Rifle season is fast approaching
We’re three weeks away from the nine-day rifle season. That is arguably the single more impactful opening date of the entire year in Wisconsin sports (well, maybe second now to the Packers’ opening game this year). The short of it is that with only those few weeks remaining, it’s time to get ready. Rifles need to be sighted in (never assume they shoot the same as a year ago), boots and clothing checked (you need to prepare for weather that ranges from below zero to 50), and the area you plan to hunt should be scouted. All that is a long (and not complete) “To Do” list, but successful hunts often revolve around details, and now is the time to address even the smallest detail.
We always encourage sighting a rifle in far in advance. That way if the rifle or scope needs work, you have time to react. Don’t put it off until the last minute to find it no longer shoots where you expect it to. The same can be said of supplying yourself with ammunition. If you shoot a common cartridge, you can usually expect to find it at the last minute, but if you use something that is not in the mainstream shop now; that gives you time if it has to be ordered. Ammo shortages that plagued some of the past few seasons have eased up, but one can never be too careful in stocking up.
Rifle season will become the dominant fact of outdoor recreation in the next weeks, and the experienced hunters will start to prepare now.
Archers are coming into the prime time to take a buck. The rut is looming, and bucks will begin to move more frequently. This past weekend, the reports we received were of bucks still being very casual as they went about their days. That will change soon, and the best archers have shooting lanes clear, stands in place and are now waiting for the right conditions. The first key date in the rut is this Monday, when the rut should be kicking in. The next two weeks will be critical for all archers. We’d advise any archer to spend as much time on the stand as possible now.
Archers can use a heavy dose of Doe in Heat and similar scents now. Bucks will begin to move all day, and chase does more frequently. This does not mean they will throw all caution to the wind! Good hunters need to still pay attention to wind direction and the basics. But what will happen is that bucks will move for longer periods of time each day, and thus be more likely to move past your stand at any time.
While deer take the center stage now, upland hunters, duck hunters and fishmen all have reason to be in the field or on the water. Grouse are far more exposed now than two weeks ago due to leaf fall. They’ll seek out clover areas now as we get more frost, and will also be looking for high energy sources, such as thronapples and similar. Good dogs always help, but now with the woods more open, a hunter without dogs has the best chance of the season.
Woodcock season is winding down; it closes the 7th of November. Birds will move into the area on favorable winds and seek out cover and food before flying on. As with any migratory bird, each day can produce an abundance of new birds, followed the next day by empty woods.
That same migration drives duck hunting now. Northern birds are on the move, and any likely pothole or lake can have an influx of migrants on any given morning. You won’t get them if you sleep late or take the day off!
And finally, fishing. The report has not changed at all: Muskies and walleyes continue to feed with regularity, and are looking for larger meals. Use oversized suckers and large jerk baits for muskies, and 5 or 6 inch minnows for walleyes. The fish are there, they have an appetite and hardy anglers will find them if they dress warmly and get on the water.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.