River Currents

by Free Speech on September 18, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Gary Engberg
©2009 Gary Engberg Outdoors

The Outdoors is Just Starting to Heat Up

Fall hen turkey

Fall hen turkey

The weather this past week was like supposed to be in July and August. The temperatures have been in the mid 80’s with sunny or partly sunny sky’s for the past week with much of the same weather forecasted for this coming week. Southern Wisconsin had a much cooler than normal summer with just enough precipitation at the right time for most of the areas crops to look in fairly good shape. I’m starting to see farmers chopping corn for silage and soybeans are also getting close to their harvest. The harvest will greatly help the hunters who had the deer bow and the fall turkey season’s open last Saturday by giving them a greater field of vision once the crops are down. Here’s a run-down on what’s happening in the outdoors now that hunting seasons are opening and fall’s prime fishing is on the horizon. This week, I’ll give you some hunting tips for game that is now open and next week I’ll start my fall fishing round-up.

Bow season for deer opened this past Saturday and I spent some time talking to hunters at the Mazomanie Public Hunting Grounds and other hunters who were hunting on private lands. Most of the hunters complained about the warm temperatures, the bugs, the limited visibility, and few deer. The Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City registered 6 deer over the weekend which is well below normal, but the harvest will improve as the weather cools, the crops are harvested, and the trees loose their leaves. I talked to hunters who hunted up north, west near the Mississippi River, and locally with virtually all hunters saying the same thing, tough hunting and few animals moving. But, the hunters were still happy to be in the woods with better days promised in the not so distant future.

The number one food this time of year for both deer and turkeys is acorns or mast from oak trees. This time of year, acorns will attract more deer than any other food source. If possible, try to put a tree stand near the mild and preferred white oaks. Their acorns are milder tasting and the number one choice of whitetail deer this time of the season. Burr oak acorns are also good while black and red oaks tend to be bitter. Our area of the state also has been very dry, so hunting near a water source is also a very good idea. Once the rut begins, bucks are more concerned with sex than food. But does are still actively feeding, so if you hunt the doe feeding areas you should find some bucks too.

Some bow hunter’s still hunt this time of year. The key thing to do is to try to sound like a squirrel, turkey, or deer as you slowly work your way through the woods. Unnatural sounds and continued movement will spook any of the deer in your area. Hunters should take a tip from Native Americans who always hunted with the sun behind them, hunted upwind or crosswind, and used the shadows and natural cover to disappear while they searched for deer. You should try this too if you are one who doesn’t want to sit in a tree stand or ground blind during this early part of the season. Try to be patient, rest where you can watch game trails, and dress comfortably for lots of movement. A hunter in a tree stand has better odds of harvesting a deer, but still hunting can be a real challenge.

The fall turkey season also opened this past Saturday and the warm weather also hampered them. The two registration stations that I checked had not had a turkey registered. I saw only a few turkey hunters in my travels and they said that they only heard a few turkeys and didn’t have any in shooting range.

Walter Parrott, a member of the Redhead Pro Hunting Team, says that if you want to harvest a fall turkey the key, much like it is during the spring, is to get out and find their roost trees. Look under the trees for turkey tracks, j-shaped droppings (toms), and black-edged breast feathers. You can also look in sunny spots for the shallow, loose soil depressions that they use for a dusting area. Now, the turkey’s favorite food is grasshoppers in the field and acorns in the woods. A good way to improve your odds is to get out early in the morning and find which way they fly down from their roosts. This should have been done before the season opened, but it still can be successfully done.

Resident geese and goslings

Resident geese and goslings

Hopefully, you will have found some of their favorite locations. Then when you find the turkeys, scatter the flock and wait for them to regroup while listening and calling sporadically and softly. Don’t call aggressively and stay alert because gobblers will often answer with a cluck or yelp.

Wisconsin allows hens and young jakes to be harvested along with the toms. A nice thing about this time of year is that you can scout for turkeys while deer hunting and vice versa.

The Wisconsin dove and early goose season both opened September 1. A majority of the doves and geese are local residents and not migratory birds. The key for early dove hunting is to find the roosting trees, the feeding fields, and the water holes. Hunters should try to set-up along these routes to intercept them as they fly from spot to spot. Decoys can also help the dove hunter. But, the doves are smart and will change their traveling routes if pressured. This is why you must wear good camouflage clothing and hide yourself in a blind or fencerow. Doves are plentiful all over southern Wisconsin and they are common on public lands if there is food, water, and old trees for roosting. More and more hunters are finding doves to be very challenging and mighty tasty. If dove hunting be sure to have plenty of shells because no matter how good a shot you are you will go through shells.

The geese that are being shot are like the doves’, resident birds that live here all year or migrate a little south. These are not the migrating geese that come through Wisconsin on their way south to southern Illinois. Much like doves, geese will change their flight patterns when pressured. It’s important to stay on top of the birds which entail regular scouting. I suggest a good pair of quality optics (Vortex) for seeing geese, doves, turkeys, and deer while scouting. This early goose season will soon be closing.

Scouting and patterning your birds and deer is the key to early fall hunting. Many animals are nocturnal during this warm weather and many hunters that I’ve talked to have said that they are “seeing” game on their trail cams, but only at night. As the weather cools, the days shorten, crops are harvested, and leaves fall hunting will improve. The DNR reports good turkey numbers, many deer, lots of geese, and doves galore so be patient because the best hunting will soon be here. If hunting be sure to get out early before the sun rises because during these warm periods of early fall most game is not active and if they are it is during the night or low light periods. Most importantly, be safe. I can always be contacted at www.garyengbergoutdoors.com .

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