Wisconsin hunting opportunities move into high gear this coming week with the opening of the archery deer, fall turkey, squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and in some areas, ruffed grouse seasons this Saturday September 14. There is also a two-day youth waterfowl hunt [PDF] Saturday and Sunday, and then the Canada goose season opens on Monday, Sept. 16. Waterfowl hunters should note the duck season does not open until next Saturday, Sept. 21.
While buck deer are being seen that have already shed antler velvet, some are still being seen in velvet, so it is possible that an early archery hunter may shoot a velvet buck. Hunters are being reminded that a special tag issued from a conservation warden is required to retain velvet antlers.
Turkey hunters scouting hunting areas report seeing broods with smaller poults, indicating later brood hatches this past spring.
This past week saw the first good influx of geese from Canadian breeding grounds, but there have not been reports of significant waterfowl flights yet. The early goose season closes this Sunday, and many early season hunters continued to report limited access to hunting areas due to standing crops in fields. Mallard, wood duck, blue-winged and green-winged teal numbers are good on Horicon Marsh, with pintail, shoveler and widgeon numbers on the rise as well.
Hunters heading into the field in west central Wisconsin are being reminded to be extremely careful with fire and any sources of ignition such as hot exhaust systems on vehicles. Fire danger levels in counties from Columbia to St. Croix are high as this area has been experiencing an extended drought.
Musky action has continued to be fairly consistent in the Northwoods with a few larger fish showing up and walleye activity is finally slowly improving, with cooler water temperatures beginning to move fish toward shallower water. Panfish angling has been fair, with one angler bringing in a 12.4-inch, 2.3 pound bluegill that was just short of the 2-pound, 9.8-ounce Wisconsin record.
Musky stocking is getting underway in Wisconsin this week with first stocking trucks filled with the state’s official fish rolling out from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery east of Woodruff. In all more than 33,000 musky fingerlings 9 to 11 inches long will be stocked in about 200 Wisconsin lakes and rivers this fall.
Lake Michigan trolling activity has begun to slow, but those heading were doing fairly well with chinook and coho, but also a few rainbows and lake trout. Activity at piers and harbors continues to increase as salmon and trout stage offshore prior to spawning runs, with good action at Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Racine and Kenosha, where piers were loaded with anglers and brown trout and large chinook could be seen jumping in the harbor. A few fish were seen in the Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Twin rivers, but water temperatures remain high and flows low so fish have not started moving upstream in large numbers yet.
The fall bird migration is in full swing as a series of cold fronts this week brought major flights of warblers, thrushes, and other songbirds to the state. Birders in the north found more than 20 species of warblers but noted increasing numbers of palm and yellow-rumped warblers, two harbingers of the warbler migration’s end. Now the raptor migration is picking up with sharp-shinned hawks, broad-winged hawks, ospreys, kestrels and other birds of prey moving through the state.
Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources