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Outdoor Report

Published December 6, 2018 by the Central Office

Subscribe to DNR website updates.

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 snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

Areas of central to norther Wisconsin picked up anywhere from a couple inches to 4 or more inches of snow last weekend. Snow depths now range from an inch or less in southern and central Wisconsin to some areas of the north having 4 to 6 and even more in the far north Lake Superior snowbelt. A few northern state properties have been rolling ski trails but none have been able to groom or set tracks yet. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism launched its Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR) this week. Almost all snowmobile trails in the state remain closed and will until at least December 15 when most trail easements begin. Trail openings depend on snow depths and are determined by individual counties and the snowmobile clubs that maintain trails. Remember, using trails before there are officially opened is trespass. Iron County is the only area that has been able to groom and open a few of their trails.

Swamps are slowly freezing and lake ice is getting thicker. Reports range from open water to 6 inches in central and northern Wisconsin. More and more anglers are venturing out onto the ice. As always, check the ice conditions before venturing out. Those who have been fishing have been getting a mixed bag of bass, northern, walleye, and panfish.

A Statewide Antlerless Deer season (all weapon types) Is open through this Sunday, December 9 and even archery hunters may only harvest antlerless deer during this hunt. Deer hunters are reporting the deer are not moving much as of lately and when they do move, they are moving just before hunting hours close. All upland hunters (including archers) must follow the blaze orange requirements and anyone enjoying the outdoors this weekend should consider wearing blaze orange or brightly colored clothing.

The grouse season is open until December 31, and state wildlife officials are encouraging hunters who harvest birds and anyone who finds a dead grouse to send in samples for a survey on West Nile virus.. You can find out how to get a sample kit and send in samples postage covered by searching the DNR website for ruffed grouse and then click on on the tab for disease sampling.

Tracks from rabbits, squirrels, weasels and deer are just a few of the animals roaming fields and forests. Snowy owls have been spotted near the Bay of Green Bay. Rough-legged hawks and snow buntings are numerous in the Spooner area, and pine siskins are beginning to arrive. There are lots of eagles in central Wisconsin right now.

The draft Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan that will provide guidance on providing outdoor recreation in Wisconsin over the next five years is now available for public review and comment.

There is a new moon on Friday night and if there are clear skies it should make for some good star-gazing.

Remember, 2019 annual state park admission stickers and trail passes are on sale now. They make great holiday gifts!

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties

Celebrate and learn about Christmas past at two events this Saturday. Havenwoods will explores what did people did in winter without smart phones, TVs, and video games. Take a couple of steps back to life in the early 1900s. Play some games, make some toys, and head out on your own peaceful walk. Heritage hill will look at how Christmas became an American tradition and how it would have been celebrated during different periods of Wisconsin's early history. Heritage Hill State Historical Park is operated by the non-profit Heritage Hill Corporation and a per-person admission to the park is charged. Both Kettle Moraine North and South are hosting nature craft programs and the Mackenzie Center is holding a holiday greenery workshop. Rib Mountain will hold its monthly hike and Roche-A-Cri is holding a woods work day to remove invasive woody plants from the park.
Click on the links below for highlighted programs this weekend or click on Get Outdoors," for a complete listing of events.
Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday and Sunday, December 8 & 9, 2018

For all events search Get Outdoors

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

Dec 8, 9 a.m.-noon - Roche-a-Cri Woods Workday: Cutting buckthorn and honeysuckle - Get outside and help get rid of buckthorn and honeysuckle at Roche-a-Cri Woods SNA. Warm up your brush cutting arms and legs and help volunteers control invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle that are just starting to become established in portions of the floodplain forest. Many plants and animals found on this area are rare or absent across most of the Central Sand Plains. Preventing invasive plants from becoming widely established here will ensure these species continue to have a place to survive, in a place where they can be appreciated and looked-after by generations to come!

Dec 8, 9 a.m.-noon Rice Lake Dry Prairie Workday: Cutting and burning brush - Get outside and take care of Rice Lake Dry Prairie. Help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday. Protect some great hill prairie in the process (this will be the first workday at this SNA). We will cut, treat, and pile brush on this remnant hill prairie overlooking Whitewater Lake. Honeysuckle is the main target and can spread and shade out prairie plants at this site. No skills needed you will be trained onsite

