DAVIS COLUMN: Season registrations tell no tales

DAVIS COLUMN: Season registrations tell no tales

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Dead turkeys do not exaggerate; neither do picked mushrooms.

Throughout the 2020 spring turkey season there was carping here and there asking in a disparaging way, “Where are the turkeys?”

True, with the turkey zones being as large as they have become, there were going to be fantastic locations as well as busts and everything between within the same zone.

Consider Zone 1, which covers much or southwest Wisconsin, from La Crosse to the southern border. The grousing, by some, was enough to drown out the gobbling. Some of that rancor was legitimate, but probably only from small areas.

In the end, after Period F folded May 26, there were 11,340 birds registered compared to 10,335 birds reported electronically in 2019. The entire season, based on preliminary registrations was 42,335 birds, compared to 38,576 in 2019. Granted, 2019 was not the best of years, but 2020 was better by more than 4,000 birds, over a 10 percent increase.

Hunters reported more in camouflage in the woods and more shotgun-carrying nonresidents, too. More time to hunt? More students home from school? Factors in addition to bird population may have accounted for the increase, too.

A few experiences or reactions do not make a season; averages speak volumes. Turkeys, like deer, are not distributed evenly.

There is not a “registration” for morel mushrooms picked, but there are some data points that begin to summarize the number of May’s brimming baskets.

Morel mushrooms are sold and bought and resold. One La Crosse buyer, who gets morels from three states, mimicked what many who gather were saying, or complaining about.

“Terrible,” this buyer said. “It was one of the worst years ever. It was bad and quality was not good, either.”

Single ecological events, are rarely vindications, but pile one upon another and the arrow may come close to the bull’s eye.

“Things started slow on the south sides,” a buyer said. “Three days of frost killed most coming up and when the temperature corrected, it became too dry and then moisture was too late for those even on the north slopes. Those mushrooms were of poor quality, too.”

Many pickers described “good trees” that never had a fruiting body, let alone a motherlode. There are fewer large, old elms and red elms are usually not the best belt on the pulley, either. Apple trees are dependable, but slim.

“Mother Nature is always in charge,” a buyer clarified.

Trout fishing has been pretty darn good, an almost every-day Black Earth angler said.

“But like other outside recreations, trout streams have been heavily-populated,” Bret Schultz said. “Even little streams often have had 3-4 vehicles at a single bridge.”

This has enticed trout sages like Schultz to try long-ago favorites, one which turned out to be a brookie-only stream.

“These were some of the most beautiful brook trout I’ve seen, some 12-13 inches long,” he said.

It’s time to pull out the face masks and check the insect repellent supplies. Governmental suggestions may not get all the people to wear masks, but insects will get many anglers, hikers, berry pickers, bird watchers and outdoors photographers to follow course.

Pollen, too, is sending some inside. Insect-pollinated trees, most with white blossoms, loom large.

Wild black cherry, black locust, catalpa and several dogwoods are now showing. Understory bloomers, mayapples, columbines, wild geraniums, garlic mustard, bird’s foot violet, several orchids and a host of planted bloomers are to be enjoyed now.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds have found something sweet, even not red, yellow or orange. This same energetic bird is checking sapsucker holes.

Many state rifle ranges on public lands are now open for target practice, and are being used.

Oak trees continue to be noticed because of their lack of foliage on lower limbs and sometimes most of the way to the top. The frost was the culprit. New leaves are forming, but that requires additional energy, which is often taken away from acorn development. Last year’s red oak acorn starts can now be examined and assessed, as can the white oak’s single season fruit development.

Birders are struggling to see treetop fliers in heavy foliage.

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

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