Deer rebound in northern woods

DNR REPORT - Preliminary registration figures from the 2016 nine-day Wisconsin gun deer hunt indicate hunters registered more than 196,700 deer, down slightly from the 198,000 registered in 2015. However, the buck harvest of more than 97,800 was an increase of 5.7 percent compared to 2015.

The largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone, up 30 percent from 2015, after two consecutive mild winters with limited antlerless tags available for hunters. For more information regarding preliminary registration and license sales numbers, search the DNR website for keywords “weekly totals.”

Hunters still have additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin.

This year’s muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 7, and the archery season is open through Jan. 8, 2017. A fourday antlerless-only hunt will take place Dec. 8-11, while the holiday hunt will be offered in a number of counties statewide Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2017.

The snow that fell across far northern Wisconsin last week didn’t stay as the state continues to experience unseasonably warm weather. Some thin layers of ice have formed on small lakes, ponds and ditches, but that quickly melts during the day.

With the closure of the musky season on Nov. 30, fishing activity on northern lakes has subsided but there has still been some good walleye and crappie fishing on the Wolf River and anglers have still been fishing the lower Wisconsin River below the dam at Prairie du Sac.

Elk are feeding heavily in the Flambeau River State Forest to fatten up in preparation for the winter months. There are cow and calf groups with some of the young bulls, and the big bulls are forming bachelor groups.

Turkey continue to be seen out grazing in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Trappers are out in force now and with the continued cold weather should see their success increase.

Some waterfowl hunters have reported that the late season flights of ducks and geese have been slower than normal and believe it is because of the warmer temperatures are keeping the birds in the northern areas. Migratory bird viewing is still excellent at Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area, where duck hunters are still having some luck bagging a variety of species. The southern zone duck season closes this Sunday, Dec. 4.

Pheasant stockings is continuing again on some southern state wildlife areas and pheasant hunters and all other hunters except waterfowl hunters are reminded that blaze orange clothing is required during the muzzleloader season.

The lack of snow is not providing much camouflage for weasels and snowshoe hares that have begun to take on their white winter coats.

There have been many eagles sightings reported and they are feeding heavily on the deer gut piles left from the nine-day gun season.

And despite the lack of winter weather, the first snowy owls of the season have begun to arrive in the state.


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