Winter holidays usually bring snow, ice and cold temperatures, but those features do little to dismiss numerous recreational outdoor activities.
Hunters have taken notice of holiday hunting, some that continue and others that have taken on added attractions.
Seventeen Farmland Zone deer management units will be open beginning Dec. 24, closing Jan. 1, 2018 for antlerless-only gun hunting. In southern Wisconsin, those units (counties) include Waupaca, Waushara, Crawford, Richland, Sauk, Iowa, Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. The portion of Adams County, in the Farmland Zone, is open, too.
During this nine-day season, archers are also limited to taking antlerless deer, and all hunters must follow blaze orange clothing restrictions.
The wild turkey season in zones 1-5 remains open until Dec. 31, too, as does the pheasant season, whic also closes Dec. 31.
About 1,500 rooster pheasants will be released this week, to provide late season hunters a better change at shooting a pheasant to take home for a holiday meal.
“We have 1,500 birds that we’ll spread among the five locations close to the weekend prior to Christmas. Weather conditions and other factors will determine when the birds are released,” Kelly Maguire, Poynette Game Farm manager, said. “A normal release during the early part of the season is usually about 150 birds on many of these properties, so each of the five areas could get about twice the normal number of roosters, close to 300.”
The five properties where the 1,500 roosters are being released include Mud Lake Wildlife Area in Columbia County; Mazomanie Unit of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway in Dane County; Richard Bong State Recreational Area in Kenosha County; Brooklyn Wildlife Area in Dane and Green counties; and Avon Bottoms Wildlife Area in Rock County.
All hunting regulations and rules continue to apply until season’s end, Dec. 31.
Many other small game seasons continue through December and some spill over into January, too.
Ice fishing has begun, albeit sparingly, on some ponds, sloughs and backwaters. Waters that are spring fed, larger-bodied or moving waters need more close-to-zero temperatures to begin building ice.
John Shelbrack, Middleton, was one of the first on a Wisconsin River backwater late last week setting tip-ups for northern pike and large-mouth bass. Nearby, another angler continued to pull in a few panfish, mostly bluegills.
“I’ve been waiting for this first ice,” Shelbrack said. “It’s often the best fishing. Snowy days are another good day to be on the ice.”
More information on the recently completed nine-day deer hunt show that the Northern Forest Zone contributed to increases in antlered and antlerless take, while the other three zones had decreases across the board.
Putting the four zones together resulted in a 0.5 percent increase in antlered deer registered and a 1.5 percent decrease in antlerless deer statewide.
With a few to many inches of snow forecast prior to the Christmas weekend, snow activities are sure to abound, including snowshoeing, skiing, tracking, snowmobiling and shoveling. Added activities may suggest options of thanking landowners for allowing us to hunt their lands. Otherwise make sure to mail a card, make a call, drop off a roast or fruit box or fresh catch of panfish (filleted).
Books are also usually appreciated. For farmers, consider some of the many farm-related books authored by Jerry Apps, such as “Never Curse the Rain.”
A supply of bird feed is another way to thank a friend, maybe even put up and fill a bird feeder for a “home-bound” person.
Look winter in the face with a smile, just in case that face becomes “frozen.”