Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

Well, our youngest son Evan and I struck out for the second year in a row.
No deer for the freezer, so Ev’s family, and Kathy and I will rely on beef, pork, chicken and fish for the next 12 months.
Wisconsin hunters registered 175,667 deer during the 2021 nine-day gun deer hunt, including 84,952 antlered and 90,715 antlerless deer. Compared to 2020, the total firearm deer harvest was down 7.9% statewide, with buck harvest down 1.3% and antlerless harvest down 13.2%.
Nearer to home, the Central Farmland Zone where we hunt showed the buck kill down 1.8% at 44,610. More important to us meat eaters, the antlerless kill declined 14%, is down to 54,909.
Why? There could be several reasons including mild weather coupled with less hunter movement, strong winds the second day, fewer hunters in the woods and maybe more “trophy” hunters passing up smaller bucks for the “never-came-by-my stand” heavy antlered buck.
Good friend Bruce Lindseth and his crew hunted near his cabin on Little Round Lake in northern Wisconsin. “Lindy” and his son Andrew hunt the Chequamegon National Forest north of the Chippewa Flowage.
“Our Northwoods hunt was semi-successful as we did get some venison, but deer sightings were few and far between. The highlight was my 20-minute stare down with a nice big doe that finally gave me a clear shot,” Lindy wrote. “Also, had some elk contact and that is always exciting.” 
Overall, most hunters I have talked with had less than stellar seasons for one reason or another and often mentioning fewer hunters.
Statewide, as of 11:59 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 808,224. Of that total, 564,440 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses declined 1.5% from 2020.
Elsewhere, the current weather pattern is great for grilling, hiking, biking and wildlife watching. Displaced deer from being chased during the hunting season, haven’t been showing their faces in our condo neighborhood in the valley yet this week, but will appear once they become comfortable again.
I certainly feel for ice anglers anxious for their winter pursuits. Ditto for skiers, ice skaters, sledders and kids waiting to make their first snowmen of the season.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, checked waterfowl and deer hunters who were staying out to the bitter end of the season. Ramaker checked a large group of 3B season hunters who had 21 deer hanging in the barn. To their credit, every deer was tagged, registered and tested for CWD. Hats off to that group for their attention to detail after the harvest.
DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, reports checking 3B hunters and muzzleloader deer hunters. Action was slow at best. Reports of trespass, WMA violations and shining were investigated. Boyum investigated reports of people hunting after their hunting privileges were revoked. Citations were issued. Duck hunters were also checked along the Mississippi River. Hunting was fair with most groups having a few birds. Compliance was good.
DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, reports the duck season ended with many hunters and mixed success. He received information about late duck hunters that also resulted in several other violations, including no licenses or stamps and an unplugged gun. The gun deer season ended pretty quietly, with complaints of trespass and hunting without a license received. Hemker continues to spend time on a boathouse violation.
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!


Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

The question on the street, in bars and eateries, ice fishing shanties and farm stores is how many deer were registered?
After that, particularly after a downer opening weekend, next question is why the drop? Some of that will be made up when the final numbers are posted. Maybe it has already been made up during the archery/crossbow season.
One might wonder, at least in southern Wisconsin, whether the five-year study in Southwest Wisconsin on deer, CWD and predators has any data that might reveal some patterns. With the remaining collared deer, researchers would know where they congregated, the habitat, if their home ranges became smaller and movement was negligible all of a sudden.
Hunters with trail cameras still in the woods can look at the cards to see if deer activity slowed shortly before and during the opening weekend. A few have already said, “Yes.”
Were hunters passing up deer on opening weekend for whatever reason? Were deer taken and not yet registered? Oops, that would be illegal. Hunters have only two days to register after the deer is taken into possession.
There are still a half dozen factors which might have been contributing to the opening weekend showing total registrations down 14 percent statewide, and much more in some southern counties.
For example, Buffalo County was down 28.7 percent, Jackson County the same, but La Crosse County down only 7.7 percent.
Bayfield County, in the far north, was up 14.5 percent, Columbia County down 24.1 percent and Crawford County down 18.8 percent, while Green County was down 31.6 percent. Iowa County missed the mark at 35.1 percent.
The Southern Farmland was down 24.1 percent.
Look for new preliminary numbers this week, and then the muzzleloader, antlerless, and Holiday hunts will chip in, along with the last of the archery/crossbow. Then we can talk.
Doug Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, said the talk was mixed from some hunters seeing lots of deer and others almost nothing. Sometimes those talking were next to one another.
“Closer to villages, reports came in of deer mixing with domestic animals and being on the roads, too,” Martin said.
Doug Williams had some interesting stories from hunters, beginning with the hunter who came in to purchase “hair-seeking bullets.” He told Williams the deer he shot at didn’t react and kept going.
Williams sent him back with instructions to go to the same place and walk up and down the trail 100 yards in both directions.
“He reported back to me saying he found a buck and a doe he had shot earlier and didn’t need new ammunition,” Williams said. “I didn’t have any ammunition anyway, and there wasn’t anything wrong with what he had.”
A nine-year-old boy brought his four-point buck in, beaming ear-to-ear, but the dad was a bit squirmy because the boy was looking for a local taxidermist.
“We sat in the box and waited and waited and finally the deer came past,” the youngster said.
Young hunters have interesting names for parts of the hunt - box for blind, blanket for hide, and sticks for antlers.
“Business has been great. Most hunters are smiling. If they aren’t, they need to get out and get some fresh air. it’s a wonderful thing as a mood-changer,” Williams said. “I still shake a bit when I see a deer. When I stop, that it’s time to quit hunting.”
Wayne Smith, in Lafayette County, said experience helps and beginning with hunting on windy days, using the wind in your favor and not walking into the sun.
“My problem now still is slowing down enough and looking for the white of their ears, a leg or antler twitch and horizontal lines of their backs,” he said.
John Borzick, at Tall Tails in Boscobel, said wind was a problem, but there were lots of hunters moving deer Saturday and then things started to slow down.
“There were some great deer taken, some in the 200-inch class (non-typical),” he said. “Hunters with cameras still out know if there is or isn’t deer activity during the nighttime.”
There are still several remaining seasons, some continuing into January. Remember, when a gun deer season is open, blaze orange rules apply to all hunters except waterfowlers.
Elsewhere, bird feeding activity has picked up.
Turkey hunting is ongoing in Zones 1 through 5. Authorizations are still available.
A chef in Mazomanie insists many turkey hunters throw half their bird away, but every part is great if prepared correctly. He takes advantage of those hunters, feeling honored to take the portion many toss.
Christmas card making is still waiting for snow, but even those dustings can work in close-up situations or shooting so the ground doesn’t show. Or avoid the ground and shoot the sky.
Begin gearing up for ice fishing and be warned that there are supply shortages here, too.
Pheasant releasing on public lands started up again and some will continue on 25 properties though a special holiday release prior to Christmas.

