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Outdoor Report for October 31, 2013

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).

Reports from across the state indicate the white-tailed deer rut is underway with a surge in scrapes and rubs that bucks use to mark territory, and bucks being seen in active pursuit of does. Archers are reporting some very good success with larger bucks now on the move. Deer movement has been going on day and night and vehicle deer collisions are on the rise. Motorists need to be alert for deer suddenly entering roadways and remember if one deer crosses there is likely another deer in pursuit.

Cold fronts in the last week have brought increasing numbers of Canada geese into the state. Waterfowl hunters along the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan are reporting increasing numbers of diving ducks including bluebills, redheads, and canvasbacks.

Pheasant hunters are enjoying an abundance of birds on state wildlife areas, with stocking up from 2012. Birds will continue to be released throughout the month of November. Grouse hunters are reporting a few birds but in general the population does seem to be on the lower end of its cycle, though some areas are reporting decent woodcock numbers.

The wolf harvest has reached 181 animals as of October 31 and the season has now been closed in three harvesting zones [PDF], the two most northern zones and the central forest zone. Raccoon trappers are also reporting increased success this season.

With all the hunting activity and colder weather, fishing activity has slowed in many areas, but hardcore musky anglers are still reporting decent success on northern lakes, where some good walleye action has also been reported. Some bluegill action was reported on pools of the Mississippi River. Skim ice has been seen in the mornings on the backwaters of the Mississippi as well as on small Northwoods ponds.

Fishing pressure has dropped off on Green Bay but there were some perch being caught in the Sturgeon Bay area. Lake Michigan tributaries are still producing some salmon and trout, but the fall runs appear to be subsiding.

Sandhill crane numbers continue to build as traditional hotspots like Crex Meadows in Burnett County and along the Lower Wisconsin River. Large roosts of blackbirds numbering up to 50,000 are being seen in the south. Tundra swans made their first push into the state this week. The red-tailed hawk migration is just passed peak, while bald eagle numbers are on the rise and golden eagles and rough-legged hawks have moved in from their arctic nesting grounds.

Fall colors (exit DNR) are now past peak across most of the state, but there are still counties in southern and central Wisconsin reporting peak colors. The northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest reports colors past peak, but the southern unit reports improved colors for this coming weekend. Some of the best colors across the state now are coming from Wisconsin's only deciduous conifer, the tamarack. This unique tree found in swamps, bogs, and wet lowlands and its needles turn a bright golden color before dropping.

KMSF-SU
Colors are improving in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest
Photo by Photo by Amanda Prange

And another sure sign that winter is approaching, most state parks have now closed campground shower and flush toilet facilities and the three tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail will be closing for the season next week.

