Travelers, particularly those using county and town roads, are seeing flashes of reds, oranges, yellows and purples, along with white flags of deer who got out of the way.
“Animals are on the move,” said Doug Williams, at DW Sports Center in Portage. “Not only deer, but raccoon, squirrels and others. They’re hungry and beginning to put on weight for winter or hoarding grains.”
Williams, and Don Martin, in Monroe, believe this is the week for peak colors in central and southern Wisconsin.
“It’s got to be close to 90 percent right now,” Williams said.
Don't leave out the other senses to interpret, too.
When watching for deer darting roadside, notice the fantastic shrubs and understory. Roadside sumac, smooth purple asters, and dogwoods are gorgeous. Even frowned upon poison ivy (pictured), with its orange-red leaflets, is a highlight. Remember, however, that this ivy causes a rash in most, but not all, during any season and from any plant part including tiny, white fruits.
Interest in last weekend’s statewide youth deer hunt is likely a forerunner of November’s granddaddy gun deer season, beginning Nov. 21 and ongoing with archery.
“License sales have been way up, starting with the youth deer hunt,” said John Borzick, at Boscobel’s Tall Tales Sports and Spirits. “Already a number of nice bucks have been taken.
“To go along with that, fishing has been really good on the river (Mississippi), including bluegills, perch, crappies and walleyes,” he added. “Water levels have continued steady most of the time.”
Make sure there is ammunition to go along with those licenses. Borzick, Martin and Williams all caution hunters to buy ahead, but not to hoard so others can’t find any.
“Even shotgun slugs are short,” Martin said. “Particularly the popular types in 20 and 12 gauges.”
Youth deer hunters and their mentors, and now the rest of the hunters, are reminded that there are many decisions to be made after a deer is taken. Authorizations, registration, sampling for testing for chronic wasting disease, carcass disposal and dealing with the nutritious venison quickly on warm days all must be dealt with during a time when excitement runs high.
Archery and crossbow seasons continue, while the disabled and youth hunt results are being posted on the DNR website harvest report. The archery and crossbow numbers continue to rise and the swing is beginning to favor bucks.
A deer hunting license is needed, of course, and which license depends on the implement being used to hunt (gun, archery, crossbow). During some seasons the choice is made by the hunter whether to use a shotgun with slugs, pistol, rifle, muzzleloader or archery equipment. Other times only a crossbow or bow is allowed.
Registration is required and to do that the harvest authorization number is required (formerly called a carcass tag). Each authorization has a unique number. The process of registering generates a 10-digit confirmation number, which should be written down and retained. This number begins with W and is formatted such as W22-333-4455.
Phones, computers or one or the other can be used at an assistance registration station, too. A list of these help stations can be found on the DNR website.
At no time are harvest authorizations required to be attached to the carcass, but it is not illegal to do so for camp and personal identification of which deer belongs to whom.
Not required, but recommended in most cases, is sampling for chronic wasting disease. Sampling locations are listed on the DNR website. There are also kiosks for hunters doing their own sampling.
Transportation of the carcasses is regulated. Check the regulations. Disposal of unused portions of the animal can be dealt with in several ways, including "registered" dumpsters with locations again listed on the website.
Ring-necked pheasant season opens Oct. 17, at 9 am. One-third fewer birds are being released on public lands, skipping 20 usual release locations. No day-old-chick program occurred this year. All the cuts were due to COVID-19-caused staffing problems. Check release numbers on the DNR website. A select holiday release is planned.
Combining beans and corn have begun. In most cases, the advantage goes to the hunter, photographer and roadway observer. All will find that crop removal of grain does not mean animals won’t continue to visit these fields to feed, fight and frolic.
“Keep your eyes open for erratic animal movements these days, particularly at dawn and dusk,” Williams said. “But as we get more into the rut, movement can be at any time, day or night.”
Duck hunting and waterfowl viewing have been good, particularly in staging and feeding areas. That will only improve as fall weather progresses.
Ruffed grouse hunting has been good to excellent in some locations, so-so in others. Wisconsin continues to be a destination state for hunting this stately bird, drawing hunters and their dogs from as far away as Georgia.
Some outdoors enthusiasts have recognized and commented that this season is too short.
“I wish October were 90 days, not 31,” said one retired field warden, now feeling free to fish, hunt and observe more of the outdoors.