A preliminary tally indicates hunters registered 243,739 deer during Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season, up 7.7 percent from 2011. The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 114, 822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer. This compared to 2011 preliminary harvest figures of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless, for a 12 percent and 4 percent increase respectively.
There are additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin after the close of the nine-day season. The muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 5. The late archery season is also underway and continues until Jan. 6, 2013. There is also a statewide antlerless hunt Dec. 6-9, 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. As a reminder, all hunters, except 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.
Due to the past week of cold weather, a large number of diving ducks – scaup, bufflehead, golden eye, red head and canvasback have moved into the lower areas of Mississippi River pool 11 and along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Many deer hunters also reported seeing lots of pheasants and turkeys, and with the relatively mild weather, hunting opportunities have been very good for both. The last of the pheasant releases will be taking place on state properties over the next week or two.
Skim ice has formed on many ponds and lakes in the north, with some areas reporting an inch or more of ice, but conservation wardens are reporting that there is no safe ice for ice fishing at this time, and with warm weather in the forecast for the weekend, what ice is there could get thinner or melt completely.
Some anglers continue to fish along Lake Michigan, with some success reported for brown trout and perch at Milwaukee, but action generally slow. Some walleyes were being caught on the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin and a few anglers reported catching sauger near lock and dam 11 on the Mississippi River.
A Thanksgiving snowstorm dumped up to 12 inches of snow in areas of Ashland and Bayfield counties, but it was a light snow that compressed. Snow depths as of Thursday ranged from an inch or two to 6 to 8 inches across the northern portion of the state, with the heaviest amounts along the Lake Superior snowbelt. Snowmobilers are reminded that trails are not open until county snowmobile coordinators open them, and using trails before they are open is trespass and could result in the loss of important trail easements.
There continues to be an influx of winter finches from boreal Canada. Evening grosbeaks and Bohemian waxwings are visiting feeders and fruit trees, all the way south to the Illinois state line. Common redpolls as well as both white-winged and red crossbills also are being seeing statewide. Pine grosbeaks have invaded the Northwoods in large numbers and have trickled as far south as La Crosse and Milwaukee
Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources