BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
We should be having cooler weather during this time of the year that would spur interest in archery hunters to be out in the woods. However, many serious bow hunters are already out there hunting since the Wisconsin archery season started Sept. 16 and will be open until Jan. 7, 2018.
I have always said that archery hunting becomes much more enjoyable once many of the leaves have come down.
This year, because of the unusually warm weather predicted for later this week and weekend, the archery hunters will have to be very vigilant about making sure that their deer are cooled down very quickly.
The process of cooling down a deer that has been harvested is also one that bear hunters should follow. One method that was suggested to me by processors last year when I harvested a bear was to put ice or containers of ice, such as water frozen in a 64-ounce juice container, into the cavity of the animal as soon as possible. Then take it to the processor immediately.
As previously mentioned in this column, bear season has been open since Sept. 6, when bear hunters could begin hunting with the aid of dogs only. On Sept. 13, bear hunters could begin hunting with the aid of bait and those hunting with dogs can continue to hunt. The season for both methods of bear hunting continues until Oct. 3; from Oct. 4 – 10, hunters who are using bait can continue to hunt but not those who are hunting with the aid of dogs.
As we talk with bear hunters many are seeing a lot of bear but some are not seeing as many as they have in the past. As usual, some have been successful and others have not. I frequently say that I have seen more bear than deer.
My friend Tom, the “Osseo Jinx,” will be in Rhinelander in an effort to fill his bear tag. I have mentioned several times that it has been very difficult to get a bear tag in some areas of northern Wisconsin. I waited 10 years to get the tag that I filled last year and Tom had waited the same length of time.
Usually the first question asked of a hunter that has just shot a bear is, “How big is it?” Meaning, how much did it weigh?
It is difficult to judge the size of a bear especially with the excitement a hunter feels just prior to shooting it. Most people haven’t had many, or any, close encounters with a bear, therefore, a bear that you are close enough to shoot looks pretty big! There are some 400 – 500 pound bears that are shot but an average size for a bear would probably be around 200 pounds.
Another group of hunters is excited about grouse hunting. The season opened Sept. 16 in zone “A,” which covers almost the entire state of Wisconsin.
Grouse hunting is an exciting sport that is enhanced by a well-trained retriever. A dog that is trained to work close to the hunter works in an area close by and flushes a bird that is in front of the dog and the hunter. Then it is up to the hunter to make a quick, accurate shot. Many grouse hunters prefer a pointing dog rather than a dog that flushes the birds. When a pointing dog smells the bird it stands motionless allowing the hunter to come closer and flush the bird. The last few years I have had the privilege of hunting with a friend over a very well-trained pointing dog.
I sort of lost my interest in grouse hunting after the third of our retrievers passed away. Thus far this year, I have not seen any grouse as I have been roaming around on back roads and in the woods. Now turkeys – they seem to be all over.
This is the time of the year when I always talk about difficult choices. Do I go grouse hunting, turkey hunting, bow hunting or musky fishing?
I have been musky fishing several times in the last week and it is noticeable that the muskies seem to have changed their diet. They are feeding on suckers rather than on artificial baits; at least on the lakes that we have been on.
Enjoy whatever activities you choose to participate in this fall. The colored leaves will disappear as quickly as they started to appear.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.