbers down in a hurry such as habitat changes from a rapidly expanding human population, taking turkeys for food without regulations based on science. Settlers can hardly be blamed when any wild game taken may have meant the difference between going hungry or eating well. At those times, nobody was thinking of long term consequences.
Conservation leaders who had great foresight understood what was happening. They saw the big picture of trends and had the ability to make changes for the long term good of all wildlife. Names like Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, George Bird Grinnell, John Lacey, Aldo Leopold and others are the people we can thank today for where we are now. Iowa Congressman John Lacey in 1900 wrote the federal legislation that made it a federal offense to transport illegally taken wildlife across state borders. During President Roosevelt's presidency, he established 230 million acres of lands and waters into protected habitats. In 1916, the Migratory Bird Treaty gave all North American birds protection. The year 1933 was when Leopold's book "Game Management" helped transform the methods and means of state conservation departments across America. In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act put a 10 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition to fund conservation programs in the states. Those dollars are matched $3 to $1 from state license fees.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
One week from today, March 31 from noon until 5 p.m., the public may view taxidermists’ submittals at the 2012 Iowa Taxidermy Association (ITA) show at Marshalltown’s Regency Inn. Today’s photo is from last year’s ITA exhibits. When professional taxidermists produce life-like trophies for their clients, they are also helping to foster a deeper appreciation for game fish, mammals and birds. Taxidermists using highly improved techniques, forms and processes to transform any trophy critter into precious memories of past outdoor experiences.
Fast forward to today with just an emphasis on wild turkey hunting. This bird alone creates a positive push to the economy of the USA of $2 billion each spring, this is not just a bit of chunk change. Add to this the economic spinoffs of hunting trips, gas, food and groceries, lodging, guide services and maybe even taxidermist fees. Hunting wild turkeys is paying off. We have improved wild turkey habitat in just about every state. Scientifically based hunting regulations insure a balanced take of Tom's from the population. Data also shows that over 80 percent of the general population has no problem with hunting if conducted ethically, in fair chase, legally and that all game meat is utilized to feed families or provide supplemental food to Feed the Hungry programs nationwide.
This spring you can salute the wild turkey for its amazing come back due to conservation programs that work. While you may or may not actually hunt the wild turkey yourself, remember that the places where wild turkeys live, grow, reproduce and thrive were primarily conserved by sportsmen's' dollars. The forests that hold wild turkeys also hold all kinds of small to large wildlife, some waterfowl, eagles and others. It is truly a win-win situation for humans and wildlife.
Marshalltown is again the host city for the IOWA TAXIDERMIST'S ASSOCIATION on March 30 through April 1. The public is encouraged and invited to take a peek from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 31. The exhibits will be set up at the Regency Inn at Highway 14 and Iowa Avenue.
Taxidermists who meet at Marshalltown are trying to learn how to do their jobs better in part through friendly competition. Tricks-of-the-trade and attention to detail are critical ingredients for superb final products. Knowing the subject well is imperative, from anatomy to other life features. I encourage all to take a stroll through the ITA exhibits. You will be glad you did.
Here is a tad-bit of information regarding records for bird watching in one day. Cornell University's Team Sapsucker, Jessie and Chris, helped set a record in 2011 by seeing 264 species in Texas during one 24 hour period. Eighteen of the birds were warblers, one of the hardest to pinpoint due to their quick actions of flight within forest layers. For their efforts, the team helped raise more than $250,000 for bird conservation. The team will return to Texas in April 2012 to see if they can't find 265 species, or more, this time. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is renowned for bird conservation studies and programs.
The local BIRD CLUB, officially called the Central Iowa Ornithologists, will see and hear a program about birding in Poland on Thursday night, March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown. Jeff Nichols of Ames, Iowa will present his program "From the Baltic to the Tatras: A Birding Tour of Poland." Nichols leads bird excursions to many places in the USA and the world. Come enjoy this free to the public program about birds in another part of the world.
You may have, or may not, have heard of THE SPORTSMEN'S AUCTION. This year it will be held at the pavilion building inside the Cattle Congress grounds at Waterloo on March 31. The sale begins at 1 p.m. Inspection of items can take place after 11 a.m. that day.
Garry Stuber is the lead man on this venture. Sportsmen have needed from time to time to get gear into the hands of other sportsmen who may need those guns, fishing tackle, boats or other items more than you do. It is a great opportunity to move products within the sporting community. Lots of items will be consigned. March 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. is when you can bring items to Stuber's Trucks, on Airline highway east, not too far east of the Waterloo airport. Call Stuber at 319-233-2286 for details. Here is what he told me is eligible for consignment: Guns, gun cases, firearm related equipment, archery gear, boats for fishing or hunting, decoys, motors for those boats, trailers, ice fishing gear, dog boxes, clay bird equipment. About the only thing not eligible are wildlife art pieces.
Remember the sale begins at 1 p.m. next Saturday in Waterloo's Cattle Congress grounds. If you are not using any sporting items anymore, consider adding them to the mix at Sportsmen's Auction.
For your funny bone: "I was stung by a bee. You should have warning signs." This was an actual suggestion left at a National Park Service facility. Also in the suggestion box were these un-jewels of thought ... "There are too many rocks on the mountains," and lastly "Many trails need to be reconstructed. Avoid ones that go uphill."
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.