Delta-01.Agate Fossil Beds, Chimney Rock, Boot Hill

Minuteman III Missile Delta-9 (Dummy Missile)

After the Badlands we headed over to visit the 3 parts of the Missile Site at Delta-1.  The three sites consist of the visitors center, Delta-1 where we would go underground and see the control room that two officers in the Air Force would be stationed 24 hours a day, and viewing the actual silo at Delta-9.

 

Our first stop was at the visitors center.  At this location an excellent history of the cold war was presented and the need for the missile defense that was built at the various locations across South Dakota and other plains states.  Since my wife grew up in Sidney, Nebr. she has first hand experience of living among the missile silos which were scattered across the farm lands of the area.  For me growing up in Council Bluffs, IA., Strategic Air Command (SAC) was just a few miles from our home.  Talk of nuclear war was always a subject of conversation as both of us drilled in school in an attempt to save ourselves should we be attacked.  

 

Visitors Center

 

If you visit the area it is important to spend some time at this center managed by the National Park Service. Exhibits and an excellent film about the time these missiles were part of the country’s Nuclear Triad.

Next we headed over to see the missile silo holding a dummy missile silo.  From 1963 until the early 1990s the missile silo at Delta-09 contained a fully operational Minuteman Missile with a 1.2 megaton nuclear warhead.  The Delta-09 millile silo was one of 150 spread across western South Dakota.  In total there were 1,000 Minuteman’s deployed from the 1960’s into the early 1990’s.  The site is open daily and there is a self-guided cell phone tour available year-round.  Visitors can use their cell phones to listen to a ranger recorded tour.

Looking down inside the silo. 

 

The launch facility consists of a silo 12 feet in diameter and 80 feet deep made of reinforced concrete with a steel-plate liner.  The door to the silo has been welded and fitted with a glass roof and an unarmed missile placed inside.  There are no tours inside the silo.

 
 

The lid that would be slid back to allow the missile to fly. Also backside of tourist. 

Antenna to receive signals to the missile silo. 

After spending time at the silo, it was time to head to Delta -1 to view the underground launch control facility. To visit Delta-01 you need a reservation through the National Park Service.  It is advisable to make this reservation several months in advance of when you think you will be there as the tickets are very scarce.  The reason for this is that only six people can fit into the elevator that will take you underground to stand in the capsule.  Also, in case of elevator failure, you must be able to climb a 30 foot ladder.  To make a reservation contact the park service at the following website. (https://www.blackhillsvacations.com/things-to-do/national-state-parks/supplier/698193-Minuteman-Missile-National-Historic-Site)

 

The launch control facility, known as Delta One (D-01), is about 10.5 miles (16.9 km) away, to the east-southeast in northwestern Jackson County.  It occupies approximately six acres (24,000 m2) about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) north of I-90 at Exit 127. It consists of an above-ground building containing a kitchen, sleeping quarters, offices and life-support equipment. Below this building is the actual launch control center, buried 31 feet (9.4 m) deep, connected to the building by an elevator. Guided tours are conducted underground here, but are limited to six people at a time due to the very small underground launch control center (“capsule”) and are a half-hour long. 

Entrance to Delta-01

The above ground facilities at Delta-01.  Air Force personnel were housed here to help maintain the complex.  Each control center managed 10 missiles and there were 100 centers scattered throughout the plains. 

Two missileers worked and lived on 24 hour alert duty shifts within the LCC. There was an eight ton blast door that had to be opened from within before an oncoming Missile Combat Crew could enter the LCC. The two person crew would spend most of their time monitoring the status of their 10 missiles. Among their other work duties was authenticating message traffic, remotely monitoring maintenance at the silos and assisting with the dispatch of security police if any motion sensing alarms were tripped at the silos. When the missileers were not performing work duties they would pass time by reading, watching television or studying for master’s degrees through a special Air Force  educational program. There was also a bunk provided for one missileer to sleep while the other crewmember kept an eye on the weapons system. As one former missileer once said, missileer duty was “hours and hours of sheer boredom, punctuated by seconds of panic.”

 
The metal door into the capsule.  Notice if they sent a missile, it could reach its target in 30 minutes. 
This is the commanders station in the capsule.  

Second in command took this position. 

Once the order was given and verified, each officer would simultaneously insert their key into the switch and turn it to the launch position at the same time.  At that point in time they would have released hell and sent 10 missiles on their way. 
 

Next morning our first stop was the Agate Fossil Beds. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is nestled in the Niobrara River Valley in Nebraska 65 miles [110 km] east-southeast of its headwaters in the Hat Creek Breaks of Wyoming. The park preserves a unique unglaciated area of the High Plains. Wetlands stretch out from the river and meet terraces that lead to the breaks and buttes. The buttes contain important information about the life of mammals in the Miocene Epoch, some 20 million years ago.

Entrance to the Monument

Fossil hills where the Prehistoric bones were found. 

 
 

During the Miocene the land now known as Agate was a grass savanna comparable to today’s Serengeti Plains in Africa. Twenty million years ago animals such as the Dinohyus (giant pig-like animal), Stenomylus (small gazelle-camel), and Menoceras (short rhinoceros) roamed the plains. There were also carnivorous beardogs wandering around, and the land beaver Paleocastor dug spiral burrows that remain as today’s trace fossils (Daemonelix) into the ancient riverbanks. There are remnants of the ancient grasses and hoofprints of prehistoric animals in Miocene sediments preserved in the park, as well as layers of fossilized bones.

 

Museum housing artifacts found on site. 

 
 

The park was created to preserve the rich fossil deposits and their geological contexts amidst today’s natural ecosystem. Numerous mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds inhabit or pass through the park, undisturbed and protected. Many species of native grasses and shrubs grow across the park’s landscape, as well as some undesirable non-native plants (e.g., Canada thistle) that the park does its best to control. 

 

Next morning we were heading home and stopped of course at a landmark used by the wagon trains as they made their way across the prairie. Prior to exploration and settlement by European immigrants, the Native Americans of the area—mainly the Lakota Sioux—would refer to this formation by a term which meant “elk penis”.