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

Tundra swans (pictured) reached the state in a big way this week, the first major influx coming on Nov. 17, when birders reported hundreds from various sites around the state and over 1200 in Portage County.
Numbers have built substantially at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, where upwards of 10,000 can now be found on Pool 8. The Brownsville Overlook on the Minnesota side often provides the best viewing. Look for bald eagles, Canada geese, American white pelicans, and large numbers of ducks at various refuge vantages.
Impressive this week were counts of 1,000 American wigeon in Vernon county and 3,000 canvasbacks in Crawford. Elsewhere, divers such as bufflehead, common goldeneye and red-breasted mergansers are showing well, including over 2,000 of the latter in Racine.
Not to be outdone, sandhill cranes were also reported in large numbers across southern Wisconsin, including a highly visible southward flight on Nov. 22. Over 1,800 were tallied in just a few hours in Ozaukee County, while nearly 3,000 were reportedly still staging near Horicon Marsh.
Gulls aren’t viewed as admirably by most, but a count of 5,500 herring gulls on Lake Superior in Douglas is impressive nonetheless. A few shorebirds continue to be seen including dunlin, sanderling, greater yellowlegs, Wilson’s snipe and a few others.
A total of 18 snowy owls have been reported from 14 counties, the bulk of those arriving this past week. Read a detailed update on our snowy owl page at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/SnowyOwls.html.
Other winter birds being seen include rough-legged hawk, short-eared owl, northern shrike, snow bunting and American tree sparrow.
Common redpolls are plentiful and widespread across the north woods, with a few reaching southern Wisconsin already, but don’t expect many at feeders until later in winter. White-winged crossbills are also being seen, though less abundantly. A few pine siskins, American goldfinches, and purple finches can be found, too, as well as small numbers of pine grosbeaks in far northern counties.  
Surprising were reports of lingering species such as Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak, least flycatcher, American bittern, Hudsonian godwit and common yellowthroat.
Other rarities since our last report include king eider on Green Bay, red phalaropes in Dane and Sheboygan, Townsend’s solitaire in Douglas, rufous hummingbird in Richland, black-legged kittiwakes, Pacific loon, and hoary redpoll in Bayfield, and late cattle egrets documented in Dodge, Door, Marinette, Ashland and Bayfield.
As dry, seasonable weather is forecast into early December, a general lack of snow and ice (on larger water bodies, at least) should allow many species to linger and provide good late-season birdwatching opportunities.
Find out what others are seeing and report your finds at https://ebird.org/wi/home.
Good birding!

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program
biologist


Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Hey folks, here's a great project for the entire family. Go big or small - whatever the time allows.
Remember this holiday season. Keep things fun. ou will be so much happier and less stressed!

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

What you need
* 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)
 
What you do
Mix peanut butter, suet and cornmeal together.
Stir in birdseed, raisins or peanuts if desired.
 
Suet “Muffins”

What you do
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

What you do
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

What you do
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

What you do
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.
 
Additional Treat Ideas
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 at Wild Birds Unlimited.
Happy Holidays and Happy Birding!
Karen Perry,
Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, 608-781-5088, or  www.wbu.com/onalaska