Many winter activities require real winter. Snow certainly. Now that some has fallen, outdoors recreationalists can get on with spotting wildlife, expecting birds at their feeders, skiing, snowshoeing, tracking wildlife and enjoying a more attractive outdoors, too.
The Department of Natural Resources crews and researchers working on the five-year deer predator study have been running behind toward their goal of collaring 200 adult deer this winter, but deer coming under the nets in Dane, Iowa and Grant counties should increase significantly this week. Cold weather and snow cover is what these teams need and now they have the elements.
Even before the snowfall and return of cold, some bucks coming to corn “bait” in lasagna pans were still fully antlered.
The WDNR new large game specialist, Scott Walter, is familiar to the DNR, having left the position of upland game ecologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society several years ago. Walter’s responsibilities are with black bears, gray wolves and cougars.
In spite of these areas having some contentious issues, Walter sees some positives. “There’s no apathy here from the public. Often there’s a lack of interest in some areas of conservation work, but not here. There’s interest and passion about the animals and their habitat, even though the interest is spread over the map. But I’ll be dealing with folks who are interested in the issues, too. I see that as a plus, not so much as a problem.”
The Wisconsin DNR annual hunter ethics award is wrapping up the nomination phase. There is still time this week to nominate a hunter who demonstrated a significant ethical behavior while hunting during 2017. It need not be deer hunting, either.
Last year Vortex Optics, soon to be moving to Barneveld, partnered on the award by donating a significant prize and will continue to be involved in the future.
The nominee must be a resident or nonresident Wisconsin hunter. Written (email, too) nominations should be sent to Todd Schaller, Chief Conservation Warden (email@example.com) or Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707-7921.
The 2018 Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo is scheduled April 6-8 at the Madison Alliant Energy Center. Visit their web page at www.deerinfo.com.
Birding in various ways just got a lot better with the snow. Feeders may want to try using some natural “bait” to attract birds to feeders, including animal fat, carcasses and bones from the kitchen that still have meat and fat fragments attached. Whole kernel corn, smashed to accommodate juncos, cardinals and nuthatches, is inexpensive and works.
Water, perches and cover also help attract and keep birds coming back.
Ice fishing has been spotty, as has trout fishing.
The upcoming sturgeon spearing season in the Lake Winnebago and Upriver Lakes opens February 10. In person registration stations give the public an opportunity to see these huge, prehistoric-looking fish. Anglers don’t have to participate to enjoy the drama of this event.
Next week’s flower and candy day is probably too close to force native plants into blooming, such as pussy willows, but skunk cabbage is about to pop, however a photograph on a card might be better appreciated.
Watch for other changes in vegetation including bud swelling on maples and even a drip or two from cracks and broken limbs on maples on sunny days. These drips and occasionally sapcicles, attract various birds, squirrels and even deer who peck and lick the 4-percent sugary solution. All maples, including box elder, exude sap.
Instead of reduced outside activity, snow and cold bring new opportunities.