Latest Racing News

From Southern Wisconsin

Jerry Davis

Stockpiling meat and grain for winter have begun in earnest.
Harvesting crops is putting cereals in storage and bringing game to feed on combined and picked fields.
In addition to deer and ducks, hunters are getting excited about grouse (up north), pheasants and turkeys. Woodcock have begun to move central and south.
Some birders are reporting the return of juncos at feeders.
Deer charts at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/harvest/deerharvest.htmlshow nearly12, 000 deer have been taken collectively by both archery types. Of those, 41 percent are antlered and 59 antlerless. Crossbow users phoned in 5,545 deer, 48 percent of the take, while traditional bowers managed 6,085, or 52 percent of the deer.
Continue to follow these numbers with last weekend’s youth hunt being the next set to drop down in the web site chart.  
Jada Mathews, 12, of Mount Horeb, took her first deer on opening day of that season with her .243 caliber rifle a few minutes after walking to a stand with her father. She was decked in blaze orange, not pink. She validated and tagged her deer and then went to Uncle Jimmy’s Deer Processing in Blue Mounds for registration assistance. She left the deer to be processed and sampled for CWD, after her father, Patrick, removed the loins for breakfast meat the next day.
When she headed home, her rifle was securely cased, too.
Turkeys continue to expand their feeding grounds as combines roll through the fields. As normally is the case, about 5 percent of hens are bearded. Hen populations in some states have as many as 29 percent bearded birds. All genders and sizes are legal during the autumn season, which ends Dec. 31, in most southern zones.
Pheasants from the Poynette Game Farm, as well as from some conservation clubs, are being released beginning this week for Saturday’s 9 a.m. opener.  
Bucks are beginning to develop mating characteristics, including enlarged necks.  Scrapes and rubs are now present in many locations.
Nut crops continue to impact almost everything outdoors. Now that walnut tree leaves have fallen, nut crops are particularly apparent and impressive. A few shagbark hickory nuts are exhibiting a small hole where a grub has burrowed out.  One might ponder if this small grub could make ice fishing bait this winter.  Nut-covered ground under some trees is now becoming barren, as nutters and four-legged animals are finding these food sources.  
Walnut stain from nut hulls is difficult to cleanse completely, making walnut pickers easily categorized in bars, restaurants and churches.
An interesting larval form of a moth is feeding on tomato plants prior to frost.  Tobacco hornworms are green, several inches long, and have a red horn on their posterior end. Other markings make them distinctive and a juicy meal from any large bird. These larvae feed on a number of plants, including garden tomatoes, both vegetation and fruit. The larval form of hornworms are parasitized and controlled by wasp pupae.
Fall vegetation pigmentation is perplexing some this fall. There are many reasons for the lackluster displays, including drought in some regions. Happiness and joy of admiring these colors are improved by looking smaller. Instead of whole hillsides, look for individual trees, or even parts of branches. Include fruits in your searches, too, and take advantage of overcast days for viewing and photographing.
Even though most hunting seasons are open, there are many more activities to make autumn memorable. Find and enjoy them by hiking, biking, driving or viewing from a stationary position, maybe sitting on a Leopold bench before moving it to a November deer stand.
 