 

The name “Chimney Rock” probably originated from early fur traders. The first recorded mention of “Chimney Rock” was in 1827 by Joshua Pilcher. Pilcher had journeyed up the Platte River valley to the Salt Lake rendezvous of the Rocky Mountain fur trappers. The formation went through a variety of names before becoming Chimney Rock such as Chimley Rock and Chimney Tower, as well as euphemisms based on the original Native American name, such as Elk’s Peak and Elk Brick.

Since my wife is from the area, and we have seen the formation a number of times over the years, it appears to be slowly eroding and was probably much taller when the wagon trains came up the valley. 

My wife’s home town is Sidney, Nebraska and we stopped there to visit Boot Hill. The City of Sidney was founded in 1867 by the Union Pacific and named for Sidney Dillon, a railroad attorney. The city grew up around the Sidney Barracks, a military outpost with a primary function of protecting the Union Pacific Railroad track layers against the threat of hostile Indians. The post was initially a block house on a bluff with soldiers residing in nearby tents. In 1869 the post was relocated to the present site and the following year it was renamed Fort Sidney.

In the 1870s Fort Sidney became a major strategic point as the initial
supply depot on the 267-mile Sidney-Blackhills trail which allowed military and civilian traffic to reach Fort Robinson, Red Cloud Indian Agency, Deadwood, SD and the Black Hills gold fields. By 1875 the fort contained quarters for three companies, five officer’s quarters, a
hospital, guardhouse, bakery, laundry, stables and other structures.

During Sidney’s boomtown years, it was a colorful mixture of settlers, freighters, cowboys and soldiers and was also the center of the cattle industry.  The colorful mixture is lying in Boot Hill on the north side of town. 

 

 
Madam Boots must have been a lady of the evening. 

It looks like Charles met an untimely demise.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 
 

Across Beautiful South Dakota

South Dakota State Bird

 

South Dakota is one of our favorite states.  For us they have it all from fishing, hunting to national parks and the beauty of the plains.  With some spare time we took off to do a quick tour through the state of some of the interesting sites.  On the top of the list was a tour of Delta 1, an ICBM base that was fully operation during the cold war, and we went underground to see how our service men and women lived during this tense period. 

 

Out of Council Bluffs and a mere 2 hour and 45 minute drive straight north along I-29. Northeast of the city is a state park, the Palisades.  Palisades State Park is one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. The park is popular among campers, photographers, sightseers, picnickers, rock climbers and hikers.

 

 
 

 
 

The facilities at the park are so typical of South Dakota.  They are just excellent whether you are a camper or wanting a cabin overlooking the stream.  We stayed a good two hours and were able to soak in all the sights enjoying the beautiful South Dakota weather. 

 

Next stop was Mitchell.  Besides having a Cabela’s store, the town is famous for a tourist attraction, the corn palace.  The World’s Only Corn Palace is Mitchell’s premier tourist attraction. Some 500,000 tourists come from around the nation each year to see the uniquely designed corn murals. The city’s first Corn Palace was built as a way to prove to the world that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.

 

Eight years before the turn of the 20th century, in 1892 (when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants) the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. During it’s over 100 years of existence, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. 

 

By 1905 the success of the Corn Palace had been assured and a new Palace was to be built, but this building soon became too small. In 1919, the decision to build a third Corn Palace was made. This one was to be permanent and more purposeful than its predecessors. The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace Festivities.

 

The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”.  

 
 

The front of the corn palace

 

Pushing west along I-90 our next stop was Wall Drug at Wall, SD.  This was a night stop over for us and so we had the time to tour the Drug Store. 

 

Wall Drug has a rich history in the state of South Dakota. Nestled in the city of Wall in the western part of the state, Wall Drug has grown from its humble beginnings in 1931 to a thriving oasis. Wall Drug offers dining, activities, gifts and souvenirs, visitor information and, of course, free ice water. 

 

    Today, Wall Drug continues to offer the same amenities that made it a must-stop destination all            those years ago, and visitors still stop to stretch their legs, eat a delicious home-style meal and           drink some free, rejuvenating ice-cold water.

   The city of Wall, South Dakota is home to 800 year-round residents and, thanks to Wall Drug, one       of the most popular attractions in the state, drawing in more than 2 million visitors each year.     

There it is and it occupies a square block with all kinds of stores from food and clothing to curios placed just at the right height for the young people to fasten their eyes on and plead with their parents to buy it. 

What movie was this from?

 

Next morning it was off to visit the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. 

 

    The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern          South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes,                    pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It        is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.

 

    This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The          Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep              gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow       (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

   Badlands National Park also preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the                   Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses,             saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found     here. All fossils, rocks, plants and animals are protected and must remain where you find them.           Prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

 

   The Badlands are home to the largest mixed grass prairie in the National Park System and                   is surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Wildlife roams the park’s boundaries as             well. Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, butterflies, turtles, snakes,       bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks are just some of the wildlife that can often be seen by                 visitors.  In 1994, the near-extinct Black-footed ferrets were reintroduced into the Badlands prairie.     These nocturnal animals are rarely seen by the visiting public.

Mighty fine looking boy.  The buffalo were everywhere on the grass lands. 
Center left is a nice fat coyote making his way to wherever. 
 
It surprised us to be so close to a couple of Big Horn Sheep.  They must see cars all the time.

 

This visit took care of day one and the morning of day two.  This afternoon we go to Delta 1 the Minuteman Missile underground for a tour of the facility and to Delta 9 to see an actual missile silo.  Inside was a dummy missile.  Next blog read about the experience with pictures of the underground and an exciting visit to another beautiful National Park. 

