Thursday, October 15, 2009

Early Season Success!

School has prohibited me from hitting the woods (or from doing anything fun...) the last couple of weeks. I've only made it to my stand twice. Wednesday morning of last week, I had a pair of year and a half old bucks at 7 yards away...which was actually too close for my liking. The morning was incredibly quiet, and they certainly would have heard me pull back at that range, so I let them go to hunt another day.

Tuesday afternoon, I was pleased to find out a scheduled meeting had been canceled. I grabbed my stuff after class and drove to my hunting destination as fast as I could. It was rather dry, and the leaves made it a noisy walk to my tree. After climbing into my stand, I immediately began putting on my safety belt. Just as I wrapped the strap around the tree, I glanced to my right and noticed a doe chewing on a bush 20 yards away! I couldn't believe I snuck in my tree silent enough to go undetected, so I quickly sat down on the stand and pulled my bow up. Slowly, I nocked an arrow and glanced back--she was still there feeding on the bush. I waited about ten minutes for her to walk down the trail broadside. She stopped at the perfect opening, so I let the arrow fly! She ran a few yards in the brush and stopped. A large pine tree blocked my view, but I knew she was standing right on the other side.

The shot looked a little low for my liking, so I decided to giver her a good hour before I got down from the tree. It was only 4:30pm, so there would be plenty of tracking light. About 2o minutes later, a button buck strolled down the trail she was on. Once he hit the spot where the doe was shot, he became very alert. Slowly, he made his way down the trail the doe ran. He disappeared into the brush, and there was silence for a couple minutes. Suddenly, the button buck began snorting wildly and running around in circles! He finally jumped across the ditch and moved out of my area. Because of the peculiar actions of the button buck, I guessed the doe I shot was dead in the brush. I got down from the tree and followed the trail from where the shot was...and there she laid--only 15 yards from where I hit her! The 100 grain Thunderhead broadheads made a perfect double lung shot.

She was only a small yearling doe, but she'll make great meals. I still have a buck tag left, but I'm not sure when I'll make it out to get it filled. I'm thinking I won't get to be picky this season about the buck I shoot, which is okay with me. I'm planning a deer and bear hunting trip this December in West Virginia, so the sooner I can get my tags filled now, the better.

I see some others have had productive hunts so far this season! As always, "Good luck!" to everyone heading to the woods this season!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekly Update: Bow Hunting, Blindness, and Outdoor Art!

As usual, my school schedule is preventing me from any serious blogging. I greatly apologize to all my blogging friends for my lack of activity. When things get busy, I neglect my own blog, as well as the blogs I love to read. I greatly miss the daily rounds of reading and commenting. I'm hoping to start making time to accommodate for my blogging needs, but only time will tell if it is a possibility.

As far as the weekly update is concerned, I have three topics at hand worth mentioning. Last weekend, I took a few hours and got my broadheads sighted in! Equipped with a new arrow rest and a dozen new arrows, I was very pleased with how the process went. I was a little concerned at first, however. The broadheads flew consistently six inches low and eight inches to the left. I've never had windage problems while sighting in broadheads, but it seemed to be consistent enough to move my sights. I also took a few shots from an elevated position, as well. I think it is always good to take a few shots from a deck or from the tree at the beginning of the season. That way, you will find problems early on in the season...not when the big bucks start walking by.

The second topic regards my vision, or lack there of. Due to over-use of my contact lenses, my eyes began swelling up Tuesday afternoon. My glasses are out of order at the moment, leaving me blind as a bat until the swelling subsides. The redness and swelling have gone down tremendously, but my eyes are still not ready for contact lenses! This sudden lack of vision has delayed my bow hunting plans for now, but hopefully I will be in a treestand soon.

While reading hasn't been a top priority on my list due to the vision problems, I decided to break out the sketch book and throw down my first attempt at an elk:

While I wish I could produce such a picture from my head, I was forced to find a photo online and copy from it. Here is a link to the photo--Elk Photo. Still, there is no shame in reproducing photographs. It was fun to sketch, and I can't wait to create more pictures from the outdoors.

