Those drawn to deer for any purpose — viewing, photographing or hunting — should be energized by the sightings early this month.
Morning, noon or nighttime are grand times to observe bucks on the run, standing still watching a bedded doe, or chasing off challengers who want to butt in. Be careful to follow shining laws in hunting regulations, however. Seeing them on roadways can be not-so-pleasant though.
The male’s features are conspicuous. Swollen neck muscles bulge uncharacteristically. Mouths are agape exposing tongues. Upper lips may be rolled in a fashion called flehmening, which helps the deer trap and interpret air molecules much like a rattlesnake “tastes” the air to determine who’s out and about.
The buck, on the other hand, is “reading” scents from other deer, particularly females.
Feeding seems to be the last activity drawing a buck’s attention and they do lose weight in spite of eating minimally.
Do not miss the action regardless of the aim, for most deer movement will change within a few weeks and viewing, photographing and hunting will lessen for another year.
Hunters have been registering buck and antlerless deer, with 26,080 reported as of last week; about 15,000 were antlerless. About 11,000 were bucks. Interestingly, crossbowers have taken 1,000 more bucks than traditional archers.
Disease from CWD continues to take its bite, too, with two white-tailed deer in Waupaca County hunting ranch testing positive; both were bucks. The properties were quarantined. One buck from a Shawano County hunting ranch also tested positive.
Hunters sampling for chronic wasting disease continues to be relatively easy. Check the DNR web site for locations. Hunters in Vernon and Crawford counties will find an added testing emphasis for surveillance during this year’s hunting seasons.
Archers may report mature tom turkeys displaying under their tree stands. Fall turkey season in zones 1-5 remains open until Dec. 31.
A number of Wild Wisconsin episodes now appear on the DNR web site for hunters’ learning. Open some of these few-minute segments when time permits.
Birds that normally, or intermittently, visit from the north are beginning to show up in northern Wisconsin. The first reporting of two snowy owls could be signs for things to come later this winter. Redpolls have appeared, too, as an influx along with crossbills. Deer hunters may notice these and other attractive birds when hunting in northern counties this month and beyond.
Deer stands can be about other wildlife, too.
Alex Brooks, a recruit warden and son of deputy chief warden Karl Brooks, will be stationed in Sauk County beginning in December. Alex Brooks has an avid interest in drones and may find a use for them at his first post.
Mark Parman, a retired English professor from UW-Marathon County, moved farther north and is scouting new areas for his ruffed grouse passions — hunting and writing. Bird tallies continue to be down about 50 percent from last year. His second grouse book — “Among the Aspen” is due to be published next spring.
I’m finding it difficult to keep up with Wisconsin’s deletions of deer hunting traditions; last year the backtag was dumped and this year the deer carcass tag was all but eliminated. This year’s 11 gun-deer season columns will continue to be dubbed DeerTags; before that they were entitled BackTag. In spite of eliminating the necessity to validate and attach a deer carcass tag, I’m continuing to call the 2017 series DeerTags.
The gun-deer season is less than three weeks away. The best preparation hunters can make is to prepare a clear, ethical and safe frame of mind. Everything else will fall into place.