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Birds and bowhunting

November 19, 2017
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

Well, you haven't had to read many bowhunting columns this year because you guessed it I haven't hardly been out. But with November here and the pre-rut happening as I write this, you can bet that has changed.

I had my first early morning sit in the tree recently. I know I've written before how I love waking up with the woods. Iowa's legal shooting start is one half hour before sunrise. I try and be into the stand an hour before sunrise.

Things start out dark and cold and relatively quiet. Then I'll hear an owl start talking. Followed by a second answering back. It is so good to have barred owls back in my woods to listen to.

Next there will be the quiet chirps of songbirds waking up. It will take several minutes but it progresses from one to several to many.

All the time, the lights are beginning to come on like a rheostat switch in my living room.

Bowhunters know that birds and bowhunting go together. For me, they keep the experience interesting whether you are seeing any deer or not.

I wanted to relate an interesting bird experience that I had this year. I was sitting in the stand on an afternoon hunt. There are times when a combination of not seeing deer and not enough sleep the night before leaves you almost nodding off in the tree. I know that I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings when a bird call jarred me back into my senses. It was the sound of a robin.

An occasional robin around here even in the middle of winter is something that we see almost every year. But what I experienced that afternoon was wild. It was a migrating flock of robins in November. I don't know how long it had been since I had seen a robin but several weeks.

What occurred over the next several minutes were waves and waves of robins moving past me in the tree branches. Over a hundred I am certain. It was quite the sight for me. There were a few stragglers keeping things interesting when all of a sudden the onslaught of robins were back from the opposite direction. And this time in a hurry! My suspicions for what the cause of this speedy retreat were quickly confirmed as a sharp-shinned hawk buzzed by me on my left and landed in a tree twenty yards ahead.

It had spotted this flock of robins, as well. It was trying to make the count one less robin migrating any farther south. Off it went through the trees. I don't know if it was successful.

Even if you don't see much for deer, you always see something interesting when out in the tree.

That's what I love about bowhunting.



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