I'm afraid my updates will continue to be sporadic, so the usual "Good luck!" to all those hunting this Fall!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Busy Robin Hood

The Fall semester is officially underway, and I can't say I've ever been busier. My days are plagued with a lot of reading and research for various authors, playwrights, and literary criticisms. Although my time has been relatively limited, I've done my best to forge my way into the outdoors and prepare for this year's bow season. A couple weeks ago, I set up my old compound bow and took to the woods for some practice. At this time, I hadn't received a new arrow rest for my current compound. I started at ten yards and slowly moved myself back to twenty yards...then to thirty. After getting my thirty yard pin sighted in, I decided to take a few more shots from that distance. On my last arrow, I noticed it sounded a little odd when it hit the target. I approached my target to see my first Robin Hood shot!

I've been shooting for 18 years, and this is my first successful Robin Hood. I've busted a lot of nocks and a lot of arrows, but never have I been able to manage hitting exactly in the same place twice. This shot was also right in the bullseye, making it even more rewarding--it wasn't just a fluke or a bad shot.

Right now, I'm getting geared up for October 1st. I have a new NAP Quicktune two prong rest on my current bow and have been shooting well the past week. I assume this weekend I'll get the broadheads sighted in, check on another treestand, and start rounding up the camouflage clothing.

I hope everyone else is getting geared up for a successful Fall! Good luck to everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Feed, Or Not To Feed? That is the Question...

While doing my daily run-through of the blogs I follow, I came across an article written by Rick at Whitetail Woods. His article entitled Deer Feeders, Can be Worth Added Cost particularly caught my eye. Rick featured a tri-pod style feeder he encountered while at a friends house. He did a great job giving specifications of the product. While the post was aesthetically flawless, I couldn't help but think about the implications of using a feeder, and perhaps the "ethical" dilemma that comes with it. Since I couldn't get the subject out of my mind, I decided to create a post to further explore this issue.

I'd like to start this off with a short story. When I started turkey hunting, I learned that a semi-distant relative hunted land very close to the land I was hunting. Every year, he harvested a large Eastern Turkey. After hunting hard and having little luck, I wondered how the heck he managed to do so well every year. I eventually found out his secret. Prior to and during the hunting season, he would take a bucket of corn and dump it in front of his favorite place to sit in the woods. Every day, equipped with a new bucket of corn, he took to the woods. He never had to wait long to pick the bird of his choice to harvest.

The BIG questions here: Is this cheating? Is baiting, in general, a dishonest way to hunt?

At the time, I'll admit I was furious at the idea of baiting or feeding. What he was doing took no skill. He never had to call or stalk the turkeys. He just had to sit there and wait. It wouldn't matter if he spooked the birds off--they would be back for more corn, and he would be waiting for them (another BIG question: Is this really hunting?)

My initial reaction is this:
Is this cheating? Yes. By placing a food source in an area and intentionally sitting over it for the purpose of harvesting animals gives the hunter an unfair advantage over the game they are after.

I wanted to push the issue a little further, and the first comment on Rick's post helps me do so. "Native" writes:

Great thing that feeders are starting to lose their undeserved stigma Rick!
It is so funny how (here in California) a person will disparage the use of a
feeder, but will go right out the very next morning to hunt over a Barley Field.
Same thing No? The other reality is the fact that we must supplement the food
source for today's wild life. Just as with Factory Farming for people, so must
it be with our wild life because (There just ain't enough land to support us all
anymore without doing so)

"Native" brings up a very good point. What is the difference between placing your stand in the corner of a cornfield and throwing out a bucket of corn every day? Either way, the hunter is taking advantage of the fact that animals have to eat. If placing the stand in the corner of a corn field is considered smart for understanding that game will travel to and from this location, then using a bucket corn or any food supplement should also make the hunter "smart" for doing so...not a cheater.

