Sunday, September 30, 2007

On to North Dakota

Sunday,September 23rd, time to pack up the cavalier again, heading out from the cozy little town of Keystone. During our stay we caught this impressive mountain top home over looking all the goings on in the valley below. It is said to be a private residence presently. Speculation has it that the owners may turn it into a resort in the future.Mountain House(click for larger image) Heading up to Rapid City to reach I-90 west came before sunrise. The route took us from Sturgis up Highway 79. We found the landscape switching from wide open prairie to farming,to combination. My eyes pealed as we traveled; scanning the territory for wildlife. Caught wild turkey feeding in the backyard of a homestead north of Sturgis. Previously we had seen some groups of turkey down by Rockerville and in the Custer State Park. Saw antelope grazing on the range by themselves, with the sheep,in the cow herds and became one of the horses running in the wind. ;) They seemed to be everywhere!Antelope on the Range(click for larger image) The prairie dogs haven't moved this far north yet...Thank goodness. Prairie Dogs(click for larger image) If you decide to travel this route, be prepared for lack of services and facilities close to the highway. Getting closer to the southwestern border of North Dakota we began to see road ornaments that were unfamiliar. Learned that the most frequent one was called Prairie Grouse,either sharptail or prairie chicken. At one point in our travels we almost had the opportunity to bag our own via the "Prairie Chicken crossing the road." ;) A group of 6 thought they needed to fly in front of us. Onward to Jamestown,ND...

What's the "Have to DO"?!?

In the Rapid City, South Dakota area there are so many things that could lead one to sensory over load. What was so pressing in my case? Let us digress for a moment... Head over to the new Rapid City Visitors Center. Had to get some verification of locations for future building plans for Cabela's in 2008 and Scheels new free standing retail outlet come 2009. According to the official Cabela's website, Rapid City will be home to an 80,000 square foot retail store. They also said"construction is expected to begin fall 2007, with stores anticipated opening by summer of 2008." I am here to show you that indeed construction has begun and the clock starts for the upcoming opening next year.Cabela's Construction Site Rapid City Fall 2007(click for larger image) Guess where I will be taking my vacation again next year?!? Looking forward to getting the finished - stocked store on camera to share with the Outdoor/Hunting Communities...

Last Day in "The Hills"

The decision to limit time on the road was made this morning,Saturday, September 22nd. What was necessary a trip to Rushmore Mall.RushMoreMall(click for larger image) Specifically to the Scheels store to checkout prices for some comparison shopping to get ready for the seasons I will be hunting here in Iowa. ;)Rapid City Scheels(click for larger image) After gathering a few costs Hubby and I were off to the hair boutique to get his name put on the list. Supposed to have been a 20 minute wait. Well, an 1 3/4 later he got his turn to get his sparsely populated locks evened up. Next on the list - Time to visit a store we stumbled upon called "All Wild and Western". Picked up some postcards , birthday card, and checked out some timber furniture. Really neat furniture! Those events scratched off the "To Do" list we headed out for the last planned "Have To Do" diversion in Rapid City. Come on back to see what the "Have To Do" diversion happened to be...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 2 - Trek to the Hills

Friday morning ,it was decided that we would take off up route 16A from Keystone to meet highway 44 East out of Rapid City. Do you know where we were headed? Yeah, off to the BadlandsBadland Visitors Center and a trip to Wounded Knee.Entrance Arch Took off through the hills down to PineRidge over to Hot Springs up to Custer State Park ,then back to Keystone. We went 249 miles around the hills to see what we could see. I needed to get over to the Wounded Knee Memorial because of a movie I have. It came out in 1992 and is called "Thunderheart". Had to checkout the arch to the entrance of the cemetery to see if it was the same. By the way, it was. Hot Springs was a very nice little town to see from the road. A place I had visited as a teenager and will put it on my list to get back to for a longer stay in the future. Magnificent old architecture. ;) Custer State Park, what a scenic,restful drive...if you aren't behind the steering wheel that is!We paid an entrance fee that would have lasted us for a week if we would have been in the area that long. The roads get kind'a curvey here and there. We found some stately creatures of interest during our brief venture.Buffalo in the MeadowBuffalo Herd Had we been there starting Sept. 29th - October 1st we could have witnessed the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Round-Up. After traveling the Needles Highway back to Keystone we headed to a local eating establishment "The Ruby House". Discovered it had been relocated from one side of street to the other when their previous building burnt down. We found the food very good and the coffee had just the right flavor for of the few places that I can say the coffee was "Good". Although, I only bought coffee once a day when we had our large meal of the day. After "The Ruby House" we headed back to Super 8 to lax out for the rest of the day. Checked e-mail and did some internet searches thanks to Hubby's new lap top computer. One more full day in the hills. Check in to see where it took us....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trek to the Hills

