Outdoor Report: Cold will continue to impact late season hunts
It appears to be full-on winter no matter what the calendar says and no matter what we are used to. It has been a long time since we’ve seen the cold weather come down hard and fast this early. January? We’d expect it in January. But not early December.
Still, it’s what we have and we need to deal with it. Temperatures this weekend are predicted to moderate but overnight will still bring near zero readings.
So, what does that leave us with? First off, the bitter cold has had a major impact on hunting. We’d guess late rifle season and muzzleloading season have both seen significant drop-offs in participation; it’s simply been too cold for a lot of hunters to go out. This weekend’s four-day (Thursday through Sunday) antlerless hunt may find more hunters in the woods but overall we expect numbers of hunters to be way down and resulting deer kill to be off by quite a bit.
Late season archers will still have a few more weeks and they may benefit from some better weather; time will tell on that. But for many hunters the cold has simply shut them down.
Ice fishing is still in the early stages in spite of some small lakes freezing up nearly a month ago. The cold weather may be making good ice but it’s been keeping anglers off the ice as well. Most lakes are still marginal for holding any type of shelter and in fact we’ve heard of several breaking through too-thin ice on some lakes. We are still hearing reports of some thin areas and we will continue to suggest caution for anyone heading onto ice on lakes.
We’ve had plenty of cold but not a lot of snow so for snow enthusiasts things are a mixed lot. Many area cross country ski trails have been packed and we continue to get reports of pretty decent skiing. We always recommend skiers wear a blaze orange cap or vest while skiing during rifle seasons and that is the case this weekend. But outside of that we expect decent ski conditions this week.
Snowmobilers are still on hold. We need more snow and more grooming. The best news is that the ground is frozen hard, swamps should be firm, and lakes are showing better ice each day.
Warmer weather will make things more pleasant and warmer weather is generally better for producing some good snowfalls. If that combination comes along we expect the upcoming week to be much improved for outdoor activities.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.