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program /topic/lands/naturalareas/volunteer.html page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Mostly gray skies, moderate temperatures, and a few small snow events have been the norm for this past week. Clear skies are on the way, it sure will be nice to see the sun! Maybe this weekend would be a good one to bundle up and enjoy a winter evening bonfire.The clear skies and a new moon on Friday night should make for some good star-gazing. For some other outdoors activities, you can head to the AfterHours Ski Trails for skiing or snowshoeing. The ski trails have been rolled and are in fair to good condition with a 1.5-inch base. There is a some stubble and grass still poking through in spots, however. There's not enough snow to set track, but there is about 4 inches on the ground. A daily trail pass is $5, an annual pass (good through December 31, 2019) is $25. Trail passes are required for skiers 16 years of age and older. You can self-register for passes at the ski trail. Annual passes will be mailed to you. If you plan to be out in the woods, remember that the Statewide Antlerless Deer season (all weapon types) Is open through this Sunday, December 9. Wear orange if you are out there! 2019 annual stickers and trail passes are on sale now. They make great holiday gifts! If you would like to cut a Christmas tree from the Brule River State Forest, permits can be obtained at the Brule DNR Headquarters. The cost for a permit is $5. December 10 is the application deadline for 2019 bear and spring turkey harvest permits. For more information on how to submit your application, visit   (bear) or  (turkey). - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Winter weather has arrived in the Grantsburg Area and bird activity is at a low point. Flowages and lakes are mostly iced over at this point, and we have a thin layer of snow covering the ground. Rough-legged hawks and snow buntings are numerous in the area, and pine siskins are beginning to arrive. You may still see occasional waterfowl species on the rivers where there is no ice, but they are scarce. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - Flambeau Hills Hiking, Biking and Ski Trail have approximately 2 to 3 inches of snow depth. Not enough for ski grooming yet. Trails are not designed for high-speed travel. Lake of the Pines Nature Trail, Little Falls/Slough Gundy Scenic Area, Sobieski Wildlife Area and Bass Lake Wilderness Area are just to name a few. Some of these trails can be a real challenge. Depending upon the snow depth, you may want to consider snowshoeing the trails. The Flambeau River water level is high with ice chunks flowing. The lakes have a thin layer of ice. There is a light layer of ice on the lakes with light snow cover. Tracks from rabbits, squirrels, weasels, deer and elk are just a few of the animals roaming the forest and it is amazing what you see and hear when you just watch and listen. The deer and elk are feeding heavily to fatten up in preparation for the deep winter months. Many are feeding in the active timber cuts on the forest. There are cow/calf groups with some of the young bulls. The big bulls are forming bachelor groups. The grouse season is open until December 31, and some various deer hunting opportunities are still available, check your 2018 Deer Hunting Regulations. There are seven active logging sales at this time on the forest. Be aware of large logging trucks on the roads. Come and enjoy this beautiful river and the wilderness of the Forest. If you have a plan to hunt or hike, we suggest you bring a compass, as some navigational devices will not have reception. Have a good rest of the week and weekend. The weather forecast calls for Friday to be mostly sunny with a high of 17 and a low of 5. Saturday, sunny with a high of 24 and a low of 10. Sunday, sunny with a high of 27 and a low of 11. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - A couple to several inches of snow blanket the state forest. Winter has its grips on the landscape. Swamps are slowly freezing and lake ice is getting thicker. Pine grosbeaks are being seen along roadsides feeding and grouse are budding in the trees. It is quite time for the observer before the trails for winter use open up. Enjoy the silence. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

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Northeast Region

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - There are about 2-5 inches of snow covering most of Marinette county with the heaviest snow falling on the northern portions of the county. Snowy owls have been spotted just south of the county line near the Bay of Green Bay. More and more anglers are venturing out onto the ice. Reports range from open water to 6 inches. Be careful out there! Those who have been fishing have been getting a mixed bag of bass, northern, walleye, and panfish. Muzzleloader season wraps up on Wed and the statewide antlerless only hunt begins on Thursday. All upland hunters (including archers) must follow the blaze orange requirements. Also, even if archery hunting, only antlerless deer may be harvested. Don't forget, the deadline to apply for spring turkey and bear hunting is Dec 10. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Anglers are getting out on early ice and having some success with panfish. As always, check the ice conditions before venturing out. There are LOTS of eagles in central Wisconsin right now. Right now is a great time to see this majestic bird. Deer hunters are reporting the deer are not moving much as of lately and when they do move, they are moving just before hunting hours close. If hunters want to be successful, try getting close to where they bed for the day. The recent snow cover has helped hunters see deer much better. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Currently have 3-6 inches of snow in central WI. Snowmobile trails not open yet. Deer starting to move during daylight hours again, seeing a decent amount of muzzle loading hunting pressure. Almost all water bodies now frozen. Ducks are now gone, still have geese around. Have seen a couple of Northern Harriers in the last week. People are starting to ice fish. Reports are that northern have been biting good. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

No reports.

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South Central Region

No reports.

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West Central Region

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - It's beginning to look and feel a lot like winter. The Black River area received 1-4 inches of snow this past weekend. All trails are still open to hikers until we get enough snow to groom trails for skiing. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the 20s with lows in the single digits. If you would like to cut a Christmas tree from the Black River State Forest, Forest Product permits can be purchased at the Castle Mound campground office. Please call ahead to verify office hours. 715-284-4103. Winter ATV and UTV trails are closed. Trails will reopen on Dec 15th, weather permitting. UTVs are allowed on winter ATV trails, except for designated snowmobile only trails or any other trail that was previously closed to UTV use.- Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Dunn County - Inland lakes are forming good ice in areas where there isn't any flow. The ice fishing panfish bite has been fair. There is snow cover throughout the county - colder temps and snow are drawing deer to food sources. - Jeremiah Redemann, conservation warden, Menomonie

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Cross country ski/snowshoe trails are not packed or groomed at this time. There are areas of trail with grass showing and we had under 3 inches of snow. Trails will be groomed when we get at least 3 inches more of snow. Snowshoes will be available to use in the park when we have more snow. Ice is starting to form on bays with the cooler weather. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, December 06, 2018

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