August departed under the bright light of a Blue Moon. Two full moons in the same month, and we won’t see that again for another 3 years. Now the light of the new moon falls on September, and things change dramatically. Summer months move slowly under the heat; September and the pace of change quickens. In the next 30 days we’ll see a dramatically different Northwoods, as the green of summer gives way to riot of color and as days shorten and cool.
September also brings the big change in outdoors activity, as fishing takes back stage to hunting. Sept. 1 marked the date of two season openings: dove and early goose. Dove hunting is mostly a non-factor here, but the early goose season has legs. Geese, going into this weekend, were scattered, but small flocks are gathering in some areas. As with most game species, find the food and you’ll find the game. Early season geese gravitate toward fields where they can find easy pickings, and if you can narrow down the fields they are using, you can get into geese.
Bear hunting opens soon, but given the relatively small number of permits, it is not a huge factor for the average hunter. But in two weeks grouse and deer (archery) seasons kick off, and those are big deals. Early grouse hunting is hampered by heavy foliage, which makes clear shots rare, and often by summer-like heat that wears on hunters and dogs both. Poor blackberry and apple crops will have birds spread out more as they search for alternate food sources. It’s two weeks away, but we expect a very slow opener for birds.
Deer should be another story. Two mild winters have bumped deer numbers up, and we expect a good increase in the numbers of small bucks (spike and fork horns) as well as overall numbers. A very good acorn crop in most areas will provide a consistent food source that hunters can focus on.
By now any archer who hunts the opener should be well situated in terms of stand location and practice with their bow. While a number of archers do not hunt early, holding back until late October and the pre-rut, the early season can provide some very good opportunities.
Hunting will take an increasingly large amount of attention now, but fishing also is in a transition. The next month will bring some cooler temperatures, and that will spur the two key fish, muskies and walleyes, to feed more aggressively. We’re still taking some fish now as summer fades, but the major push on water will come in the next weeks.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.