Statewide Birding Report

Birding has slowed a bit during this chilly late October as the majority of migrant land birds have left the state. Just a few sparrows, juncos, robins, and blackbirds remain in the north, along with winter residents such as snow buntings, northern shrikes, and various backyard feeder birds. Activity is better in the south, where flocks of eastern bluebirds, more sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, large roosts of blackbirds (up to 50,000!) and other hardy species hold on in good numbers. Red-tailed hawk migration has just passed peak, while bald eagle numbers are on the rise and golden eagles and rough-legged hawks have moved in from their arctic nesting grounds. Migration of northern saw-whet and long-eared owls continues under the veil of darkness. Now is the time to start checking open fields and wetlands at dawn and dusk for short-eared owls. Sandhill crane numbers continue to build as traditional hotspots like Crex Meadows in Burnett County, 6th Ave Marsh in Adams County, along the Lower Wisconsin River near Spring Green and Arena, and other large field/wetland complexes across south and central WI. The Direct Autumn Release whooping cranes were also released at Horicon Marsh this past week. Horicon also continues to host some late-season shorebirds, most notably pectoral sandpipers, dunlin, and greater yellowlegs. Tundra swans made their first push into the state this week, though numbers are still weeks from peaking. Waterfowl numbers have generally been low statewide but large rafts of ruddy ducks and American coots were reported from various locations. The Upper Mississippi River system is hosting thousands of gadwall, mallards, ring-necked ducks, and canvasbacks. Scoter numbers have been good on Lakes Michigan and Superior, including Chequamegon Bay, Sheboygan, and Milwaukee's Bradford Beach. Rarities spotted last week include pacific loon in Bayfield County, rufous hummingbird in Sheboygan, two brants in Stevens Point, continuing white-tailed kite in Adams, California gull in Douglas, and white-faced ibis at Horicon. Help us track the migration and discover what other birders are finding across the state at www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR). - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Cooler temperatures have settled into the area. Skims of ice have been noticed on small ponds in the mornings. People have been reporting that bucks are starting to follow does and many more rubs and scrapes are being sighted. Halloween is here and the Brule River State Forest has more treats than tricks for those looking to get out and enjoy the fall. The fishing may be tricky but it is sure a treat to bring a nice steelhead in. It is also a nice treat to go for a hike before the snow starts piling up. The grouse hunters are saying that not many grouse are out there, the treat is a nice grouse meal after hitting the woods all day long. Enjoy fall while we have it, then it will be time to move on to our winter fun activities! One winter activity that is getting some attention is our cross country ski trail system. Much work is being done on the Afterhours trails in preparation for the ski season, such as mowing, cutting, and stump grinding to make the trails as smooth and easy to navigate as possible. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate

BRSF
Happy Halloween from the Brule River State Forest
Catherine Khalar Photo

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Ashland County - Last week saw a mixed bag of weather including some snow, but was mostly cool and windy. Interest in archery hunting for deer is picking up along with bird hunting. Migrating waterfowl numbers continue to draw some interest too. Fishing has been good around the county. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery - Stocking of walleye from the hatchery ended Tuesday, with the hatchery crew sending 16,223 larger walleye fingerlings to the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County. With increased funding under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, the hatchery was able to put 20 ponds into production. Staff raised and stocked out a record 279,075 walleye about 7 inches long. In addition to setting a new production record, staff successfully adjusted to using new equipment to transfer the fish from the production ponds into stocking trucks.

Governor Knowles State Forest - Fall colors are past their peak, however with the loss of foliage the views are amazing. Staff has been seeing buck rubs and scraping activity pickup in the last week. There is a decent numbers of ducks around, however I noticed some skim ice with the freezing temperatures. The water is shut off at the campgrounds, but they are still open for use. - Kyle Anderson, superintendent

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Cold, wet and windy weather seemed to put a damper on the fishing activity in the Northwoods in the last week. Water temperatures have dropped down into the low 40s and musky anglers have continued to provide most of the fishing pressure on our local lakes. Success for musky has been a bit erratic and nearly all of the anglers have been dragging large suckers around, with just a few anglers continuing to cast artificial baits. The sucker anglers have been having fair success with a lot of "hit and drops" being reported. A few musky have been caught and most have been in the 34 to 42-inch size. Action on artificial bait has been hit or miss, as the colder water temperatures have made the fish more reluctant to hit fast-moving baits. The slower moving lures such as jerk baits and bulldawgs have been the most productive. The few walleye anglers that have been out have been experiencing some fair success, with some days providing good action on small and medium-size walleye and other days finding bites very hard to come by. Live minnows have been the best bait, whether fished below a slip bobber, on a jig or a bare hook dragged along the bottom. Cloudy days have produced some catches all day long, but on sunny days look for the fish to bite in the hour right before dark. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Leaf drop is nearly complete in the forest. Tamaracks are bright gold. A few musky anglers are still plying area lakes. Waterfowl, grouse and archery hunters have been out in good numbers.

Antigo DNR Service Center area

Langlade County - In the Antigo Area all the leaves have fallen with a few exceptions. Tamaracks are in the peak of their golden color. Grouse hunters are having to put more effort in to locating birds this year. Success rates appear to be down significantly over last year. The bright spot is that there are plenty of woodcock in the area at this time. Most of the geese have picked up and headed south. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo

Council Grounds State Park - Trails are in good condition. The campground will close Nov. 1. The water in the campground has been turned off for the season. The docks at the boat landing have been removed for the season.

