Fall Planting Thoughts
This morning finds me planting Iowa Adapted Pecans into pots placed within a cage designed to keep out rabbits, and located such that squirrels are less likely to find it. Doing so requires creating a hole in the mulch, placing five gallon plastic pots, and then filling them with good black dirt. The pecans are then placed in the dirt and buried, and the pots themselves then mulched.
On the flip side of this, last night I made a few dozen pecan turtles from 48 ounces of pecans that I harvested locally and shelled by hand. It took hours to crack them, as they were significantly smaller than the ones I am planting. Why not plant the smaller ones and eat the large?
Although I will not be able to prove it with the pecans for 20 years, I can say for certain that the larger walnut fruits I planted that long ago are now producing larger fruits. This makes me confident that this will also hold true for these larger pecans which local growers provided me for this purpose. I thank them for this, and will repay them with some seedling trees. I also hope that future generations of both people and wildlife will enjoy the fruits of my labor, in the truest sense of the word in this case.
To date, Iowa Adapted Pecan Trees have been planted in all of the suitable areas managed by the Washington County Conservation Board, with only the trees at Marr Park old enough to produce fruit at this point (although this proves they will do well in SE Iowa).
Planting some of these pecans with the future selfish intention of harvesting some of the fruits is exactly the motivation of many, if not at least nearly all, conservationists in Iowa. Most species of wildlife have relatively high rates of annual mortality (70 percent or more in most birds), with hunting seasons, limits, and hours established with the goal of allowing the harvest of a percentage of those that would die of other causes if they were not harvested.
The fact is, hunting will result in a net increase in the total population of the species hunted, the indirect effect of the hunter’s selfish motivation to have more of them to hunt. Hunters know that if they create habitat they will eventually get to shoot more of them, just like planting some of the pecans instead of eating them all stands to cause there to be more pecans in 20 years. And, just like always, the blue jays, woodpeckers, insects, and other non-hunted wildlife stand to benefit from these trees (this habitat) all year long just so we might harvest a few pecans (and maybe a few squirrels that come to eat them once they begin producing where that is legal).
As increasing numbers of hunters enter the fields and forests of southeast Iowa during the next few months, the vast majority of us will be working hard to do so in such a manner to be proud of. This will include going only where we are welcome and have permission, leaving the land even better than we found it, and making every reasonable effort to make humane harvests and utilize our game, maybe even sharing some with those less fortunate. What is more, we will try to continue to police our own ranks as best we can by turning in the poachers, cleaning up after those that don’t, and giving back to our communities in every way that we can. To my fellow hunters I say, “May you be safe, courteous, and successful this fall!” And, try your very best to be an ethical hunter. I am.