Trout anglers who stepped outside last Saturday morning may have been greeted with temperatures at 17 degrees below zero. The sun was powerless to remove shore ice on streams that have frozen over during recent subzero nights.
A few anglers found open waters in Iowa County, but real prizes, including Black Earth Creek, had more than shore ice. Most stretches were iced all the way across.
Trout Creek, with its many springs, remained fishable, but few braved the cold temperatures and winds that followed on Sunday.
Thawing temperatures this week should open more water, making trout season a hit or miss for some of the first month of a four-month, catch-and-release season. Ice fishermen were overjoyed, however.
Cold weather and snow were good for eagle viewing, even inland from Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. Pairs of bald eagles were taking advantage of roadside carrion. A small rabbit attracted a bonded pair, albeit momentarily, while the two adults made a quick meal of the cottontail.
Deer carcasses lasted longer. In some locations young eagles joined resident pairs. Some immature golden eagles butted in too, along with murders of crows and late-night coyotes, all looking for ways to obtain energy for the next day without using stored reserves.
Even eagles were displaying one-legged maneuvers, tucking the extra leg under warming feathers.
Wild turkeys looked more like Canada geese, who often stand on ice with one tucked leg. A raft headed for a bean field looking to find waste beans stopped momentarily on a town road. Half the hens looked like the one-legged decoys of mid-April.
Looking at an eagle’s legs is one way to begin sorting immature bald and golden eagles. Golden eagles, primarily terrestrial feeders, have more leg feathering than do bald eagles, who pride themselves in taking fish. Legs covered with feathers would not work on a fishing bird, and therefore their legs have limited feathers.
The second year of the five-year deer predator study is in full swing with crews of limited term Department of Natural Resources researchers coaxing deer to come under circus tent-like nets with lasagna pans of shelled corn.
Once the deer become accustomed to eating under a drop net, one member of the crew uses a climbing tree stand and waits, not with a gun but a battery-operated device to drop the positioned net and trap the deer.
Once sedated, the crew works up the deer, collars it and turns it loose to live a life of being “watched” on a computer screen anytime a researcher wants to check in with the deer’s “social security” number. If the deer stops moving for long periods, researchers go afield and find out how the deer died.
Some of last year’s collared deer were taken by hunters, others by vehicles and still others by disease.
The teams have a challenge to collar 200 deer this winter and another 100 fawns, which will be hand-captured in May and June.
Reports will soon be available informing the public of the researchers’ 2017 observations. The fawn report is now available on the DNR website, showing roughly two-thirds of the 91 fawns collared were still alive on Jan. 1, 2018.
A Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association conference is set for Feb. 17 at the American Family Insurance Training Center in Sun Prairie. Cost for the all-day session, including lunch, is $40 with early signup or $50 for advance registration. Waiting until the last minute at the door will cost $60. Couples have reduced rates. Presentations begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m. Registeration is online at www://tinyurl.com/WoodlandOwners2018. Go to the Wisconsin Woodland Owners web page for more information.
We’ve been tested with some subzero temperatures and a share of wind chill, but not deep snow or limb-breaking ice. Some of those are sure to come knocking, but every day there are more outdoors opportunities, with longer days and higher highs and lows.