Monday, November 26, 2012

The Turnip Patch

This past summer I had a suggestion made to me from my hunting mentor who brings wild game for my table, about what I could do with a patch hand seeded a year ago with deer plot products. There were some perennials rooted, but not enough to thwart the weed population that had a good foothold. I am not a proponent of chemical burn down, nor do I wish to plant GMO seeds.

A great organic cultivation method that was implemented to eliminate the biggest share of weeds was super heated, dry soil turned over with a disc once,left to sit a week ,or so before it was disced, and planted with turnips the middle of August.
Two weeks after planting

The plot had previously been used by a cropland renter a few years for a small addition to the adjacent farm field. However, more times than not the crop was pre-harvested by our wandering wildlife. Certainly, no pay back on investment of seed, time, machine fuel, etc...

I didn't find the giant foxtail that proliferated in the patch this past season to be a total detriment to the location.

Observations provided information of deer bedding, trails passing in all directions, and they fed on the sparsely sprouted clovers, knocking down the surrounding foxtail. Having walked the patch many times,and hunting out of the giant  foxtail, I found glacier planted rocks of various sizes scattered over the surface, a few of those were also translocated to facilitate a smoother surface for us two foots to traverse.

Farming over some big buried rocks brought them closer to the surface during tilling.

 I finally  had enough with one that was very evident; so I took some measures to move it totally out of the way.

As I moved the soil around the  perimeter of the rock, the shape reminded me of a tooth.

My mind started playing with the paralells between my activities, with a child's experience of losing their baby teeth. Admittedly the technique I needed was a bit more heavy duty to get the geo-dentistry accomplished. It took a few tugs to get it lifted up and out of the hole.

After I let my mentor know of my accomplishment...he mentioned there was another rock further on that made the disc jump out of place when he was busy tilling. I will look into it next spring when it's time to think about preparations for planting once again.I haven't seen that one yet.

Sadie Says,"Good Crop"!
We haven't had an abundance of moisture, but the turnips have turned out really nice. The variety that was planted is human friendly. I have raided the patch a couple of times for myself, and then a couple of times I found some for people I know who didn't have some to harvest of their own.

Now, the deer and turkeys can join in  harvesting the greens and bulbs to supplement their diets.

Cold temperatures keep popping up. Soon the grass may go dormant, the deer will lose one of their last nitrogen sources that I see them dining on as they eat outside my window. I wish they would pay more attention to it during the summer when I need to mow it to keep it in order. I should be thankful they have a head start on next season.

On our last visit to the "Turnip Patch", I saw evidence of some nibbling going on, an encouraging sign since this would be my first time to have such an opportunity as this to see just how they will react.

Eventually, I want to plant perennial deer plot mixtures in this area.

I have become acquainted with the Whitetail Institute forage products  in my sample plots - the imperial clover and mixtures with clover and alfalfa have been a great draw. This year was the first year that I saw the deer actually pay attention to some chickory...could be it was a source of moisture for which we were greatly lacking.

I am excited to see activity even if it isn't first hand at the moment.

My trail camera has been keeping an eye on another location where another addition to the Timber Life list of animals has made itself visible.Check back for more to be shared on that subject in the future...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Iowa Bobcat Hunting Season 2012

Today, I would like to get some information posted about the Bobcat 2012 trapping season for Iowa.

Our season opened on November 3rd, and will go to January 31, 2013 or until a quota of 450 cats total are taken between hunting and trapping . If you are interested in seeing some specifics please click here to be taken to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulations for more information. The current count can be found here.

The season is open in the following counties: Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Cass, Clarke, Davis,
Decatur, Des Moines, Fremont, Guthrie, Harrison, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Lucas,
Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Mills, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Woodbury

These counties are located on the southern 3 tiers of our 99 counties, and  north of Interstate 80 on the Missouri River corridor...with Guthrie county in the 4th tier up from our southern border also being included.

Even though we have a Bobcat population starting  to take root in our neighborhood we are not included in the yearly Bobcat hunts at this point, and it would be illegal for anyone to take an animal outside the shaded area you would see indicated on the Map on the IDNR site .(Page 21)

Below you will find the rules described in the regulations for becoming a trapper or hunter of  Bobcat, Otter the State of Iowa.
Fur harvesters - All residents and nonresidents regardless of age must have a Fur harvester License to 
trap or hunt fur bearing animals.  Residents 16 to 64 years old and all nonresidents regardless of age must 
also have paid the Habitat Fee.  A Hunting License is not needed to hunt furbearers.  Coyote and groundhog 
may be hunted with either a Fur harvester License or a Hunting License. Nonresident fur harvesters wanting 
to purchase an Iowa nonresident Fur harvester License may do so only if their state of residence also sells a 
nonresident Fur harvester/Trapping License to Iowa residents.(Page 9)

My Personal  Thoughts

Photo Courtesy of  Mr. Titus
I really appreciate the sharing of  a photo by Mr. Titus, of a family - mom, and kittens, wandering a central Iowa timber. I think it would be a great time filler if there was a chance to sit quietly and observe the family interacting.