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Marinette County - Walleye in the 17 to 22 inch range were caught below the Dam in Peshtigo and in the Menominee River using slip bobbers and minnows. - Kevin King, creel clerk

Oconto County - Crappie and blue gill were caught below the Dam at Stiles using slip bobbers and leaf worms. The best action was right below the Dam and fishing adjacent to the cement wall or the pilings. Perch activity picked up at Oconto Park II and the Oconto Breakwater Park. - Kevin King, creel clerk

Brown County - At Voyageur Park anglers caught perch on night crawlers and black crappie were caught using minnows. At the Suamico River two musky were caught and released using perch colored crank baits in about 8 to 10 feet of water, one measured 25 inches and the other 45 inches. At the Suamico River Shore perch were caught on minnows and ranged from 6 to 7 inches long. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan is winding down with the very limited number of boats fishing out of both Baileys Harbor and Sturgeon Bay doing very well. Fishing activity in the waters off Door County slowed dramatically as the end of October nears. Now is a great time to try your luck at some large northern pike as they fatten up for the winter. Perch were caught around Sturgeon Bay with Egg Harbor, Anderson's Dock in Ephraim and Moonlight Bay all good places to try. Walleye fishing from now until the end of the month should get better because of their increased foraging in preparation for winter. - Jill Ann Eekhoff and Thatcher Riggin, fisheries technicians, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Anglers on Lake Michigan finished the year out on a good note with some impressive catches. Anglers fishing the Kewaunee and Ahnapee Rivers are catching some fish and will continue to catch coho salmon and brown trout through November. - Jill Ann Eekhoff and Thatcher Riggin, fisheries technicians, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - The duck hunters on the west shore are having some good luck. The diving ducks have showed up and the layout boat hunters are getting limits of birds. Most of the ducks seem to be bluebills, redheads, and canvasbacks. The guys that are sitting on the shore are still having luck with an average of three to four birds. The guys that are targeting puddle ducks are having some success but most hunters are having the best luck with divers. Fishing seems to be a little slow in the area. There are still a few salmon in the Menominee River. The Menominee River is still producing a fair number of walleyes in the late evening hours. The Oconto River and Oconto County Park Two are producing lots of perch but most are running very small. The average perch is running about 6 inches. - Jeff Lautenslager, conservation warden, Peshtigo

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County - It is definitely fall in eastern Brown County. The weather has been cool and comfortable until the wind picks up. The strong winds coming off the bay of Green Bay make it hard for some of the young hunters and even some of the seasoned hunters to sit in the woods. More geese have started to fly south and numerous hunters have filled their bags goose hunting. Several bucks have been seen chasing does as the rut begins. This also is a time to remind drivers on the road to be more vigilant while driving. There is an increased number of car kill deer collisions this time of the year because the deer are up and moving more. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Green Bay

Manitowoc County - Large flocks of redheads and scaup are flying the Lake Michigan shoreline, resulting in some excellent open water and shore hunting. Large flocks of Canada geese are appearing and feeding in recently harvested fields, especially those fields in close proximity to the Lake Michigan shoreline. Leaf drop is about two-thirds complete in the county. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility - The final chinook salmon egg harvest for this season at Strawberry Creek was completed last Thursday, Oct. 17. Overall for this season: more than 7,000 chinook salmon returned to the Strawberry Creek pond; hatchery egg collection goals were met; and lots of biological data and samples were collected. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this work! - Nick Legler, fisheries biologist, Sturgeon Bay

