The first day of fall officially arrives this Sunday with the autumnal equinox, and outdoor conditions are pretty much in line, with some areas of the north starting to report good fall colors arriving, migrant Canada geese are moving into the state, and white-tail bucks have begun rubbing trees.
Conservation wardens and wildlife staff from around the state reported an unusually high number of bucks brought in on the opening weekend of the archery deer season with antlers still in velvet and they are reminding hunters that they must get a permit from a warden to keep velvet antlers. Archers reported seeing good numbers of deer with some very good success harvesting deer opening weekend.
Oak tree have produced a heavy acorn crop this year so turkeys, deer, and bear have been feeding heavily on the fall crop. Some bear hunters report it has been difficult to attract bear to baits due to the heavy mast crop this year.
The recent cold spell has pushed down some Canada geese and more and more agricultural fields are being harvested offering some good hunting opportunities. This past weekend’s youth waterfowl hunt proved successful for many youths with wood ducks prevalent this year in many areas.
This coming weekend’s duck opener should provide large water fowl numbers for the hunters. Many of the birds will still be in eclipse plumage so hunters will have to brush up on their identification skills. Several concentrations and morning flights of wood ducks and teal have been seen along the Mississippi River, with a few scattered mallards also observed. Water levels remain very low, and for the opening weekend, Mississippi River duck hunters will find large expanses of water lilies and other emergent plants that harbor ducks and hinder their retrieval.
Ample late summer rains have extended the paddling season on some popular rivers, including the lower Flambeau, Pine and Brule, providing opportunity for lovely and rare autumn river runs. However, the lower Wisconsin River continues to be very low with many exposed sandbars.
Musky continue to provide the most consistent action in the Northwoods and most musky anglers have been reporting a lot of follows and sightings, with quite a few hook-ups and catches as well. Walleye fishing continues to improve and more anglers are starting to target this species.
Lake Michigan tributary fall salmon and trout runs have still not kicked into high gear. Some fish were seen in the Manitowoc, Twin, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers but not in high numbers. Strong winds and high waves have kept many trollers off the lake and most who did venture out stayed near harbors, with some success. Shore and pier angler numbers have been high with some success for chinook salmon and brown trout.
While many think that spring time is when you see newly hatched turtles some species, such wood turtle, are making their appearance now. It takes these Wisconsin threatened turtles 10 to 12 years to reproduce so please “give them a break” if you see these youngsters crossing the roads.
Recent cold fronts and northwest winds have migration humming across most of the state. In the north observers have noted good flights of broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks along with turkey vulture flights. Warblers and other Neotropical migrants are now past peak, but orange-crowned, palm and yellow-rumped warblers are still being seen.