Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

As hunters, one of our most important duties is to bring others into our hunting family.
Sons and daughters are ideal ways for husbands and wives to teach their kids about what the great outdoors has to offer.
As the late Old-Timer often said, "The great outdoors is the biggest classroom in the world."
Wisconsin's recently concluded nine-day gun deer season was a classic example of family hunting ties.
Cartyr Stumlin, 13, and his brother Reid, 7, both shot their first deer. Reid shot a doe on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Cartyr shot a doe on Friday, Nov. 29.
Reid's father, Jeff, was hunting with him. Jeff's wife, Nicole, was hunting with Cartyr.
Jeff sent me photos of the deer with a short message.
"By the way congrats to you and Ev both getting deer and being able to do so together," said Jeff, knowing our youngest son, Evan, and I were also hunting on their farm and shot bucks on the second day of the season.
Nicole is the late "Friendly Farmer's" oldest daughter. I often think about taking Nicole on one of her first turkey hunts on her dad's farm.
Each deer hunt also brings back memories of Evan's first deer kill on the farm. Ev was 16 years old when he shot a small 5-pointer.
The Friendly Farmer and I went all through grade school and high school together. During the summers in the 1960's, Tom and I worked side by side on his dad's farm which occupies much of the Valley View Mall area today.  
When I first began hunting on Tom's farm outside of Holmen in the late 1990's, Tom, his son, Jason, his youngest daughter, Carrie, and Nicole all hunted together.
When Tom died, the kids inherited the farm and the family hunts continued with his kids teaching their children.
"I would like to think Tom was watching all of us make these family memories with a big smile on his face," Jeff added in his email.
Overall, many hunters were very disappointed with the traditional nine-day gun deer hunt. Preliminary figures show that 160,769 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 213,972 in 2018, down 24.9%. Of the deer harvested in the 2019 nine-day season, 75,236 were antlered compared to 105,315 in 2018, a 28.6% decline. The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 85,533 antlerless deer, a decrease from 108,657 in 2018, or 21.3%.
Tyler Ramaker, a Minnesota DNR conservation officer stationed in La Crescent, investigated trespassing and trapping complaints.
Ramaker said portions of the Mississippi River opened back up, allowing waterfowl hunters one last opportunity before the season closed. Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, was busy with firearms season deer hunter checks and said some hunting groups were having good success. Overall, the number of deer hunters seemed low.
Waterfowl hunters were also checked but fewer birds are being seen on the river. Some large flocks of mallards are still on the river. Minnesota DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, checked 3B season deer hunters and muzzleloader hunters. Success was good but the weather was not, keeping hunters inside. Time was also spent checking a few pheasant hunters and small game hunters. Bad weather hampered hunting conditions.
Anglers are still awaiting safe ice before their winter season begins. Birdwatchers in the Greater La Crosse Area are also awaiting more traffic at their feeders.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.


Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

It wasn’t until the second weekend of Wisconsin’s nine-day, gun deer season that the weather got nasty.  
Most hunters in southern Wisconsin experienced mild temperatures, light breeze, some sunny days, but little or no sighting snow the first few days.
With minimal deer movement in many areas, opening weekend registrations were down 26.7 percent compared to 2018, when the season was six days earlier. Most attributed the lower take to that fact and its connection with minimal rutting activity.
Watch for preliminary totals from the entire nine-day season later this week, adding to the total of 90,286 reported for opening weekend. The 2018 figure for the same period was 123,090.
Final season totals will trickle in as the muzzleloader season (ending Dec. 11), four-day antlerless hunt (Dec. 12-15), and the Holiday hunt (Dec. 24-Jan. 1) in selected counties (Lafayette, Iowa, Dane, Columbia, Sauk, Richland, Vernon, Crawford and Juneau,) to name a few.
With herd estimates being as high as 1.8 million, it is likely that DNR deer biologists will be disappointed that more deer, of any kind, weren’t taken to reduce the herd in some areas.
Still, for the most part, hunters were not skunked as were written and spoken, by some. There is much more to the nine-day season than killing a deer. Camaraderie, seeing other wildlife, experiencing the outdoors, solitude, and admiring other hunters’ skills and kills were positive parts to the season and reasons some hunt deer.
Talk of quitting gun deer hunting was minimal, although some hunters promised to concentrate more on archery/crossbow, even going so far as to come to Wisconsin in early November instead, or in addition, to late November.
The calendar and phenology greatly impact outdoors activities.
Last year’s DNR ethical hunter, Fred Casper, of Westby, summed up many attitudes by saying, “Gun season, for me and many others, is more about having fun with young hunters and others. That’s what the gun season is all about for me. It’s a family tradition.”
Soon-to-retire, DNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller, originally from La Crosse County, commented that he hopes to “get back into experiencing a deer season with relatives.”
Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, said a few folks were grumbling and asking for an extended season, but a lot were happy, too, including one man who talked endlessly about seeing two bobcats on a trail camera soon after his brother killed a buck and doe from the same location.
Wayne Whitemarsh, at McFarlanes’ in Sauk City, thinks of the season as a privilege and tradition to be out in the woods hunting deer.  
“It’s all about getting out with others, extending the season by preparing venison and looking forward to next year to make it even better.," he said.
Regardless of the ways one enjoys deer, now is a time to begin thinking ahead to November 2020 and the Nov. 21 opener.
Unlike deer that were not scarce, but just difficult to get out of unpicked corn, wild birds may be missing from feeder action.
Bob Ross, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited on Madison’s west side, said to keep feeding, making sure food is fresh, offering something for every kind of bird and trying some of the new cylinder feeders that come in 10 or more varieties.  
“We’ve already had 15 inches of snow and now that it is gone, birds are finding available food in natural locations, too,” he said.
Gathering in Wisconsin’s outdoors offers abundant opportunities including released pheasants, another month of turkey hunting, several types of deer hunting, enjoying roadside drives and viewing colorful birds and stately whitetails.
Winter may also serve up some treacherous walking and finger-freezing outings, which can be enjoyed from inside a vehicle.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112

Wisconsin Birding Report

Bird activity generally remains slow at both field and feeder statewide.
The biggest exception is in the south where large numbers of sandhill cranes (pictured) continue. Hundreds were seen roosting or migrating south at various locations such as the Spring Green area of Iowa County, lower Wisconsin River near Baraboo, and the vicinity of Horicon Marsh.
Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary is hosting large numbers of waterfowl, including thousands of mallards, geese and swans that on Dec. 1, added up to an estimated 53 tons of birds… literally!
Other impressive waterfowl counts were 20,000+ canvasbacks at Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge in Crawford County and 250+ northern shovelers at Nine Springs in Dane.
Raptors are showing well where snow cover is reduced or absent. Look for red-tailed and rough-legged hawks, northern harriers and American kestrels in open habitats. Cooper’s and a few sharp-shinned hawks are common visitors to backyard feeders, while bald eagles remain widespread due to mild weather and lack of ice.
Snowy owls continue to arrive in modest numbers. While you can find one anywhere in the state, eastern Wisconsin has featured more sightings, particularly from counties like Oconto and Outagamie to Green Lake and Ozaukee.
The north woods received significant snowfall this week but it changed the birding landscape very little. A few waterbirds like goldeneyes, mergansers, kingfishers and herring gulls continue, while songbirds remain few. Notably scarce or absent are redpolls, grosbeaks, purple finches and red-breasted nuthatches. Showing well are blue jays, American goldfinches, woodpeckers and cedar waxwings.
A varied thrush in Price County was only the second recorded this fall. Other rarities across the state this week included Townsend’s solitaire in Columbia and Eurasian wigeon in Vernon.
Next week should feature similar birding activity except for a shot of arctic air that is likely to freeze more water bodies and push out some ducks and cranes.
Discover what others are seeing and report your sightings to www.ebird.org/wi.
Good birding!

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation biologist


Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Hey, folks. With the mild temps right now one or a few of these would be fun projects for you and the kids or grandkids this weekend or in the upcoming weeks.

Decorate a Tree for Your Birds
While you are enjoying the many tasty treats that abound this holiday season, don't forget to share some goodies with the birds. Decorating a tree for our feathered friends and other wildlife is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Here are some fun and easy recipes for making treats for the birds.
 
Suet Stuffing
* 1 cup chunky peanut butter
* 1 cup WBU Simply Suet ® (pure rendered suet)
* 2½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
* WBU Seed Blend, raisins, peanuts or other tree nuts (optional)
Mix peanut butter, suet and cornmeal together. Stir in birdseed, raisins or peanuts if desired.
 
Suet “Muffins”
* Secure a piece of heavy craft paper to the bottom of a pipe cleaner.
* Place in muffin tin cup. Spoon in Suet Stuffing.
* Repeat for each muffin cup.
* Place the muffins in the freezer to harden.
* Once hardened, remove from the tin and hang the suet muffins on a tree or, if temperature is above freezing, place in feeding stations.
 
Pine Cone Feeder
* Pack Jim’s Birdacious® Bark Butter® into pine cones.
* Roll pine cones in WBU Seed Blend.
* Hang with string or ribbon from a tree.
 
Bagel Feeder
* Split bagels in half and harden overnight.
* Spread peanut butter on each side and then sprinkle with WBU Seed Blend.
* Tie a string through the hole, and hang from a tree.
 
Grapefruit Feeder
* Poke three holes in the edges of a hollowed-out grapefruit half.
* Run twine through the holes.
* Spoon Suet Stuffing into grapefruit; sprinkle WBU Seed Blend on top, and place in the freezer to harden.
* Once hardened, knot the strings at the top and the bottom to secure.
* Hang outside near a window.
 
Decorating a tree for the birds is a fun and easy activity.
Be sure to select a tree somewhere near a window so that once you have completed your decorating, you and your family can sit back and watch as the many beautiful birds and creatures come to enjoy their holiday treats.
Decorations that can be strung and placed on the tree include popcorn, fresh cranberries, thick fresh orange slices, peanuts in the shell, dried apples or dried figs on heavy string.
You can also hang rice cakes with string, fresh crab apples by the stem, baby dried corn bundles, dried ears of colorful corn husks, or red seedless grapes tied up in bunches.
In addition, peanuts in the shell and whole walnuts can be scattered under the tree.
Natural rough brown string, ribbon and raffia can be used for hanging the decorations. Also, consider decorating with lengths of natural wool or string. The birds will use this material for nesting in the spring.
Stop in and see us for ALL your nature lover Christmas gifts and for seed and suets for the projects above.
Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, 608-781-5088.
Happy Birding!
Karen Perry

Around the Badger State

Around the Badger State

Winter arrived in northern Wisconsin in full force this week, with some areas receiving over 22 inches of snow.
Crews at several parks and forests are working on getting ski trails open. The wet, heavy snow brought down many trees that need to be cleared before trails can be groomed, but some are open or expected to open by the weekend.
According to the TravelWisconsin.com snow conditions report, most snowmobile trails are not yet open. Snowmobile clubs in each county determine when trails will open.
With the recent snowfall, wildlife and their movements have become much more visible. Furbearer movements, especially coyote, bobcat and fisher, should increase in the next two weeks.
The first snowy owl of the season was spotted at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee this week.

ADAMS COUNTY - There is a dusting of snow on the Roche-A-Cri State Park trails. The stairway is not maintained for winter use and is open until sunset. No food, drinks or pets are allowed on the stairway.
2020 park stickers are available! If you self-register for one at the winter parking lot, it will be mailed to you.

DUNN COUNTY - Grooming of the ski trails will begin as soon as the staff and volunteers can clear the trails from the storm damage over the Thanksgiving holiday.
There are reports of at least six large trees to clear on the Red Cedar State Trail, and Hoffman Hills State Recreation area is not fairing much better. Thank you for your patience.

JUNEAU COUNTY - At Buckhorn State Park, we have a dusting of snow on the trails, so they are in good condition for hiking.
There is still open water on the lake after the warmer temperatures last week.

WOOD COUNTY - With the recent snowfall in central Wisconsin, wildlife and their movements have become much more visible in Sandhill Wildlife Area. Multiple does in the area were not bred during their first estrus and have recently entered into a second estrus period. This could pay dividends for muzzleloader and late-season archery hunters if they can locate one of these does.
Furbearer movements, especially coyote, bobcat and fisher, should increase in the next two weeks as they finish consuming the many gut piles and carrion left in the field from the past deer firearm season.
High water levels in area marshes are providing adequate water for muskrat and beaver over winter. Exercise caution when trapping these areas as the ice may not be safe if insulated by snow before the real cold comes to the area.