Fall weather best described as “balmy and beautiful” dominated the Northwoods the past week or so, but this weekend looks to end all that. On Wednesday, temperatures hit 70 and one has to wonder if that’s the last we’ll see of that for a while. It was a good day for kayaking, bike riding and bird hunting, but if the forecast holds true, this weekend will be a different story entirely. Cold, blustery and snowy best sums up the call and that’s not a real pleasant combination.
But it’s what we’ll have and life goes on regardless. There are hunting and fishing seasons open regardless of the weather and in a few months those 30 degree temps will be positively wonderful.
This weekend features the two-day youth deer hunt and if you’re planning on being outdoors this weekend, you need to be aware of it. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7, young hunters can take to the woods with firearms to hunt deer. They must obey all rules of the November deer hunt. But what may be less known is that other hunters, specifically upland bird hunters and archers, need to wear blaze orange while hunting on those two days. Check the regs for details. Waterfowl hunters are exempt from the blaze requirement.
We always encourage anyone in the woods during a firearm season to wear some blaze or similar high visibility clothing. You simply need to exercise some caution, and this is not to disparage the young hunters who, on average, have an exemplary history of safe hunting. No, this is simply to acknowledge that a rifle can shoot a long distance and in the woods that still will have leaf cover, it’s better to be safe whether hunting or bicycling or hiking. Wear some blaze if you’re out this weekend. ‘Nuff said.
The cold, blustery weather should shake things up on all fronts. Upland hunters who have had very thick leaf cover thus far will benefit from some wind, rain or snow. Any of those three will bring down a lot of leaves. Even this week we saw some significant leaf fall and many leaves are hanging on by just a thread. They’ll come down this weekend, leaving much better shooting opportunities for grouse and woodcock hunters.
Grouse and woodcock have been scattered thus far. Grouse seem to have good numbers in certain areas, but very low populations in others. Woodcock, being migratory, drift into a woodlot, linger for a few days and then ride a wind southward. We should see some more come down this week.
Deer hunters are experiencing slow hunting, for the most part. This is not unusual as October often brings a lull after some good hunting in September. Deer are still moving, but a lot of hunters are waiting for signs of early rut before they get serious.
Fishing continues and from here on out the weather rules the waters. October is the time when big fish, walleyes and muskies, start to feed heavily in preparation for winter. This can be the time to boat a trophy. It can also be the time to be about as miserable in a boat as is possible. Cold, windy weather can be good for fishing, but you’d best dress for it; it can be very cold.
We expect most anglers to go to larger minnows (for walleyes) and larger jerk baits, suckers and the like for muskies. Big fish want a big meal this time of the year.
The expected cold this weekend will signal an end to the summer/early fall season. From now on, as days shorten and cold weather becomes more the norm, we’ll see changes every week.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.