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Outdoor news

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

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DNR gift cards

Hunters and anglers who purchase one of four new licenses will be automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a $50 gift card. The new promotion, called the “Adventure Ready Gift Card Giveaway,” kicks off April 22 with weekly drawings through mid-December.

Weekly winner announcements, along with the next week’s gift card sponsor and complete drawing details can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/giveaway.

Several of Iowa’s hunting and fishing license vendors are providing gift cards, including:  The Baker’s Pantry in Dallas Center, Bass Pro Outdoor World in Council Bluffs and Altoona (10 gift cards), Cadell’s Ace Hardware in Atlantic (two gift cards), Fin & Feather in Iowa City (three gift cards), Four Season’s Bait and Tackle in Le Mars, Hy-Vee in Sheldon, Jerry’s Live Bait in Anamosa, Mills Fleet & Farm in Mason City (10 gift cards), Scheels in West Des Moines (four gift cards), Sportsman’s Warehouse in Ankeny, and Theisen’s in Dubuque.

“This is a great opportunity to partner with retailers and provide customers with licenses that offer convenience and expanded outdoor opportunities in Iowa,” said Chuck Corell, who oversees the DNR Conservation and Recreation Division.

To participate in the drawing, Iowans can simply purchase one of the four qualifying licenses at any license retailer (it does not have to be at a gift card-sponsored vendor), or on the DNR’s website at www.iowadnr.gov. The four qualifying licenses are:

·  Bonus Line License – resident and nonresident anglers can fish with one additional line (with the purchase of the annual fishing license, which allows two lines), for $12.

·  Outdoor Combo License – annual resident hunting/fishing/habitat combo license for $47.

·  Angler’s Special – a three-year resident fishing license for $53.

·  Hunter’s Special – a three-year resident hunting license with habitat included for $86.

The DNR will draw every Monday at noon and announce the weekly winner on its website and through Twitter by Tuesday at noon. Anyone who purchased one of the four licenses starting January 1 will automatically be included in the weekly drawing. The promotion will run through Dec. 23, 2013.

Dock permits

The summer open water season is just around the corner and dock owners are reminded to be sure to have a current dock permit before installing or constructing a dock over any public waters in the state.  This includes all docks on lakes, streams and rivers.

Standard dock permits (Class 1) are free for private individuals; however, they have specific limitations and require the applicant to have a permanent or seasonal residence on the property with the dock and only allow for a single dock with no more than two hoists or slips off the property.

Additionally, there may be placement, platform size and length limits which apply. If you do not have a seasonal or permanent home on the property or do not meet other criteria required for a standard dock permit, you are required to file for a Class 3 dock p ermit.  There is a $125 application fee for Class 3 permits and additional hoist fees may apply.  Commercial docks require a Class 4 permit.

For more information about dock permits or to apply, log into the Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s webpage at https://www.iowadnr.gov/boatdocks or contact the local DNR conservation officer or district office.

Food plots

BOONE – Now is the time to begin planning shelterbelts and food plots for next winter. 

Winter food plots of corn, sorghum, or other grains are used by all kinds of wildlife to help them survive.  This past winter had a couple of heavy wet snows that flattened grass habitats.  Well-designed shelterbelts provide important cover and food plots an additional food source to help pheasant, quail, and other wildlife survive periods of heavy snow.

A new special pheasant continuous CRP practice accepting 50,000 acres will be available shortly from USDA that will provide both of these practices (new pheasant SAFE).

The new Iowa Pheasant Recovery project is Iowa’s fourth special project under USDA’s CP38 program to address local wildlife habitat conservation needs. The Iowa Pheasant Recovery project was designed for the year-round needs of pheasants – provide severe winter cover, nesting habitat and food – and located in counties with the best chance for pheasant recovery.

“There have been few documented cases of pheasants actually starving to death in Iowa,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. “Virtually all of Iowa’s winter mortality is attributed to severe winter storms with the birds dying of exposure to predators or the weather.”

Shelterbelts provide excellent winter cover for pheasants and other wildlife from exposure from predators or weather.  A food plot associated with a shelterbelt likely improves survival.

So why plant food plots for pheasants if they seldom starve in winter?

“First, food plots provide winter habitat as well as food. In fact, if properly designed and large enough, the habitat created by a food plot is much more beneficial to wildlife than the food itself.  Second, food plots allow pheasants to obtain a meal quickly thereby limiting their exposure to predators and maximizing their energy reserves,” said Bogenschutz. “If hens have good fat supplies coming out of the winter, they are more likely to nest successfully.”

Bogenschutz offers the following suggestions for planning shelterbelts and food plots for pheasant and quail:

1.      Corn and sorghum grains provide the most reliable food source throughout the winter as they resist lodging in heavy snows.  Pheasants prefer corn to sorghum, although sorghum provides better winter habitat.  Sorghum is also less attractive to deer.

2.  Place food plots away from tall deciduous trees that provide raptors with a place sit and watch food plots and next to wetlands, CRP fields, and multi-row shrub-conifer shelterbelts that provide good winter habitat.

3.  Size of food plots depends upon its placement.  If the plot is next to good winter cover, a smaller plot can be installed, but two-acres at minimum.  If winter cover is marginal, like a ditch, then plot must be larger) to provide cover as well as food, like 5-10 acres.

4.  Depending on the amount of use some food plots can be left for two years.  The weedy growth that follows in the second year provides excellent nesting, brood rearing, and winter habitat for pheasants and other upland wildlife.  Food plots that have heavy deer use generally need to be replanted every year.

Cost-share assistance or seed for food plot establishment is available from most county Pheasants Forever chapters or local coops.  People can also contact their local wildlife biologist for information on how to establish and design shelterbelts or food plots that benefit wildlife. http://www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/LandStewardship/WildlifeLandownerAssistance/TechnicalAssistance.aspx

Fewer plants

Though last year’s drought caused many hardships, there may be one small perk that shows this spring and summer; fewer aquatic plants in shallow water.  This is caused by freezing and drying over the pond bottom exposed to the air due to low water through the winter months. 

Many kinds of underwater plants will not survive this overwinter freezing, and once water levels come up in the spring, these plants will not sprout and grow.  Algae or pond moss may take the place of the rooted underwater plants if plant nutrient levels are high, though algae blooms are many times short-lived.

If having a clear, weed and algae-free pond is very important, this may be a good year to try a pond dye to control algal growths.

The dye reduces light penetration to reduce all plant growth.  Blue and black colors are available, with the black dye resulting in a more natural appearance.  Apply early in the spring (April) and follow label directions for best control.  More dye may need to be added if rains dilute its concentration.

If there are no spring rains and ponds continue to be low through late spring or early summer, moist-soil and terrestrial plants may sprout in this drawdown area. These plants will help to create clear water once rains fall and ponds fill. 

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