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Posts Tagged ‘Marshes’

And I will try to prove that out this year.

Duck hunting has always been an endeavor that everyone thinks you need to get up hours before dawn to do. Well, in most cases that is right, but a few of us know that you don’t HAVE to be out on the marsh early. Good hunting can be had later in the day, after 99% of duck hunters have headed home to watch their football games. I’ll hit the woods and streams, thank you!

I will admit, though, that “later-in-the-day” duck hunting is slower than morning hunts, mostly. It’s perfect for this duck hunter, as I like to do other things while I’m out wandering. I have to make time to experience the trees and waters. Have a seat now and then and meditate a bit. I usually end up meditating more than hunting. But I believe this communing, which is more important to me, is what helps me be successful. I wish I could teach you how to commune with the outdoors, but that is done by every person differently, as it should be. It’s personal.

Trapper watching a fox squirrel on the muddy bank across the creek

Sunday, Trapper and I slipped into a spot along a creek that still has a log next to an elm tree I set there last year. Floods didn’t wash it away, thankfully.

This entry into the woods happened after the noon of the day, and I wasn’t expecting any action soon. Usually by then, ducks have found their refuge and will rest as much as they can before getting active again closer to sunset. But, like I said, I’m a communer. I sit and listen, and watch. And ask.

Bores my kids thoroughly. And Trapper.

But I need to make the time to watch and feel the clouds thicken to a darker shade of gray, threatening rain. See the gusts of wind touch the glassy surface of the slow stream, rippling with the skies reflection. Listen to birch and maple leaves and acorns tumble down the treetops to land on the ground, or plop into the water. I need to see the small carp that leaps from the water and splashes down with a slap, and the painted turtle that pops his head out of the water, slowly floating by, keeping an eye on Trapper and me.

And if I have done things right, and it pleases the spirits, I may be gifted with a duck or two flying by or floating in. This day, a flock of six wood ducks streaked across the stream above the treetops, leaving me with no chance of even trying to raise my gun. On alert, I listen for the sound of their wings and their return, or a splashdown in the backwaters behind us. Nothing.

We pack it in at about 6 p.m. and start walking out to the open marsh, hoping for a shot out there before heading home. I decide to check on a small pond about 100 yards to the east of the creek on our way out. And there they are. The six woodies that flew over us an hour before, most likely. Two drakes had their heads held high, looking out for trouble while the others were lazing about. Using tree trunks and high grass, my stalk was successful. I made my presence known and they got up, the drakes one behind the other and they both fell with my first shot. A hen in front of them acted like she had taken shot in her backside, so I followed through on her, spilling her on my third and final shot.

I looked at the time. 6:10 p.m. Got my limit of wood ducks in the last hour of legal shooting. It can be done. You don’t HAVE to get out there early.

We took the fox squirrel while walking into our spot along the creek, about 5 hours earlier

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Ummm, I don’t have a whole lot to say,¬† I guess, but please enjoy the photos I took this weekend. First up – pics from Saturday afternoons walk with my youngest at Sweet Marsh. Had to see how high the water is for this weekends duck hunting.

I wonder if there is a nice buck calling this place home. I've run across some nice tracks a couple of times in this area.

Love the deep blues and greens of fall in the marsh. See the maples in the treeline turning?

Lowest I've seen the water in the 35 years I have been shooting wood ducks back here.

Believe it or not, that blue in the sky is not "photo shopped."

It was quite a stretch for my puny camera, but these are sandhill cranes. This marsh has a breeding pair or two.

Butterfly trying to suck up the very last bits of nectar from this thistle's fading blooms.

AND – I took my boys squirrel hunting Sunday. I could get into quite a spiel I guess with my feelings about this. But I’m pretty sure you have an idea whats happening in my chest and brainbox.

He could have had a couple more, but he was a little axious. Happens.

Dryad saddle - edible in the spring when young and fresh.

