July 3, 2013

Having a field day in the Great Outdoors

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Children always get to do fun things at the Russell Wildlife Area such as fishing, archery, bow fishing and canoeing; however, adults got the chance to do those activities this weekend.

The Mahaska County Conservation Board held its first Outdoor Adventure Day for adults Saturday.

"I want to do this again," MCCB Naturalist Laura De Cook said. "It gives adults a chance to do what the kids get to do."

About 12 adults attended the first Outdoor Adventure Day that ran from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They started the day with some fishing. Then, they went to the archery range, and after lunch, they did some bow fishing and canoeing.

After the participants caught some fish, De Cook gave a demonstration on how to fillet a fish.

"I'll show you how to fillet a bluegill," she said.

“The first rule: Always have a sharp knife," De Cook said. A knife with a thin blade works best for fillets, she added.

De Cook made an incision down the side of the fish behind the head and another cut down its back. She then sawed and pushed the knife down the length of the fish's flank until she reached the tail. Once the flank of the fish was exposed, she ran the knife down the outside part of the fillet to remove the layer containing scales. Then you repeat the procedure for the other side of the fish.

People then could cook, refrigerate or freeze the fish fillet, she said.

De Cook gave the participants some fishing advice: "Always be sure to catch the legal limit."

"This area is public, so you can come back here. You're welcome to hike out here and fish," she said.

The group next went to the archery range to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow.

"This is a really fun activity," De Cook said. "It can be for enjoyment. It can be for competition."

Four of the participants said they had used a bow before. The group used compound bows without sights.

"It's called instinctive shooting," De Cook said of shooting without sights.

De Cook advised the participants to never "dry fire" a bow — pull back and shoot a bow without an arrow — as the energy remains within the bow and it will weaken it and the bow will eventually break.

Two participants came to the Outdoor Adventure Day to learn some outdoor skills for use on their farm.

Randy Bostrom and his wife, Beth, of Oskaloosa, had never used a bow before.

"It was fun," Randy said after he tried his hand at archery.

Beth tried the bow and arrow herself after Randy. Beth received a pleasant surprise — she hit a target balloon with her second arrow.

"I was very surprised," she said.

Beth said they had just built a pond on their property and they want to stock it with fish and do some fishing.

The couple enjoyed themselves at the Outdoor Adventure Day.

"I think we're going to get some sports-related items," Beth said.

De Cook said she'd like to expand the Outdoor Field Day with more activities, do some cooking with a Dutch oven or cook wild game, and do an over-night campout.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com