Trail talk

DNR to watch for deer disease

Iowa officials will continue to monitor deer samples for any signs of chronic wasting disease in the wild herd. Department of Natural Resources staff will be in the field collecting samples during the state’s shotgun deer seasons. The first season is over. The second season runs Dec. 14 through 22. The focus will be on northeast Iowa as well as Wapello, Davis, Pottawattamie and Cerro Gordo counties. The disease affects the nervous system of deer and is fatal.

Loose moose

You’ve probably read about this in recent days, but Iowa still has a moose on the loose. The moose is thought to be making its way from northern Iowa to the south. First spotted in in November, the moose was last observed near Cedar Rapids and its chances for survival are dwindling as it continues to head south. Vince Evelsizer with the DNR in Clear Lake says such a visit happens every five to six years. Two more moose were spotted in southern Minnesota just north of the Iowa line, but it is believed they have yet to cross over into Iowa.

DNR stocks stream

Fly fishermen and trout anglers will be happy about this. The state DNR stocked 200 brook trout and 200 rainbow trout along the upper half of McLoud Run. That runs through northeast Cedar Rapids. Eight 2 to 3 pound post-spawn brood fish were also added. The trout are replacing fish killed during a water main break last summer.

Wood ticks still active

OK, OK so it isn’t summer; so it isn’t fall and so it is that winter is here. We’ve had snow and we’ve had below zero weather. The wood ticks and deer ticks are still out there. This is the second winter in a row that we’ve seen this problem. The other afternoon, I ran into David Craig – we were both shopping in the Fareway store and he was telling me he’s still pulling deer ticks off his dog. It’s been cold, but not that cold, and the cold has been short-lived. Deer ticks are very hardy and durable and they are kind of year-round thing now. Wood ticks sort of go into hibernation during the winter, but like the proverbial Timex watch, the deer tick can take a licking and keep on ticking. And once they get on an animal – under the fur and hair – they are there for the duration. Coyotes, foxes, cats, dogs and deer – especially deer – are carrying deer ticks. Nearly every deer hunter I’ve talked to this winter has reported seeing ticks on his deer.

Prime time squirrel hunting

The foliage is gone; the leaves are gone and the ground for the most part is covered with snow. A white blanket. It’s one of the best times to hunt squirrels. The very best. And who can resist the taste of fried squirrel coated with cornmeal. True, it’s cold, but the bushy-tails are easy to see and hunt. We’ve had two squirrel feeds this fall and I’m looking forward to another. The critters are fat and sassy this year. The nut crop was excellent. All the squirrels I shot this fall and winter were wearing a thick layer of fat. I like this kind of weather for squirrel hunting. There are few places they can hide. Any squirrel sitting out there on a tree limb is an easy target. One reader wrote that in the absence of cornmeal, fish batter will work and the flavor is about the same.

Beware of the ice

Remember ice can be six inches thick in one spot and maybe only two-inches thick right next to it. Ice seldom, if ever, deteriorates from the top down. Almost always it is from the bottom up. The air temperature above the ice could well be below zero, but the temperature below the ice is only 32 degrees. That water beneath the ice is warmer than the ice. It is or it wouldn’t be water. It would be ice just like the rest of the pond, river or lake.

Play it safe. New ice is the strongest. Old ice is the most dangerous. And ice that has been subjected to constant freezing and thawing is at best a guessing game.

And now have a good weekend.