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DAVIS COLUMN: Hunters, other gatherers are all in

DAVIS COLUMN: Hunters, other gatherers are all in

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Outdoor enticements continue to occupy our schedules, and there are more to come.

The outdoor season has appeared.

Ruffed grouse (Zone A), cottontail rabbit (north), turkey, deer, crow, squirrel and some bear pursuits are fair game this weekend.

Woodcock, youth and regular duck seasons, pheasants, and some specialty hunts require waiting. No sharptail grouse permits were issued, and spruce grouse continue to be off limits.

Fall’s quiet performances are playing, too, as color pursuits highlight, rural urges become automatic and new energy comes to harvest hickory, walnuts, grapes, elderberries and prairie seeds.

The newly designed Department of Natural Resources fall forecast is a great place to begin preparation, either with a printed copy off the DNR web page or reading population data on the screen.

The five-section pamphlet covers deer (26 pages); black bear (two pages); furbearers, (4); migratory birds (4); and upland animals (4) throughout the state.

The new forecast format includes mostly two column pages, color photographs, season dates, breakouts and changes for 2020.

Pheasant stocking, a new grouse boundary zone, disease updates for deer and grouse, dove and woodcock as well as waterfowl information, maps, registration and sampling when required, and contact information for DNR biologists are all in.

Paired with the new format 2020 hunting regulations pamphlet, hunters should be ready to step out the cabin door or travel farther.

Unlike the regulations, the forecast is not available in printed form but can be home-printed.

Both pamphlets contain useful information for non-hunters, too, who prefer to gather their animals on videos, digital cameras or simply observe from a blind or vehicle seat.

While most animal registration, if required, is done online, there are some drop points and in-person registration stations worthy of a stop and talk, including the hook and line sturgeon fishing now in progress, mainly along the Wisconsin River.

Many hunters continue to support food donation programs. This will continue and some may be expanded due in part to assist those who simply want to try venison and look to hunters to provide the meat.

Mourning dove, teal and Canada goose hunters have been pursuing game since Sept. 1. Teal season closed Sept. 9 and the early Canada goose season ends Sept. 15. Success has been average or better.

Wisconsin’s inland trout season continues through Oct. 15.

Archers are likely to still see a few spotted fawns as well as any bucks still in velvet.

Collared deer, primarily in Dane, Grant and Iowa counties, are legal with a regular authorization. Contract information for dealing with data collection from the carcass is printed on the collar and ear tags.

While most bucks have shed the antler velvet, they continue to rub on objects, including young shrubs and saplings. A few steel fence posts placed near the tree is one way to afford the plant some bark protection.

Ginseng diggers have been out looking since Sept. 1 and continue to anticipate receiving about $145 a pound, or a touch more, for green roots. Be aware of the rules, follow them, and respect landowners’ properties. No digging on state and federal lands, either. License sales are up this year. Plant maturity, and beyond, is highly variable with Wisconsin’s state herb.

Some timber rattlesnakes continue to be seen, especially females sunning on flat rocks. Do not harass them, but simply be content to watch “paint dry.”

Elderberries and wild grapes are ripening, unless wildlife has already found nature’s wild vineyard. A few edible mushrooms, chicken-of-the-woods and hen-of-the-woods, are still showing up. Recent rains will help. September is national mushroom month, set aside to enjoy wild mycology specimens and to collect some.

Doug Williams of Portage and Don Martin of Monroe, continue to stress buying, fixing, and ordering early these seasons. “Some bow strings are taking 2-3 weeks to be shipped, if then,” reports Williams at D.W. Sports Center.

“Suppliers seem to be out of everything,” Martin said. “Hunting and fishing supplies.”

Implements, too, including chain saws, parts, and ATVs and UTVs are not immediately abundant.

Plan ahead, they recommend, and try not to blame the sales clerk for our tardiness.

In addition to buying early, there are signs of an early fall with blackbirds flocking and mourning doves migrating. Colors on individual plants and plant parts, leaf drop, and food hoarding have already begun.

In general, all fishing has been good, Williams reports.

It’s not too early to be planning the gun deer season. Maybe this is the year to purchase the license a week earlier. Get ready and be ready.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608-924-1112.

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