Fall colors coming on fast, near peak across much of the state; pheasant, other seasons open this Saturday
Fall colors have come on strong in the last week, with much of the state reporting peak or near peak colors on the the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR), so this weekend may offer some of the best viewing statewide. A large number of fall events are taking place this weekend at state park, forest and recreation properties.
Also this weekend, a large number of hunting seasons open or reopen, so all people out enjoying the fall colors are encouraged to wear brightly colored clothing. State wildlife areas are being stocked with pheasants this week in anticipation of the opening of the pheasant season this Saturday. Hunters are asked to not run dogs in stocked fields before Saturday so that birds don't get flushed off public lands. Also opening are the southern grouse, quail, rabbit, fox, and raccoon seasons and the southern duck and goose seasons reopen.
Archery deer hunters are reporting some good success, especially in southern and central Wisconsin, and buck rubs and scrapes are increasing, indicating rutting activities are picking up. Some young bucks have left their bachelor groups and started to chase does. Southern Farmland Zone deer hunters are also being reminded that there will not be an antlerless-only firearm deer season during the Christmas holiday period in 2015. However, the-13 deer hunting season will be offered statewide in 2015 for all hunters with valid antlerless permits.
Low water levels on Lake Michigan tributaries continue to hamper fall salmon and trout runs. Some chinook and brown trout are being caught in most tributaries but so far fish have not run in huge numbers. Milwaukee River anglers report increased numbers of chinook and browns and chinook and coho salmon and brown trout were all reported in the Sheboygan River. Egg collection is going on at DNR facilities with more than 500,000 eggs collected from chinook salmon at the Root River facility.
On Green Bay, the perch bite is starting to get better for shore anglers at Oconto on the west shore and perch fishing was good at Sawyer Harbor and Little Sturgeon Bay on
Walleye fishing has been picking up on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County and some big panfish have been caught on the backwaters of the Mississippi River.
A cold front came that came through early this week brought lots of migrating birds into the state. Many diving ducks have moved in along the Mississippi River. Canada goose numbers continue to build at Horicon and Theresa marshes. The cold front also produced a good migration of woodcock.
The raptor migration is also continuing with many bald eagles, sharp-shinned hawks, red-tailed hawks, merlins, peregrine falcons and others stopping over in wildlife areas to hunt on their way south.
Sandhill Cranes numbers are at peak at the Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area. An official count will be done within the next week, but a preliminary count off the refuge showed at least 6,500 roosting there each night. Crex is holding guided bicycle and walking hike tours to observe cranes .