By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Summer in the North Woods has arrived. There are those among us who say it is about time. The winter we just experienced was quite mild when compared to several recent winters.
As we spend time in the boat we are seeing hen mallards with as many as a dozen furry balls following her. A large group of chicks certainly keeps the hen busy as she tries to keep them safe.
We have numerous geese on many of our lakes. The young geese are already almost as tall as their parents. The young of the year swim in a straight line with one of the parents leading and the other bringing up the rear. That goose in the rear keeps the youngsters in line.
Thus far we have only seen one clutch of grouse. They seem to simply wait until a person almost steps on them and then they explode in front you. Startled is an understatement for the feeling that experience provides.
We recently reported the sighting of a tiny fawn as we were driving along one of the back roads on the way to a lake. The fawn’s legs were so skinny one wonders how they can support the little one. We were able to drive quite close to the doe and fawn before the doe moved off into the woods; the fawn followed a short distance, laid down and was immediately out of our view because of the tall grass. So far that is the only fawn we have been privileged to see.
Several of our neighbors have mentioned that they have seen a black bear walking on our peninsula. The bear, which has been described as a medium sized bear, was probably looking for food. Most likely it is last year’s cub that the mother pushed away to make room for the new cubs.
On the Canadian musky and walleye fishing trips that we take we occasionally see several bears swimming from island to island. It doesn’t take them long to get from one place to the other.
Another sign that spring has given way to summer is the fact that the University of Esox, held in St. Germain, took place last weekend. This was the early summer program held each year in St. Germain and is sponsored by “Musky Hunter” magazine. The second program will be held in Canada during the month of July.
Yet another sign that summer has arrived is that our grandchildren have been swimming off our dock. They said the water felt good. To us that would probably mean cold. The graph on my boat said that the water was 67 degrees.
With the water temperature in the high sixties we can rest assured that the spawning process has been completed. Several weeks ago I got to witness several muskies as they worked with the larger musky trying to get her to spread her eggs. Normally the females are larger than the males.
Dave McFarland, who is a DNR large carnivore specialist, reported that in 2014 there were 197 wolf packs with about 660 to 689 wolves. In 2015 he reports that there were 208 wolf packs with between 746 and 771 wolves.
Many will recall that in December of 2014 a Federal Appeals Court restored the Endangered Species Act to wolves.
This is an exciting time of the year with all the new animal youngsters being born. Personally we would like to see more spotted fawns. As a reminder, please do not handle any fawns that look as though they have been abandoned. The doe will usually be close by watching.
Enjoy the out-of-doors this time of the year! Happy Father’s Day to all the readers who are Fathers!
Longtime Northwoods outdoors enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.