Well, Junior and I are crossing our fingers, hoping to get out in his boat fishing for an hour or so on Friday. We were expecting to go late last week, but a couple of health issues prevented us from making our first voyage in two years. Elsewhere, wildlife are becoming extremely active as they prepare for fall and winter. A small fawn dashed through our yard earlier this week. Moments later, a small ruby-throated hummingbird fluttered on the the tip of one of our two junipers outside my study window. The farmer next to our condo property harvested his third cut of alfalfa last weekend, and deer and turkeys are already feasting on the new shoots. A half dozen turkeys show up in the cut hayfield every morning. Deer - big, small and in between - forage the huge field morning and evening, too. Squirrels and raccoon are also active as evident by the increasing number of road-kills. I have noticed a few deer struck and killed alongside the road, too. Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, responded to several rattlesnake-related calls throughout the week. Ramaker presented at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES event in La Crescent where young hunters built on their outdoor skills and knowledge through hands-on opportunities. Ramaker was among several officers who responded to the Red Wing area to search for a drowning victim. Tom Hemker, a DNR conservation officer in Winona, reports only a few young hunters taking advantage of the youth duck hunt, with very few ducks killed. There was heavy river use with limits of panfish checked. Hemker attended a firearms safety field day and a local service club meeting to discuss DNR issues. He also assisted with the search for a drowning victim. DNR conservation officer Joel Heyn, in Plainview, worked mainly waterfowl hunters and anglers during the week. Teal hunters had a slow-go at the end of the season. The kids out for Youth Waterfowl Weekend had a great time. Heyn also worked on equipment. Remember to take a kid hunting or fishing. It’ll be the best thing you ever did. Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.
Minnesota fall color update
Fall color prediction? Prepare for the unexpected. Peak fall color in Minnesota will be more unpredictable this year due to the severe drought that has affected much of the state. Leaf peepers will have to wait and see what lies ahead, and prepare to be surprised by unexpected patches of bright color. "If you see pockets of beautiful, vibrant color, that's going to be the bonus this year. The main thing is to go outside. It's good for our physical and mental health," said Val Cervenka, Forest Health Program Coordinator and official Minnesota DNR fall color predictor.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited
Right now, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and jays are hiding food to retrieve and eat later this season. This behavior is called “caching.” Caching helps birds survive during bad weather and when food sources are low. These birds can store hundreds of seeds a day. Each seed is placed in a different location and they generally remember where each one is, even months later. By providing a foundational feeder filled with their favorite foods, you can help your birds with their caching needs. Recent research has shown that a consistent and reliable source of food helps birds to build body fat reserves, reduces their physiological stress and helps to maintain a healthy body condition. Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds, often eating a small portion before hiding it in and under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles and in the ground. Chickadees cache more in the middle of the day when visiting feeders. Titmice are rather particular. They choose the largest sunflower seeds available to eat and cache. Titmice and chickadees like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders, your yard or a neighbor's yard. Often, they tuck seeds into the bark and crevices of a wood pile or on a large branch. They even cache them under mulch in a garden. Nuthatches prefer heavier sunflower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sunflower chips in your blend, too, as they like these 25% more than ones in the shell. They prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. Nuthatches are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding. Jays love to cache peanuts, sunflower seeds, acorns and pine nuts. They are especially fond of peanuts in the shell. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day, emptying a feeder in no time. Watch them to make repeated trips to your feeders (or an oak or pine tree) and fly off. They can travel up to two miles to bury their nutritious treasure. Take some time to watch what your backyard birds are up to! Don’t forget September is feeder trade in. Check your feeders to make sure they are in good condition to survive the winter. If not, we are giving 20% off a new feeder for an old one. However, if you take us up on this offer and your feeder is dirty, please place it in a bag before you bring it in. REMEMBER, no mammal or living thing wants to EAT off of a DIRTY PLATE/DISH! Happy Birding and clean that bird bath as well! Karen Perry, Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, 608-781-5088, or www.wbu.com/onalaska
From Southern Wisconsin
