We are, as of this weekend, a week away from some major hunt season events. Sept. 15 marks the date. Archery alone is notable, but that season opens the same morning as grouse, and the weekend also highlights the Youth Waterfowl Hunt. By this time next week mid-September will be here in all its glory, and with it fall hunting, the time of the year that many northern sports wait for as a kid waits for Christmas!
Where do we start? Deer? Numbers are rising after some mild winters, and a very good acorn crop will draw deer to oak stands. We’d think runways leading to oak ridges would be a good place to set up. Acorns have been scarce the past few years, but deer always find them, and will travel some distance when they do. Other than that, deer will remain scattered; there is a lot of food to be found, and until a hard frost thins some greenery, they can find food in a lot of areas. But acorns will often be the key, and we think early season will revolve around oaks this year.
Early season grouse cover can best be described two ways: Thick. And really thick. Which makes for tough shooting, as grouse are more often heard but rarely seen. But an occasional bird, young and dumb, will fly in the open areas, and are vulnerable when they do. So grouse hunting is not the worst way to spend some time on a September morning. Grouse numbers are on the downward trend from a peak a few years ago, but with a good hatch this spring, we think there will be enough birds to keep things interesting.
The Youth Waterfowl Season always brings a lot of young hunters out, and this year will likely be no exception. We think ducks will be scattered this season, as wild rice is spotty and lowering water levels make some traditional spots too dry. But that first weekend, whether youth season or regular a week later, is always worth going out.
Turkey season also starts on Sept. 15, but it is nowhere near as big a deal as in the spring. Add the ongoing dove hunt and fishing, and mid September is a hot time for outdoors fans!
And don’t forget the Youth Outdoor Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 22. This is a great event designed to introduce area kids to outdoor sports. It runs all day (9 a.m. til 4 p.m.) and presents classes and workshops. It’s open to youth in 4th through 8th grade, and pre-registration is required by Sept. 17. Check the DNR office or area sports shops for details and registration forms.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.