 
 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

www.outdoorswithhank.com

 
 

Country Fried Wild Game  (Deer, Elk, Caribou, Moose, Buffalo)

  • ¾ lb. to 1 lb. of game chops/steaks (2-3 big or 4-5 small pieces)
  • 8 ounce package of sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1- 12-16 ounce can of either beef or mushroom gravy
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped
  • salt, pepper and seasoning salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoon of butter or margarine
  • Tusker Beer

Season game chops (to taste) using your favorite seasoning salt. Place flour, cornstarch, and touch of salt and pepper into large Ziploc bag (do not over season). Put game chops individually into the bag, shake to coat well. Once all chops are coated, remove from bag to a plate. Press coating into chops then let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to help the flour stick to the venison. Meanwhile, preheat a large (16”) cast iron skillet (preferred) to med-high heat. Also, preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and sauté until almost transparent. Add package of sliced mushrooms (season with salt and pepper). Allow onions and mushrooms to sweat and caramelize. Just before onions and mushrooms are finished, add the minced garlic stirring to incorporate, about 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn, as it will taste bitter. Once onions, mushrooms, and garlic are done remove to a plate. With the skillet still at medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Place game into melted butter and brown on each side. This will sear in the juices, not cook the venison completely through. Once browned, drain oil then return onions, mushrooms, and garlic mixture to the pan. Also add in entire can of beef or mushroom gravy. Make sure chops are mostly covered. Place the uncovered skillet* in the oven for 10 minutes to finish the dish. Remove from oven, garnish with freshly chopped green onions and serve. Great with mashed potatoes or a bed of butter and garlic pasta! *If your skillet is not oven safe, removed browned chops and place them, the mushrooms/onions/garlic, and gravy into a metal baking pan and follow remaining steps.

Goes very well with Tusker Beer. 

 

North to Alberta for Moose

Pam and I are heading down that long grey ribbon to Spirit River, Alberta to hunt moose the week of October 23rd.  The moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 
Moose Bull, Alaska, USA

Friends ask me who is going with you on this trip.  This can be a dangerous animal.  When I tell them my wife Pam, is going along and her job is to keep herself between me and the moose.  After all she has gone gator hunting with me, elk hunting with me, and this will be the first for both of us.  This is a three day drive and we will be going up I-29 to Fargo, then across N.D. to Dickinson our first overnight stop.  Next stop will be  Lethbridge, Alberta.  We will leave the easy driving of the interstate and move north and then west to stay on the prairies of Montana and avoid the 4 lanes of I-94 that weave through the mountains of western Montana.  Boring and not real scenic as the westerly drive would be, it would also keep us out of the elevations and mountain weather.  We are not interested in the sites, but making time across Montana.  Anyway, we have been in the state before on our travels. After Lethbridge we overnight in Grand Prairie and meet Mike at the motel the next day and it is off to the lodge.  It will be three days total driving.  Just as a sidelight and they pay me nothing,  but we like to stay in Comfort Inns and they are plentiful on our trip and have a free breakfast.

What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.

The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger  put into half pound packs rather than pound.  If you need a pound use two packs.  We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger.  We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger.  When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge.  He said you will change your mind.

As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 

When Pam and I get back in November there will be full report of our experience.  
Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank
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Buy Hank’s book and hunt with hank.  Great and fun read. Click on the above link. 

 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms

  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer

Preparation

In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.
Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer. 

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North to Alberta for Moose

Pam and I are heading down that long grey ribbon to Spirit River, Alberta to hunt moose the week of October 23rd.  The moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 

 

Moose Bull, Alaska, USA

Friends ask me who is going with you on this trip.  This can be a dangerous animal.  When I tell them my wife Pam, is going along and her job is to keep herself between me and the moose.  After all she has gone gator hunting with me, elk hunting with me, and this will be the first for both of us.  This is a three day drive and we will be going up I-29 to Fargo, then across N.D. to Dickinson our first overnight stop.  Next stop will be  Lethbridge, Alberta.  We will leave the easy driving of the interstate and move north and then west to stay on the prairies of Montana and avoid the 4 lanes of I-94 that weave through the mountains of western Montana.  Boring and not real scenic as the westerly drive would be, it would also keep us out of the elevations and mountain weather.  We are not interested in the sites, but making time across Montana.  Anyway, we have been in the state before on our travels. After Lethbridge we overnight in Grand Prairie and meet Mike at the motel the next day and it is off to the lodge.  It will be three days total driving.  Just as a sidelight and they pay me nothing,  but we like to stay in Comfort Inns and they are plentiful on our trip and have a free breakfast.

What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.

 

The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger  put into half pound packs rather than pound.  If you need a pound use two packs.  We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger.  We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger.  When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge.  He said you will change your mind.

As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 

 

When Pam and I get back in November there will be full report of our experience.  

 

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank

 

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Buy Hank’s book and hunt with hank.  Great and fun read. Click on the above link. 

 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer
 

Preparation

In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.

Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer. 

Number Two Walleye Lake in Nebraska

This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point.
A scene you will probably never get to see in person, so take a moment and enjoy God at work at the North Pole.
And, you also see the sun below the moon .
   
The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this:  ‘When someone shares with you something of value, you have an obligation to share it with others!’ 

The weather has been mixed across Nebraska and Iowa but a blow out took place on a Wednesday and the weather for Lexington, Nebraska was partly cloudy, with southwest winds on Thursday.  I grabbed a really old friend and took him out to Elwood, Nebraska south of Lexington to fish Elwood Reservoir.  The state had rated Elwood as the number 2 walleye lake in the state.  Merritt Reservoir south of Valentine is number one.

Once you clear Lincoln, Nebraska, the second largest city in the state, it is smooth flat running along the Platte River Valley.  The third largest city in the state is the Corn Husker Football Stadium on Saturdays during the season when the Huskers are at home.  You can stay at Lexington or in Elwood as there are plenty of motels in Lexington and one in Elwood.  Good restaurants are also available in Lexington and if fast food is your forte, the town has all of them.

Elwood Reservoir is located off Highway 283 three miles south of Johnson Lake.  It was formed in the late 1970 s as part of a project to rehabilitate and modernize the irrigation canal system.  The lake was created by damming one end of a series of canyons.  Water from the Canal is pumped into the reservoir each spring to supplement flows in the canal for irrigation.  The reservoir’s level falls each summer as the irrigation season progresses, but the lake is partially filled each fall after irrigation season ends.

There is a lot of shore line here and we fished Pike’s Way Arm and Elwood Arm.  There is a lot of shore line to cover and I need to come back. 

There is a really good boat ramp and dock and it was designed to remain in service even at lower lake elevations.  There is a 5-mph (no-wake) speed limit for boats over the entire lake.  There is one access on the east side of the lake off of Highway 283.  Once on the lake, you can choose among the many coves and points to fish.  The lake has a surface area of 1,300 acres.  An ample parking area and toilets are available at the lake, but camping is not permitted.  A private concession operates on a seasonal basis on land adjacent to the lake.

Nebraska Game and Parks regularly stocks the lake.  More than 100 Nebraska “Master Angler” fish have been caught at the reservoir.  Walleye has a slot limit of an 18 inch minimum.  I will take all the 18 inch fish I can legally catch.  Those fillet out really nice. Of the four fish limit for walleye, you can take one over 25 inches.  I recommend you throw those back after a picture.  The smaller fillet make a great pan size walleye and cook up easier than the big monsters.

We left at 7 a.m. and arrived out of Omaha three hours later at the Red Barn gas station, convenience, groceries, bait and liquor store in Elwood.  We asked the clerk at the check out about the fishing and she pointed to a gentlemen in line behind us.  I turned to him.

This is where you get bait, extra snacks, and advice.  The people here are the salt of the earth and will help you with all your questions.  I have always found small towns in the middle west have the nicest people you will every meet. 

He headed us in the right direction on the lake.  He said we should fish the points starting at the 20 foot level and work out until you run out of fish on your graph.   Spinners or jigs will work best and also we should go to any of the standing timber and vertical jig and just float with the wind.  He said this will be a little tough but you might be rewarded.  In other words, you will be getting snagged a lot.  Also, fishing has gotten really tough of the lake as there are so many bait fish.  He told us we would see bait fish in big clouds on our graph.  He also told us to fish right down to the 50 foot level.  The lake will go down to 60 feet.  Worms were the bait of choice.

The wind came up to about 15 to 20 mph from the southwest, but the lake sits down in a canyon and you are basically out of the blow.

Great dock and ramp.  That is Arch my old friend in charge of backing the boat into the lake. 
The State of Nebraska has done a good job with the boat ramp and the dock. The ramp is steep, but grooved concrete gives  good traction and the dock has plenty of cleats and padded sides so you don’t scratch and dent your boat.   
We headed out right to the first point behind us.  A light breeze from the southwest was right across the lake and we went out to about 30 feet and drifted back to more shallow water dragging spinners.  We constantly graphed fish. In addition, just like we had been told at the Red Barn, there were clouds of bait fish.  
We started moving up the lake hitting point after point with the same experience.  Periodically we would pick up a catfish or a small bass that we promptly threw back.  We also noticed the there was weed along the bottom at about 25 to 35 feet. As we moved to point we would run into standing timber.  Arch put on a bottom bouncer, and I just kept plenty of weight on the line to take it down. 

That is a typical shore line with a point sticking out into the lake.  
We also worked the face of the dam.  This was recommended, but had no luck.  What was interesting was the amount of fish we graphed in the vicinity of the face.  Fish were graphed from 10 feet down to 40, but not one liked our presentation. 

As we moved along the face of the dam working in and out from 20 to 40 feet we graphed a lot of fish, but we also graphed clouds of bait fish.  This was starting to get old and after several hours we just motored around the lake and looked for spots that might hold fish based on the shore line and the timber sticking up from the water. 
Arch taking a break. 
Actually this is a posed picture.  I was sitting there blabbering about where should we go now and I stood up for the picture.  

We continued to pound the points changing colors, fishing shallows, fishing deep, and did not haul in a walleye.  We did catch some small bass and a bunch of catfish.  The lake also has northern, white bass, crappie along with other species that did not like our lures either.  This is retirement and we could be working, so there is no complaining and we want all the employed people to work hard so we can keep our social security coming in.  We will leave you some fish when your day comes.

I am going to be back at this lake come next spring early before the bait fish show up and before they draw the lake down for irrigation.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

For good reading buy my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”
Click on the link above. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank. 


Pan-fried Walleye

  • walleye fillets
  • milk or half and half  
  • breading flour 
  • spinach
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • ½ squeezed lemon
  • minced garlic
  • Tusker Beer


Garnish:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 ounces (canned) mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro

Bread walleye by dipping first in milk or half &half and then covering in bread flour. Begin by pan frying fillets in butter. Always cook the biggest fillets first. While fish is browning, sautee spinach with butter, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and mince garlic in a separate pan. Add ingredients to taste. When fillets are cooked, place them on a bed of sautéed spinach. Cook almonds, white wine, mushrooms and cilantro in fish pan and then spoon mixture on top of fish. Drink the Tusker Beer.

season ends. 

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Number Two Walleye Lake in Nebraska

This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point. 
A scene you will probably never get to see in person, so take a moment and enjoy God at work at the North Pole. 
And, you also see the sun below the moon 
    
The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this:  ‘When someone shares with you something of value, you have an obligation to share it with others!’ 

The weather has been mixed across Nebraska and Iowa but a blow out took place on a Wednesday and the weather for Lexington, Nebraska was partly cloudy, with southwest winds on Thursday.  I grabbed a really old friend and took him out to Elwood, Nebraska south of Lexington to fish Elwood Reservoir.  The state had rated Elwood as the number 2 walleye lake in the state.  Merritt Reservoir south of Valentine is number one.

Once you clear Lincoln, Nebraska, the second largest city in the state, it is smooth flat running along the Platte River Valley.  The third largest city in the state is the Corn Husker Football Stadium on Saturdays during the season when the Huskers are at home.  You can stay at Lexington or in Elwood as there are plenty of motels in Lexington and one in Elwood.  Good restaurants are also available in Lexington and if fast food is your forte, the town has all of them.

Elwood Reservoir is located off Highway 283 three miles south of Johnson Lake.  It was formed in the late 1970 s as part of a project to rehabilitate and modernize the irrigation canal system.  The lake was created by damming one end of a series of canyons.  Water from the Canal is pumped into the reservoir each spring to supplement flows in the canal for irrigation.  The reservoir’s level falls each summer as the irrigation season progresses, but the lake is partially filled each fall after irrigation season ends.

There is a lot of shore line here and we fished Pike’s Way Arm and Elwood Arm.   I need to come back. 

There is a really good boat ramp and dock and it was designed to remain in service even at lower lake elevations.  There is a 5-mph (no-wake) speed limit for boats over the entire lake.  There is one access on the east side of the lake off of Highway 283.  Once on the lake, you can choose among the many coves and points to fish.  The lake has a surface area of 1,300 acres.  An ample parking area and toilets are available at the lake, but camping is not permitted.  A private concession operates on a seasonal basis on land adjacent to the lake.

Nebraska Game and Parks regularly stocks the lake.  More than 100 Nebraska “Master Angler” fish have been caught at the reservoir.  Walleye has a slot limit of an 18 inch minimum.  I will take all the 18 inch fish I can legally catch.  Those fillet out really nice. Of the four fish limit for walleye, you can take one over 25 inches.  I recommend you throw those back after a picture.  The smaller fillet make a great pan size walleye and cook up easier than the big monsters.

We left at 7 a.m. and arrived out of Omaha three hours later at the Red Barn gas station, convenience, groceries, bait and liquor store in Elwood.  We asked the clerk at the check out about the fishing and she pointed to a gentlemen in line behind us.  I turned to him.

This is where you get bait, extra snacks, and advice.  The people here are the salt of the earth and will help you with all your questions.  I have always found small towns in the middle west have the nicest people you will every meet. 

 

He headed us in the right direction on the lake.  He said we should fish the points starting at the 20 foot level and work out until you run out of fish on your graph.   Spinners or jigs will work best and also we should go to any of the standing timber and vertical jig and just float with the wind.  He said this will be a little tough but you might be rewarded.  In other words, you will be getting snagged a lot.  Also, fishing has gotten really tough of the lake as there are so many bait fish.  He told us we would see bait fish in big clouds on our graph.  He also told us to fish right down to the 50 foot level.  The lake will go down to 60 feet.  Worms were the bait of choice.

The wind came up to about 15 to 20 mph from the southwest, but the lake sits down in a canyon and you are basically out of the blow.

Great dock and ramp.  That is Arch my old friend in charge of backing the boat into the lake. 

 

The State of Nebraska has done a good job with the boat ramp and the dock. The ramp is steep, but grooved concrete gives  good traction and the dock has plenty of cleats and padded sides so you don’t scratch and dent your boat.   

We headed out right to the first point behind us.  A light breeze from the southwest was right across the lake and we went out to about 30 feet and drifted back to more shallow water dragging spinners.  We constantly graphed fish. In addition, just like we had been told at the Red Barn, there were clouds of bait fish.  

 

We started moving up the lake hitting point after point with the same experience.  Periodically we would pick up a catfish or a small bass that we promptly threw back.  We also noticed the there was weed along the bottom at about 25 to 35 feet. As we moved to point we would run into standing timber.  Arch put on a bottom bouncer, and I just kept plenty of weight on the line to take it down. 

That is a typical shore line with a point sticking out into the lake.  
 
We also worked the face of the dam.  This was recommended, but had no luck.  What was interesting was the amount of fish we graphed in the vicinity of the face.  Fish were graphed from 10 feet down to 40, but not one liked our presentation. 

As we moved along the face of the dam working in and out from 20 to 40 feet we graphed a lot of fish, but we also graphed clouds of bait fish.  This was starting to get old and after several hours we just motored around the lake and looked for spots that might hold fish based on the shore line and the timber sticking up from the water. 

 

Arch taking a break. 

 

Actually this is a posed picture.  I was sitting there blabbering about where should we go now and I stood up for the picture.  

 

We continued to pound the points changing colors, fishing shallows, fishing deep, and did not haul in a walleye.  We did catch some small bass and a bunch of catfish.  The lake also has northern, white bass, crappie along with other species that did not like our lures either.  This is retirement and we could be working, so there is no complaining and we want all the employed people to work hard so we can keep our social security coming in.  We will leave you some fish when your day comes.

I am going to be back at this lake come next spring early before the bait fish show up and before they draw the lake down for irrigation.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

For good reading buy my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”

Click on the link above. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank. 

 

Pan-fried Walleye

  • walleye fillets
  • milk or half and half  
  • breading flour 
  • spinach
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • ½ squeezed lemon
  • minced garlic
  • Tusker Beer

Garnish:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 ounces (canned) mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro

Bread walleye by dipping first in milk or half &half and then covering in bread flour. Begin by pan frying fillets in butter. Always cook the biggest fillets first. While fish is browning, sautee spinach with butter, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and mince garlic in a separate pan. Add ingredients to taste. When fillets are cooked, place them on a bed of sautéed spinach. Cook almonds, white wine, mushrooms and cilantro in fish pan and then spoon mixture on top of fish. Drink the Tusker Beer.

The Great Lakes of Iowa

Pam with a nice white bass in South Dakota

I rarely fish any Iowa lakes.  There is the old axiom of the 50 mile expert is the one you should always contact for ideas and to give direction and meaning to what you need to do.  I hate to admit it but I have traveled over 300+ miles only to get skunked.  After all it is called fishing not catching.  The same saying applies to hunting.  That is why it is called hunting not shooting.

This photo of Spirit Lake is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This has been the summer for trying out new ideas and visiting new places.  Results have been acceptable considering you are just getting the feel of the place initially.  Every week the state of Iowa puts out a fishing report on lakes in the different areas of the state.  As a boy, I fished one of the lakes in the region and the results were very good, but that was 60+years ago.  This year I noticed that Spirit Lake in the Great Lakes Region of Northwest Iowa was getting good results for walleye catches and good catches of other fish.

After scoping the internet, I just didn’t have the feel I was getting good information about Big Spirit Lake.  With that in mind, I said to my wife Pam,”It is only a little over 3 hours up there, so let’s go up and check the area out.”  In this fashion, we will find places to stay that cater to fishermen and women.  We like to eat well and at our age, you never know if this will be your last chance at a great meal. So we check out all the places that will give us the opportunity to dine well.  The two most important items are the boat ramps and the fish cleaning stations.  We have put our boat into some places that I thought, good grief, how am I going to get this thing out?  An 18.5 foot Crestliner is not light, and I have one too many scratches and bumps on this boat.

