Outdoor Report: More Deer Hunting Opportunities | Environment
The nine-day gun deer season and the muzzleloader season have closed for 2012, but opportunities remain to harvest a deer, and fill the freezer for the holidays.
The late archery season is underway and continues until Jan. 6, 2013. There is also a statewide antlerless hunt beginning today, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 9, and a holiday hunt in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zones of south central Wisconsin, which starts Dec. 24 and runs until Jan. 6, 2013.
With weekend snow in the forecast, hunting conditions are expected to improve for the antlerless deer hunt, and hopefully, enough snow for snowmobile trail grooming to also begin. State park and forest properties have also cleared ski trails and are prepared to begin grooming ski trails as soon as adequate snow arrives.
Please note all hunters – with the exception of waterfowl hunters -- are required to wear blaze orange through Dec. 9, and waterfowl hunters are encouraged to wear blaze orange when travelling to and from blinds.
Cold weather sent a large number of diving ducks – scaup, bufflehead, golden eye, red head and canvasback – south, but when warm weather moved in, many slowed their migrations and hunters reported mixed success before hunting in the southern zone ended last weekend.
The first ice has come and gone, frustrating many ice fishermen, but with cooler weather predicted, conditions should be improving, depending on location in a week or two. Be cautious when you head out with your auger, the early ice will be uneven and potentially unsafe.
Perch are still biting on minnows in Oconto County, and also in Brown County both from shore and by boat on the Oconto River at the Oconto Boat Landing.
Crappies and walleyes are still being caught in good numbers on the Wolf River in Waupaca County with live bait being the best bet. Crappie anglers also reported good success in Kenosha and Dodge counties.
Brown trout fishing in Milwaukee remains hot with many browns and a few Lake Trout being caught on the lake and in the inner harbor. Most methods have been producing results with the best being short lead cores in 2-4 colors and stick baits or crankbaits fished off of planer boards, crankbaits fished off of downriggers has been equally productive.
There is exceptional eagle watching along in Grant County at Mississippi River Pool #11. Eagles may be sighted from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service landings at Far Nuff and Lynn Hollow.
Large numbers of migrating Canada geese have been seen resting on the Oconto River between Oconto and Stiles in Oconto County. Most inland bodies of water are still ice free or have very thin ice.
On Lake Superior along Ashland County, swans and other waterfowl remain on the big lake’s open water. And a northern shrike was spotted in Waupaca County this week.
Ashland County - The muzzleloader season began last weekend and weather conditions have been okay for hunting with snow cover being found across the Ashland area. Ice fishing on some smaller inland lakes has started with ice conditions being iffy at best. Swans and other waterfowl still are holding out on the open waters of Lake Superior.
- Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Sawyer County - There were a few people ice fishing on smaller lakes and bays last weekend, but that ended during the week when warmed weather moved in. Many are talking about going out this weekend if ice conditions improve. Caution is advised when venturing out on ice, which may vary in thickness from one place to another. And never go out alone.
Very few individuals were seen hunting during the muzzle loading season and there seemed to be even less interest in the four-day antlerless season. Those harvesting deer during the muzzle loading season had better luck finding natural food sources such as acorn crops versus hunting over artificially baited areas. Same should hold true for the antlerless hunt for those that are still trying to harvest deer.
The dusting of snow melted during the week. First ice beaver trappers had to pull their traps at the start of the week because of the warm weather and rain. Temperatures this week should put the under ice beaver trappers back on track this weekend or early next week.
- Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter
Burnett County - The mild damp weather of recent days has melted all the snow which has made wildlife viewing more difficult, but there is snow in the forecast. Ice conditions vary across the county and have diminished with the warmer weather. Use caution when traveling on any frozen lakes. There are still many good days of grouse and pheasant hunting with good numbers of birds in the area.
- Christopher Spaight, conservation warden, Grantsburg
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the end of the musky fishing season on Nov. 30, the open-water fishing season has basically come to an end in the Park Falls area. Many of the medium-size lakes in the area saw the start of ice cover last week, but the recent mild weather has caused much of that ice to weaken or disappear. Ice depths had reached 2-3 inches on some of the lakes and the first ice fishermen of the season were starting to venture out, but the ice had greatly weakened with the warm temperatures over this past weekend. Colder nighttime temperatures during this week should add some thickness to the ice cover, but any “fishable” ice is still a week or more away.
- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls