Bucks’ antlers, blaze orange caps and coats, woodland seats, horizontal forest lines of a deer’s back, sounds of frozen leaves breaking under a deer’s hooves and daybreak rifle cracks are just a few of the sights and sounds commonly associated with Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season.
They, along with camaraderie, are much of what makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
After the opening, highlights begin to prevail including, steaming drinks, hot air blasts from a vehicle’s furnace, knives, seat warmers, binoculars, licenses, deer tags, regulations, in-person stations, blood trails and thoughts of safety and ethics.
The early bow season — archery and crossbow — unofficially ends Friday, but bow hunters can still participate in two ways, either hunting with their gun license but using a bow, or by hunting with their bow license, using their bow tags.
Remember, however, that the blaze orange law applies to all hunters except waterfowlers. That means archers, regardless of the license they are using, must be wearing a coat and cap (if worn) that is 50 percent blaze orange (or blaze pink).
Sadly a company displaying their new blaze pink deer hunting gear chose to picture a female hunter fully decked, including gloves and pants, in pink. Oops, the company forgot the blaze pink cap. That is illegal hunting garb without the colored cap. Change the cap or toss it aside to be legal.
Here’s what the bow hunters did so far, as of last Tuesday. Bucks and antlerless deer in possession are 58,476, with bucks leading with 33,216 and crossbowers with 1,300 more bucks than archers.
As it always does, the rut brings up the buck bow kill at this time. Gun hunters are likely to get in on the tail end of that ruckus beginning Saturday.
Safety and sighting snow are unlikely in most of the southern part of Wisconsin for the opener. Maybe for much or all of the nine-day season.
While tagging rules have some hunters a bit confused, they can’t go wrong if they continue to follow past years’ plan of validating and attaching a tag. They need to look at that tag anyway to get a number and write a confirmation number someplace when they make a call or stop at an in-person registration help location.
Plant life can still add to the interest of being a naturalist outdoors during the deer season. Late fruits are abundant on winterberries, wild grapes, witch-hazel, numerous sticktights, poison ivy and bittersweet. Some make good decorations; some are toxic, and some are good bird nutrition.
The help number for questions from the field, or at home, is still 888-936-7463 (888-WDNR-INFo). Ask if fearing a citation.
Looking for a neat seat at a permanent deer stand? Try a Leopold bench; they’re easy to make, are sold at some garden and woodworking shops, and help to put any outdoors person sitting there in the correct frame of mind about conservation, ecology and outdoors ethics.
After the season, consider nominating someone for the DNR ethical hunter award.
Be safe, courteous, helpful and respect the land.