To learn about the town of Spirit Lake, Iowa go to their website.

The first motel we spotted was the Northland Inn, just as we entered the town.  The motel had what we expected, but we needed to check out the rest of the facilities in the town.  Super 8, Ramada, and a couple of private motels were available, but we went back to the Northland to meet the owner. This lady was a peach and a plethora of information.  Yes, our catch of fish could be frozen at the motel.  Yes, they have an area to clean fish.  The next thing she said was, “Would you like to see a room?”  “Of course,” was our answer, and the room was perfect for us and really neat and clean.  I have to admit, that I have taken my wife to some places that I was not pleased with in South Dakota, but this room was excellent.

This is a resort area with Arnold’s Park and Lake Okoboji and the lady had many suggestions of basic to fine dining.  We now had our place to stay. A place to clean and freeze fish.  She suggested just to drop the boat on the grass in the front of the motel.  We could use our truck to get around and not have the problem of parking a trailer in a tight parking area of the eating establishments.

Next we scouted out a couple of bait stores and took a drive around the lake.  The people at the bait stores were very informative as they always are.  They want us to catch fish and buy bait. This lake is really big and based on the reports, is an excellent fishery.  We scouted it out in its entirety.  The lake is almost entirely surrounded by private housing and many of the areas are private.  Therefore, you cannot enter by car to check out the banks.  No need to do that as there are some excellent maps which the state of Iowa has supplied to obtain information about the lake.  At the south end of the lake is a state fish hatchery.  We did not stop to visit, but the next time up we will make it a must item on our list.  Walleye is stocked into the lake.

This photo of Spirit Lake is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The boat ramp and parking area is excellent and totally out of the wind.  That is nice as I like to get my boat on straight.  We did not find one fish cleaning station, however the motel will supply that item.  There are two things that concern us right now.  We think the lake is heavily fished and we might not have great success just due to the pressure.  There is a slot.  You must throw back live all walleye caught that are between 17 and 22 inches. The daily limit is 3 per license, and you can keep one fish over 22 inches.  I will take all the sixteen inch fish I can catch, and if I caught one 22 inches long, that would be a bonus.  Their requirements on the lake tell me the state is going to manage this fine fishery to give everyone good fishing.

The lake also has a good mix of other very eatable fish.  Perch, small mouth bass, and northern are also in the lake.  For a bonus you have the fish of 1000 casts, the musky.  We will take all the northern pike that are of decent size and filleted out with the Y bones removed.  They are excellent eating.  If we get a good break in the weather, and Pam and I will take a trip and try it out.

Click on the link to see how to take out the Y bones

This is the entrance to the boat ramp and if you go straight ahead you will be on private property.  Don’t do that. 
Good ramp and out of the wind.  Ample parking behind me.  
Here is the slot for walleyes.  Look at that musky requirement.  I want to catch a 40 inch musky just once. 

I marked on the map areas recommended by the bait shop to hammer the big fish.  I did not mark the east side north of the bay and there is a stand of cabbage weed.  That probably is a good place for the fish of 1000 casts, the Musky.  I am sure there are plenty of northern pike in the cabbage weed.  

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank
Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.
Click on this link to buy Hank’s book. 

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The Great Lakes of Iowa

Pam with a nice white bass in South Dakota

I rarely fish any Iowa lakes.  There is the old axiom of the 50 mile expert is the one you should always contact for ideas and to give direction and meaning to what you need to do.  I hate to admit it but I have traveled over 300+ miles only to get skunked.  After all it is called fishing not catching.  The same saying applies to hunting.  That is why it is called hunting not shooting.

This photo of Spirit Lake is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This has been the summer for trying out new ideas and visiting new places.  Results have been acceptable considering you are just getting the feel of the place initially.  Every week the state of Iowa puts out a fishing report on lakes in the different areas of the state.  As a boy, I fished one of the lakes in the region and the results were very good, but that was 60+years ago.  This year I noticed that Spirit Lake in the Great Lakes Region of Northwest Iowa was getting good results for walleye catches and good catches of other fish.

After scoping the internet, I just didn’t have the feel I was getting good information about Big Spirit Lake.  With that in mind, I said to my wife Pam,”It is only a little over 3 hours up there, so let’s go up and check the area out.”  In this fashion, we will find places to stay that cater to fishermen and women.  We like to eat well and at our age, you never know if this will be your last chance at a great meal. So we check out all the places that will give us the opportunity to dine well.  The two most important items are the boat ramps and the fish cleaning stations.  We have put our boat into some places that I thought, good grief, how am I going to get this thing out?  An 18.5 foot Crestliner is not light, and I have one too many scratches and bumps on this boat.

To learn about the town of Spirit Lake, Iowa go to their website.

The first motel we spotted was the Northland Inn, just as we entered the town.  The motel had what we expected, but we needed to check out the rest of the facilities in the town.  Super 8, Ramada, and a couple of private motels were available, but we went back to the Northland to meet the owner. This lady was a peach and a plethora of information.  Yes, our catch of fish could be frozen at the motel.  Yes, they have an area to clean fish.  The next thing she said was, “Would you like to see a room?”  “Of course,” was our answer, and the room was perfect for us and really neat and clean.  I have to admit, that I have taken my wife to some places that I was not pleased with in South Dakota, but this room was excellent.

This is a resort area with Arnold’s Park and Lake Okoboji and the lady had many suggestions of basic to fine dining.  We now had our place to stay. A place to clean and freeze fish.  She suggested just to drop the boat on the grass in the front of the motel.  We could use our truck to get around and not have the problem of parking a trailer in a tight parking area of the eating establishments.

Next we scouted out a couple of bait stores and took a drive around the lake.  The people at the bait stores were very informative as they always are.  They want us to catch fish and buy bait. This lake is really big and based on the reports, is an excellent fishery.  We scouted it out in its entirety.  The lake is almost entirely surrounded by private housing and many of the areas are private.  Therefore, you cannot enter by car to check out the banks.  No need to do that as there are some excellent maps which the state of Iowa has supplied to obtain information about the lake.  At the south end of the lake is a state fish hatchery.  We did not stop to visit, but the next time up we will make it a must item on our list.  Walleye is stocked into the lake.

