Wildlife came into play almost immediately, and not in a good way. We all saw silver carp, the new invasive species that is here to stay, unfortunately, jumping and splashing in the shallow water where we started. Reading Jay Heath's account of these Asian explosions on the Jim River, we all knew they could be dangerous or annoying, but thankfully the four or five we saw at the start were all we saw. Only five minutes into the trip we began to hit bottom with paddles, but we never bottomed out in our craft and the flow seemed strong enough. A bit of rain would truly benefit both the river and the farmers who raise grains in the area.
The fact I had vanilla back at the house made us all regret not using it on our skin before we left as it's rumored to be a deterrent to gnats, and they were thick in many of the spots along the river. Wet muddy tracks of raccoon and deer were plentiful along our paddle as well, and the bug spray-sunscreen product I got from my mom (it's an Avon product) worked well in keeping the gnats and mosquitoes away from my face.
With our heron escort on one bank and the hawk or owl on the other, time passed quickly as we descended the river, and the trees eventually thickened and gave us some shade as we traveled. We surprised a large snapping turtle sunning on a bank and he scrambled towards the shelter of the stream with a large splash. So while the river is brown and muddy, it still appears filled with life. Regional fishing enthusiasts say catfish are abundant on the Vermillion, and the flooding earlier this season may have led some lunkers up from the Missouri, so if you have a license and the inclination, you might add angling to your jaunt on the Vermillion.