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Spring has Sprung. It is Here

Spring has Sprung. It is Here

Gander Mountain

It is finally here.  From one warm day to three cold and windy days in a row, this did not seem like spring.  It was eighty degrees yesterday and today it cooled but brought much needed rain and lots of it.  Spring is here.  The main evidence is the appearance of the Franklin's Gull.  The corn fields to the south of our home were covered with the Gulls.  A small black headed gull of the prairies, the bird follows the plowed fields and eats exposed worms, insects, and mice.

Whenever they come through, warm spring weather is on the way.  They are coming through Iowa on their way to the nesting grounds of the northern Great Plains.  Nesting in the extensive prairie marshes, colonies shift around annually till they find the right spot.

While they usually follow behind the tilling of the soil, the ground south of our home had been turned last fall.  The farmer practices minimum tillage, and leaves a lot of trash from the harvest on the ground to hold in the moisture.  This is then a great opportunity for insects and other creatures to make their home.   The birds walk around on the ground and forage in the minimum tilled ground and find something to eat.  The golf course lake nearby furnishes them the opportunity for wading and swimming.

In our area the gulls are just stopping to feast on the farm grounds and spend time on the lakes nearby.  Then in a couple of days, they are gone heading up to their nesting grounds into Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  In April they come through our location in Iowa and return on their way south in late September or early October.

I have read that they are considered, "flexible colony nesters."  They shift colonies from year to year.  The nests are actually floating nests made up of cattails, rushes and grasses.  They are somewhat held in place by being attached to grass and other vegetation that is growing in the marsh.

The gull is a monogamous bird, and they both do the nesting.  Mom and Dad build the nest and incubate the eggs for about 25 to 30 days.  Both then feed the young and there is always one of the pair present.  Remaining in the nest for about 3 weeks, the young will start swimming around.  In approximately one month, they start to fly.

The gulls stayed with us for two days and then they were gone.  We will look forward to seeing them again as they make the fall migration south.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!