Outdoor Report: The change to fall is in full swing
The first two weeks of September stand as prelude; mid-September, the main act starts and that is where we now find ourselves. For the hunt season is here and with it a major shift for outdoor activities. Yes, goose season and dove season kicked off a few weeks ago and the bear hunters are having their days, and this is not to disparage those who partake of those early courses. But now comes two biggies, grouse and deer (archery), and both of those draw numbers that far exceed the early hunts. Both kick off Sept. 14. Add to that the Youth Waterfowl Weekend and you get the impression.
The opening weekend of any major season is loaded with meaning and the subject of much anticipation, but the truth is that these mid-September dates are important but not critical. There will be deer taken this week and a few grouse will fall to shot but too often, warm temperatures slow things and, with grouse, heavy foliage limits opportunities. Still, the seasons are here and the change to autumn is now in full swing.
We expect a good deer hunt this year. Overwinter stress has been limited and the herd is rebounding from a few years ago when it dipped some. Grouse numbers are reported to be in a slow decline but that does not mean there are no birds. In times of lower numbers, it simply means that grouse have their pick of prime territory and areas of the right mix of cover and food will hold good numbers of birds. The thin areas, overgrown or marginal, may hold birds in years of abundance, but not so in this season. As with any game (or fish for that matter), find cover and food and you’ll find game.
Weekend temperatures are forecast to be moderate and that bodes well for anyone in the field. Fall colors are in the early stages of change and the next few weeks will be some of the best of the year.
Fall fishing can be very good and we’re hoping for an upswing. Muskies are steady of late and for what it’s worth, we did get one credible report of very good success of late with surface lures on smaller lakes. As a rule, this is the time for larger bucktails and jerk baits to show success, but don’t overlook the top water offerings.
Walleyes have been on-again-off-again, but on the good days they are where one would expect them, in deeper weed beds where they find cover and food and can provide some good action. We had reports of very good fishing this week. Watch the weather, as cold fronts can shut things down pretty tight.
All in all, this weekend really marks the start of it all when one considers fall hunting and fishing. The next weeks will bring waterfowl and woodcock season as well as brilliant fall color, some of the best times of the year.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.