For those who hunt ruffed grouse in northern or central Wisconsin, maybe shortening the season by two months, if anything is necessary this fall, is the least confusing.
Hunters generally were disappointed in what was hoped to be an improving ruffed grouse season last fall. Fewer birds bagged was universal in much prime grouse habitat, and the 2018 spring drumming counts seemed to confirm there were fewer breeding males calling to hens.
Considering there were fewer birds flushed, taken and then heard this spring together with West Nile Virus confirmation in neighboring states, Wisconsin discussed what might be useful in helping the populations recover, and getting some science-sound answers. A proposed answer was to close the grouse season Nov. 30, instead of allowing it to end as scheduled Jan. 31, 2019. For now, the season structure is still undecided.
In addition, survey efforts will concentrate on determining the impacts of WNV on birds in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Ruffed Grouse Society will help.
Crop and garden plants continue to mature, with some corn already flowering. Both tassels (pollen flowers) and ears (fruit flowers) continue to show on early field varieties and sweet corn.
Deer of all ages and sizes continue evening feeding in corn, alfalfa and soybeans, as well as native woodland vegetation. Fawns show less and less concern about being beside their mothers. Male and female fawns are showing size differences, too.
Japanese beetles have made their presence known on numerous plants, particularly beans, but numerous others, too. If done immediately, take a small container with water, a dab of soap and bleach and hold it under the insect, flick the flier into the solution and it will not go around to attract friends.
Common milkweed is in full bloom and monarch butterflies have taken notice. The ties between this butterfly and plant are exceedingly close. The toxin in the plant’s latex is not toxic to the monarch caterpillars who eat the leaves. Enough of the toxin accumulates in the eventual adult butterfly that the adult is distasteful to bird predators. In addition, the smaller viceroy butterfly mimics the monarch’s appearance and birds stay away because they have become conditioned to stay away from monarchs.
Summer fishing has anglers thinking big. Smallmouth bass, catfish and muskies are pulling many panfish and walleye anglers, and the fishes are responding accordingly. Panfishers continue to have sporadic success, while trout fliers are concentrating on cooler times and smaller spring-fed streams.
Warmer weather, flowering prairies, and crop plants are drawing pollinators of all types, with butterflies being most noticeable. Each species seems to have a favorite feeding time, based on when the nectar is most abundant, pollen is released, and flower opening is maximum.
Many regions have limited soil surface moisture; therefore summer mushrooms have not begun to appear in great abundance. Watch for early sulphur bracket fungi and other colorful mushrooms will appear after a few soaking rains.
Frequent hay cuttings continue to make for good evening animal viewing. Deer continue to travel, some at high noon, too, but most closer to sunset. Turkey poults can now fly, making them easy targets for eyes.
Some berry gatherers have tapered back on raspberries and are waiting for blackberries. Here, too, moisture is key to future fruit size.
Hard mast continues to be spotty at best, with hickory nut and walnut trees devoid of lush crops. We can’t hope for two, or even three, years in a row.
The DNR announced that early teal, mourning dove and early Canada goose seasons all open Saturday, Sept. 1. The 60-day regular waterfowl seasons begin Sept. 29 in the North, South and Mississippi zones. The 92-day regular goose season, with two splits, allows for goose hunting during Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Canada goose daily bag will be three birds and the daily pintail bag is two birds.
With all the deer activities, it is difficult to not think ahead to mid-September and beyond to Wisconsin’s primer wildlife animal. Preparation for that event never ceases.