One might suggest that there is still a clear difference between using a feeder or food plot and sitting on the edge of a corn field: a feeder or food plot has one specific purpose--to attract animals. A corn or bean field might be considered a more "natural" food source for animals because they don't exist for wild game. The farmer who grows the field has an agenda for the crops, and that agenda doesn't include the feeding of wild animals. Because of this difference, one could also suggest the use of food plots or feeders should be rendered illegal because they are meant specifically for the attraction of wild game. While this solution seems logical for a "fair" hunt, it just can't happen for one simple reason: wildlife/habitat restoration. Every year, tons of money is spent to increase habitat for animals. This is exactly the same as creating a food plot or using a feeder. For example, a farmer patronizes the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP in a field on their land to increase habitat for pheasants. The farmer also plans to hunt the pheasants when a decent population exists in the CRP. Creating habitat, even in the name of hunting, is seen as a noble cause. No one has a problem with this. But what is the difference between giving animals a home and giving them food? Creating a CRP field and feeding game can both be done in the name of hunting, and both benefit the wild game and hunters. If we allow increased habitat for hunting, we must allow feeders, food plots, and salt blocks.

Another approach to the matter: Feeders, food plots, and salt blocks are all methods of attracting wild game to a hunting area. Hunters use many means of attracting animals all the time. Scents, calls, and decoys are used every season to attract game and get them within shooting range. If we removed the use of food sources to attract game, it seems only logical to remove all forms of attracting during the season.

One must also keep in mind that not all regions have good food sources to begin with. While Iowa has lush corn fields that keep animals well fed all year, locations in the southern United States don't have this rich vegetation. Feeders and food plots supplement the health of the animals, as well as create hunting opportunities.

Some hunting scenarios require a food source for a successful harvest of game. Bear hunting is often done by baiting. While this doesn't seem like "hunting," it is often the only way to even see a bear and make a clean shot.

While I don't think feeders and food plots can logically be taken out of the hunting scene, I will not use them in my own hunting. Hunting itself is determined by the individual. Personally, I like to make my hunts as challenging as possible. If someone else defines hunting by results and chooses to do whatever it takes to get results, so be it. The same debate can be placed on many aspects of hunting: using a blind vs. not using a blind...using a modern bow vs. a traditional bow...hunting with a bow vs. hunting with a gun...the list is endless. In the end, hunting is what you make of it.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know--I'm curious to hear various opinions on the subject.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Own Archery Crisis

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to take some time and get outside to shoot my bow. The sun was shining, and the temperature wasn't too high. It seemed like the best time to get out and do some late Summer practice. After my third round of shooting, I returned to my bow to find the prongs of my arrow rest were pointed backwards!! At first, I wasn't all too upset about the ordeal. I assumed the screw that kept the prongs in place was loose. It would be a slight setback and require some fine tuning, but I knew I could grit my teeth and work my way through it.

After closer inspection, however, I noticed this...

The screw wasn't was gone! The screw played an intricate part in And as luck would have it, I had to be shooting in tall grass--there was no finding the lost screw. I tried to put in another screw...only to find that the hole has been stripped!

My frustration level is at an all-time high for this bow. I decided at the beginning of the Summer that I would learn how to set up and tune my own bow. This was a reaction to the lack of local bow technicians. I was being forced to drive long distances to a larger outfitter for any tech-work. I was also becoming very dissatisfied with the quality of their work. With this in mind, I purchased a bow square, serving material, and other small odds and ends with the mind set to teach myself the art of tuning. I've learned the hard way that tuning itself is a very difficult task, especially if you don't have all the correct tools to get the job done.

For the last month and a half, I've been tinkering around with my bow. I've been working rather diligently on getting the "fishtail" flight out of my arrows. At the beginning of this practice, my arrows were finally flying straight...making this malfunction just that much worse.

I have a new arrow rest on the way, but I am not necessarily looking forward to the set-up and tuning process. The Iowa bow season starts in a matter of weeks, and I definitely don't want to lose time getting my arrows to fly straight. If you happen to have any helpful set-up/tuning tips, please leave a comment--it will be greatly appreciated!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Art

Tuesday this week marked the first day of classes for my final year of college. My hope was to acquire a Communications and Theatre endorsement to supplement my degree in English and Secondary Education, but I'm afraid I don't have enough time to complete it. Although I don't have the opportunity to finish the endorsement, I still wanted to take a few Speech and Theatre courses to possibly increase my odds of getting a job after graduation. Although I won't be "certified," I'll still have a little experience in the field. One of my classes this semester is Scene Design. A large component of this class requires regularly using a sketch pad to build artistic skills that can be used for scene and costume renderings.

