Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Does of Iowa

Turkey season ended for me and it was time to switch to Deer.  I usually hunt just east of the levee along the Missouri River and south of the Veterans Memorial Highway, but the landowner still had bow hunters throughout his property. I was welcome, but I was shooting a muzzle loader.  Also, the property is inside the city limits of Council Bluffs and with all the building in the area, it was time to move.  Sooner or later, someone will complain.

 I moved to spot # 2.  North of Oakland, Iowa the Nisnabotna River meanders through the western Iowa countryside.  Crop land on each side and timber along the river bank make this stretch of ground excellent deer habitat.  The landowner has the same problem other farmers have where woods, water, and grain are in abundance.  The habitat is ideal for the deer and other wildlife.  That is good for people like me, but not the farmer.  The farm I am going to hunt looses about twenty acres of corn per year.  I am very welcome.

The focus was on does.  He told me he did not see a lot of bucks.  The farm holds a lot of  does.  This is the same situation that I found on the farm down by the river.  This is a good deal for me, as I am interested in meat, and I do not care about a big rack on the wall or in the garage.

I went out in the middle of the afternoon to look things over and locate the places I should set up and be concealed.  I met with the landowner and he gave some tips on where he has seen the traffic.  This is what I found.

Looking South towards the end of the timber.
 The farm land is from the highway on the east to the river on the west.  About 200 yards from the river the land drops off abruptly (about 10 to 15 feet) to a level area full of timber and brush.  This looked like it was old river bottom ground.  The timber ran in strips of 20 to 75 yards wide and between the strips of timber were stretches of low grassy area that parrelled the river the length of the farm.  It looked like a series of lanes.  The landowner told me to try and hunt the middle between the lanes.  He also said to hunt the south end of the lanes when the wind is northerly and the north end when the wind is southerly.  I scouted up to the north end of the farm and in this area the lanes disappeared and it was just timber and brush.  There were tracks everywhere.  The land is full of walnut trees and the bucks like to rub their antlers on the walnut trees.  I saw evidence of large bucks based on the height of the rubs.  In sections the snow was packed down.  This place has the appearance of a fresh meat market.  You just have to harvest the meat. At the south end the tracks in the snow ran along the steep bank just inside the first lane.  This was definitely a run leading out to the corn fields and back again. 
Looking North along the first lane.  The bank on the right rises about 15 to 20 feet.

I found a place at the start of the first lane, and planned to hunt close to the bank when shooting time opened.  I was going to hunt here regardless of the wind.  The theory was the deer would be coming in from the fields and entering the woods at the south end.  If the wind is south, all the better.  If it is north, I just need to get back deeper against the bank. I planned to spray some of Bass Pro's finest spray that made me smell like a pile of dirt. 

Read the column next week to see how the theory worked out. 

If you have an interesting story e-mail it to me along with pictures and we will publish it.

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Hank

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