This photo of Spirit Lake is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

The boat ramp and parking area is excellent and totally out of the wind.  That is nice as I like to get my boat on straight.  We did not find one fish cleaning station, however the motel will supply that item.  There are two things that concern us right now.  We think the lake is heavily fished and we might not have great success just due to the pressure.  There is a slot.  You must throw back live all walleye caught that are between 17 and 22 inches. The daily limit is 3 per license, and you can keep one fish over 22 inches.  I will take all the sixteen inch fish I can catch, and if I caught one 22 inches long, that would be a bonus.  Their requirements on the lake tell me the state is going to manage this fine fishery to give everyone good fishing.

The lake also has a good mix of other very eatable fish.  Perch, small mouth bass, and northern are also in the lake.  For a bonus you have the fish of 1000 casts, the musky.  We will take all the northern pike that are of decent size and filleted out with the Y bones removed.  They are excellent eating.  If we get a good break in the weather, and Pam and I will take a trip and try it out.

 

Click on the link to see how to take out the Y bones

This is the entrance to the boat ramp and if you go straight ahead you will be on private property.  Don’t do that. 

Good ramp and out of the wind.  Ample parking behind me.  

Here is the slot for walleyes.  Look at that musky requirement.  I want to catch a 40 inch musky just once. 

 

I marked on the map areas recommended by the bait shop to hammer the big fish.  I did not mark the east side north of the bay and there is a stand of cabbage weed.  That probably is a good place for the fish of 1000 casts, the Musky.  I am sure there are plenty of northern pike in the cabbage weed.  

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Beautiful Morning on Lake Manawa

My wife feeds Hummingbirds and with fall approaching they are feeding heavily.  Fun to watch. 

Lake Manawa, an old oxbow lake, was an outstanding fishery when I was a boy and fished with my dad.  There were no outboard motors to push us around the lake so he would rent a wooden row boat from Campbell’s Marina and we would row or I would row the boat all over the lake.  It was work! Then my parents joined the Council Bluffs Fish and Game Club and they had aluminum boats.  We still rowed, but it was a lot easier than the old wooden boats.  What was really interesting was we did not wear life preservers and did not know that any existed at the time.  The other interesting item is that the boats would sink if they filled up with water.  There was no flotation built into the boats.

Later when I carried papers, I was able to save up enough money and bought a used 7.5 horse Scott at Water outboard motor.  It was a two cycle and the gas/oil mixture was built into the top of the motor.  For a 12 year old boy, I was in hog heaven just having that motor to push us around the lake.  We still did not have any life jackets and there was no regulation that required us to do so.

Where is all this going?  The lake silted in and over the years became more of a speed boat and recreational boating lake.  I always visited with the Park Rangers at sport shows and asked about the fishing.  It slowly came back and the boundary areas were generously made into no wake sections, but it was still shallow not being much over 6 feet deep with a few deeper holes.

Walleye were stocked in the lake and there were reports of catching them on the west side of the lake.  Some had luck, but most had little or no action.  Then came the big announcement.  The lake was to be dredged.  There is a God!  Everyone I knew hoped the whole lake or at least the west side would be dug deeper.

The dredge material was to be used by the Iowa Department of Transportation as fill where they were building highways and other structures needing fill dirt.  As the dredging took place, it was noticed that the dredge was in one general area and not moving around the lake.  The spot was on the point sticking out into the lake.  Material was taken out of that area and it made a big hole in the lake bottom.

When I talked with the Park Ranger one afternoon, he said to fish that hole as he knew of people that had picked up some nice fish.

Pam and I loaded up one morning and went out to find the hole.  The state has provided the fishermen and boaters with three really good boat ramps with good docks and ramps.  At my age, I will no longer struggle to get an 18.6 inch boat off a trailer and get it back on again.  We used the boat ramp on the west side of the lake.

Good dock with side rail padding  so you don’t bang your boat and a good concrete ramp with a gradual drop into about four feet of water.  
Pam is in charge of the boat.  Please note over Pam’s left shoulder in the background are restroom facilities provided by the state of Iowa.  This is one of those modern no flush toilets. 
You drive under the road to the main body of the lake.   The water here was about 3 to 4 feet deep and I kept the motor tilted up.  Closer to the tube the water went down to 2 feet, but once inside the tube it went down to 4 and to 5 on the outside.  If you use this boat ramp, just beware there is shallow water getting out of the bay right before the tube.  

Once onto the main body of the lake we headed over to the point sticking out into the lake.  This was the general area where the dredge was located.

Two years ago this was the location where the dredge was located.  It is not hard to find.  They pulled up the material all around the front of this peninsula and ran pipes on the bottom of the lake pumping water and material to an area south of the lake. 
That piece of equipment was anchored and pumped the material from the dredge through a series of pipes to the dirt pile south of the lake.  

Moving slowly we watched the graph and Wow! It went from 5 feet of water right down to 10 feet and gradually deeper. It was a vertical drop so this was the place.  Instantly, after clearing the drop off we started graphing fish in 8 to 10 feet of water.  The deeper we went the more fish we graphed.  The picture below shows a good place to start.  It is a no wake buoy just off the tip of the peninsula.

I am looking straight west and the buoy is in the background.  Notice the large white house off to one side.  If you see the buoy and the house you are in the right place.  Start fishing right at the buoy.  On the shore there is a large log about 6 foot long.  When you see the log you will be in 14 feet of water and will be about 10 yards from the shore.  
The water was greenish brown so I used a spinner with a crawler (we used to call them worms) and dropped it down to the bottom and pulled it up a foot or so, The spinner had a little brownish color on it moving to chartreuse.  It does not take long to make it across the hole.  You will know it when you reach the other side as the water goes up to about 5 to 6 feet. 
The buoy is on the east side of the hole and when you reach that spot you will run out of deep water.  

We worked the hole first with the multicolored spinner back and forth a few times and switched to a chartreuse spinner with crawler.  Each of us had a couple of smacks, but nothing took hold.  We then added bottom bouncers to make sure the bait was well down to the bottom and worked that setup.  We got nothing.