I still have the sketchbook I used in high school art class, so I decided to take a gander through it before I started my new sketches. It has been 8 years since I've seen this sketch book, and I was a little surprised at the quality of my sketches.

Here are a few sketches I found while flipping through the pages:

The class in high school required sketching on a regular basis, so I often used my left hand as a model for my sketches out of convenience--it was always something I had with me. I could kick open my sketchbook at any free moment and continue my sketch.

Then I came across my pride and joy...

This was an endeavor I took on towards the end of my art career in high school. I've always been a huge fan of Larry Zach, an amazing wildlife artist. This was my first (and sadly, last) solid work I've done in outdoor art. The rigors of high school athletics put my art aside at the time, and the constant business of college life has left me little time over the years to continue it. The Scene Design class, however, is forcing me back into the sketchbook, which isn't at all a bad thing. I'm actually looking forward to dust off some of my dormant skills and possibly pursue more outdoor and wildlife pieces.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Operation Technology: Success!!

I've been a heavy patron of for some time now. I've always enjoyed the easy access of finding just about any video I want. One thing I've never participated in, but have been thinking about for quite a while, is making videos and putting them on to share on my blog. The blog itself has given me a great way to post my photos, but the internet has more to offer than just pictures. I want to take advantage of various media styles, and videos are certainly a nice way to broadcast my experiences.

Here is a very short test clip of me catching a Brook Trout from my last fly fishing trip in Northeast Iowa!

I realize it isn't all that interesting of a clip, but it has opened up an entire new world to my outdoor experiences. I can't wait to create more videos this Fall. I have an interesting editing program on my computer, so I hope to create some polished videos of my hunting endeavors. I'm really excited...this is going to be AWESOME!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My First Elk

On August 19th, I took a trip to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa State Fair is one of the best in the nation--having a plethora of live entertainment opportunities, interesting exhibits, and roughly 50 different foods on a stick. Since Iowa is one of the premier states of the midwest, you can be sure the livestock building is a hot spot for all visitors. It appears Iowan farmers do their best to raise the largest livestock possible(which seems more cruel than anything else...true, I saw the biggest hog of my life, but it looked like standing was one heck of a chore for that 1300 pound monster!).

The livestock barn had more to offer than simply obese mammals with awards pinned to the stalls. Many exotic animals not necessarily native to the state are being raised by farmers, and they love to show them off. Many species of sheep and goat were on display, as well as rabbits and other small game. As I was perusing through the various animals, it was brought to my attention that an animal down the way should really grab my attention. I glanced down to see a tall green stall with large antlers moving about. The antlers were very recognizable--it was an elk!

Up to this point, I had never seen a live elk before. Iowa doesn't necessarily offer the correct terrain for elk to thrive. Every now and again, an elk will make its way from the west and wander in the state, but it usually vacates the area rather quickly. The same happens with moose and bear. Since I live in the central part of the state, the straying animals rarely make it that far into the state without being run off.

Finally, I made my way down to the elk stall. I was very surprised at the size of this beast! I've watched many elk hunts on television and internet, but it is almost impossible to understand the size of an elk unless you are standing right next to one.

The elk you see here is one of many being raised in Iowa. To my knowledge, these elk are not being raised for any type of hunting. They are treated more as cattle and are butchered for the meat.

Exotic game farms do exist in Iowa. Whether or not they use elk in these game farms, I am not sure. I want to say I have heard of elk hunts taking place, but it isn't something I've followed very closely or really have an interest in. I would certainly love to take a gander at one of these big guys in the wild!

Have you ever had the chance to hunt elk in the Western United States? If so, what was it like? If not, what stops you from going?

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Finally Found a Good Buy!

