Monday, October 31, 2011


Growing up in eastern Iowa I've always looked forward to the opening of pheasant season.  My father, Big Jim was a conservation officer with the Iowa department of natural resources for 38 years.  Before Walmart, our house was the place to pick up a pheasant hunting license.

So, the night before opening day it was nonstop hunters and family friends.  It use to be that Buchanan county was one of the great places to hunt pheasants.   In those days, nonresidents flocked in there by the hundreds, parked and camped along the road, and they killed their limits of pheasant day after day. After opening weekend the number of hunters quickly declined  dad and I used to go out patrolling/ hunting, and I don't remember many days we didn't  bring home a bird or two.

 In the early 1970s, Iowa hunters harvested 1.9 million pheasants and 1.1 million quail, which compares with an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 pheasants this past year and 54,000 quail last year. The decline is due to long-term changes in agricultural practices and most recently the loss of over 280,000 acres from the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Although both mom and dad have both passed,  we're still drawn to the same prairie patches, sloughs and road sides where we've hunted birds in the past.

This years group included my oldest brother Steve,  two of  my sisters boys, Greg, Scott and my son Beau.  We rolled into the house in Independence, knowing that this will be one of the last times that we will be staying there. 
Friday night we grilled steaks and sat around the fire telling tails of past hunts.  Saturday morning we went west to a large state area early.  To lay claim to an area for an early morning hunt.  No problem there not another hunter in sight.

We walked the large area spooking a few deer that had bedded down for an early morning rest  but, no birds.

  On to the sand prairie just down the road.  A short grass prairie dominated by little blue stem, side oats grama, prairie bush clover and sage.

Scattered throughout the sand prairie were plywood and corrugated sheet metal which was some conservation study that I'm checking into.  My guess is an insect study or pocket gopher study.

 The sand prairie is another spot with great cover.  On the walk in Beau and I spotted a pair of great horned owls feeding on a rabbit.

In the back corner we kicked up a hen pheasant and later on when we were bush wacking our way out Beau flushed a wood cock which was on it's migration south.

Our long awaited hunt was over all too soon.  Steve was off to trout fish Greg and Scott worked their way back to DBQ.  And Beau and I would hit one more spot.  Just SW of Inpendence is the MHI (Mental Health Institute).  Growing up my buddy's family owned the land that surrounded the MHI cemetery.   So, for years we would hunt the perimeter and flush out grave yard birds.  Beau and I spooked a few more deer but no birds.  Sometimes its more important to carry on a tradition than to shoot a bird.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Last winter I talked to a friend of mine about fishing the small stream that meanders through his property in eastern Iowa.  My first thought were about, fishing this water in the spring.  So, I could ramble across the hillsides for morals.  
Northeast Iowa was originally termed the “Driftless Area” due to the lack of identified glacial deposits, but subsequent studies disproved this idea and the more appropriate term Paleozoic Plateau was introduced. The Paleozoic Plateau encompasses a larger area than the original Driftless Area to incorporate areas of similar geomorphology, topography, and ecology found in northeast Iowa.
The Paleozoic Plateau was glaciated multiple times during the Pre-Illinoian (2.2 million to 500,000 years ago), and is marked by the transition from a rugged, dissected, rock-controlled landscape to that of the gently rolling, lower relief landscape.  
As I walked along the stream I noticed many cold water springs feeding into the stream and my thoughts changed from smallies to the possibility of trout.  I was pitching a small repella in a lower ripple when the sound of a tractor upstream turned my attention.  At just that moment SPLASH and roll.  A big flash of sleek silver jumped high out of the water as i set the hook.  Another jump as my heart raced.  Wow,  this is a big fish.  Then as quickly as he struck the hook,  he was gone.
A few casts later and another missed strike and  finely a rainbow landed and returned back to the new fishing hole.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Not PBR, old blue but personal best, personal record. 

Tonight i loaded the dogs into the jeep and ran a few erins and drove up the valley to wet a line

. on  the way i spotted an old one room school house on seiverding ridge.  Once the roof goes on any of these old buildings their days are numbered.

Down wolf hollow into valley.  I stopped at the lower end of rollie and pitched a rooster tail down stream,  a few strikes and then SWAP!

He hit it an dove deep.

  Landed an on the bank.

My PB at least for now.

A few casts later and i thought i  had supper be cause the little one was hooked deep.  But i managed to retrieve the hook with out damaging the small brown.  As i let him go my hope was that i get a chance to catch him a few years from now as my new PR

Friday, October 14, 2011


Fishing, if I a fisher may protest,

Of pleasures is the sweet'st, of sports the best,

Of exercises the most excellent.

Of recreations the most innocent.

But now the sport is marde, and wottye why?

Fishes decrease, and fishers multiply
- Thomas Bastard (1598)

The day started off with a large buck in the road as Susie and i cruzed into the Brook at sunrise to pick up the subaru.  By nine the pole barn was clean and a bunch of fire wood was blocked up.

A quick run to town to drop off some of Susie's art at the gallery, then coffee and crescents with Marty and Jace down at the Happy Bean.  A few more projects back home like mowing and pickin apples for cider for the press then a drive out the valley to see Joan and Mart.  A quick stop at the trout stream and 20 minutes later four trout landed and released.   Back down to the gallery this evening for Gail Chavenelle's opening.

Below is a shot of one of Gail's blanks that We doctored up with for bellevues fishtville and below is one of her super cool horses.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

National Fossil Day

It's getting late in the day, but I just learned that today is National Fossil Day! Better get out and celebrate! After all those fossils might not be around for long (but we'll hope so).

For those junior paleontologists out there (like BOB), here's a super fun Junior Paleontologist booklet for free, plus some more activities.


My plan was to drive the bus to school while we had the beautiful fall weather.  So, I pulled up to the house in the morning before taking off for school.  Susie and the dogs came out to enjoy the morning and as i pulled up i heard sh*t the bus  is on fire... a quick blast with the fire extinguisher and crisis averted. It turns out that one of the two little air filters on the engine was so dirty that it caught fire.

So, my bus did not end up looking like the photo to the left.
Had i not stopped to enjoy the morning and taken off with out stopping things would have turned out much worse.

As you can see both the bus and Ace are right at home.  Safe and sound.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I came across this old picture of Beau on the web and just wanted to see if I could copy it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


  Rolling into October.  Friday after school Beau brought my fishing gear out to Rolliworld, where Beau, Marty and I caught up on the weeks events before we wet a line on the trout stream.  Poles were set up with the trouts choice mepps, rooster tails or seahorse.  An hour later and no fish so after a quick chat with mr. Rolli him self,  Steve. We busted out by way of the top of the world, off road with Beau's Jimmy in 4 wheel drive.

   On to the next stream a valley over toward Marty's.  As the sun was setting we got to a nice hole where we picked up 4 nice rainbows.  Cleaned  fresh from the stream and them Beau whipped up a marinade from  Big Jim's Game Warden Cookbook.

 We let that marinade Saturday while we were in back in Madison  for the Badger and Husker welcome to the Big Ten  ball game.  Saturday we hit the road for the only place in town that wasn't full or on price line.  The Bates motel or just  as creepy.

Here's a shot of one of the broken down, cigerette  burnt chairs  and Susie in the parking lot with three cop cars.

Great weather for the ball game as we hung with the Platteville crowd at a choice location across the street from Camp Randal Stadium.  P-Ville crowd has been tailgating at this site since the mid 70's.  Sue and I first took Beau to a tailgater 20 years ago when he was just a few months old.

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