Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

I swear Junior and I have “buzzard’s luck” - can’t kill nothin’ and nothin’ will die.
Seriously, now that Junior’s boathouse repairs are complete, high water is preventing us from reaching the dock. Once the river stage drops to about 9 feet or so, we’ll be able to reach the dock, test the new launch system Junior had installed and enjoy our first morning fishing trip of the year. Thank heavens!
We missed the perch spawn. Now with the sunfish and bluegill spawn nearing, we’re itchin’ to get out on the river. Only time will tell.
Crappies are providing some good action, albeit sporadic, but not as much as northern pike and bass. The trick is finding them, especially with the high water. Additional rain doesn’t help either.
Elsewhere, shoreline weeds are growing taller and thicker along my favorite trout stream. While it gives me extra camouflage from keeping spooking wary trout, it’s more difficult to plod through.
More white-tailed does are birthing, hen turkeys are laying on their eggs and deer are beginning to wear their red summer coats.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, in La Crescent, attended the Southeast Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Service, which honored officers killed in the line of duty, including five game wardens. An investigation was conducted in cooperation with a Wisconsin conservation warden that resulted in an over-limit of trout. Extra-line and possession of dangerous drugs violations were also encountered.
DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, reports working ATV trails and dealing with fawn deer-related calls. People are reminded to please leave fawns alone. The mother is usually close by, but out of sight. Other baby animals will start showing up soon and leaving them alone as well is best.
DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, reports many nuisance-wild-animal calls, including lots of fawns reported. Most people are leaving them alone, but there have been a few problems. He spent time working metro lakes checking anglers and boaters. The high river in the area has kept boat fishing down, but bank fishing has been good.
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 first noticeable gathering fruits were American elm twiglets covering roads and driveways. 
Yard grass was also coated with maple fruits, some still double. Only the single seed in each part was missing. Gray squirrels do this to eat the tiny tree seeds, including oaks and a few other nut trees. Squirrels climb, cut the twig, allow them to fall to the ground and then feed after coming down from the tree. Some squirrels stay in the tree and eat, too. It seems easier with the flimsy twigs that can’t hold a pound or more of weight from this rodent.
Other wildlife were roaming, but didn’t seem to be hungry. Some black gray squirrels were playing about. A raccoon, hen turkey and a roaming deer - maybe looking for a place to give birth to a fawn or more - were all enjoying the cover of the giant green curtain that dropped recently.
Turkey vultures and bald eagles seem to be working in tandem when a roadkill happens. A large, dead raccoon attracted their attention, likely the vulture first and then the eagles. It seems the eagles would spot the carcass and sometimes they do, but just as likely during spring and summer the eagles recognize the circling and landing vultures. Here the eagle has the best of its eyes and uses over the olfactory system of the vulture.
One has to wonder what would bring a vulture to an hour-old skunk carcass, the skunky smell or the dead animal smell? If it were the skunk smell that attracts the vulture, it seems it would be attacking live skunks.
Raspberries and wild strawberries are flower budding, suggesting we’ll have those fruits well before Independence Day.
Morel gathering has reportedly been poor again, leaving morel markets to price their lots up to $60 per pound.
Many assume the morel mushroom season is about over.
“There just hasn’t been that many,” said Brent Drake, at Tall Tails in Boscobel. ”It must be something with the late start and the weather. Even the rattlesnakes are absent so far this spring.”
The late start and now a short season have those picking mushrooms scratching their heads. There’s plenty of blame, from the elm trees that die, to the mycelium that grows large the previous year, and the spring temperatures and moisture.
But with the fungus’ complex cycle, a partner plant, and spring fruiting, the slim season could be a combination of many factors from the tree the previous year, that fall weather and of course moisture. But to blame one factor is probably short-sighted.
As poor as the morel season has been, there have been a few bright spots, but often toward the end of a long day walking when all of a sudden an elm gives up 100 or more. Most pickers stop looking hours earlier.
“I agree,” said Doug Williams, at D W Sports Center in Portage. “The season was short and the weather unusual.”
It may take summer and fall weather and growth to break the bad luck and give the morels a chance to build reserves to fruit in May 2023.
Turkey hunters are anxious to see the registration numbers from all periods including Period F, which closes May 31.
Jeff Fredrick, of Mindoro, has been bouncing back and forth between Minnesota and Wisconsin and says the birds are reacting the way subordinate birds should that are timid about coming close. He had time to change a shell in his 20-gauge shotgun from the cheap, lighter load to a TSS shotshell when a bird hung up at 38 yards and then went right down after that single shot.
“These subordinate birds have been taught to stay away after fighting and losing to a dominate bird,” Fredrick said. “It’s often some exciting calling that gets a bird to move.”
Wayne Smith, of Blanchardville, continues to hunt later periods. Sometimes he gets a bird, other times not, but he stays with it. It wasn’t until shortly after 6 a.m., on Friday that he shot a bird during period E.
Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, continues to sell bonus authorizations for the last hunting period. 
“Some guys have shot several birds. Others haven’t seen one or heard a gobble. Morel picking seems to have gone the same way, and the season appears to be about over,” he said.
Martin is one of a few who sells bank pole licenses.
“There’s quite a list of regulations, so read carefully,” he said.
Looking ahead, Williams knows the next passionate outdoor attractions will be hiking, camping, catfishing and searching for something unusual, such as Wisconsin’s early native orchids, the yellow lady’s-slipper (pictured) and the dark blue showy orchis orchid.
“I’ve seen jack-in-the-pulpit blooming and a lot of Mayapples, too. Shooting stars are abundant in prairies.”
Fawning has begun with some old enough to follow mom for stretches. This week, either side of May 25, is the most likely birthing date.
This green curtain drop suddenly changed other things in the outdoors. Small baby birds are heard, but rarely seen. Other small animals are tunneling through tall grass, while alfalfa conceals hen turkeys and surely poults in a week or so. Trout anglers are beginning to struggle a bit walking along streams and weed growth is beginning to show in small lakes.
Some deer antlers are beginning to fork or branch. They’re “red” summer coats are becoming common.
Mosquitoes have joined ticks in the “watch out” category. And baby robins and bluebirds are beginning to fly.
This year’s Wisconsin DNR Ethical Hunter Award was presented to Mark Moersch, of Stevens Point last weekend at Vortex Optics headquarters in Barneveld.

