Around the Badger State

Temperatures have finally fallen again, and light snowfall also dusted many areas, and some, like the Brule River State Forest, got almost half a foot this week.
Forest crews were able to roll the ski trails, but skiers will still have a while to wait before trails are groomed and ready. Across most of the rest of the state, cross-country ski trails are open to hikers and bikers until there is enough snow for grooming.
Ice has reformed on some Northwoods lakes, but those looking to get out on the ice are urged to use extreme caution, as much of the ice cover is only surface thick.
Remember ice safety - always have a phone, a buddy, ice picks and go slow while checking the ice depth in front of you.
Until ice fishing really kicks in, a few anglers are still fishing on the Menominee River for whitefish, walleye and browns, and walleye fishing on the Wolf River has been hot, with anglers reporting great catches on the lower portions of the river.
Muzzleloader season wrapped up this week and leads right into the statewide four-day antlerless only season from Dec. 7-10. This season provides an additional opportunity to fill an unused antlerless tag, but hunters must have a tag valid for the zone and land type they are hunting.
All hunters must be wearing blaze orange this weekend. Archery remains open, but even bow hunters can fill only antlerless tags during the four-day season.
Grouse hunters are still seeing birds and once in a while a grouse can be seen "budding" in ironwood and aspen trees.
The last pheasant stockings for the season are done, but pheasants can still be found in the prairies for a little late season hunting. Large numbers of turkeys can be found in the mornings or evenings in open fields searching for food.
Quite a few geese are still hanging around and will likely stay until snow covers their food sources.
Turkey and bear hunters are reminded to submit their 2018 permit applications by the Dec. 10 deadline.
Beaver and muskrats are starting to prime-up and fur registration has been up in the last week or so, with some fisher and otter caught since the cold snap.
Sandhill cranes and trumpeter and tundra swans that were plentiful at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area during the mild weather were absent from the area this week.
Winter birds such as rough-legged hawks, snow buntings, common redpolls, pine siskins and tree sparrows have all been sighted around the state as they venture south from Canada.
Migrating waterfowl, gulls and loons are being seen in southeastern Wisconsin. Flocks of buffleheads have been seen along the shores of Lake Michigan bobbing in the waves.
Madison area lakes will likely remain open for a few weeks making them a hot spot for lingering waterfowl. Birders in Madison reported long-tailed ducks and scoters over the past week.
Results of recent population surveys on our state's bald eagles show the population is hitting record highs.
Reports of snowy owl sightings remain strong, but please be respectful and keep your distance. If you are close enough to illicit a response from the bird, you are too close!
People interested in cutting a Christmas tree from northern forests can purchase a forest product permit to harvest trees from the Black River, Brule River, Flambeau River, Peshtigo River, Governor Knowles and Northern Highland-American Legion state forests. Please call ahead to verify office hours (phone numbers listed at bottom right on individual forest pages).