Outdoor Report: Look for favorable hunting conditions
It is, of course, near the opening of the hallowed nine days of the Wisconsin deer rifle season. You do not have to be a hunter to know this, so obvious is it, so much of the culture is it. Mention Hunting Season (all capital letters, of course) and not many will mistake your meaning for, say, mourning dove season. Hunting Season is, for most, all about deer.
That season comes in a week’s time, on the traditional opening on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This, of course, in Wisconsin, the neighboring states having kicked things off already, Minnesota a week ago, Michigan on the 15th. Those dates are as strong a tradition in those two states as the Saturday before Thanksgiving is here.
So all talk in the upcoming week is about deer. Yes, musky fishing goes on and can be very good. Yes, late ducks are on the move and on any given morning new arrivals can make for sporty times. And yes, grouse hunting is decent and archers are having their day. But this week, all talk is about rifle hunting for whitetail deer.
What to expect? Well, first off, the opening weekend typically accounts for the majority of deer killed for the entire season, so those two days are critical to be out on a stand. Most hunters stay on their stands for the opening weekend and that tactic is always a good one. Deer will be pressured by hunters moving into the woods early and coming out at midday. All that movement will put deer on the move and a stand hunter can benefit.
There is a thin acorn crop this year, so deer will be forced to find other food; that will have them moving farther than they may prefer but will work to the hunters’ advantage. This late hunt means that the rut is past its peak and that can work to the hunters’ benefit; big bucks are having to travel farther now to find receptive does and the more they move, the better chance you may have.
The moon is waning and rising late for the weekend; that often keeps deer moving after daybreak, another good reason to stay on the stand. We expect to see deer in the midday hours next weekend and into the following week. The Packers play in the middle of the day; we’d pass on the game and stay on the stand!
Late hunts can bring nasty weather and while it’s too early to tell, we may have a colder hunt than the past couple of mild hunts. The warmer weather in the past couple seasons slowed deer movement. This year we may get some cold, some snow and some good hunting!
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.