Outdoor Report: All about the hunt
It’s all about deer hunting now! The next week will bring significant rut activity, the time archers have been waiting for. That is reason enough for excitement in the ranks, but for many serves only as an appetizer to the main course, gun deer season. The red-letter day for that is Nov. 19. In short, the next 14 days will be ones of long hours in the stand for bow hunters, while rifle hunters spend the time in preparation for the big day. Make that: BIG DAY!
Archers first. Every day this week we’ve had reports of bucks on the move. They have not thrown all caution to the wind, they rarely do. But they are moving more frequently than even a week ago. No surprise there; it is the time of the year that you can expect that. Bucks will range farther from their home turf and do so at all hours of the day during the rut. They are single-minded and will pass up food and, in many cases, safety, for the next 10 days. Bucks that are normally nocturnal will move during daylight hours. There is no bad time to be in the woods now.
Doe-in-heat scents can be potent for stand hunters. Used correctly, they can swing the odds toward the hunter as much as any type of tactic. But do not ignore the basics that govern all hunts: Hunters need be quiet, keep movement to a minimum, and pay attention to wind direction. No matter how focused bucks are, they’ll spook and run from human scent, and will go on red alert with sound and movement. If you get careless, you’ll lose out.
While the attention is on bucks, many experienced hunters will follow the does. Does are more consistent in their patterns, looking for food in the normal places at the usual times. Find does and you’ll often have the bucks come looking. A doe in heat will drive away her fawns, so if a single adult doe comes in to the stand, be alert; a buck may follow.
Rifle hunters are playing the waiting game now. This week is the best time to set out clothing, evaluate gear (and repair or replace if need be) and do in field preparation of stands and blinds. You need to prepare for extremes in weather. In the past half dozen years, we’ve seen swings from below zero to 50s and even 60s. Now is the time to make certain you are prepared.
Do not assume that the deer stand is as you left it last November. Trees grow up, trees fall down, things change. An hour spent in your hunting area is a good investment. Shooting lanes may need to be cleared, blinds need to be touched up, everything should be examined and prepared. Add to that some unhurried time at the rifle range to sight in your rifle.
And then, for rifle hunters, it’s time to mark off the days!
In the woods and on the water, hunting and fishing continue. Grouse hunters are finding birds in some (but not all) areas. Woodcock flights have been inconsistent, and the season ends on the 7th, so time is about out. Waterfowl migration has been slow, with some wood ducks still in the area, and reports from Canada of large numbers of ducks that have not moved south yet.
Fishing is the same as a week ago (and likely the same as next week). Large lures and large minnows for both walleyes and muskies are the way to go. Row trolling for muskies is always effective in November, but most anglers are simply putting their time in with jerk baits and suckers for muskies; large minnows and medium size lures for walleyes.
Fishing may be good, but face it, it’s all about deer hunting now!
(The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.)