DAVIS COLUMN: Wildlife beginning to assume winter mode

DAVIS COLUMN: Wildlife beginning to assume winter mode

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For those who feed birds, or who are deer and turkey viewers, or hunters, have already noticed a limited number of animals out and about compared to a month ago, or in the case of some birds, compared to recent years.

While there are many reasons, and reasons vary from species to species, certainly the coming of winter, either by daylight hours or wintery weather are major impacts.

Deer hunters were also thrown a natural curve when the mating season didn’t show as much overlap with the gun deer season as last year. It’s a rest period for deer. They feed at night, refrain from expending energy to conserve fat reserves and don’t move much unless disturbed.

For some deer hunters, talk of even more intense hunting during the archery and crossbow season, and forgoing the gun deer season are serious considerations.

Others may look at gun season with an even more relaxed approach and putting more emphasis on the other aspects. Camaraderie and wildlife watching all can be used as “excuses” to continue to take out a rifle in November.

Snowy owl sightings are expected to be relatively low, in part due to a relatively low irruption year of having these Arctic birds visit Wisconsin.

Some feeder birds, particularly those more common to Northern Wisconsin, are absent in respectable numbers. So, too, are much-awaited feeder birds.

Bird biologists suggest several reasons. Simply fewer birds due to poor recruitment, which is tied to other factors. Above average tree seeds, which many birds normally use for as much as 80 percent of their diet. This natural food may hold birds farther north and also feed the birds here in Southern Wisconsin when they do arrive.

Real, prolonged winter weather will solve some of these birds’ scarcities. In the meantime, keep feeding stations attractive with high quality, well-displayed menus.

Ice fishing is a ways off, but get ready for first ice, but not by attempting something stupid.

Pheasant stocking on public lands will resume after the gun deer season and make note of the upcoming Holiday stocking on select public areas, too, taking place just before Christmas.

Consider later squirrel and turkey seasons by finding a good food source where the animals routinely gather.

Many gun and archery deer seasons are scheduled including muzzleloader (Dec. 2-11); statewide antlerless hunt (Dec. 12-15) and antlerless holiday hunt (Dec. 24-Jan. 1, 2020). Remember the blaze orange clothing and blind requirements and apply them to small game and turkey as well.

Continue to make use of carcass dumpsters (check for locations) and CWD sampling (visit DNR Web site).

Make mental notes of personal things that can be done next time to make the gun deer season even more rewarding. Now is the time to thank landowners for allowing hunting on their lands. Nominate someone for the DNR ethical hunter award, too.

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

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