One of my most favorite places on earth - a spring flowing out of a woodland hillside.

Drank some brew, also –

Not as good as last years, but still good. More Octoberfest to come now that my cold is almost gone!

Peace and take care –

Your friend –

Casey

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Ol' Trapper

Sticklebacks! It’s been hot!! And very rainy, too. A person would think, if they had never been here in the winter, that the Countryside Round were a part of the tropics instead of northeast Iowa! And still I get the urge to wander around outside?

I could have stayed in the shade offered by the inside of my house, complete with air conditioning, and enjoyed the simple, delicious comfort that comes from kicking your feet up and watching a baseball game while taste-testing the day’s freshly baked zuchinni bread (and chocolate zuchinni bread!). But I feel deep down, that when conditions seem to be more than what you prefer, you should test yourself against them a bit, just to see where your limits seem to be set lately.

I love the blues and greens of a marsh.

And so, with Trapper’s company, I did. I am not a fan of temperatures above 90 degrees, but by the time I had finished supper and prepared us to go, the temperature had dropped to 88, and there was a steady breeze to offset the oppressive humidity. Off we went to visit the marsh where I shoot most of my ducks. I like to visit the marsh a couple of times each summer, just to get a feel what it’s like during the times I’m not normally using it.

June berries? More study needed on my part.

A sad reminder overwhelms me as I walk the trails here. The times seem farther between and fewer that I make trips specifically into the wilder edges to collect foodstuffs that are overlooked by most people. Everywhere I look, plants stand out that are known as edible. I’ll admit that I have not tried them all, but there is a list in my head that I run through every time I’m out, and many were on display during my short walk. But, alas, my time available is short, and I wish to spend this time with my mind trying to absorb all it can of the sights, sounds, and smells.

And there was a smell, let me tell you, on the trail through a piece of low-lying woods we walked through. Something smelled dead, and sure enough I found it’s source as I was dodging the puddles on the path. The woods must have been under water for quite some time. Earthworms, large and small, decomposing into the warm, wet earth lent their perfume to the still air under the trees. Some of you may know the odor of rotting worms from the days you used to spend fishing with them, and then forgetting and leaving them somewhere inconvenient. This was how the woods smelled. I hope it’s long gone before squirrel season gets here, as I harvest some from here every year.

This one has some meat on it. Hopefully it, or one like it, will be around yet this fall.

But there is a lot of life still happening! Trapper and I jumped several wood ducks and mallards from the cattails, and heard wood ducks squealing away on the creeks meandering through the timber. We also moved off some Canada geese from the trail. They didn’t seem too worried about us, but still kept a distance far enough away that the photos I took did not turn out well. The same applies for the ducks. It is hard to sneak up them when I’m letting Trapper play more than hunt. And the insects are doing EXTREMELY¬† well right now. Our ears and eyes were constantly swarmed around. Funny to think that they won’t be around this coming Long Night Moon (December) when I’m stalking the woods for a whitetail.

If this heat keeps up, I will have to make a trip to a cold, spring fed creek near me to wade and get cool, and perhaps spin for a few of the trout that swim in it. Well, I was planning on doing that soon anyhow, as my freezer is getting low on it’s supply of fish. Catfish, bass, and walleye fillets (bless the generosity of my brother) are thawing as I write this, so replenishment is on the order. Hopefully, I’ll have something of that to share with you soon.

Until then – Peace, Cheers!! and enjoy a few more photos I took during our walk.

Your friend –

Casey

A sign of autumn approaching? This maple is standing in water, which may have something to do with it's turning color sooner.

Young sumacs! Berries to make sumac-ade and trap dye.

The hickory nuts are swelling!

Wild grapes, still green.

I sent Trapper into the water to cool off, but he was trying to lap up scent! Atta boy!

P.S. – And after getting home and washing up, I was able to enjoy some of that chocolate zuchinni bread! Mmmmm.

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