DAVIS COLUMN: Scouting solution to autumn participation

DAVIS COLUMN: Scouting solution to autumn participation

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Autumn’s approach marks the culmination of growing seasons in lowlands, forests, fields and fence rows, as well as birds and mammals maturing and migrating through those habitats.

There are human changes to the region too, and normal or catastrophic impacts hunters, hikers and other recreationalists will encounter when returning to gather physically and mentally from these areas.

Deer, small game hunters and birders will encounter timber sales cutting in the Dell Creek Wildlife Area in northern Sauk and Southern Juneau Counties. Nancy Frost, an area wildlife biologist in Sauk County, expects a sale cutting, which has started, to be completed before gun deer season opens Nov. 23.

“This sale is for oak regeneration and should make habitat change resulting in downed tree tops providing cover and late season browse for deer. The future impacts should have a positive impact on a number of woodland species hunted and observed,” she said.

Jason Cotter, wildlife manager in Green County, said his staff is conducting non-forested work on all wildlife areas and parks to be able to better prescribe future habitat treatments.

Similar types of activity, including crop harvesting on state lands leased to farmers, may impact upland birders and hunters this autumn.

Storms, including heavy rainfall, have added excess moisture to some areas, eroded other regions and caused population expositions in some plant species.

Stickseed, a biennial plant whose fruits hitchhike on clothing and animal fur and hair is so abundant in some woodland regions that hunters and hikers may not want to walk through the vegetation.

Similar to burdock, cocklebur, sticktight, and beggar’s tick, hackelia (genus name for stickseed) seed-containing fruits cling until physically removed. Many of these plants attach multiple particles with one brush of a person’s arm or leg. Pathways of favored locations can be cleared by cutting or pulling the unwanted plants now to avoid spending hours removing the culprit from clothing or hair.

While general hard mast production is lean in many regions, there are select trees with fair crops of walnuts and hickory nuts. Acorns are spotty too.

Wild ginseng purchases and carryover of 2018 roots are likely to be impacted by trade and tariff discussions and decisions. Early negotiations have led buyers to hedge but they expect to be paying about the same, maybe slightly less, than last year’s initial fresh root purchases.

White-tailed deer of all ages continue their annual coat modifications, with bucks becoming much more timid, beginning to be loners and shedding antler velvet.

There is still plenty to see, view, photograph and selectively gather in the plant and fungal worlds. Edible chicken-of-the-woods, hen-of-the-woods and the less-desired puffball fungi have been reported in many areas. While specimens are much less common than spring morels, these edible three are usually large enough that one find feeds a family or makes a large party treat.

Autumn colors are appearing in streaks, dots, splashes and on some branches. Ginseng berries are red, a few blackberries still hold to canes, goldenrod, Joe-pye weed and wild cucumber are providing acres of yellow, purple and white viewing respectively.

Autumn is a favorite of many, including ginseng diggers, lake sturgeon anglers and teal and Canada goose hunters, but remember September to early October are usually the most delighting times.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at sivadjam@mhtc.net or 608-924-1112.


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