DAVIS COLUMN: Serious gathering launches, but think small this fall

DAVIS COLUMN: Serious gathering launches, but think small this fall

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Waterfowl hunters across the state set decoys last weekend, regardless of the high water marks. While the Southern and Mississippi River fowlers will have a break to rest dogs and self, the Northern Zone folks continue straight through into gun deer

season, closing Nov. 26.

The Southern and Mississippi River zones close Oct. 6 and Oct. 4, respectively, and both reopen Oct. 12.

High water, unlimited feeding areas, and minimal migration dampened many hunters’ opener.

In 2019, hunters have a six-duck daily bag limit, with varying restrictions on many species, including one pintail and two canvasbacks. Mallards, the most common duck most times, can make up four of the six birds, but only one mallard hen can be in the daily bag.

Wildlife viewers, food morsel gatherers, photographers and hunters and anglers are also in full bore mood seeing, finding, catching and bagging.

Quiet country roads, long driveways, lanes and field roads (where permitted) offer some exciting opportunities on the quiet side.

Drive-by sightings can be worthy, even on rainy, foggy days. A panther amanita mushroom, is slightly camouflaged by its tan body, but marked by bumpy scales on its cap. Its perpendicular lines set it aside from drooping grasses and its poisonous qualities protect it from everything but a digital image.

While wild grape, woodbine and bittersweet vines had a difficult spring, the diseases and parasites apparently found the leaves worthy for stopping. What turned out to be a Pandora sphinx moth caterpillar tugged tightly to a grape petiole while it consumed leaf blade tissue. Five oval, white spots with centered dark dots told of its age and probably warned predators. Together, its chocolate body and spots complimented the vine’s purple stem, red petiole, dark tendril and bits of green leaf blade.

Many leaves, partially eaten or not, simply look tired from growing too long and waiting impatiently for autumn temperatures to change to beautiful.

Southern Wisconsin often has some spectacular autumn displays, but normally, this year in particular, we need to begin by looking for a small fall. Try bits, specs, dashes and streaks here and there saying autumn as loudly as hectors of carotenoids and anthocyanins.

Monitoring others’ successes has started with the DNR’s registration data website. To date, archers of both types have recorded more than 6,500 deer. Updates by county and equipment are entered weekly.

A northern Wisconsin grouse hunter reported good grouse and woodcock activity, but difficult shooting due to foliage.

Monroe’s Don Martin at Martin’s Sporting pushed for pond bluegills, deer archery in spite of leaf cover, but said water levels are messing with fishing, particularly catfish. Ginseng interest is low this fall.

Sauk City’s Wayne Whitemarsh at McFarlanes’ reported an 88-pound lake sturgeon registered and wonders where the flocks of robins are. Sturgeon hook and line season is now closed. “Area groups are gearing up for deer waste disposal and CWD testing,” he said.

DNR shooting ranges for handguns at Yellowstone Lake (Lafayette County) and Columbia County are closed, but long gun areas are open at these locations most days.

Looking ahead: Pheasant season, fall foliage displays and a late beginning to the 2019 gun deer season.

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

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