Whitetail bucks entering rutting period; recent rains may draw trout and salmon up Lake Michigan tributaries
Fall colors are now past peak across much of the state, but some good colors still remain in the southern and central portions of the state on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR). High winds and rain this week have brought down many leaves in the northern half of the state, greatly improving sight conditions for grouse, woodcock and archery deer hunters.
Dropping temperatures have also been a relief to the archers and turkey and waterfowl hunters who are headed out to the fields and forests. Many areas of the state are now reporting whitetail bucks are moving into the pursuit stage of the rut. While bucks are busy seeking and chasing after does, most actual breeding activity doesn't take place until early to mid-November.
Pheasant hunters are having good success on state wildlife areas. Wild turkeys are being found in harvested soybean and corn fields, and areas adjacent to them and hunters are reporting woodcock in lowland forests. The woodcock season closes on. Waterfowl hunting has been in a bit of a lull as many local birds have pushed out, and hunters are waiting for cold weather and north winds to push in new birds.
The windy, cool and wet weather seemed to limit the fishing activity in the Northwoods in the last week. Water temperatures have been holding in the upper-40s and musky anglers have continued to provide most of the fishing pressure. Success has been inconsistent and with active musky being a bit tough to come by. There recent surge in crappie action has continued with a couple reports of some decent catches. Walleye fishing continues to be generally slow with only a few reports of catches being made.
This week's rain should help increase flows on Lake Michigan tributaries and draw fresh coho and brown trout upstream. There are still some reports of chinook but the run continues to slow and angling pressure has tapered off. There were some reports of chinook caught on the Kewaunee, Ahnapee, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers. Fishing pressure has also slowed on Green Bay, but some limits of perch continued to be reported at Sawyer Harbor, and musky were being caught in the lower bay and the Fox River.
The latest Horicon Marsh refuge count conducted October 22 tallied 134,000 birds of different species, including Canada geese, mallards and pintails.
The snowy owl irruption continues in Wisconsin, with more than 50 snowies documented in the state since October 15, marking the third consecutive year and fourth in the last five that we've hosted the birds in numbers far above average. Many of these appear to be young owls hatched this past summer. Unfortunately, some have arrived in poor health, exhausted or emaciated from the long journey south into unfamiliar territory. Observers are asked to give all owls plenty of space, avoid approaching or flushing them and contact a wildlife rehabilitator with concerns of a sick or injured bird.