Next we switched to one of my favorite lures, the Berkley Flicker Shad.  This lure is better known as the “Finger Shad” by my wife and I. The reason for renaming it to the Finger Shad is because its many little hooks tend to hook fingers easily.  We have learned from experience! We tried to move closer to the edge of the hole and circled around allowing the lure to do its magic.  Nothing.

By now the sun was up high and it was time for lunch, and we folded our tent.

Heading back into the tube under the road.

Inside the tube.

There is a large dead tree close to the tip of the peninsula and at the top was an eagle.   Sorry this picture is so bad, but we took it with our I-phone and there was a lot of distance.  We forgot to take our good camera that would have brought it in really close.   The I-phone just doesn’t do well with distances.  
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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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Beautiful Morning on Lake Manawa

My wife feeds Hummingbirds and with fall approaching they are feeding heavily.  Fun to watch. 

 

Lake Manawa, an old oxbow lake, was an outstanding fishery when I was a boy and fished with my dad.  There were no outboard motors to push us around the lake so he would rent a wooden row boat from Campbell’s Marina and we would row or I would row the boat all over the lake.  It was work! Then my parents joined the Council Bluffs Fish and Game Club and they had aluminum boats.  We still rowed, but it was a lot easier than the old wooden boats.  What was really interesting was we did not wear life preservers and did not know that any existed at the time.  The other interesting item is that the boats would sink if they filled up with water.  There was no flotation built into the boats.

Later when I carried papers, I was able to save up enough money and bought a used 7.5 horse Scott at Water outboard motor.  It was a two cycle and the gas/oil mixture was built into the top of the motor.  For a 12 year old boy, I was in hog heaven just having that motor to push us around the lake.  We still did not have any life jackets and there was no regulation that required us to do so.

Where is all this going?  The lake silted in and over the years became more of a speed boat and recreational boating lake.  I always visited with the Park Rangers at sport shows and asked about the fishing.  It slowly came back and the boundary areas were generously made into no wake sections, but it was still shallow not being much over 6 feet deep with a few deeper holes.

Walleye were stocked in the lake and there were reports of catching them on the west side of the lake.  Some had luck, but most had little or no action.  Then came the big announcement.  The lake was to be dredged.  There is a God!  Everyone I knew hoped the whole lake or at least the west side would be dug deeper.

The dredge material was to be used by the Iowa Department of Transportation as fill where they were building highways and other structures needing fill dirt.  As the dredging took place, it was noticed that the dredge was in one general area and not moving around the lake.  The spot was on the point sticking out into the lake.  Material was taken out of that area and it made a big hole in the lake bottom.

When I talked with the Park Ranger one afternoon, he said to fish that hole as he knew of people that had picked up some nice fish.

Pam and I loaded up one morning and went out to find the hole.  The state has provided the fishermen and boaters with three really good boat ramps with good docks and ramps.  At my age, I will no longer struggle to get an 18.6 inch boat off a trailer and get it back on again.  We used the boat ramp on the west side of the lake.

Good dock with side rail padding  so you don’t bang your boat and a good concrete ramp with a gradual drop into about four feet of water.  

 

Pam is in charge of the boat.  Please note over Pam’s left shoulder in the background are restroom facilities provided by the state of Iowa.  This is one of those modern no flush toilets. 

 

You drive under the road to the main body of the lake.   The water here was about 3 to 4 feet deep and I kept the motor tilted up.  Closer to the tube the water went down to 2 feet, but once inside the tube it went down to 4 and to 5 on the outside.  If you use this boat ramp, just beware there is shallow water getting out of the bay right before the tube.  

 

Once onto the main body of the lake we headed over to the point sticking out into the lake.  This was the general area where the dredge was located.

Two years ago this was the location where the dredge was located.  It is not hard to find.  They pulled up the material all around the front of this peninsula and ran pipes on the bottom of the lake pumping water and material to an area south of the lake. 

That piece of equipment was anchored and pumped the material from the dredge through a series of pipes to the dirt pile south of the lake.  

 

Moving slowly we watched the graph and Wow! It went from 5 feet of water right down to 10 feet and gradually deeper. It was a vertical drop so this was the place.  Instantly, after clearing the drop off we started graphing fish in 8 to 10 feet of water.  The deeper we went the more fish we graphed.  The picture below shows a good place to start.  It is a no wake buoy just off the tip of the peninsula.

I am looking straight west and the buoy is in the background.  Notice the large white house off to one side.  If you see the buoy and the house you are in the right place.  Start fishing right at the buoy.  On the shore there is a large log about 6 foot long.  When you see the log you will be in 14 feet of water and will be about 10 yards from the shore.  

The water was greenish brown so I used a spinner with a crawler (we used to call them worms) and dropped it down to the bottom and pulled it up a foot or so, The spinner had a little brownish color on it moving to chartreuse.  It does not take long to make it across the hole.  You will know it when you reach the other side as the water goes up to about 5 to 6 feet. 

The buoy is on the east side of the hole and when you reach that spot you will run out of deep water.  

 

We worked the hole first with the multicolored spinner back and forth a few times and switched to a chartreuse spinner with crawler.  Each of us had a couple of smacks, but nothing took hold.  We then added bottom bouncers to make sure the bait was well down to the bottom and worked that setup.  We got nothing.

Next we switched to one of my favorite lures, the Berkley Flicker Shad.  This lure is better known as the “Finger Shad” by my wife and I. The reason for renaming it to the Finger Shad is because its many little hooks tend to hook fingers easily.  We have learned from experience! We tried to move closer to the edge of the hole and circled around allowing the lure to do its magic.  Nothing.

By now the sun was up high and it was time for lunch, and we folded our tent.

Heading back into the tube under the road.

Inside the tube.

There is a large dead tree close to the tip of the peninsula and at the top was an eagle.   Sorry this picture is so bad, but we took it with our I-phone and there was a lot of distance.  We forgot to take our good camera that would have brought it in really close.   The I-phone just doesn’t do well with distances.  

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Click on the banner and buy my book, “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”

 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank