Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2017

Fall forecast for county sportsmen

Sep 15, 2017

Labor Day has passed, and many area sportsmen are now turning their focus and enthusiasm from fishing to hunting. There are a great many positive opportunities, and I look forward to joining you out there!

Dove hunting in Washington County is already in full swing.

The recent cool snap seems to have resulted in some of these birds migrating, but plenty remain in some areas.

I suggest hunters focus on areas with lots of food and very short vegetation. The WCCB planted plots meant to attract them in several of our areas, with varying degrees of success.

Woodland forays, in particular, should be much more enjoyable than normal this time of year as the mosquito population is very low.

Early season woodland hunters are bound to notice that there are significant crops of acorns and hickory nuts this year, as well as many others. I would highly suggest, as an example, that our youth deer hunters “guard” white oak trees this fall. Squirrel hunters will find abundant mast of all kinds.

Personally, I prefer to focus on shagbark hickory trees as the squirrels make a lot more noise when they husk and chew these. Because they are in the rodent family and thus have high reproductive potential, squirrel populations are almost always a factor of habitat and not hunting pressure.

Our upland game populations continue to recover from their all-time low a few years ago, with both pheasants and quail numbers up significantly. On WCCB managed properties, our best bets are likely the Clemons Creek & English River Wildlife Areas.

Waterfowl hunters might be more challenged due to the dry conditions. As an example, our 60 acre English River Wildlife Area wetland is currently dry. For this reason, scouting is essential. If water conditions permit, the Canada geese numbers here continue to escalate.

Some years ago, hunting white-tailed deer seems to have passed up pheasant hunting in popularity.

Iowa DNR efforts to reduce the deer herd through the harvest of antlerless deer continue, with about 700 of these tags being available after September 15.

Several of our areas provide excellent opportunities to harvest deer, although hunting pressure can be pretty high at times.

No matter what species is hunted, the popularity of the WCCB’s ranges at the Clemons Creek Wildlife & Recreation Area continues to grow.

In 2017, we are continuing to improve the shooting benches on the rifle and handgun ranges, made possible by dedicated staff as well as significant financial contributions from a variety of sources.

There are also facilities there for archery and clay target shooting. Persons wishing to utilize these facilities are reminded that certification by appointment is required through our office before use. If interested, call (319) 657-2400.

In other news, the WCCB continues to move rapidly forward on numerous projects and appreciates the huge amount of public support we are receiving.

Rapidly progressing projects the public should find interesting include the creation of a new County Wide Trails Master Plan upgrade, the Conservation Education Center Displays Upgrade, our Foster Woods Park (southwest of Wellman) enhancements.

Fall is an absolutely wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors here in Southeast Iowa. We welcome encourage you to visit our properties often!

 

Steve Anderson, Washington County Conservation Board

 

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