Everywhere we go there are three questions that are asked. The first is; will the ice be off our Northern Wisconsin lakes by opening day, May 3? The next question is how long will Wisconsin anglers have to restrict themselves to a bag limit of one walleye per day? Until spearing season is complete that question cannot be answered. Unfortunately a restriction of one walleye per day simply encourages anglers to leave our state to fish.
Finally there are many questions being asked about the 2014 deer hunting regulations. There are numerous changes that will take effect this fall for deer hunters.
Perhaps the change that affects the greatest number of deer hunters is that there will be no antlerless deer tags available in the Northern Forest Zone.
In years past, hunters had to know where boundaries for deer management units were located. Now hunters can substitute county boundaries rather than deer management units.
Another change that has been debated over the recent past years is that, beginning with the deer hunt this fall, anyone who has a cross bow may hunt deer with it. There are no more age restrictions or need for a doctor’s statement that a hunter has a handicap that prevents the hunter from using a compound bow or a recurve bow. This regulation was finally passed after several years of sometimes heated debate.
Bonus buck opportunities will be offered in the Southern Farmland Zone Units only.
When a hunter purchases an archery license for this fall the hunter must specify if a compound bow or a cross-bow will be used. If that hunter has a tag for a compound bow and wants to change his or her mind mid-way through the season a $3 license will have to be purchased. The same would apply if the hunter has originally purchased a regular archery license, he or she would have to purchase an additional $3 license to then hunt with a cross bow. Only one deer can be harvested with an archery license even though the hunter has purchased both types of licenses. As was mentioned several weeks ago you will save frustration if you study the deer hunting regulations.
Now onto fishing. Mike Vogelsang, who is a DNR fisheries supervisor, has been quoted as saying that it is likely that we will have ice on some lakes for the general season opener. He mentioned that the big snowstorm about a week ago served to insulate the ice. If we get rain or several days of warm sunshine the ice could melt quickly.
This year fisheries managers are predicting that we will experience some fish kill. We lose fish when deep snow prevents weed growth under the ice. Those lakes with a large volume of water will most likely not experience much winterkill. Buckskin, Little St. Germain, Thunder, Irving, Long and Horsehead Lakes may suffer a substantial winterkill. A sulphur smell at the lake outlet can be an indication that things went bad in the lake. Right now it is a matter of wait and see according to Vogelsang.
Another activity that is in progress now is the Spring Turkey hunting season. It looks as though in some areas the turkey population took a severe hit. As with winterkill, with deer and fish, all we can do is wait and see.
Enjoy spring when it finally arrives.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.