Wisconsin White-tailed Deer Rut Underway Across the State
Reports from across the state indicate the white-tailed deer rut is underway with a surge in scrapes and rubs that bucks use to mark territory, and bucks being seen in active pursuit of does. Archers are reporting some very good success with larger bucks now on the move. Deer movement has been going on day and night and vehicle deer collisions are on the rise. Motorists need to be alert for deer suddenly entering roadways and remember if one deer crosses there is likely another deer in pursuit.
Cold fronts in the last week have brought increasing numbers of Canada geese into the state. Waterfowl hunters along the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan are reporting increasing numbers of diving ducks including bluebills, redheads, and canvasbacks.
Pheasant hunters are enjoying an abundance of birds on state wildlife areas, with stocking up from 2012. Birds will continue to be released throughout the month of November. Grouse hunters are reporting a few birds but in general the population does seem to be on the lower end of its cycle, though some areas are reporting decent woodcock numbers.
The wolf harvest has reached 181 animals as of October 31 and the season has now been closed in three harvesting zones [PDF], the two most northern zones and the central forest zone. Raccoon trappers are also reporting increased success this season.
With all the hunting activity and colder weather, fishing activity has slowed in many areas, but hardcore musky anglers are still reporting decent success on northern lakes, where some good walleye action has also been reported. Some bluegill action was reported on pools of the Mississippi River. Skim ice has been seen in the mornings on the backwaters of the Mississippi as well as on small Northwoods ponds.
Fishing pressure has dropped off on Green Bay but there were some perch being caught in the Sturgeon Bay area. Lake Michigan tributaries are still producing some salmon and trout, but the fall runs appear to be subsiding.
Sandhill crane numbers continue to build as traditional hotspots like Crex Meadows in Burnett County and along the Lower Wisconsin River. Large roosts of blackbirds numbering up to 50,000 are being seen in the south. Tundra swans made their first push into the state this week. The red-tailed hawk migration is just passed peak, while bald eagle numbers are on the rise and golden eagles and rough-legged hawks have moved in from their arctic nesting grounds.
Fall colors (exit DNR) are now past peak across most of the state, but there are still counties in southern and central Wisconsin reporting peak colors. The northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest reports colors past peak, but the southern unit reports improved colors for this coming weekend. Some of the best colors across the state now are coming from Wisconsin’s only deciduous conifer, the tamarack. This unique tree found in swamps, bogs, and wet lowlands and its needles turn bright golden color before dropping.
And another sure siga n that winter is approaching, most state parks have now closed campground shower and flush toilet facilities and the three tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail will be closing for the season next week.