Last year, I caught what I would believe to be the hindquarters of a Bobcat on my trail camera, for some reason the camera didn't get the whole cat while it stood right beside it. The event didn't repeat itself ...So, the  photo wasn't able to verify the possibility that Timber Life had been host to the spotted cat. Can you say frustrated? I can! 

Judge for yourself. What would you say the hindquarter in the picture to the left should be associated? The legs appear to be those of a well muscled feline...However, the variation in the tail from what you normally picture gave some individuals doubt to it's owners species.

Having a growing Bobcat population may not be beneficial to the Pheasant count which has struggled greatly in the last 4-5 years, and the Turkey flock numbers, which once seemed more visibly healthy in our timber - changed it's dynamic, and the rabbits have basically gone nocturnal in their appearances on the trail camera,their numbers have decreased significantly; to have another predator in addition to the coyote gaining territory on top of stresses from weather conditions has me questioning the balance.

Iowa State University at Ames has done studies on the Bobcat dietary habits and writes in their findings that only 2% of stomach contents include pheasant, hawk, crow , turkey and flicker. However, I certainly would think  they would hunt whatever is closest when they get hungry. It is my wish that they could give us a paw up in bringing the crow, and thirteen lined ground squirrel populations under control in our area.

While I have mixed feelings about the growth of sightings of Felis concolor (Mountain Lion) passing through(?) and increases of resident Bobcats(Lynx or Felis rufus)...What will it mean for the local ecosystems in the future? That can only be answered as time passes.

Certainly, I would affirm they are stealthy in their movements since I believe my first encounter came back on November 14, 2007...the last time I went out after a Pheasant, it had the same intention as me - make a meal out of the experience.  I shot at the rooster and went to check a known travel corridor out of this particular situation. When I reached the spot, crouching on the ground with prey in mouth was a  little Bobcat, it turned it's head to look at me and took off. My actions placed the bird right in the cats strong jaws. I went to look for the wildcat to make sure of what I had just witnessed, but the split second to mull over in my mind what I just seen was a second too long. Since that time I have heard of  trail camera sightings, but no encounters of my own until last fall.

 Bobcat numbers seem to be growing everywhere, any place they can find food and shelter, even within some large city limits; Los Angeles, CA., Chicago,IL,Boynton Beach, FL.are all places seeing populations thriving.

Every time I go looking for additional information about Bobcat characteristics I find a discrepancy in what is considered their normal weights. I will chalk it up to what part of the country they are in and how good their surrounding provide for them. What I have seen mentioned in Iowa, 15 - 26 lbs.,  compared to Los Angeles Animal Services placing the weights between 20 - 40 lbs., of their suburban wildcats. 

In closing, I would like to say by no means am I trying to be an authority on the feline species that are establishing populations nationwide, or finding their way across our State. I am just bringing to light some tidbits of information that I have found interesting and hope you will too, while I search to understand a population that was reintroduced by the Department of Natural Resources to our neighborhood.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Does Bigfoot Live in Provo Canyon?

This morning I came across this interesting Youtube video. Tell me what you think these young men saw during their camping trip.

Decorah Eagles Return

The Decorah Eagle couple of camera fame have returned to build a new nest away from cameras to rear their new family come February.

A report by Bob Anderson with the Raptor Resource Project, said they won't be able to move the webcam to the new nest 300 feet away from the old one until after the new eaglets hatch and leave the nest.

It is my understanding at this point that attempts to keep the public informed about the future family will be done by taking digital still photos.

I will miss the opportunity to see the close-up shots of the chicks from hatching to flying away to start families of their own.

A little research has brought to my attention that eagles may build more than one nest within their territories and will build new nests if they lose a mate.

Something I wonder about in this situation is if they are aware of the webcam that had been keeping an eye on them? Maybe they were tired of the peeping public...

In any event I hope to bring updates in the future when the expectation of the new family is announced.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Timber Life Rut Report

Time to share some central Iowa info on a seasonal event. I don't know how many among you get emotionally charged like me when I  see the first signs that indicate the White-tail deer are beginning the rut season, but I am guessing a few with the search results I see on how people are finding my blog.

Here at Timber Life I start searching for buck rubs around October 17th, I was not to be disappointed with a change of date. The morning of October 17th, right on cue, there was a visible rub in the opposite corner of a pasture next to our homestead. A couple days later I headed off in a few directions to see how far the boundaries had extended from what I knew as the starting point. This is the second year for that particular rub, but it didn't become evident until December last year.
First Buck Rub

I moved a few hundred feet west of the first rub and found two more rubs not far apart, crossed over the ravine and found a concentration of small trees...some getting shredded to the point they had lost their tops.

 My comment at this point would have to be that I am seeing bucks and does with nose to the ground, or tasting the air, searching for that right scent. I have witnessed a few chase scenes during the early morning grazing of the soybean field as the deer pass back into the timber for the day.

I keep moving my trail camera in an attempt to catch the bucks making their mark, but so far it seems to take time off when things are heating up.

Other locations on our property have seen an increase in activity as well. I will make note in my record keeping that one of the most used rubs - one I thought would be the first to show any kind of attention, didn't until this past week.

I would have to say the deer are definitely on the move. Please remain aware of your surroundings if they commonly make your path, their path...