By Steve Weisman
This is one of those times of the year when the outdoor activity action seems to go crazy, After all, with the fall weather, we still have anglers wading for walleyes in the evening, boat fishermen chasing perch during the day, pheasant season underway, archery deer hunting going on, waterfowl hunting and as of last Saturday, the furharvester season is now open.
Hard to do it all, isn’t it! As with a lot of our seasons, the furharvesters take the most fur in the first two weeks of the season. According to the Iowa DNR, the number of trappers has increased over the past few years, topping 20,000 in 2013.
However, in a recent interview with Mike Mazur, owner of Northwest Iowa Fur Exchange located behind Kabele’s Trading Post on Hill Avenue, he noted that late prime pelts will bring the best money. “Early fur, obviously, won’t be prime and it will be tough to get much for these pelts. It will pay people to wait for prime pelt.”
Mazur also noted that last year’s mild winters in China and Russia, along with too many ranch mink have left the fur market with a lot of holdover furs. Even so, Mazur believes the number of trappers will continue to be good “because it is a hobby lots of people enjoy.”
I think that is the best way to describe the waterfowl season so far. Yes, we shot teal during the special teal season, but that definitely pushed out our local ducks and made the real duck opener not what it has been in the past. Now, we sit waiting for the migration to come. We’re in the first week of November and we finally have some movement into northwest Iowa. Some new ducks have come down with the recent strong northwest winds and some spotty snow near the Canada border.
The latest report I have is gadwalls and widgeon showing up in northeast South Dakota. Still, the real migration has yet to occur. It now becomes a race against time. Will our sloughs freeze over before the migration comes? That’s my fear!
Over the first two weeks of pheasant season, I’ve heard lots of good reports here in northwest Iowa from pheasant hunters experiencing some pretty good hunting. The opener was maybe a little tougher if you were hunting an area surrounded by standing corn. However, the corn harvest is just about over, and that will push the birds into the cover.
Our opener was a mixed bag-so to speak. Not because we didn’t see pheasants. No, our shooting left a lot to be desired. I don’t know how many times I have told my 14-year old grandson, Hunter, “When the rooster flies straight away…to take your time, make sure the gun is tight to your shoulder, your head is down and that you cover the bird.” He did that twice in the last two weeks and bagged a couple of nice roosters. So, why, why, why don’t I follow what I preach? Invariably a rooster will get up in front of me and I snap shoot right away. Over half the time that means a miss and a hurried second shot (where I again do not cover the bird). My son and son-in-law can only shake their eyes in disgust. I refuse to say it is old age catching up to me. No, it’s “MY youthful” exuberance.
The opener did mark an important day for all of us. It continued to be a four-generation hunt that included my 90-year old father-in-law, myself, my son, my son-in-law and grandson. Although my father-in-law has Parkinson’s and it has taken away his ability to walk with us, there is still a twinkle in his eye and excitement in his voice that all four generations of us are going to be hunting together. He is relegated to sitting in the vehicle, but he is still part of the anticipation of the hunt, getting to see the dogs work and watching a few hits and misses! Of course, there is the usual bantering when we rendezvous back at the vehicle to recount what did and did not go right! I can only hope that I can have the same opportunity if and when I get to that age.
A strange sight
Something crazy happened during opening Saturday. The boys were finishing a push to the road and I was driving my father-in-law to meet them at the approach. Suddenly a hen got up – the boys yelled out hen and let her go. As she gained altitude and approached the road, she suddenly cartwheeled and dropped right on the of the road in a crumpled mass. I couldn’t believe it. No shot. She just dropped. What had happened was she hit the hi-line wire and crumpled.
So, here I was with a crumpled hen on the road and cars approaching. I got out of the vehicle and saw that her head was up, but she was still stunned. So, I approached her from the ditch side of the road to see if I could either catch her and put her in the ditch or get her to fly.
Well, she finally shook off some of the cobwebs and began to run away from me…finally, she got enough strength to go airborne and glide into the standing corn. Hopefully, except for one big headache, she was able to survive.