Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

Unseasonably warm weather continues, delaying snow and ice recreation; four-day antlerless hunt open through Dec. 12 
The unseasonably warm weather has continued another week. Snow that had fallen has melted, with the exception of a little on the ground in shaded areas of the far north.
Most lakes and rivers through southern and central Wisconsin remain ice free, including the Winnebago system and the Mississippi River. Northern lakes that had frozen have open water areas redeveloping along many shorelines and inlet and outlets. Most early-season anglers that had been out trying their luck have now backed off and are waiting for cold temperatures to re-establish a solid 3 to 4 inches of ice.
While the unseasonably warm weather has ice anglers and snowmobilers contemplating trading their gear for boats and ATVs, it has created opportunities for others. While there's no snow for skiing, trails around the state remain in excellent condition for hiking, and many mountain bike and horse trails remain open. Grouse hunters report still flushing good numbers of birds while hunting in 40-50 degree days with no snow. Turkeys have been very talkative on the roost, including some gobbling. Trappers have easy access to trap lines and are starting to catch a few more furbearers.
The last pheasant stocking of the season is wrapping up but there are still opportunities on many wildlife areas. The southern duck hunting season ended last weekend, but goose hunting is still open and runs through Dec. 16 in the Horicon Zone and through Dec. 21 in the southern Exterior Zone south. Canada geese are still common throughout these areas thanks to the lack of snow and unfrozen conditions. A reminder that any one out hunting anything besides waterfowl still need to wear blaze orange through the end of this weekend.
These conditions should also make it easy for hunters to endure longer hours afield for the four-day antlerless hunt that began Dec. 10 and runs throughSunday, Dec. 14. This hunt is open statewide in counties open to antlerless hunting. Many northern counties are buck only, which means bucks cannot be harvested during this time. The archery and crossbow seasons remain open, but harvest is restricted to antlerless only, including the buck only counties. People can check the DNR website to see where additional antlerless carcass tags are available.
Migrating waterfowl, gulls, and loons are being seen on Lake Michigan. The Mississippi continues to offer tremendous waterfowl viewing opportunities. Most waterfowl are currently adorned in their most striking plumage of the year.
The weather has been good for wildlife and the maintenance of their calorie reserves. Partridge have been seen "budding" in the aspen trees. Deer and elk are eating voraciously packing in the calories for the winter months. With the lack of snow, white ermine have been easier to pick out. Juvenile Coopers hawks and barred owls have been commonly observed in the past few weeks and rough-legged hawks were observed north east of Green Bay.
People interested in cutting their own Christmas trees can obtain permits to cut trees from northern state forests, such as the Brule, Black and Flambeau river forests, and the Northern Highland-American Legion and Governor Knowles. Permits can be obtained from the property headquarters for a nominal fee, typically $5 per tree.