Before I embarked on my last trout flyfishing excursion, I stopped at Scheels Sporting Goods to pick up some tools to work on my bow. I don't usually find myself near a Scheels or large sports store often, but Brad needed to pick up some hooks before the trip, so I took advantage of the stop. After finding what I needed for my bow, we soon found that Scheels clearanced ALL of their fly fishing and flytying items earlier in the Summer. Just as we were leaving, however, I noticed the only things left in the section were wading shoes and sandals. The sandals I had been using to cross the streams were getting extremely old and tattered. The binding on the soles had come loose, and small rocks were getting stuck in my sandal, making walking painful. When I saw the clearance sign, I was very interested in the display.

The sandals turned out to be Orvis Wading Sandals. The construction of these sandals appeared to be very good. The straps have a very neoprene feel that use velcro to firmly fit to the foot with amazing comfort. The sole of the sandal is very firm, giving a great feeling of stability, especially in the water and on rocks. The bottom of the sandal has a felt-like section running down the middle that, mixed with the tread on the sandal, creates excellent traction in the water and on slippery rocks.

Fitting: Like usual, I went straight for the size 12 they had on the shelf. The sandal proved to be a hair bigger than what I need, but stuck with the 12 anyway. Who knows...I might have another growth spurt. As I said before, the bottom of the sandal feels very firm and secure. When I used them in the stream, I had no problem with them easily bending or giving on the stream bottom.

Construction: The sole of this sandal is VERY well made. It appears that there is no way for the sole to come apart and have small rocks get underneath your feet. Good construction means increased durability and overall longer comfort in the field. The sole of the sandal is made of a rubber material which stays waterproof. The straps as I said before have a neoprene feel to them.

Style: The style of these sandals is very basic. Two straps secure the foot in the front, while one strap goes around the back of the foot for a tight and comfortable fit. These straps are adjustable to fit just about any foot that goes in them. The sandals only came in a tan/green pattern, but it certainly fits the outdoor endeavors of those who fish.

Advantages: These sandals are relatively light, even after they have been used in the water for a long period of time. They don't get water-logged like an average sandal will. The secure fit and comfort allow for all day use without any problems of blisters. The sandals are also small and don't take up a lot of room in the car. They can be tossed in for a long road trip or a nice relaxing evening at your favorite local fishing hole.

Disadvantages: While the sandals work great in the water, they do leave your feet exposed as you walk to and from your fishing site. We had to walk through a lot of tall grass and and sharp weeds. The sandals leave a large part of the foot exposed and my feet were slightly cut up from the weekend.

Price: Scheels normally had the sandals for $51.99--I paid $19.99!! Not a shabby deal for a good pair of wading sandals!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Osprey Introduced in Iowa

Early in the Summer, I was horrified by the monstrosity which was being erected at one of my favorite fishing spots. It appeared to be a new observation tower, but the slow progress on its construction made it a complete eye-sore. Soon, a metal sign was posted: "The Osprey Project." I stood with a confused expression wondering, "Do we even have osprey??" For weeks, I walked by the site and shrugged at its construction. It looked like a shabby observation tower to watch osprey out of. A few weeks ago, I finally found out that the tower is not meant to watch the is meant to house the osprey! According to an article I found online on the Iowa DNR Website Minnesota and Wisconsin Osprey Relocation Underway, five Wisconsin Osprey have been introduced into the Annett Nature Center in Warren County, Iowa.

The birds were kept in the tower for roughly a month, and were then released to fly freely.

On my last fly fishing trip, I was actually able to snap a couple photos of the birds flying about the nature center. They were very graceful and beautiful as they flew over the water.
The osprey make a distinctly high-pitched call, which allowed me to locate them when I initially spooked them from the tower. When I saw the osprey, they were often together in the same tree, except when they were flying above the water in search of food. It was a pleasure to see the birds alive and (apparently) thriving in their new home. It is unknown how long they will call the Annett Nature Center "home." From my understanding, they will migrate for the Winter, but return in a few years to make a nest of their own and raise their young. The numbers from the article regarding their return rate didn't seem all too promising, but only time will tell.

Monday, August 24, 2009

To the River!

I decided last night to take a break from all the packing and moving. I absolutely hate moving, and I've found myself doing it two times a year for the past 6 years. My friend Justin was back in town, so we decided to do a little catfishing on the river for a relaxing way to end the evening.

When we got to the river, we found the water to be extremely low. There were exposed sandbars in the river that I haven't seen for years. The channel itself was maybe 6-7 feet at best. There was also very little current in the river. This made it nice for us because we didn't need a lot of weight to hit the bottom of the river and keep our bait stationary, but I would like a little current in the water to attract fish downstream to my bait. Despite the conditions, we decided to fish anyway.

Our bites were few and far between, but I did manage to snag into a decent channel cat after dark. This cat weighed in at 6 pounds. It is a little hard to see in the picture, but this fish was freakishly thin. The head and mouth on this fish was huge! In my opinion, this fish should have been topping out at close to ten pounds. Its length and head size tells me it was an older fish that should have weighed much more than it did. I'm not sure exactly what is causing this fish to be so thin. I think it could be the water level of the river. When the water begins drying up, fish cannot freely swim up and down stream. It is like they become stuck in a puddle. Pretty soon, the food supply begins running out and the fish starve. Hopefully we get some rain soon to put more water back in the rivers and free some of these larger fish.

Poor Justin! The only fish he caught all night was a small drum off a nightcrawler.

I'm using an interesting bluegill rig for my catfishing. I believe I'm heading back out to the river this evening to try my luck again. I'll make a new post tomorrow on the rig and my luck from tonight.

I hope everyone is taking advantage of the late Summer weather. Take some time off and enjoy a sunny evening of fishing! (And don't forget your camera at home!! It is a great time of year to get beautiful outdoor photos!!)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School

The time has come for me to pack up my belongings and migrate back to Simpson College. This will mark my 6th year at this institution, and I am happy to say it will be my last. Changing majors and falling into the Education Program at Simpson has prolonged my stay, but I feel that I have become an educated individual nonetheless. I'm afraid this year will drag on with the monotony of the previous years, but I've been trying to spark my enthusiasm with a few positives:

1) If I'm still in school, I don't need to start paying off my student loans...which is good because it is difficult to find a decent job. Hopefully the job market will improve by next May.

2) I get to further my education. If there is one thing I have truly learned in college, it is the fact you can never learn too much.

3) I get to spend the next 9 months living with my friends. (Side note: I like to pull pranks on my friends...I can't wait to cover someone's bed in peanut butter this year!!!)

4) Since I'm close to home and taking classes in the Fall, I will still be able to visit all the same hunting and fishing spots. I thought I was going to be student teaching this Fall, which would limit my hunting and fishing time severely. I've decided to student teach in the Spring, however, which means I will only miss turkey season (and with the last few turkey seasons I've had, I'm really not too torn up about missing it).

With a new school year comes new school work. I imagine my schedule will be relatively busy as I bust my butt trying to complete a 25 page Senior Research Project. With a full load of classes, I still hope to have time for some blogging. This might be my last devoted bow season for a few years, so I hope to make it count and share it with everyone who would like to read it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Map Your Land

A month or two ago, I read several blogs regarding pre-season tactics for Fall bowhunting. One thing I saw from Hunting Wisconsin's "Bow Season Prep Starts Now" that I really liked was the idea of using a geographical map of the land beforehand to get a feel for the land before you ever take a step into the woods. I've spent many hours wandering the land where I hunt, and I know it rather well, so I decided to take the geographic map a step further and highlight some of the aspects of the land. The finished product was this...

I used the simple Microsoft Paint program on my computer to highlight aspects about the land. I've done this type of work before on a different piece of land, and I've found a couple advantages for doing so. 1) You can test your own knowledge of the land and fence lines. 2) It can become easier to pattern deer movement with a larger view of the land. 3) If two or more people are hunting the same piece of land, you can each have a map and coordinate where you are going to hunt together. You know exactly where they are going to be, and they know exactly where you are going to be. In the past, I have printed and laminated these maps and handed them out before the hunt started. You can also use dry-erase markers on the laminated surface and create a plan of action for your group right on the map. With this map, there is no more fear of firing in the wrong direction.

For my geographic map, I found a handy website that is updated every now and again by Iowa State University. From what I understand, Google Earth will also generate a geographic map for you (and possibly topographic/other helpful maps).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Those Pesky Trout...

Last weekend, my friend Brad and I took to the stocked trout streams of Northeast Iowa. With this being our third trip to the streams, we had higher hopes than before. Through our experiences in the past, we really felt like we had a better understanding of how to fish the streams. We equipped ourselves with many new flies we had researched and hand-tied. As is in every trip we take, our enthusiasm was very high in the beginning of the trip, and we were looking forward to finally catching a decent number of trout.

Many counties in Northeast Iowa are riddled with small streams that are stocked with "catchable" trout, as the Iowa DNR puts it in their online resources. We wanted to try out different streams with this trip, so we went to Clayton County--one county North of Delaware County where we usually fish. Our first stop proved to be a very difficult stream to fish because of the dense cover that had grown around the stream. Simply finding a place to get in the stream became a challenge. When I finally got situated, I managed to have several bites and lost one decent Rainbow Trout. I moved to a different spot on the stream and caught this little guy.

When I brought this thing in, I thought to myself, "Wow...that is one goofy looking trout!" I pulled it up and was dumbfounded. It was a CREEK CHUB!! I couldn't believe it--I've never actually caught one before...but I've never really wanted to. I don't even use them for catfish bait...although I hear they work well. With all the small creeks and tributaries running through the land, it isn't surprising that the chubs get into the "trout waters." I was very disappointed with my catch thus far, so we picked a new spot in Clayton County. With no luck there, we camped the night and headed for a new spot in the morning.

The next stream we hit was very small--only 10-12 feet wide with shallow depths. I thought our luck would be like the day before, but I did manage to find a small pool and caught this little Brown Trout. Even though this fish was small, I was very excited. If you have followed my trout experiences on my blog, you know that my success with trout tends to be slim. Any trout caught on my fly rod is a definite trophy!!

With the sands of time quickly dripping away in the weekend hourglass, we agreed to go back to our usual spot in Delaware County. We were more familiar with the streams and thought we would have a better shot at catching some fish.

Sadly, I didn't get a bite the rest of the day. For me, exhaustion and frustration had thoroughly set in. I don't necessarily need to be catching fish to have fun fishing, but I do at least need some bites to keep my attention. Brad had managed to reel in 5 or 6, but I was striking out with every cast.

On Sunday, my enthusiasm was low as we went back to the same spot we ended the day before. Half-heartedly, I fished the stream and managed to catch two fish: a spunky little Brown Trout (left) and my first Brook Trout (right).

Although I managed to catch a few fish before we departed, I constantly question whether the trip was worth it or not. Of the hundreds, if not thousands of casts I made throughout the weekend, only 3 fish and a few bites were the outcome. This experience (much like the previous experiences on the streams) makes me want to stick to the bass and bluegill fishing on my fly rod. I think we're planning on heading to the streams one more time in the Fall. Since we bought our trout stamps, we want to make sure we get use out of them. Plus, we want to see if the time of year might produce a better outcome on our fishing. Hopefully, I will have better luck next time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Froggin' on a Farm Pond

Saturday evening, we took to a local farm pond for some bass action. I would refer to myself as a "retired" bass fisherman. Although I am only 23, I have spent a significant chunk of my fishing career chasing after Largemouth Bass. For years, I did no other type of fishing (except maybe ice fishing). After catching many large bass, as well as getting a 23" 8 pounder on my wall, I decided to hang up my bass rod a few years ago and focus on fly fishing and cat fishing...both I had seriously neglected over the years. From years of experience, I know that Summer time bass fishing can be great if you know how to coax them into biting. The evening looked like it was going to be a perfect one, so I broke out the bass rod for a small cameo role...which turned into the main attraction!

