Even the most resilient and robust outdoors person needs to come in out of the cold once in a while to lose the wind chill.
Trout anglers who venture out as early as 5 a.m. this Saturday morning may be within stepping distance of a Wisconsin habitat that at least transforms one’s mind to another season.
Stream water is warmed along many streams, albeit temporarily, by 50-degree spring water cascading into the creek.
Once the water pools above ground, and before it dumps into the larger water, the spring becomes another season with watercress and duckweed as green as a summer forest. Lively organisms team in the shallow water and muck, attracting insect-eating birds, sometimes even robins and bluebirds, in January. Here animals can get food and water as though it were April.
Even though the watercress is edible, caution is recommended to avoid parasites. Sometimes a gentle washing will do; other times water purifying chemicals will help more.
The real pleasure of seeing green in January is feeling the warmth as the moisture mixes in the frigid air, and hearing birds calling to one another with chirps ordinarily reserved for warmer days.
Trout seem to like these feeder locations, too, where warmer water comes into a stream.
Ice fishermen have their shanties to provide warmth; some even ignite a heater. Others make a trip to the truck to take the chill off.
Winter catch and release (all trout) should be immediate so as not to freeze fish gills.
Rabbit hunters are usually moving about enough to generate extra heat for an hour.
While coffee is a staple warmup drink, plain water, consumed regularly, will hydrate a body and provide warmth, too. Drink it at room temperature, so as not to pull heat from your body cells.
It’s time to think other greens, too. Some early skunk cabbage may be emerging. Some native plants can be forced to flower indoors by placing cut twigs in water. Pussy willow takes a few weeks; red osier dogwood a little longer. Some fern fronds remain green under snow, as do the clubmosses.
Numbers from the antlerless gun deer taken during the four-day season have been posted on the DNR web site showing 8,644 deer registered, while muzzleloaders called in 6,448 animals.
Those feeders who have provided perches and shelter have certainly been rewarded with seed and suet-eating birds of all sizes and colors. Heated water baths help, too.
The pheasant season “holiday” hunt ended Sunday. An Ohio couple hunting on the public land near Mazomanie for two hours did not flush a bird, while a local hunter, visiting the land for the first time took a bird in 10 minutes before retreating to a truck and taking off the dog’s boots.
With a few modifications, the release of 1,500 roosters just before Christmas, should be tried again next year to create another “holiday” pheasant hunt.
Ice fishing and now early trout fishing opportunities are available, but parcel out the time in small allotments. Stay warm, dry and well-hydrated.
Now is an excellent time to observe wildlife, paying particular attention to how they cope with cold, too.