More average autumn temperatures will likely encourage squirrel hunters, archers, turkey callers and grouse flushers to catch up on lost opportunities. Fly-fishers are welcoming weather changes sure to turn on fish, too.
Wisconsin’s waterfowl season is calling to duck hunters, who are enjoying fair-weather days. Mallards and woodies are making up most bags of birds.
Ring-necked rooster pheasants are matching the foliage color, feather-for-feather.
Tom Gilles, advanced wildlife technician at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Poynette Game Farm, made that connection with maturation of about 75,000 roosters’ developing plumage at the farm.
Hatching of birds raised from chicks is staggered so most birds are released when they are about 20 weeks old. This cuts down on feed costs of not having to feed some birds several months longer than others released on public land early in the season.
Breeding stock, 11,000 hens and 1,100 roosters, are replaced each year, with new, young birds and the older ones are then released for hunters to flush throughout the season. Hunters can expect to see these few older, larger birds anytime during the 79-day season, ending Dec. 31.
Releases begin a week before the season opens at 9 a.m. October 14, and continue twice weekly before being cut off before the gun deer season. Several additional releases occur in December.
The DNR’s deer registration recording system is active at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/harvest/deerharvest.html encouraging hunters to follow the tallies of bucks and does taken during various seasons county by county.
Weekly changes to the charts are made during the seasons in all active categories, with most being posted and updated after the weekends. During the gun deer season, two postings are planned, one following the opening weekend, one following the season closure.
Due to a rule change in the recent state budget, archers, and later gun hunters, will not have to validate and attach a carcass tag to their deer. The same is true for turkey hunters. The wearing of backtags was eliminated last year.
However, deer and turkeys must continue to be registered within the specified times listed in the regulations pamphlets.
Nut gatherers are surely going nuts this autumn, finding abundant walnuts and hickory nuts. Most fruits have already fallen.
Deer are doing the same under oak trees, particularly white oak species. Squirrel, turkey, grouse and archers should take advantage of these feeding grounds throughout the next several months.
While many animals are fattening for the winter months, Eastern chipmunks are gathering, but mostly storing their finds. Unlike some hibernating animals, chipmunks wake occasionally during the winter and eat their caches of nuts, dried grasses, insects and fruits.
Fall flowering is tapering, but one unusual shrub, the witchhazel, is beginning its reproductive steps, producing flowers with delicate, twisted petals in shades of yellow-green. At the same time, last fall’s fruits are shooting hard, black seeds several feet from the shrub. Put a few still-closed fruits inside a container and listen to the seeds being shot out indoors during the night.
This is truly autumn. The weather, except for dryness, is conducive to most activity. But there is a time limit, which is only known to nature.