Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

Last year at this time, youngest son, Evan, and I were storing venison in my freezer from the two bucks we shot on the second day of the Wisconsin gun deer season.
This year is a different story. Neither one of us fired a shot the first two days of the traditional nine-day hunt. Ev is sandwiching in a few more hunting hours between working this Thanksgiving week. We plan to hunt together again Sunday morning, the final day of the season.
There were no complaints from us about the weather, although the heater in my condo stand was a warm welcome both days. The woods were extremely quiet with little if any wind. Snow would have helped for sighting, safety and tracking, but no such luck. We didn’t hear a lot of shots fired in our area either.
If you haven’t checked out the two videos on our homepage, please do.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, in La Crescent, checked deer hunters participating in the B season. A complaint was received from a hunter who found himself in the middle of a deer drive being made by other hunters on state forest land. Hunters driving public land for deer need to be considerate of other hunters who may be in the area. Enforcement action was taken for tagging violations, transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and concealing a pistol without a permit.
DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, continues to work with conservation officer candidate Meng Moua. They saw good numbers of deer hunters out during the second season, but deer harvest was much slower than the first season. Duck hunting has also slowed, with very few ducks checked per hunter. The officers responded to TIP calls about illegal deer hunting, along with several trespass calls. They did find violations of shining deer while possessing a bow, taking an over-limit of deer, transporting loaded guns and not wearing blaze clothing while hunting deer. Unusual deer happenings included a call of an injured deer attempting to enter a house patio door and an injured deer that charged a hunter, cutting him in several locations.
DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, Rushford, reports a slower 3B opener. Deer movement was slow despite the good weather and colder conditions. Trespass complaints were up over the weekend. Other violations encountered were failure to validate a tag and baiting.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.
A blessed Thanksgiving, too.

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

The first of two large data drops filled slots in each Wisconsin Deer Management Unit (usually counties) from deer registrations on opening weekend.
The second drop comes Dec. I, two days after the nine day season closes Nov. 29. Other data will follow, including license sales and injuries.
Prior to the opener on Nov. 21, previous and ongoing seasons showed 105,281 registrations, with 61,556 bucks and 43,725 antlerless deer.
Archers and crossbowers met their unofficial halfway point with 41,873 bucks and 55,943 antlerless deer, respectively.
Continue to follow the numbers on the Department of Natural Resources website by looking at the deer harvest summary and picking the season and DMU of interest.
Hunting weather continues to be favorable for being in the woods, in a blind or part way up a tree until season’s end. No major storms, cold snaps or heavy rain are forecast.
While this season appears to have provided favorable weather, most areas had no snow ground cover for added safety and great deer sighting. Hunters began wondering what happened to all the deer they were seeing in summer and fall, but changes in food sources likely played a role.
It will be interesting if some agency attempts to put numbers together for hunters who died of COVID-19 relating to contracting the virus while in a “deer camp.” Let’s hope that number, obtainable or not, follows in the great record of no deaths by firearms.
As hunters and others who are impacted by the nine-day, gun deer season realize the season was never long enough to suit some. What’s next?
Gary Howards, of Oregon, Wis, never worries much about a next season. Squirrels, which he sometimes refers to as little deer who live in trees, fill many empty slots that exit.
“I look in my freezer from archery and gun season and if there is still room, the muzzleloader, four-day antlerless and Holiday seasons are always there as is the later archery/crossbow hunt,” he said.
Howards is also an avid fall turkey hunter, spending full days in a blind on a mission, which is usually successful.
Meanwhile, taking a break from deer and hunting turkeys can be exciting.
A note from the Wisconsin Hickory Association explained the lack of shagbark hickory nuts this autumn. It’s a masting tree with variable crops in 2020, we expected an off year and it was between 10 to 20 percent of a normal year, the agency said.
It sounds like what pickers wondered about all fall was predictable long before that.
Birders, those feeding birds and others mildly interested in the avian world, have a lot to be anxious about this winter, beginning with evening grosbeaks being seen with some regularity in southeastern and south-central Wisconsin.
It has been years since most have seen their sunflower seed feeders run dry in a few hours from this large-billed bird resembling a giant goldfinch.
Birds persisting beyond their visa include robins, bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, grackles and cowbirds.
Everybody’s favorite visitor, the snowy owl, has been seen as far south as Dane County
It’s evergreen time. In addition to pines, spruce and firs, there are numerous herbaceous greens now, including several ferns and relatives and unwanted invasive plants, including garlic mustard.
Decorating material extends beyond evergreens and includes a few fruits, cones and even bare twigs, which make interesting additions.  Try red dogwood.
Before fall freeze-up, this is the time when trophy walleye anglers bet on catching a life record fish.

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

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Here’s some fun facts about blue jays
* Just like bluebirds, blue jays have no blue pigments in their feathers. Instead, each feather barb has a thin layer of cells that absorb all wavelengths of color except blue. Only the blue wavelength is reflected and scattered, resulting in their blue appearance to our eyes.
* Blue jays are often chastised for their known practice of eating eggs and nestlings of other birds. But extensive research has proven this to be a very rare occurrence, with only 1% of the study population showing any evidence of this behavior.
* Blue jays are known to migrate, but the phenomenon is not well understood by scientists. Research has shown that some individuals will migrate south during some years and choose to stay in the north during others. Why they do this is still one of nature’s mysteries.
* It is estimated that only about 20% of the population of blue jays migrate, even in the northern parts of its range.
* Many migrating blue jays reach their wintering grounds after natural food crops, such as acorns, may have already peaked. Whether they still cache a winter food supply is unknown at this time. Bird feeders may play an important role for some of these birds.
* Most migratory flights by blue jays begin about an hour after sunrise and cease by noon. The average migrating flock contains 10-30 birds.
* Peanuts in the shell are a favorite among blue jays. Watch your feeder to see if you can observe them shaking peanuts to tell if the shell is full or empty.
* Blue jays eating a diet of only acorns quickly start to lose body mass, unless those nuts are full of protein-rich weevils or supplemented with other sources of insect protein.
* Blue jays mainly select undamaged nuts to bury. Research has shown that only 10% of the acorns they cache are not viable seeds.
* Blue jays will bury seeds up to 2½ miles from their original source which is a record for any bird. This behavior has greatly helped with the range expansion of many oak species.
* The rapid northward dispersal of oaks after the Ice Age may have resulted from the northern transport of acorns by jays.
* Due to the jay’s habit of burying acorns over a wide area, 11 species of oak trees have become dependent on jays for the dispersal of their acorns.
* Research studies have recorded blue jays making over 1,000 trips per day when hiding food.
* A blue jay was observed packing over 100 sunflower seeds into it’s gullet during just one visit to a feeder.
* The blue jay is a talented mimic. Its version of a red-shoulder hawk’s call can fool even the most experienced birder.
* An old folktale says that the blue jay was yoked to a plow by a sparrow and the mark it left behind is still visible today on the blue jay’s neck and chest.
* Jays will cache seeds and nuts to retrieve later, and make repeated trips to feeders to gather food and hide it in a safe spot.
Stop in and visit us at Wild Birds Unlimited, Crosseroads Center, in  Onalaska, 608-781-5088
Happy Safe Thanksgiving!
Karen Perry