Potawatomi State Park - As of October 29, there are still many colorful leaves on the trees in the park. The dump station, shower building, fish cleaning station, and most wells are shut down until May. A well remains open in the campground area for winter campers. The accessible fishing pier has been removed from the water. Boat launching piers will be removed during the first week of November. Office hours at the park are now 8 am to 4 pm, subject to staffing availability. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Rock Island State Park - The Rock Island Ferry is done for the season. Visitors will need their own private boat. No boats are available locally. Winds, big waves, and rapidly changing weather can make boating this time of year challenging or impossible. All buildings on Rock Island except pit toilets are locked. The lighthouse is shuttered. The water systems are shut down and drained so water is available only at the office at Jackson Harbor on Washington Island. Early bow season is now open and all other gun and trapping seasons will be open Nov. 15 through Dec. 15. Visitors are encouraged to wear blaze orange clothing or vests when hiking during the hunting seasons. Camping is permitted only in designated sites after self-registering and paying the fee posted at the contact station. Water will have to be carried in by primitive campers. - Randy Holm, ranger and assistant property manager

Kewaunee County - Cold weather has taken hold, and the fall hunting season is only getting better because of it. The deer are beginning to come out of the woodwork and move around all over the place. It appears that the rut is underway, as more and more bucks have come out of hiding within the last week. There is no shortage of deer in Kewaunee County this year, and archery hunters have had good success with nearly all of them reporting at least seeing deer. The opening of pheasant hunting season went well overall, and the hunting will only get better with most of the crop fields having been harvested. The DNR and local sportsman clubs have once again stocked pheasants on a number of public and private properties providing plenty of opportunities to hunt. The cold weather has also pushed in a good crop of geese that are making use of the many freshly harvested agricultural fields. As always please remember to follow safe hunting practices, remember TAB K, and wear blaze orange whenever possible while hunting Kewaunee County's public hunting areas as these areas can become crowded on weekends. This time of year draws a number of different types of hunters and user groups including hikers and bikers to the area. Following simple safety precautions prevents accidents and allows everyone to have a safe and enjoyable fall. - Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Kewaunee

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Marguett County - There's no doubt that fall is upon us in Waushara and Marquette counties. As DNR staff makes their way around properties removing old fence lines or posting public hunting/fishing property boundaries, they are finding pre-rut/rutting activity from some of Wisconsin's finest bucks. DNR staff has been seeing many active scrapes along deer trails and plenty of rubs along those same trails. In short, it's a good time to be a deer hunter! Some people are occasionally upsetting a woodcock or two near the river bottoms, along with a grouse or two in the alder/aspen thickets near the waterways. Late October is generally a good time to see Wisconsin's only deciduous conifer showing its color. This unique tree is called the tamarack (Larix laricina). The tamarack is primarily found in wet, open, cold, and poorly drained soils such as swamps, bogs, and wet lowlands. This species puts on a beautiful show of gold during this time of year. Strap on some knee boots/hip boots, canoe down a stream, or just hike around a wet area to see the spectacular show as the color lasts only for a short time. - Brian Finch, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waupaca County - Rut is in full swing, and deer are pretty much moving 24-7. This is the season the hardcore archers wait all year for. There are plenty of geese around, and they are feeding in freshly harvested corn fields offering excellent field hunting opportunities. Local wood ducks have pretty much departed and not many migrants have shown up yet to fill the void. There is some woodcock around but many have left for wintering grounds. The season on woodcock ends on Monday November 4. Walleyes should start biting on the Wolf River any time now. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Calumet County - Goose hunters, trappers, and archery deer hunters are out in large numbers on both public and private lands throughout Calumet County. Goose hunters are harvesting significant numbers of birds on recently harvested crop fields. Trappers are enjoying a successful season so far with large numbers of raccoons being taken in addition to muskrats from area waterways. Archery hunters are saying the rut is starting and deer movement and activity is increasing. Standing corn fields are making deer sightings in some areas difficult. Deer registration stations are reporting a steady pace of deer being brought in for tagging. Pheasant hunters are enjoying an abundance of birds on the Brillion and Killsnake State Wildlife Areas. Stocking is up from 2012 and birds will continue to be released throughout the month of November. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Chilton

