Outdoor Notebook: Deer, fish and turkeys
What would it take to attract 50 to 60 deer hunters from their comfortable homes on an evening in January? That is exactly what took place this past Tuesday evening. The purpose of the meeting was to give the Wisconsin DNR staff the opportunity to explain some of the new hunting regulations.
Jeremy Holtz, the Wildlife Biologist for Oneida County, presented much of the information. He condensed 53 rule changes into a half hour presentation. It was my opinion that the goal for the rule changes was intended to simplify the rules governing deer hunting. Wow! My definition of simplify is different from that of the staff.
One of the changes that Jeremy explained related to registration of a deer once it is killed. The rule relating to a deer that is shot is quite specific. The deer must be registered by the evening of the day following the killing of the animal. Here is where the change comes in. The deer does not have to be registered in person. The registration may take place by a computer or over a telephone. Jeremy advised that hunters should carry a sharpie in their pocket. When the deer is registered a number will be assigned to that deer but it will have to be written on the tag that had been attached to the deer. During the 2014 season a sample of this registration process took place. The comments from those who participated were that a person providing the registration over the phone should speak clearly in easy to understand English.
One recent morning I flipped the radio on to listen to the weather. The forecast for that day was that the temperature was going to be in the low 30’s with scattered clouds. With a forecast like that it was a day made for ice fishing.
The first activity was to make a decision about where I should fish. Each of the guys I phoned said the same thing; “the fish have not been biting very well.” I decided that I was going to go where I normally fish this time of the year.
Each of the fellows I phoned cautioned me to be careful when driving on the ice. What they said was that if you get off the well-used trails you will most likely get stuck. In those places where very few vehicles have traveled one could see about six inches of slush in the tracks.
As I drove around a curve in the road I was surprised to see perhaps 40 to 50 vehicles on the ice. My good friend, Tom Cornelius, was fishing in the area where I had planned to set up. Corny and I fished for several hours and caught quite a few small blue gills. Tom had a tip down out and had a fish grab his small crappie minnow. After a good fight he said, “Hey guys, it’s a northern”. Tom only had four pound test line on that rig. After a good fight he lifted a two-foot northern onto the ice.
We saw several anglers who were catching small bluegills almost on every drop. They were quite small however some fellows were able to sort out a meal or two.
It was interesting to watch the number of anglers who were trying to drive outside the trails. There were quite a few rigs that were stuck in the snow and slush; after getting stuck the anglers would hop out of the truck with shovels and work to free the rigs.
A note to turkey hunters; many surplus turkey tags are available at the time that this went to print for Turkey Management Zone two.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.