We’ve turned the corner; autumn is here. Cool days and chill nights give a true indication of the season at hand. Forget what the calendar says when it notes Sept. 22 as the first day of autumn. Fall is here; now!
As such, outdoor activities both expand and contract, with hunt seasons opening even as summer activities wane. Hunting is first and foremost now for many. A week ago early goose, early teal and dove seasons opened and more to come next weekend.
Youth waterfowl hunting season, a two-day affair, kicks in next Saturday. Duck numbers are mixed with the areas that have good wild rice (not a big number this year) holding a lot of mallards and wood ducks. Waterfowl hunters this year will find areas still in flood from heavy rains this spring and summer and that will spread ducks out over far larger areas.
More important to many is the opening Sept. 16 of deer archery and grouse seasons. Deer numbers are rebounding and the outlook is more positive this year than the past several. Deer are not used to hunt pressure now and the first days can be very productive. After that, deer wise up in a hurry!
Baiting and feeding deer is banned in Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties. That alone changes the face of the deer hunt this season as deer tend now to move more during daylight hours, benefiting hunters.
Grouse season also opens next weekend, as does turkey. Grouse numbers are reported to be up this year, so there is reason for optimism among upland hunters. Early season hunting is limited by heavy vegetation, so the first weeks are as much about exercise as hunting success.
Fishing is undergoing some changes due to drops in water temperatures. The good news is that when it all sorts out fall fishing can be exceptional for two key species: musky and walleye. Both have been holding steady, but now as cooler water comes on they will be more active. Muskies are still taking buck tails and are moving into shallower water. Walleyes are now transitioning to minnows ahead of summer fare of leeches and crawlers. The next few weeks will see fish move more to shallower waters and become more aggressive.
Fall can still provide great conditions for more typical summer sports, kayaking and canoeing, bicycling and hiking. With fall color yet to come and some wonderful weather still probable, one can extend the season for a lot of warmer weather activities into October.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.