The white-tailed deer rut is continuing in full swing across much of the state, with bucks chasing does during the daytime and lots of scrapes and rubs still being found, but some areas report deer activity is beginning to slow, with bucks locked down with does.
Archers have been out in very strong numbers and continue to report some very good success. Good numbers of pheasant hunters have also been out and are also reporting success on stocked wildlife areas. Although blaze orange clothing isn’t required when gun deer seasons are not open, conservation wardens say with the large numbers of hunters in the field, wearing blaze orange while pheasant hunting greatly increases hunter safety.
Leaf drop is now progressing rapidly in southern Wisconsin, with oaks beginning to drop leaves in the last week. With leaves off the trees, grouse hunters are reporting improved success.
Visitors to Wisconsin state park properties are reminded that many properties will open to hunting and trapping on November 15. Maps showing areas open and closed to hunting are available on the DNR website and posted at all properties. All park visitors are encouraged to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing during the hunting seasons, which remain open in parks through December 15 for firearms and through January 5 for archery. For a list of open properties, maps and more information search the DNR website for “hunting state parks.”
The cold weather of the last week has caused a lot of puddle ducks to move south, while bringing in increasing numbers of diving ducks. Strong north winds in the last week increased Canada goose and tundra swan migrations.
With all the hunting activity and colder temperatures, fishing activity has slowed and the open water fishing season is coming to an end in the Northwoods, with ice beginning to form along shorelines of larger lakes, but it will still be at least a couple of weeks before there is any safe ice for ice fishing. A few musky anglers are still out, but without much success. Some crappies and perch were being caught on the Oconto River. In the south, walleye continue to be caught on Lake Wisconsin and the Rock River. Coho and chinook salmon and some rainbow and brown trout continue to be caught on Lake Michigan tributaries, especially the Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers.
With the opening of the nine-day gun deer season rapidly approaching, hunters should make sure firearms are properly sighted in and that hunting gear is order. Search the DNR website for “shooting ranges” to find a map of public ranges. Hunters can also get pre-season questions answered by joining any of three live online chats. They all begin at noon: on Tuesday, Nov. 19, what to expect for the season; on Wednesday, Nov. 20, on hunting land accessible to the public; and on Thursday, Nov. 21 on safety and regulations. To join: search “ask the experts” on the DNR website.