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - All trails are currently open. Fall colors are past peak, but some color still remains on stretches of the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. Robins, bluebirds, and turkey vultures are still hanging around this week, but will soon be headed to warmer climates. Small game season is in full swing. The trails do not close during hunting season, and all visitors should consider wearing bright colors when out in the forest. The horse and mountain bike trails will remain open until winter weather sets in; however, riders are asked to refrain from using the trails within 12 hours of significant precipitation, to prevent erosion and damage. Long Lake Campground is closed for the season. Mauthe Lake Campground has sites open for first-come, first served camping through winter. The showers and flush toilets have been shut down for the season, but drinking water is available behind the entrance station. Greenbush Group Camp is open and reservable through Nov, 23. New Prospect Horse Camp is open for first-come, first served camping through approx. Nov. 16; however the water has been shut off for the season. The Henry S. Reuss Ice Age Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. and weekends 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Debbie Harder, visitor services associate

Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit
Colors are improving at theSouthern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Amanda Prange Photo

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Fall color seems to be improving for the weekend. Shower and flush toilet building in the campground are closed. - Amanda Prange, visitor services associate

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan fishing pressure on the Sheboygan River decreased this past weekend, likely due to the cold weather and low catch rates. Most anglers continue to be observed around Esslingen Park and the Kohler area. Catches between the Kohler Dam and Kiwanis Park consisted mainly of coho, but a few chinook were caught as well as a small rainbow trout. Anglers reported a few bites, follow-ups, and lethargic fish. This could be due to low water levels and the recent sharp decrease in water temperature. Fish were caught on a mix of flies, spinners, and spawn sacs. Water levels have not changed in the past couple days, and water temperature has dropped to 50 degrees. Shore anglers in Sheboygan have been working off the piers, the docks at the boat launch, and the slips in the marina. Fishing has been relatively slow, but a few rainbows and browns have been caught in the marina on spawns sacs fished on the bottom. The fish cleaning stations in Sheboygan are now closed for the season.

Ozaukee County - In Port Washington a few chinook have been caught on spawn sacs and bobbers in the northeast corner of North Slip. Anglers fishing from the rocks downstream of the power plant discharge reported catching a brown trout, but catch rates were low overall. Quite a few anglers were spotted around the power plant discharge, but catch rates were low, with only a few chinook and a couple browns landed. Sauk Creek anglers working near the mouth of the creek reported a few chinook and coho caught on spawn sacs. A few boats have been fishing the harbor in Port Washington, and they have been catching coho, chinook, and brown trout on crankbaits.

Milwaukee County - Milwaukee trollers working outside of the break wall have been focusing in 40 to 70 feet of water for immature chinook, along with some browns. Spoons and crank baits produced the best, and J-plugs or flies also caught a few fish. Floating spawn around the boat docks was also productive for boaters looking for mature salmon. Anglers off of McKinley pier produced a few chinook and brown trout on spoons or blade baits along the pier and rocks, with gold and green colors producing the best. Shore anglers have had success using crank baits or floating spawn near the rocks or weed patches along the Sailing Center and skein was effective from the launch ramps at McKinley as well as across the street from the Colectivo coffee shop. There have also been some perch caught on minnows off the bottom by anglers under the Hoan Bridge near the Sail Loft restaurant, as well as in the Summerfest Lagoon. Fishing in Oak Creek has been slow, and water levels are quite low. Water is being discharged again at the Oak Creek Power Plant, but fishing has remained slow. Anglers have been seen fishing the Milwaukee River, with the majority of pressure concentrated in Kletzsch, Estabrook, and Hubbard Parks, as well as the area around the North Avenue dam. The majority of chinook were caught in Kletzsch Park and near Capitol Drive, and they were hitting spawn or small flies. A few coho, browns, and rainbows have also been caught. A few anglers have been seen on the Menomonee River near Miller Park, but success has been limited. The best presentation has been using skein, small flies, or small spinning baits to trigger a reaction strike. There have been a few crappies and perch caught on minnows under floats near the MMSD building.

Racine County - The flows on the Root River remain low, but rain is predicted over the next couple of days. Anglers have been fishing throughout the river, but the majority of action has been downstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility. Many anglers have been fishing the Washington Park area, and some nice 10 to 12 pound coho have been caught along with smaller coho and 3 to 4 pound browns. Other anglers have been seen between the Main Street bridge and the area around the Memorial Drive bridge. DNR crews processed over 275 fish at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, Oct. 28. So far this season, 2,598 fish have been processed, and a total of 963 chinook, 479 coho, 5 rainbow, and 165 brown trout have been passed upriver. Fish will be processed again on Monday, Nov. 4. Along the Racine lakefront, anglers fishing off the south pier and the rocks along the shoreline have been catching some browns and a few steelhead, but anglers reported that they were not biting very well.

Kenosha County - In Kenosha numbers of shore anglers in the harbor have tapered off, with the majority of anglers left fishing near the base of the south pier and behind the hotel. A few fish continue to jump in the harbor, and they look like coho salmon. A few remaining chinook can be seen swimming around, but their run appears to be over. Most shore anglers are using a combination of spawn under a bobber and various colored jigs or flies. In this area a few bright red colored male coho and some smaller brown trout have been caught. Fishing on the Pike River has been slow, and water levels are low for this time of year.

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Grant County - The Wisconsin River is finally back down to normal levels. The recent cold night weather has allowed a thin skin of ice to form on some of the backwaters. Some local wood ducks and teal have taken the warning and headed south. A few of the northern ducks have begun to replace them. Mississippi River hunters are reporting great numbers of waterfowl, and even a few canvasbacks on the pools; however. most are feeding in the safety of the open water. The woods are full of deer activity with lots of scrapes from eager bucks. It looks like it will be another good season for deer hunters this fall. Raccoon season has started off well with trappers finding more coon than last year. - Daniel Goltz, wildlife biologist, Boscobel

Bow hunters have reported increased buck sightings and movement corresponding to the fall rut. Continued harvesting of local soybean and corn fields has opened many areas. Panfish anglers have reported varying success with the fall bluegill fishing. Reports of "hand sized" and larger bluegills near Far Nuff Landing in Mississippi River pool number 11 and Wyalusing State Park landing in pool number 10. Waterfowl hunters commented that the fair weather has not been good for duck hunting. Most of the blue winged teal have left the area after the last frost, and the northern mallard migration has not commenced. There are a fair number of geese in the Snyder Slough area of pool number 11 on the Mississippi River. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville

Iowa County - Winter is definitely on its way to Wisconsin! Cool, breezy conditions have caused some exciting changes here in western Iowa County. Muskie and walleye are biting well in Twin Valley Lake as they try to fatten up for winter. Pheasant hunters are having success around Avoca and are reporting successful hunting due to better weather and good stocking. Dry land trapping began on Oct. 19 with mink and muskrat trapping starting on Oct. 26. Beaver season starts on Nov. 2. Archery hunters are also beginning to see larger bucks moving through the area. Please remember when hunting on DNR land to remove your tree stand at the end of each day. Enjoy the many outdoor activities as daylight savings time sneaks up on us November 3. - Chris Weller, recruit conservation warden, Iowa County

White-tailed bucks are showing signs of rutting as scrapes are becoming more prevalent in areas and deer are becoming more active at night. Keep your eyes peeled when driving in heavy deer areas. For deer hunters who are interested in getting their deer tested for CWD, please follow this link to a list of registration stations (set up for testing) http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/registersample.html. The DNR continues to stock area wildlife properties for pheasant hunting. Please follow this link for a list of properties that are stocked by DNR and area Rod & Gun Clubs: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/pheasantmap.html. Woodcock sightings have been sporadic in southern Wisconsin at best, so it seems we are still waiting for them to make their move from the North Woods. Other notable wildlife activity includes white-throated sparrows and juncos making their way into Iowa County, and some are still seeing the last (and toughest?) meadowlarks sticking it out in local prairies/grasslands. Sandhill cranes continue to build in large flocks along the Lower Wisconsin River. The majority of the warm-season prairie grasses (big bluestem, Indian grass, switch grass, etc) are now in their fall/winter colors and are in perfect seed collection phase. Many of the trees have dropped their leaves, but some maples continue to hold theirs, while the oaks have yet to show their colors. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville

Yellowstone Lake State Park - Trails in the park are open. Campgrounds and facilities are open. Outdoor water is turned off for the season. The dump station and one shower building will remain open as long as the weather allows. Water is always available at the park office. The shooting range is open and is being heavily used. - John Arthur, park supervisor

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Dodge County - Whooping cranes have been sighted in the early morning hours on the northeast side of the Horicon Marsh. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Dane County - Blackbirds are starting to congregate in large roosts at area marshlands. Flocks of over 50,000 are not uncommon in Dane County. Sparrow migration is now on the tail end but we have seen our first large influx of American tree sparrows, a common winter resident. Eastern bluebirds are massing for migration or in likely wintering areas. To view these birds check old fields and savannas with grapevines or other fruit sources. White-tailed deer are now beginning to rut. Many observers have reported scrapes, rubs and bucks chasing does during the day in the past week. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

Sauk County - The autumn leaves in Sauk County are past peak, however the oak trees have not turned yet and in the next week some nice merlot colors will accent the Baraboo hills. Walleye fishing activity has been picking up on the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin. The whitetail buck rut is really going and archery hunters should see deer activity increasing with the larger bucks on the move. There have been many observations of deer scrapes in the woods along with a lot of deer activity. Archery hunters are reminded to use caution when climbing in and out of tree stands. Please use safety equipment while using tree stands. Last week a bow hunter in Sauk County was killed from falling from a tree stand. Hunters must be careful in the next few weeks to make Wisconsin a safe and great place to hunt. - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac

Devil's Lake State Park - The off-season has arrived, though fall colors are lingering longer than usual this year. Nights are dropping down to near-freezing temperatures, and campers hurry to build morning fires so they can have a hot breakfast and warm their fingers. Daytime temperatures are cool and crisp, and sight-lines are opening in the woods as leaves drop from the trees. Some hikers consider this the absolute best time of the year for exploring trails and back-country. About 70 percent of the foliage has turned to color, and 30 percent of the leaves have fallen. Colors are looking nice now. The maples turned very late this year, but are now displaying their typical golden yellows. Wind or rain could change appearances any day though. Northern Lights and Ice Age campgrounds are now closed for the season. Quartzite Campground (or a portion) will be open throughout the winter. Water facilities (hot showers, running water restrooms, RV dump/fill stations, outdoor water taps) are now closed for the season. The north shore Chateau and all concessions are now closed for the season.- Richard Hesed, visitor services associate

Mirror Lake State Park -Bike trails close Nov. 1. All trails are open for hiking until the snow arrives. Campsites are available in the Sandstone Ridge Campground a first-come first-serve basis. All of the toilet/shower buildings and water fountains have been shut down for the season but vault toilets are open. Water is available at the park office and a hose is required for filling your tank. The dump station is closed for the season. Migratory bird hunting, which is allowed in the open areas of the park during established migratory bird hunting seasons, and small game hunting from Nov. 1 through Nov. 14 ending at noon each day.

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Pierce County - Duck numbers have dropped off considerably in the last week on the Mississippi River. Deer are on the move with lots of small bucks chasing does. With the increase in deer movement car deer collisions are on the rise so be aware will driving especially at dawn and dusk. - Brad Peterson, conservation warden, Baldwin

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - There are still some nice fall colors at the state forest. Coppery browns are abundant in the oaks and there are still some yellows present in aspen. Tamarack is also a deep yellow. The best place to see this is on County Highway O heading east of Millston. Electricity has been added to eight campsites at Castle Mound bringing the total up to 14 sites. Also we are increasing the length of the reservation season for the electric sites. Starting next year Castle Mounds's 14 electric sites will be reservable from May 1st through early October. We hope people will take advantage of this great time to visit the state forest. - Peter Bakken, superintendent

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Elroy-Sparta State Trail - Walk in campgrounds and the Kendall Depot will close Nov. 1 and the three tunnels on the trail will be closed for the season on Nov. 6.

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Last Revised: Thursday, October 31, 2013