Regardless of how we take in autumn, gathering by catching, taking possession and other ways of acquiring the displays, by sounds, tastes, feels and smells, autumn is ready. Saturday marks the beginning of archery and crossbow deer hunting, ruffed grouse flushing, wild turkey yelping, crow calling, squirrel chatter, and the continuation of black bear, goose and mourning dove hunting. Digging ginseng and hook and line lake sturgeon fishing also continue. There are myriad of ways to smell (goldenrod), taste (pumpkin spice), see (golden ginseng leaves), feel (hitchhiking burs), and hear (owls hooting) fall. Now is the time some are dubbed leaf peekers who scribe, photograph, collect, post and smell plant’s last hurrah. Leaves are not alone in signaling autumn’s arrival, albeit too short a stay. Some plants are still flowering (goldenrod, various sunflowers, prairie grasses, and other late bloomers). Many turn their fruit red (rose hips), orange (bittersweet), white (poison ivy), purple (woodbine) or blue (wild grapes). Even stems and bark (red-osier dogwood) put on a different paint. Animal coats (white-tailed deer are darkest brown) change. Evergreens (red cedar) may turn a silvery-gray and most cones (white pine) and hard mast (acorns) are falling. All of this is autumn at its finest. Pick a favorite day - maybe sunrise, sunset, even drizzle works - and allow nature’s textures, shapes, tones and hues to take over. Two lake sturgeon have been registered at Wilderness Fish and Game in Sauk City, according to Wally Bamfi, assistant store manager. “Both were 60-plus inches (legal minimum) and about 40 pounds,” he said. “Dove hunters and goose hunters have been successful. Brown and rainbow trout have been taken out of Devil’s Lake, while smallmouth bass are biting on the Wisconsin River. Fall colors are beginning to show up here, too.” John Borzick, at Tall Tails in Boscobel, said crappies, bluegills and walleyes are being taken from the Mississippi River. “Hunters are getting excited about deer, and there are a lot of ducks in the area,” Borzick said. Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, just received a shipment of the one-in-all Wisconsin hunting regulations pamphlets, but is hit or miss with available shotshells in many of the popular gauges. Doug Williams, at DW Sports Center in Portage, says he’s seen the beginning of leaf changes and many of the animals are showing signs of autumn in terms of coat colors on deer, antlers without velvet and a tendency of deer to feed more to put on fat. “I don’t know how else to put it, but hunters cannot procrastinate on gear, ammunition and footware. Consider all the sources for ammunition, including sharing it with others,” Williams said. “Fish seem to be in a feeding mode, too, so get out there right now if you want to have fish to eat.” Aaron Fortney, in Gays Mills, is buying ginseng from diggers. Leave a message at 608-606-4742 for more information or to schedule an appointment to sell green roots. His price per pound ranges from $210-$235. Wayne Smith, in Lafayette County, is baiting bears in Ashland and Bayfield counties. He noted that one group of hunters took a 300-pound black bear and walked away from several others they treed. “I’ve seen a few ruffed grouse on the roads and trails,” he said. Despite a shortage of some outdoors gear and supplies, other companies are advertising products, usually for sale online, so begin there. As with ammunition, hiking boots and some running shoes, the adage, “If you see it, and need it, buy it now,” applies. DrySee has thin film, waterproof dressings (bandages) available in several sizes and convenient for outdoors enthusiasts. Go to DrySee.com. Some license outlets are offering free waterproof stickers to avoid lost forever outdoors items. They are sticky enough and large enough to be trimmed. Contact uscgboating.org. Campfire starting, as well as wood stove and fireplace lighting, can be easy with Pull Start Fire, which requires no matches, is windproof, lights wet wood and will burn for 30 minutes, which is longer than it usually takes to get green wood to the point of generating enough heat to dry something. Visit PullStartFire.com. An excellent plant identification book, “Prairie Plants of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum,” deals with more than 360 native species and includes 1,200 color photographs for sure identification. This is a lively, well written, illustrated book. Order online or purchase from many local book outlets. T. S. Cochrane, K. Elliot and C. S. Lipke are the authors. A mushroom knife, one with a curved blade and brush, is available from Baladeo.com. It’s well worth a look and makes a pleasant task of cutting a sulphur fungus (pictured) from a standing tree, stump or log. Morrison Outdoors (MorrisonOutdoors.com) has an armed sleeping bag for children 6-24 months old. The LittleMo40 is ideal, safe and attractive. PediPocket (Pedipocketblanket.com), advertised as “give your feet a treat,” is a blanket in several colors with a large pocket for your feet to slip into. I believe the blanket could be turned around using the pocket for a hoodie. It’s ideal for cabin coziness or outside lounging. Mozy is advertised as “the jacket for your legs and is 500 percent warmer than stadium blankets.” Any outdoors person can think of other uses, but literature touch points are “at the rink, in the stadium, at the field and in the snow.” Contact Mozy at getthemozy.com. Now is not a time to say, I don’t have anything to do outdoors.