I've never really been into top-water fishing for bass. I've found that most big bass search for deeper and cooler water in the Summer. Smaller bass can be caught using top water, but I would rather go after the big bass if I take the time to fish for them. Grass and moss had taken over the edges of the pond and made it rather difficult to fish my usual Berkley Powerworm Texas Rig. My friend Brad suggested I tie on one of his top-water plastic frogs and run it on top the grass and moss on the bank. I've never fished any type of moss-running bait before, but he claimed it would be successful. I tied it on to see how well I could do.

Within 10 casts, I pulled in this 4 pound brute from the thick grass...

I had several other bites throughout the evening, but the only other confirmed catch was actually another frog!

We continued to fish late into the night because only the faintest bit of light was needed to see a strike on the top of the water. Brad snagged into this little guy just before it was completely dark.

I think I'm sold on the moss-runner baits. Although I didn't actually catch anymore fish, the amount of strikes made it a new and very fun fishing scenario. For the best results, I would suggest a slow and bouncy retrieve. Walk along your pond or lake and watch the speed and action of the frogs you see in the water. Do your best to mimic that and you will be getting plenty of bass bites!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What is wrong with this fish??

As I was going through some pictures of fish I have caught this Summer, I found this one and just had to share it. When I picked it up out of the water, it looked like every other decently sized bluegill I have caught out of the pond. Just as I was about to release the fish back in the water, I noticed something a little bizzare about the fish...

The bluegill has a HUGE chunk taken out of its back and dorsal fin!!

My jaw dropped in awe as I started to examine the creature. The wound or deformity seems to be well healed. It is covered completely with scales and doesn't have an effect on the swimming abilities of the fish.

The big question: What do you think happened to this fish?? Let me know what you think!

Friday, July 31, 2009

3-D Archery Madness!!

Blogging has become a cumbersome experience the past week. Not only have I been struggling to find an internet connection, but I've been dealing with a broken camera!! I am happy to report that ALL technological problems have been solved as of today, and I am ready to share the good stuff of the past few weeks.

Last weekend, I embarked on my first 3-D Archery Tournament. I've been shooting a bow since I was six years old, but I've never taken the initiative to compete. The opportunity came about by way of the local Izaak Walton League and Mid-Iowa Archers who were hosting the event. I convinced my friend Brad (who has also never competed) to enter in with me. We took a few warm up shots and headed for the trail.

Most often, I find myself shooting at plain square targets. I believe this helps with concentration and the refining of good shooting technique. I am also able to measure and know the distance of my shots so I can fine-tune my sights. This 3-D tournament gave me the opportunity to practice my technique using a wide variety of targets, unknown distances, and shooting angles.

I think the biggest thrill of the whole tournament was the variety in targets. Even during hunting season, central Iowa offers only deer and turkey for large game. In order to add variety to my hunting appetite, I often target smaller game, such as rabbits, squirrels, and coyotes. This tournament allowed us to try our hand at full-size large game animals that can be found throughout North America.

The opportunity to shoot at 3-D targets made the whole outing extremely rewarding, but it was still a tournament. Each target had three rings in the vitals, allowing for 10,8, or 5 points. Each shooter was allowed only one arrow per target, making every shot important. My only complaint about the experience was the scoring on the targets. As I said before, we experienced many different shooting angles. From my bow hunting experience, I know that shooting downward on an animal means you should aim a little high--this insures the arrow will pass through both lungs and make a clean kill. On many of the targets, the 10 ring was positioned low behind the shoulder. In my opinion, this is NOT where you would aim on an animal in the field. I wanted to stay true to a bow hunting experience, so I did not examine the targets beforehand to find the 10 ring. I wanted the shots to seem more realistic and spontaneous. This did have a negative effect on my score, but it was fun nonetheless. I know I will be sure to attend the next 3-D shoot in September.

I would encourage everyone to participate in 3-D archery shoots. You don't need to be a great shot. Its all about having fun and getting ready for the upcoming archery seasons. These shoots are also great family events. I saw many young archers out on the range shooting at full size targets with the same excitement and enthusiasm I had. Don't be intimidated by the scorecards. Go out and have a good time!!