Preparations underway for the biggest outdoor event of the year
BY MITCH MODE
Special to the Star Journal
There is this week, one day and one day, only that looms with an importance far beyond the norm: Saturday, Nov. 18, better known as Opening Day, first day of the nine-day deer rifle season. That day, that dawning represents the biggest event in the annual span of outdoor events across the state. On that day a blaze-orange clad contingent of hunters that typically numbers over 600,000 take to the woods in pursuit of whitetail deer. It is a huge event.
All talk this week will be of deer and weather and hunting. The forecast looks decent; not too warm, not too cold. The average high for that date is 36, the low is 22 and temperatures look to be in line with that. Snow cover looks iffy; warm weather early in the week will melt what we have and a chance of snow late week looks the best bet for some snow on opening.
“All in all, things are looking better this year than they have in the past three seasons.”
If you pay attention to moon phases, the 18th is a new moon and as such the deer will not be moving under moonlight this season.
Deer numbers are up, recovering nicely from the killer winter of three years ago. All in all, things are looking better this year than they have in the past three seasons.
There are a few changes to be aware of. First off, the ban on baiting and feeding, in any amount, remains in effect for Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties. No bait, no feed. Period. All of this in a response to a CWD case detected in Oneida County a year or so ago.
Second is the legislature’s decision to eliminate tagging deer at the time they are taken. Space constraints in this report limit details but a look at the DNR web page will provide all the information needed to make a hunter’s responsibilities clear. We’d suggest reading it over as those changes were implemented this fall and many hunters may not be aware of them.
Barring any last minute regulation changes by the legislature those are the two major issues to be aware of as we head into the season. The proposal to eliminate minimum hunting age and change mentoring requirements is still under discussion in the senate and as of this date has not been approved. Stay tuned on that.
As to the actual hunt, bucks will be on the trailing end of the rut but still active. Doe-in-heat scents are still a very good tactic to employ next weekend as bucks will still be moving. With the baiting ban deer are more likely to move during daylight hours as they need to forage more often to fill their bellies. That, plus the dark of the moon, should mean more deer traffic midday.
If weather patterns hold we should see ice up on small lakes this week and the ground should start to freeze up, making a good base for snows to come. All of this points to an early start to winter and conditions that should be favorable for the upcoming rifle hunt.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.