On the road...Time to get out of Iowa for a change of pace. Turning 50, decided it would be great to wake-up in a place to which I have grown fond. The Black Hills of South Dakota - an awesome area to hangout for a few days. Thursday morning September 20th before 7:00 A.M. we tucked in Hubby's Voisin 3/5 airplane. Since there isn't going to be any flying accomplished for at least 6 days we needed to make the wing tips less desirable to the mouse population. They have become ardent fans of the new apartment complex since the plane has been hangared here at home. Passing road side water holes, ponds, and lakes through Iowa,southern Minnesota, and middle South Dakota brought to view all the different types of waterfowl still taking refuge for food and rest. In northern Iowa along Interstate 35 we saw one of the big birds of flight not regularly seen. However, we did know what was rising off the pond, winging its way upward... a banded Trumpeter Swan. It was exciting for me to see. Another sight becoming more frequent are the big Wind Generator farms being created to provide the country with more energy. We saw trucks hauling sections of the generators everyday we were on our trip. A total of 2,926 miles. What could this mean for our migrating bird populations? Getting back to the end of our day on Thursday the 20th, we reached our destination at the Super 8,Keystone,SouthDakota. Albeit a tourist destination but a very peaceful place. It is at the end of their peak summer season - still found it to be bustling during business hours. Will be sharing more of what we experienced in our few days in the hills. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ground Hog Hilton Update....

Friday afternoon, AHHHH the start of the weekend. After a hectic week of running from shotgun blasts it is time to relax. Hmmm, wondering about the sanity of that woman that lives here?!? One minute she's trying to send me across to the final acorn patch. The next minute she has me posing to the left and right, up and down, for two different cameras....a couple of short movies no less.(for private viewing only; internet connection to slow) ; ) To the LeftTo the RightUp, Up, and AwayDown to Earth Man! Who does she think I am?!? I'll be having to call in my stunt double here pretty soon! Well folks, after a nibble or two of those tastey morsels among the greens, I found myself headed for the balcony. Taking a load off my feet - giving me time to plan the next feast before heading off to bed for the night. Balconey de Ground Hog Hilton Sure am glad it won't be long 'til I get a good long nap. One way or the other ; ) P.S. Hope to catch you next spring in the on going saga of the "Ground Hog Hilton".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Great Question

Recently, I was asked about the firearms that Iowa allows in the hunt for the white-tailed deer. Myself, I have only used a 20 guage shotgun for the deer, pheasant, and turkey hunts. Following is a synopsis of what I found posted on the Iowa DNR website: Pages- 5, 21-29, 36 Page 5- gives us a chart of the different 2007 seasons and 2007 Anterless Quotas for Resident Hunters. Page 36- tells about the Nonresident Deer Hunting Zones and allowed Nonresident Anterless-only license Quotas if you are able to get one. So, what I have found is that the only exception allowed to use a crossbow or handgun is if you have some disability making it impossible to use a shotgun, muzzleloader, or compound bow. It is possible to use a center-fire rifle,.24 guage or larger in certain circumstances. The special January Anterless-only season in the following lower tier counties gives you a chance to use higher powered equipment. The following counties are eligible for this special waiver: Mills, Fremont, Montgomery,Page, Adams, Taylor, Union, Ringgold,Clarke, Decatur, Lucas,Wayne,Monroe, Appanoose, Wapello, Davis, Jefferson, Van Buren, Henry, Lee, and DesMoines.The map on Page 36 gives you location information if you should have an interest to explore the possibilities ... ; )

Monday, September 10, 2007

Marsh Count

Hmmm, 1-2-3-4-5-6 Canadian Geese, 1-10-25 American White Pelicans. Birds on the marsh Today is rainy and cool. Only supposed to get to be a high in the middle 50's. I'd send some cooler temps south to our friends there if I could so the hunts wouldn't be so steamy... Passed the Marsh going into town , decided to take a bird count after going home to get the binoculars and a couple of my Bird Identification books. Really nothing spectacular to see. Didn't stick around for hours to see if the population would change. The pelicans did seem to tuck their heads more as the rain fell more briskly. Later today I am planning another check to see if the waterfowl have taken the chance to head off or will stay to wait out the weather...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Iowa's Waterfowl Opening Dates

A week ago I saw a Goose/Duck hunter attaching some prairie grass camouflage on the side of his boat in preparation for opening day...I was thinking"YES, not that far away from my seasons now!" In doing a little research here on Waterfowl Hunting - My what I am finding! Not usually a focus of mine since I elect to stick to the home property. Classifications are in order here when it comes to season dates,zones and limits in the state. Following I have included a link to specific information of interest to steer those resident and non-resident hunters to the right water hole ; ) - There is a marsh located to the north of us. It won't be much use this year for waterfowl hunting. It used to be a wake up call when the guns started going off on the opening day of the seasons. The IDNR decided to drain it to remove some big bottom feeding fish so the vegetation would have a chance to re-establish. So far they haven't closed the dam yet to fill the pool. They believe it will improve the food source for our migratory birds to remove the fish. However, the Pelicans have used it as a stop in their migrations ever since we have lived in the area. Probably because of what had been an abundant source of fish. Time will prove or disprove the kind of habitat most accepted by the species traveling through to the north/south. Best be getting the camera out here to start catching all the "V's" overhead...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Flight of the Monarchs

The Monarch butterfly, a member of the Endangered Species List, has once again begun its semi-annual migration. My first sighting of the orange and black beauties this May 9th, but their northern trek started from central Mexico the second week of March. It seems that the longer day light hours in the spring trigger the butterfly to get the yearly cycle going. In turn the same goes in the Fall when the daylight hours get shorter - means it's time to head south for warmer climates from the border of Canada. There seems to be three separate populations of Monarchs. One that lives on the west side of the Rockies and winters in California, then those on the east side of the Rockies that migrate to central Mexico ,with the third group along the eastern seaboard finding winter quarters in Florida. One of the reasons our decision to buy our timber property was the time of year we first started looking at it. The Monarchs were hanging in bunches on the tips of the oak tree branches, we discovered that it is one of the favorite perches for resting butterflies. September 8 - 20th is the time Iowa usually sees winged wonders pass through. However, as we sat down to enjoy a community picnic on Labor Day several miles to the west the Sycamore tree tips were alive with movement. Monarchs jockeying for their own space to rest before they embarked on their next leg of the journey...Monarchs at Rest

Monday, September 3, 2007

"Brothers of the Rack"

The rush of having sited some good looking White-tail bucks in the yard brings on the desire to once again try my hand at getting to the outback come December 1st-5th (first) or December 8th-16th (second) shotgun seasons here in Iowa. Bow seasons are from Ocotber 1st-November 30th and then again December 17th,2007 - January 10th,2008 Yes, there are some antlerless hunts later but you have to get in early since the license availabilty is determined by county --whatever the IDNR decides is a target number. First special anterless season falls from November 23rd - 25th and the second comes after the new year January 11th - 27th,2008, both being Iowa residents only. As you can see the season change is starting to become evident in the color change of the deer hair. Here at this link you will find some great information about the specifics that come as apart of getting to know them better. The why it is the way it is - Hope to see you around later. Have a great day!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

GroundHog Hilton

Are you feeling those summertime varmint blues? Boy, sometimes you wish you could just push the wildlife back into the timber... for a little while.;) We have had increased groundhog activity for the last three or four years in and around the yard; there are at least 6-7 dens that I personally know exist. Acorns have drawn the attention of one (?) marmota monax to the driveway.The oak tree providing the delicious snack has a hallow about three feet off the ground that has become an "INN" of note. When a leisurely feast is interrupted by the resident Homo Sapiens it is a quick trip to the spa. GroundHog Hilton Sharing an episode that happened here in July will show the comic side of the groundhogs character...I had nursed some plants dug up from my daughter's yard for a month in black poly-pots. The decision was made to get these plants into the ground to get established before cold fall and frigid winter temperatures arrive. Putting bone meal in the bottom of the hole may have been a factor - can't prove it, but the holes were hollowed out of the soil in which the amendment had been incorporated. It all started one forenoon . I had to leave to make a trip to town, a 20 minute excursion. Upon my return there was no doubt some digging animal was either trying to take advantage of the soft, disturbed soil ,or wanted to have a tender root salad; tucked the plant back in a couple more times in the next few days. Then all the plants - one by the front door deck, one in the backyard flower garden and 2 plants down the drive a half mile succumbed to the marauding varmint. In my disappointment I discovered the animal had a penchant to redistribute our grand children's bubble pipes and water-guns. It kept moving things every time it dropped in for a visit. Maybe it is my imagination, but I think those little animals are pretty intelligent. Have I spent too much time by myself ?