Cowboy shoot returns

Stop – this is it. If you like cowboy stuff, if you like western things and to shoot western guns, then you won’t want to miss this event, even if you just want to stand around and watch others shoot.

If so, then mark your calendars and circle the date. On Saturday, June 21, the Ikes have scheduled a cowboy action shoot. The cowboy shoot is open to the public and will be held at the Izaak Walton Park located nine miles south of Webster City on the Beach Street black top.

Several of the old timers won’t be this year – or so I’m told. Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Virgil and Morgan left town suddenly. They didn’t get along very well with the Clanton gang. Tom Horn met an untimely ending at the wrong end of a rope. William F. Bonney (Billy the Kid) was shot west of Clovis, N.M. by Pat Garrett. And Jessie James is somewhat more or less (mostly more) indisposed. However, Sheriff B.W. Lake and his wife Pam Oakleaf will be there along with some of their cronies: Kid Sturgis, Sheriff Hagenson, Charlie Siringo and Cole Younger. They’ll all be there and you’ll be able to meet and talk with each and every one of them, along with the rest of the cowboys. You’re going to like it.

Now one thing about a cowboy – wherever you stand them, that’s where they’ll be when you get back. They don’t want to walk anymore than a scaled quail wants to fly. To them, God gave man legs to straddle horses; that’s all. Me? I’m more of the backpack set. I like to walk around and see what all is going on, and there’s going to be a lot going on that day.

Most towns have a story. Cactus Flats has a legend. The Old Molly Kathleen gold mine is located just a short ride northeast of the town of Cactus Flats and the headwaters of sixteen mile creek. The Molly Kathleen shut down in 1869. The mine site is still visible today and while the old mine road is barely discernible, the weathered remains of old mine debris, an old sluice box, a mound of tailings and what’s left of the old shaft entrance still mark the site of the mine’s location. Visitors are welcome to pan for gold.

Oh, and by the way, there really is a western town called Cactus Flats and there really is Molly Kathleen gold mine. They’re located in the southwest corner of the Ike’s Park. And there really is going to be a cowboy shoot on June 21. You’re all invited. Most (not all) of what I’ve just told you is the truth, but not the plain, unvarnished truth. There really is a jail, a saloon, a country store, bank and courthouse and nearby Fort Bozeman. And yes, there really is a Boot Hill cemetery.

It doesn’t cost anything to walk around and look, watch and listen. Doug Ritter is doing all of the organizing of the cowboy shoot. He’s another one of those men you’d enjoy talking to, I promise. I don’t have all the particulars yet, but for more information, call Doug Ritter, 832-3832, or Jim Follett, 832-5346.

World record sunfish

Hector Brito pulled a 5.78 pound redear sunfish from Lake Havasu, Arizona. The catch has been recognized as a state record, and world record recognition is pending.

Brito caught the heavy-weight panfish with a nightcrawler on a dropshot-rigged No. 8 Aberdeen gold hook, in deep water by chalk cliffs. Redear sunfish in the two-pound range are regularly caught at the 19,300-acre impoundment on the Colorado River. But they have been getting exceptionally large the last four years, since the lake became infested with quagga mussels. The “shellcracker” sunfish graze along the lake bed, cracking the mussles with their thick, pharyngeal teeth.

And finally they’re here. The house wrens are back, the rose-breasted grosbeaks are here, the Baltimore orioles have returned as have the catbirds and brown thrashers. Now, if Mother Nature will cooperate with some warm weather and a few days without any wind, we can enjoy spring like it used to be.

And speaking of spring . and I guess we were I received a nice phone call from Greg Ambrose the other morning. Greg lives over in the Brushy Creek area. He’s discovered that Baltimore orioles like watermelons. He had eight Baltimore orioles on the ground beneath his bird feeder at one time, and all eating watermelon rinds. He told me he’s gone through 14 40-pound bags of sunflower seeds this past winter and is heading for number 15. That’s a whopping amount of bird feed.

And have you noticed the goldfinches lately? They’ve completed their spring color change and have gone from a dark olive color to a bright yellow. Had 17 of them beneath my thistle seed feeder the other evening.

The rumor mill around town has it that several folks have seen ruby-throated hummingbirds at their feeders already.

Bearded ladies

Several hunters this spring have called me about seeing bearded hen turkeys. And several saw what they thought was a tom with young poults, but yet it had gray/blue head like a hen. I checked with a couple of Department of Natural Resource biologists and called the National Wild Turkey Federation for answers. They tell me that when a gobbler isn’t excited, its head may be gray/blue, but the wattles on the neck still will be red. And while it is not uncommon for hen turkeys to have a full beard, we seem to be seeing more bearded hens this spring than usual. Some hens have grown full beards. So don’t be too surprised this spring to see a bearded hen with her poults. Mother Nature does strange things. Semper Fi.

And now, have a good weekend.