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

A little of this and that happenings in May:
* Hopefully, everyone has their oriole and hummingbird feeders out, because they are back. Please make sure to keep food fresh and feeders clean and free of mold and mildew.
* Peak of warbler migration early to mid-month.
* Rose-breasted grosbeaks, nighthawks, wood thrushes, vireos and chimney swifts return.
* Peak of bird courtship. Listen for the morning chorus. I love hearing this chorus early in the morning, some don’t, but it truly is a beautiful sound.
* Nesting materials are being collected. You can put some nesting material out in a clean suet feeder or on a tray. SAFE items include pet hair, cotton fibers and yarn that is cut no longer than six inches in length so birds don’t become tangled. Please DO NOT use dryer lint as this is dangerous when it becomes wet.
* Chickadees and titmice become scarce at feeders as they nest and raise their young. Both these birds enjoy mealworms, so if you want to have fun while sitting outside, put a few in a dish and watch them come.
* Mosquitoes can begin to be a problem late in the month. Make sure you don’t have standing water in pots, buckets, etc., as mosquitoes will lay their eggs in standing water.
* If you have house wrens in your yard, it’s nice to have more than one house. The male wren will fill all boxes with twigs and get the female to choose one. After that, sometimes he entices another female to a different house.
* BIRD 911: If you find a baby bird on the ground, do not move it unless it is in immediate danger. Remember, mom and pop are probably pretty close watching as their little one acclimates to nature.

Questions, concerns or just want to talk birds? Stop by our store.
Happy birding and don’t forget to clean the bird bath,
Karen Perry,
Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, 608-781-5088, or  www.wbu.com/onalaska