We are four weeks away from deer gun season and if that isn’t enough to tell you that things are changing fast, we don’t know what it will take! In that span of weeks we will typically see the best days of the year for archers; we’ll see major influxes of waterfowl and woodcock; we’ll have the best conditions for upland hunting; and, not to leave out the anglers, we’ll see muskies and walleyes in their prime. All in four weeks.
Bucks are beginning to feel the heat. Rubs and scrapes will become the norm across the region in the next weeks. We have seen both in the past 10 days; we expect to see a lot more in the next 10. Every archer lives for the days of the rut and we are within two weeks of that. But pre-rut is a very good time and now is the time to work scents, mock scrapes and rattling antlers. It may be on the early edge time wise, but we always hear of success in the next week or two.
Upland hunters are into the best time of the season. Leaves are down for the most part and everyone has a much better chance for a clear shot than a week ago. Grouse will start to move for clover and the like as nights bring frost that kills off other food sources. And woodcock are into their migration now, although with all migrants, where they gather and when is variable. Woodcock can blow in one day and move out the next.
As can waterfowl. The next weeks can bring very good hunting as large numbers of northern ducks hit the flyways. Weather, as always, is the key but on a good day we will see large flocks of migrating ducks move into the area, looking for food and a place to rest. The past week has been a mix of late early season ducks (woodies and teal) mixed with redheads, bluebills and ringnecks. We are getting some pretty good reports from waterfowlers.
Anglers are fighting the cold and wind in hopes of landing a trophy musky or walleye. There are no secrets now; big lures and large live bait offerings are what it takes. Keep all retrieves slow; fish do not chase aggressively as the water cools. Walleyes are beginning to spread out from deeper water and sometimes can be found in shallows, chasing bait. Muskies will do the same and it is often an error to overlook shallow water that holds prey fish.
Rifle hunters had best begin preparation. Stands need to be worked on, rifles sighted in (never, ever assume that they are ready to go), and gear needs to be readied. That season is only weeks away now and those weeks will fly by.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.