In a season generally dominated by fishing, hunting makes an appearance this weekend with the two-day Youth Turkey Hunt. April 7 and 8 mark the dates for the junior hunters, followed by the regular season starting next Wednesday, April 11. As in past years, there will be a total of six hunting periods. “But wait!” as the TV ads go, “There’s more!” This year each hunting period will run for 7 days versus the “old” time frame of 5 days.
Whether or not this will have a significant impact on success remains to be seen. Still, any hunters will have the luxury of two more days, which can ease the pressure of having to hit things long and hard for five straight.
We’re hearing some reports of turkey gobbling, but not as much as normal. The early warm weather of March will have some impact on where birds are located, as vegetation is ahead of schedule, which will determine where they feed. The key tactic early season will still be to hunt over decoys and rely on calling. After the first few days, most hunters will have an idea of where birds are in their given area, and be able to change locations and tactics should the birds dictate that. We do expect that the mild winter should have left the flock in pretty good shape.
Fishing remains slow, and honestly that is the way it usually is. Panfish can be active just after ice out, but a lot of anglers are now waiting for the walleye opener, now some weeks off. It’s early to speculate on that, given that April weather will have some impact, but it’s a safe bet that all spawning activity will have been advanced by several weeks. For now it’s a wait and see game.
This time of the year usually represents a slow time for outdoor activity. Warming water will draw paddlers out, and cyclists are enjoying the warm weather. Bird watchers are seeing a hasty northern migration as birds that often linger are going through in a hurry this year.
For now it’s a matter of scouting turkey locations, making ready tackle and boats, and getting spring yard work done to free up time, when true spring weather arrives and fishing season is open, days are longer and evenings more pleasant.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.