Outdoor 101 lesson

So much to say; so little space, so little time. So allow me to quickly give you an outdoor 101 lesson on what’s going on around Hamilton County this week.

In November, most outdoor types are chasing grouse, quail, pheasants, turkey or deer, bow hunting, getting ready for the annual deer camp or even getting their ice fishing tackle sorted and ready for first ice. Put your boat in the water at many of the area lakes and you might be surprised to find that you are one of only a small handful of boats on the lake. The pleasure boats and jet skis are put away for the year and the lake is all yours. Well, yours and Mother Nature. I like the fall season. It’s my favorite time of the year. So much is happening.

Bald eagles return

We saw our first bald eagle of the fall and winter season on Saturday, Oct. 26. Now its almost a daily thing. They generally can be observed perched in the same old dead snags across the Boone River north from Nokomis Park. Another popular spot to observe the eagles is from the bridge over the Boone River on White Fox Road, both upstream and downstream. They like to frequent the sandbars and gravel bars during periods of low water. And two eagles were seen soaring over city hall in downtown Webster City.

Fall leaf colors

It’s almost over. We’re on the downhill side of the fall leaf color season in the Hamilton County area. We’ve still got plenty of color, and the trees are still hanging on to their leaves. But not for long. The last of the leaves are turning fast and falling even faster. About two more weeks and the leaves will be gone. Brisk winds will make short work of everything now. One good windy day will see all of the remaining tree leaves fall to the ground. And this means that the best time to hunt squirrels is just days away. With leaves off the trees, the squirrels can’t hide. They can be easily seen running up and down the tree trunks and scurrying over the tree branches. Nice easy targets for the squirrel hunter. We’ve had an excellent nut season this fall, and the fox squirrel population is probably at a 20-year high. And it looks like we’ve got the weather on our side.

Approval of hunting

A recently released nationwide scientific survey by Responsive Management shows that 78 percent of Americans old and older, approve of hunting , up five percentage points from 74 percent in 2011. This marks the highest level of support for hunting since 1995, according to data compiled by Responsive Management. The reasons for this increase are still unclear, but it may be related to the recent hunting and shooting participation. Since 2006, hunting participation has increased by 9 percent. Oddly enough it is the older generation that is getting into hunting. The younger generation has not shown that much interest. Statistics show that the younger age groups that take part in youth turkey, youth deer and youth waterfowl or pheasant seasons do not stay with the sport. Eight percent neither approve nor disapprove; five percent moderately approve; seven percent strongly and five percent don’t know.

Pheasant hunting

So far, it’s been a real bummer. Some say there is still too much standing corn. Others say the birds just aren’t out there this fall. It’s one of those things in which everything I say is wrong, and whatever I say is probably right. The birds were where you found them. Some hunters limited out. Others never fired a shot. And some never saw a bird. So farm the word seems to be that those who hunted pheasants north and west of Webster City (all the way to Sioux City, and those who hunted pheasants south and east of us around Grinnell, Sully, Kellogg, Newberg, Galesburg and Killduff) seemed to have the most success. Locally, most of the success stories are coming from around Story City, Gilbert and Huxley. And those hunters who went afield with dogs scored the most.

But this has its downside, too. No rain, no moisture and lots of dust is hard … very hard … on a dog’s nose. And dry, hard packed ground with lots of stubble is hard on a dog’s feet.

And now … have a good weekend.