October’s full moon rises this weekend; the Hunters Moon according to the wisdom of the ancients and who are we to doubt that? Hunt seasons are in full swing and the hunt is the main story in the outdoors today.
We have now had a few frosts but nothing that can be described as a really hard frost. Still, those cold nights are finally here, weeks after the norm, but here nonetheless. That accelerates change in the woods. Leaf fall is late but beginning over the past week. All those factors lead to improved hunt conditions for archers and upland hunters.
Deer will now focus their attention on late fall foods and leading their list is acorns, a rich source of nutrients. With the baiting ban in effect, deer will need to move through the day more often than the nocturnal pattern during times when bait is legal; that all points to improving conditions for archers. The rut is still weeks away but rut-specific scents, used in moderation, can be effective at this time. Deer will move more frequently and the next weeks hold promise of better hunting.
Upland hunters will welcome the improved visibility that comes as leaves fall. Grouse will become more active and focus on a narrower range of food than a month ago. Last week saw the first significant migration of woodcock as they blew into the area late in the week. Many moved on but any day we see favorable winds we can expect to find woodcock on the move. But they do not linger and if conditions are right one had best be in the woods.
The same weather that brings woodcock can bring waterfowl. Early migrants, ring necks and some bluebills, have been coming down and word is that duck numbers in southern Canada have increased in the past few days as they stage for the migration. Strong winds will bring ducks down and the next weeks can be very good if weather cooperates.
Fishing takes a backseat in October but anglers will still find increasing activity over the month with walleyes and muskies both. Last week was mixed at best as water temperatures are still high for October. Colder nights will stabilize conditions as well as put fish on a more aggressive feed schedule.
Fall color nears its peak and each day now brings changes. October is the prime autumn month and we are halfway through it. Best not to stay inside!
The Outdoor report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander.