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Outdoor Report for November 14, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
The white-tailed deer rut is continuing in full swing across much of the state, with bucks chasing does during the daytime and lots of scrapes and rubs still being found, but some areas report deer activity is beginning to slow, with bucks locked down with does.
Archers have been out in very strong numbers and continue to report some very good success. Good numbers of pheasant hunters have also been out and are also reporting success on stocked wildlife areas. Although blaze orange clothing isn't required when gun deer seasons are not open, conservation wardens say with the large numbers of hunters in the field, wearing blaze orange while pheasant hunting greatly increases hunter safety.
Leaf drop is now progressing rapidly in southern Wisconsin, with oaks beginning to drop leaves in the last week. With leaves off the trees, grouse hunters are reporting improved success.
Visitors to Wisconsin state park properties are reminded that many properties will open to hunting and trapping on November 15. Maps showing areas open and closed to hunting are available on the DNR website and posted at all properties. All park visitors are encouraged to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing during the hunting seasons, which remain open in parks through December 15 for firearms and through January 5 for archery. For a list of open properties, maps and more information search the DNR website for "hunting state parks."
The cold weather of the last week has caused a lot of puddle ducks to move south, while bringing in increasing numbers of diving ducks. Strong north winds in the last week increased Canada goose and tundra swan migrations.
With all the hunting activity and colder temperatures, fishing activity has slowed and the open water fishing season is coming to an end in the Northwoods, with ice beginning to form along shorelines of larger lakes, but it will still be at least a couple of weeks before there is any safe ice for ice fishing. A few musky anglers are still out, but without much success. Some crappies and perch were being caught on the Oconto River. In the south, walleye continue to be caught on Lake Wisconsin and the Rock River. Coho and chinook salmon and some rainbow and brown trout continue to be caught on Lake Michigan tributaries, especially the Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers.
With the opening of the nine-day gun deer season rapidly approaching, hunters should make sure firearms are properly sighted in and that hunting gear is order. Search the DNR website for "shooting ranges" to find a map of public ranges. Hunters can also get pre-season questions answered by joining any of three live online chats. They all begin at noon: on Tuesday, Nov. 19, what to expect for the season; on Wednesday, Nov. 20, on hunting land accessible to the public; and on Thursday, Nov. 21 on safety and regulations. To join: search "ask the experts" on the DNR website.
Statewide Birding Report
Last year birders across the western Great Lakes were spoiled by a bounty of irruptive winter finches and northern owls. But what does the upcoming winter have in store? Here's a Wisconsin eBird page story with the latest outlook based on early season observation patterns so far this fall. In a nutshell, things look to be relatively slow. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The season seems to be transitioning from fall to winter at the Brule River State Forest. The Bois Brule River fishing season will close at the end of fishing hours on Friday, Nov. 15. The temperatures have been dropping, the leaves have fallen, snow has been falling sporadically, ponds and wetlands are icing up, and people are shifting their attention from fishing and camping to the upcoming gun deer opener. Bucks are actively pursuing does, creating an increased risk of car/deer collisions. In preparation for some fresh venison in the freezer check out Wisconsin DNR's Pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/wdnr/wild-game-recipes for some wild game recipe ideas. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the deer rut going on and the recent cold and breezy weather, the open-water fishing season has basically come to an end in this part of the Northwoods. There have been a few musky anglers that have still been dragging suckers around, but there have been no reports of any catches being made. A few of the smaller lakes and ponds have developed a thin covering of ice, and some of the large lakes do have a bit of fringe ice along the shorelines of back bay areas. But there is NO safe ice on any of the lakes or flowages, and the start of any kind of ice fishing still looks to be several weeks away. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Vilas County - Cold weather has kept the snow on the ground in Northern Vilas County. Some of the smaller ponds are seeing some ice at times but safe ice fishing conditions are not expected for some time. Extreme care should be taken when pursuing outdoor activities on or around water as anyone finding themselves in the water now has only a few minutes before hypothermia and disaster sets in. - Michael Sealander, conservation warden, St. Germain
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Marinette County - The only fishing action observed last week was on the Menominee River. With one gate open at the Hattie Street Dam anglers were enjoying success with walleye and white fish. Jig heads tipped with crawler or minnow fished in the current worked well. During the hours of darkness anglers fishing from the fishermen's walkway at Hattie Street have had success for walleye using large Rap's or Thunder Sticks fished in the current. - Kevin King - creel clerk
Oconto County - Crappie are still being caught below the dam at Stiles, slip bobbers and minnows are working. No reports of trout caught last week on the Oconto River. Perch anglers fishing the Oconto Breakwater and inside Oconto Park II are still catching good numbers of fish, although many are small and being returned to the water. Crappie rigs and slip bobbers tipped with minnows or crawlers are working well. - Kevin King - creel clerk
Brown County - At Fox River Metro fishing pressure was very low. There were only a handful of trailers observed through the week, with most of the boats staying out a long time to fish. A few anglers were targeting musky for a little while at the mouth of the river using crank baits (chrome/green) in about 12 feet of water having no luck. The anglers then switched for walleye up at the dam. They caught four, but released all while using crank baits (green) in about 6 feet of water. The anglers reported the walleye were about 26 to 27 inches in length. At the Suamico Shoreline fishing pressure was very slow this week with a few anglers looking for perch. Only a handful were caught (all were released due to small size) using minnows and night crawlers for bait. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Oconto County - Deer are in the rut heavily with bucks being seen chasing all day long. There have been some reports of nice deer being taken. Waterfowl hunting continues to be good on Green Bay. A wide variety of divers are in the area with bluebills being the most common birds in hunters' bags. It seems the recent cold snap has pushed some new mallards down as well as some Canada geese. For bird watchers there are large numbers of tundra swans on Green Bay. Perch anglers are still catching fish in the Oconto River and between the break walls in Oconto. Fish are running small but with some patience you can catch some bigger fish. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Shawano County - With cooler temperatures many diver ducks can be seen on area lakes especially Shawano. Swans have been migrating to the east recently. Deer are in the rut and many car-deer kills are being reported along with many lucky archers. Small game is still in full swing with many pheasant hunters and grouse hunters taking advantage of the sunny days. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Whitetail rutting activity in northern Waupaca County is increasing. Deer are moving throughout the day. - Mark Schraufnagel, conservation warden, Waupaca County
The severe cold snap has driven many ducks on their merry way to warmer climates. There has been excellent grouse hunting conditions with 100 percent leaf off conditions. The deer rut still going on but starting to slow down and there are plenty of geese around. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - The cold is here in Waushara County. Puddles have iced up, but not for long as a warmer weekend is in the forecast. The deer are moving and more bucks are being reported chasing does during the daytime. Some nice bucks are being harvested as well. Other hunting activity is a little slower as most folks are focusing on archery or getting ready for the upcoming gun deer season. This is a reminder to make sure to check your stands early and make sure to wear a safety harness not only while you are in the tree, but climbing in and out of the tree! It may take a few more seconds to get in the tree, but can save your life. More swans and geese have been seen and heard moving south. Corn is coming off the fields quickly and making for some very good stopover habitat for the migrating waterfowl. There have been some beautiful nights to take rides and see all kinds of critters in the fields. Enjoy before the green turns into a sea of white! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan water levels are decent on the Sheboygan River. In the Kohler area most catches have been on flies, with coho and brown trout taken, as well as the occasional rainbow. In the Esslingen Park area, catches have consisted mainly of brown trout caught on flies. Very few anglers have been observed downstream of Kiwanis Park, and no catches have been reported in the lower reaches. Fishing effort at the Sheboygan lakefront has been low off the piers, but a few anglers have been working off the docks near the Deland boat launch and in the slips in the marina. Those casting crank baits and spoons from the launch docks reported catching a few rainbows, and those using dead alewives in the slips caught a few rainbow and brown trout.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington a couple of coho, chinook, and rainbow trout have been caught on spawn sacs near the power plant discharge and in the north slip. Fishing effort from shore has been relatively low in recent days. The fish cleaning stations in Port have been closed for the season.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee shore anglers have been catching some perch on minnows off the bottom under the Hoan Bridge, as well as in the Summerfest Lagoon. Access to the fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant will be closed after Nov. 15. 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. Coho, brown, and a few rainbow trout have all been caught throughout the upper reaches of river. Both spawn and small flies have been effective. 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 - In Racine, fishing activity at the lakefront was slow with the majority of action concentrated on the Root River. After the rain late last week, coho moved upriver in large numbers. Anglers have been fishing all the way up to the Horlick dam with success. Most fish caught were coho and brown trout, with an occasional steelhead. Both spawn and brightly colored flies have been productive. The Root River Steelhead Facility is closed for the season. DNR crews handled a total of 3,788 fish, and 1,281 coho, 1,070 chinook, 7 rainbows, and 166 browns were released upstream. Electroshocking surveys have been conducted recently in the lower stretches of the Root and the Racine harbor. Good numbers of large brown trout and some coho have been seen.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha fishing pressure in the harbor has dropped. Most anglers have been concentrated in the corner near Navy Memorial Park. Anglers have been seeing nice size brown trout, and some have been caught on spawn fished under a bobber.
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - The cooler weather is finally moving in and deer movement has increased significantly. Archers are having good success and bucks are being seen more during daylight hours. Many people are reporting small bucks moving in the area, while the larger bucks are waiting a little longer. Fawns are beginning to split away from does. It appears the cold weather has slowed musky biting, but the ones that are being caught are certainly worth the wait. Fur trappers are out in full force with a lot of success reported harvesting raccoons. The above average fur price continues to attract new people to trapping. Visitors to Wisconsin state park properties are reminded that many properties will open to hunting and trapping on November 15. Maps are posted at all properties indicating which areas are open and closed to hunting. All park visitors are encouraged to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing during the hunting seasons, which remain open in parks through December 15 for firearms and through January 5 for archery. For a list of open properties, maps and more information search the DNR website for "hunting state parks." - Chris Weller recruit conservation warden, Western Iowa County
White-tailed deer are in full rut in Iowa County. Bucks are very active right now, and have been seen at all hours of the day chasing receptive does. For hunters who are interested in having their deer tested for CWD, please follow this link to a list of cooperative registration stations in southern Wisconsin who are collecting tissue samples for CWD. DNR and local rod & gun clubs continue to stock public hunting grounds with pheasants. See this link for a list of public land stocked with pheasants.. Canada geese and sandhill cranes are continuing to group up in large numbers, and the recent cold spell has pushed more in from the north. Snow buntings and rough-legged hawks are being reported in the county. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville
Wyalusing State Park -Late fall has certainly arrived at Wyalusing State Park. All of the trees with the exception of the mighty oaks are bare. The tamaracks with needles of pure gold at the park entrance stand as tall sentinels welcoming park visitors. The drive into the park this morning was exceptionally beautiful with fresh snowfall, sunlight on the golden tamarack needles, and bald eagles roosting at the edge of the forest, bordered by the clear blue sky and dark green of evergreen trees. A Park Access Permit is required for anyone who harvests a deer using any type of weapon, including bow and muzzleloader as well as during the nine-day gun deer season and the statewide antlerless season. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Residents have had reports of seeing several tundra swans in the Horicon area. Hunters are reminded make sure not to confuse the swans with snow geese. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - In Columbia County, whitetail deer are starting to move heavily with the rut heating up. Anglers on Lake Wisconsin have been having good success catching walleyes near Okee both from shore and in boats. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette
Bucks are still displaying rutting behavior with lots of scrapes and rubs still being found. Watch out for deer crossing the road, where one crosses, look for more following behind. Most leaves are down making visibility much easier in the woods, although invasives like buckthorn are still holding leaves, along with maybe half of the oaks. Large "murders" of crows have been seen this week and last week, especially in the Poynette and Rio areas. Huge flocks of sandhill cranes can also be found around the county. Look for them on the sandbars of the Wisconsin River by Pine Island, or in the Pardeeville/Cambria/Fall River areas of the county. The northern ducks still don't appear to be in the county, in large numbers at any rate. We should start seeing more of the diving species soon. Hunting activity has really picked up on the public hunting grounds with many happy pheasant and bow hunters using the properties. Remember that baiting and leaving tree stands on state properties are not allowed on any DNR lands in Columbia County. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Sauk County - The deer rut is in full swing. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for whooping cranes as they make their way through southern Wisconsin. Large flocks of cranes and geese can still be seen in harvested fields. - Nancy Frost, wildlife biologist, North Freedom
Devil's Lake State Park - The off-season has arrived, and enough snow fell on November 11 to make the ground 80 percent white. Nights are dropping down below freezing and campers hurry to build morning fires so they can have a hot breakfast and warm their fingers. Daytime temperatures are cool and crisp. Some hikers consider this the absolute best time of the year for exploring trails and back-country. - Richard Hesed, visitor services associate
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - A slight increase in the number of anglers along the Rock River has been seen, with walleyes being caught throughout Rock County. Duck hunting areas have been busy during the weekends, and wardens have seen a variety of species in hunters' bags, including ring-necks, mallards, teal, wood ducks, and geese. Wardens continue to receive complaints regarding duck hunters shooting before and after legal hunting hours. Hunters are reminded to check the hunting hours daily, as the times change slightly each day. Wardens have received a large number of questions regarding where hunters can find public hunting land. A number of public hunting grounds are open throughout Rock County, including state-owned lands, Federal Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) and Voluntary Public Access (VPA) lands. VPA properties within Rock County can be located by searching the keyword "VPA" on the DNR website, or by stopping by the Janesville DNR Service Center for maps. Service Center hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The deer rut is in full swing, and wardens have encountered moving bucks in the middle of the day in many of the public hunting grounds. Wardens are also seeing a large number of buck rubs and scrapes, as well as an increase in the number of car-killed deer. Hunters are reminded that on all DNR-managed lands all tree stands need to be removed each evening, and screw-in tree steps are not allowed. Baiting and feeding is prohibited in all of Rock County. Pheasant hunters have been quite successful lately, with a large number of birds being both stocked and harvested from area public hunting grounds. Pheasant hunters are reminded to remove all fired hulls from the field. Although blaze orange is not required by law unless hunting during an open gun deer season, wearing blaze orange while pheasant hunting greatly increases hunter safety, particularly with the large number of pheasant hunters taking to the field. - Boyd Richter & Keith Meverden, conservation warden, Janesville
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Buffalo County - Flocks of tundra swans are starting to show up in various backwaters of the Mississippi River, with more expected to show up in the coming week. Trapping activity has picked up, with several species' fur coming into prime. Deer movement seems to have slowed somewhat, with hunters reporting seeing bucks locked down with does. Deer hunters who plan on camping in the Tiffany State Wildlife Area are reminded to fill out and send in their permit, which is available online on the Tiffany SWA webpage, or at the Alma DNR office. - Mark Rasmussen, wildlife biologist, Alma
Vernon County - Leaves have fallen and plenty of bow hunters are out in the woods. Wardens have received numerous complaints of illegal baiting so remember that Vernon County has a no baiting or feeding rule in effect. When you're out in your stand remember the basics of tree stand safety. Vernon County has already had a couple tree stand accidents so remember to wear your safety harness, select a tree that can support your weight, have three points of contact while climbing, use a haul line for your weapon, let people know where you'll be hunting and carry a cell phone in case of a fall. - Lynna Gurnoe, conservation warden recruit, Vernon County
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Jackson County -The leaves are off the trees in the Black River Falls area and the weather is starting to cool off. The deer are in full rut and hunters are harvesting large amounts of buck and doe. There are numerous people hunting the public lands in Jackson County and doing quite well. There are still numerous people fishing from boats on Lake Arbutus. The fishing is still hot and walleyes and smallmouth bass are being caught by trolling in 8 to 10 feet of water. - Kurt Haas, conservation warden, Black River Falls
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Clark County - Tundra swans and snow buntings are making their way into Central Wisconsin. Snowshoe hares are starting to get white legs and grouse have been very active. All the woodcock appear to have made their way through on their migration. Deer are moving and the turkeys are getting fatter, just in time for hunting season. Smallmouth and walleye fishing is excellent on the Black River if you are using crappie minnows. - Adam Hanna, conservation warden, Neillsville
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Adams County - Area bucks are chasing does in pursuit of mating. The diver ducks are in heavy numbers now around Adams County. There are also groups of swans that can be seen migrating and the geese are in good numbers as well. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship
Wood County - The deer rut is in full swing with bucks running scraps during all hours now. Walleyes are still biting on the Wisconsin River with some legal size being caught. The number of musky being caught has slowed a little, but good size fish are still being landed. - Bryan R. Lockman, conservation warden, Wisconsin Rapids