You may 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


Wild Birds Unlimited

Wild Birds Unlimited

There’s a certain satisfaction in autumn chores.
When the weather’s right, cleaning gutters, touching up paint, or splitting some firewood can feel less like manual labor and more like a rite of the season.
But if you want to make your backyard a welcoming winter haven for birds, some fall tasks call for a laissez-faire approach.
“Messy is definitely good to provide food and shelter for birds during the cold winter months,” says Tod Winston, Audubon’s Plants for Birds program manager.
So let someone else keep up with the neighbors this weekend. Sleep in, linger a little longer with your morning coffee, and follow these tips for a bird-friendly yard you can be proud of.
* Save the seeds. When fall arrives, some tidy-minded gardeners might be inclined to snip the stems of perennials in the flower garden. But the seed heads of cone flowers, black-eyed Susans, and other native wildflowers provide a helpful food cache for birds. “They’re almost invisible, those seeds, but birds eat them all winter long,” Winston says.
Grasses - not the stuff you mow, but native species like bluestems or gramas - also make for good foraging after they go to seed. And letting other dead plants stick around can fill your property with protein-packed bird snacks in the form of insect larvae, such as the fly and wasp larvae that inhabit goldenrod galls.
* Leave the leaves. You can help birds and other wildlife - and save yourself some backache and blisters - by skipping the leaf raking. “Those leaves are important because they rot and enrich the soil, and also provide places for bugs and birds to forage for food,” Winston says.
If a fully hands-off approach doesn’t work for your yard, consider composting some leaves and letting the rest be. You could also rake them from the lawn to your garden beds, or mulch them with a mower to nourish your lawn.
* Leaf litter isn’t just free fertilizer - it’s also a pretty happening patch of habitat for a variety of critters such as salamanders, snails, worms, and toads.
“If you’re digging in the garden and come upon these squirmy little coppery-brown dudes, and you don’t know what they are - those are moth pupae,” Winston says.
A healthy layer of undisturbed soil and leaf litter means more moths, which in their caterpillar phase are a crucial food source for birds.
* Build a brush pile. Along with shaking loose showers of leaves, blustery fall days also tend to knock down tree limbs. Rather than hauling them away, you can use fallen branches to build a brush pile that will shelter birds from lousy weather and predators. American tree sparrows, black-capped chickadees and other wintering birds will appreciate the protection from the elements. Rabbits, snakes and other wildlife also will take refuge there. You’ll find that the pile settles and decomposes over the season’s ahead, making room for next year’s additions. (And it’s a great place to dispose of your Christmas tree.)
* Skip the chemicals. You might see your neighbors spreading “weed and feed” mixtures in the fall to fertilize their lawns and knock back crabgrass and other unwanted plants. In most cases, though, grass clippings and mulched leaf litter provide plenty of plant nutrition, and using store-bought fertilizers only encourages more non-native plants to grow.
Generally speaking, native grasses, shrubs, trees and flowering plants don’t need chemical inputs. Save a few bucks and keep your yard healthy for bugs and birds.
* Hit the nursery. Although laziness can be a good thing when it comes to creating a bird-friendly backyard, it’s worth putting in some hard work planting native shrubs and trees. (Cooler temperatures also make fall a more comfortable time to tear out some turf grass and expand your native plant garden.)
Native dogwoods, hawthorns, sumacs and other flowering shrubs produce small fruits that not only feed birds during the colder months, but can also provide a welcome pop of color when winter gets drab. Planted in the right place, evergreens like cedars and firs give birds something to eat and a cozy shelter.
Fall is also a great time to liven up your property with late-blooming perennials such as asters or sages - and to buy spring - and summer-blooming wildflowers at a substantial discount.
To find species suited to your yard, just enter your ZIP code in Audubon’s native plants database. If you plant trees or shrubs this fall, they might not bear fruit this year—but come next winter, you and your backyard birds will be glad you did.
Visit Wild Birds Unlimited for ALL of your birding needs and information. We are a member of the Audubon Society.
We have a few days left to our bird seed sale. Stephanie received some new fun products in the store to check out.
We are the experts in the area - join and "like" our facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=wild%20birds%20unlimited%20onalaska%2C%20wi.
Wild Birds Unlimited, 608-781-5088.
Happy Birding!
Karen Perry,
Co-owner

Around the Badger State

Around the Badger State

Fall colors are spreading across the state and many areas are already near or at peak.
Tamaracks are starting to show yellow, tree canopies and brush continue to thin. For the most up-to-date information on this color forecast, check the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report.
Temperatures are trending more toward that classic fall feel, with highs in the 50s and 60s, lows in the 30s and 40s and patches of rain and mist through sections of the state.
Preliminary harvest numbers for archery/crossbow and the Youth Deer Hunt seasons are updated each week on the DNR website and the numbers are looking strong throughout the state, with more than 8,000 deer harvested statewide by youth hunters last weekend.
Similarly, strong numbers are coming in for duck and goose hunters, particularly as corn is harvested.
Anglers on the Flambeau River are reporting an uptick in musky activity, while those fishing the Brule reported a challenging bite. Anglers on the Wolf have reported success with panfish between the mouth of Lake Poygan and New London and those fishing trout streams in Waupaca are seeing consistent bites.
Anglers on the Oconto and Peshtigo rivers saw hits from bluegill and crappie, along with isolated reports of pike, smallmouth bass and walleye. The Menominee is still producing walleye and bass, and anglers trolling the lower River are also reporting pike, sheepshead and catfish in smaller numbers. A few salmon were reported on the Little River.
The salmon run is moving into full swing, with anglers taking to the Kewaunee, Manitowoc and East and West Twin rivers, where 50-plus anglers were crowding the banks at any given time over the weekend. Rain tamped down attendance, but has improved fish movement and salmon are showing up all over Door County.
Salmon also made an appearance in the southeast with chinook and coho making up some of the catch off the Sheboygan River and northern pier. Off the piers and near the utility area in Port Washington, chinook, rainbows and coho were landed. In general, conditions were windy and rainy, tamping down fishing pressure. Those angling from shore in Racine also landed chinook as well as coho and brown trout. Those fishing the Root River saw success primarily downstream of the Steelhead Facility, with flies landing hits from chinook, particularly in the early morning. The Root River Steelhead facility will hold its ninth annual Salmon Spectacular Root River Steelhead Facility Open House this Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Keep your eyes peeled as you drive as deer are also becoming more mobile as the rut approaches and temperatures continue to drop.
Migrant geese are still flying in to areas like Theresa Marsh and Horicon, which each have excellent viewing options and their own fall colors to share.
Sandhill cranes are still flocking up in large groups.
A forecast for cool northwesterly winds on Sunday, Oct. 15, holds promise for a good raptor migration day, particular along the Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Michigan shore, with raptors shifting from smaller species such as sharp-shinned hawk and American kestrel to larger ones like red-tailed hawk and bald eagle.
Capital Spring State Recreation area is playing host to a Harvest Moon Festival Friday night, the Kinnickinnic State Park Fall Festival Saturday and the Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center will host an Archeological Festival Saturday and Sunday with a buckskinners' encampment, artifacts, experts speakers and more. For all events search the DNR website for "get outdoors."


Chad Knapmiller

Schafer's River Rentals

This fall is turning out to be great out here on Lake Onalaska.  
Bluegills continue their run with guys reporting a bit more sorting.  Perch are coming on really strong. Make sure you are trying for them in shallow water as well as deep.  
Crappies are living up to their reputation of being finicky fish with the bite varying day to day. As the water temp continues to cool, they should be more consistent. Guys who figure out what they want for that particular day are doing extremely well, and other fisherman are reporting they are not able to catch a single crappie.  
The forecast for the river height has slowly been moving down with the crest predicted to be in the next few days at 9.8 in La Crosse.  The nice thing about Lake Onalaska is it is able to absorb a lot of water and fishing isn't significantly impacted until the 10-foot mark is passed.  
Good luck and stop in to get the latest fishing report!
Thanks,
Chad

Wisconsin Birding Report

This week's species assemblage remains similar to last week, as American robins, yellow-rumped warblers, various sparrows, dark-eyed juncos (technically a sparrow also), kinglets, creepers, hermit thrushes and winter wrens continuing to prevail in all but the most open habitats.
Eastern bluebirds and rusty blackbirds are also moving south now as well. Other interesting species reported around the state include American bitterns, surf scoters, Franklin's gulls and red crossbills.
Bird feeder activity is picking up a little as the weather cools and natural food sources dwindle somewhat. Black oil sunflower is the single best seed to offer but white millet, nyjer (thistle), and suet are also good options for a more complete feeding station.
Only a few hummingbirds remain in far southern counties, but you can leave those feeders up through the end of the month, keeping an eye out for stragglers and rare hummingbird species.
Last but not least, don't forget to offer clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing birds. This will bring a wider diversity of species, especially in drier areas where natural water is less available.
Migrant raptors are shifting from smaller species such as sharp-shinned hawk and American kestrel to larger ones like red-tailed hawk and bald eagle. A forecast for cool northwesterly winds on Sunday, Oct. 15, holds promise for a good raptor migration day, particular along the Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Michigan shore.
We should see more diving ducks and perhaps some geese come in behind the same cold front, although migration is likely to slow thereafter with warm southerly winds moving in much of next week.
Rare birds spotted this week include harlequin ducks in Kewaunee county, a glossy/white-faced ibis in Chippewa, Iceland gull in Outagamie, black-backed woodpecker in Door, greater white-fronted geese in Waukesha and Green, and good numbers of LeConte's and Nelson's sparrows across wet fields in southern Wisconsin.
As always, find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi.
Good birding!  

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist in Ashland


West-Central Wisconsin

West-Central Wisconsin

KINNICKINNIC STATE PARK - Autumn colors are beginning to replace the greens of summer. Maple trees are enveloped in red and orange. Oaks are holding fast to green, which makes the gold of the birches and aspen even more distinguished. Cooler weather will begin pushing waves of migrating waterfowl south.
Due to recent autumn rains the St. Croix River water level has risen from its low summer level. It is currently at about 685 feet above mean sea level and is expected to remain above 683 for the foreseeable future.
The entire St. Croix is currently slow no wake and will remain so until the level drops below the 683 foot threshold.
Kayakers are enjoying the last warm days of the season and can find quiet solitude on the river.
BLACK RIVER STATE FOREST - Fall is a great time to visit the Black River State Forest.
Fall colors have really started to put on a show this week with 50-60 percent color in most places. Yellows and oranges are currently dominating throughout the forest but reds, russet and copper colors are also present. Some of the best locations to see the color show is along North Settlement road and Cemetery Road. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the high 50s to low 60s with a slight chance of rain.
ATV and UTV trails will be closing for the season at the end of the day Sunday, Oct. 15. Trails will reopen for the winter riding season on Dec. 15, weather permitting. The shower/flush toilet building and dump station will be closing on Monday, Oct. 16, said Emily Alf, visitor services associate.
BUCKHORN STATE PARK - Not much for colors in the park at this time.
All open backpack sites are non-reservable, first come at this time. Sites A1-A8, and group sites B1-B3 are also non-reservable and open for camping. The new campground is reservable through Oct. 15 for the north loop and Nov. 1 for the south loop.
Water will be shut off starting Oct. 16. The dump station will close the week of Oct. 22. There is a frost free spigot next to the office restroom all year round.
The accessible fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed Oct. 25, according to Heather Wolf, park manager.
ROCHE-A-CRI STATE PARK - The main gate and camping are now closed. Parking is in the winter/prairie lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are required (self-registration box at parking lot).
There is not much for color yet in the area.
Turkey vultures can be seen circling the mound, Wolf said.

Bob Lamb

Out and About with Bob

There is one magnificent buck in our neck of the woods this fall.
This alpha male had two other smaller bucks feeding with him for a week or so before he started shoving them away. He is now alone every night.
Gosh, I'd like to get him in my crosshairs, but I know it won't happen. The neighboring farmer won't allow us to hunt on his land. That's OK. I'll just continue watching the big buck until he no longer shows up in the huge field separating the farmer's property and our condo association land by a three-strand barbed wire fence.
This buck has spectacular antlers, especially when I peer through my binoculars. They are very long and sit high on his head. I watch him between 6 and 7 p.m., each night. Shucks, even at 300-400 yards, he's easy to see. It's simply breathtaking watching the fading evening sun glisten off his antlers.
Meanwhile, inland trout fishing season closes on Sunday, Oct.15. Our oldest son, Jon, his wife, Sara, and grandsons, Jackson and Bryson, are spending the weekend with us, arriving from Cloquet, MN, late Friday night.
Jon, the grandkids and I are planning to go trout fishing for a short time on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully, we'll catch a few brook trout as well as shoot a little video for the website.
We're also planning to do a little panfishing if we can make it out to the boathouse despite the high water.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.