Off to an unusual start for fall hunting
We shut the door on September this weekend and take stock of what has been, even as we look forward to October. September was a strange one and in a month that typically sees a strong surge of autumn this one brought summer-like warmth and uncertainty.
Here’s what you need to know about September: We did not have a killing frost; we had a high of 87 (August topped at 85); we had rainfall of half the average for the month. It was simply a month out of kilter.
Grouse and deer archery seasons opened two weeks ago and by now we usually are seeing some patterns develop. Not this year. The heat of September (and we had a lot of it) has kept hunters on the sidelines for much of the past weeks. It has simply been too hot to hunt. Downed deer risk spoilage; bird dogs risk heat stroke.
If there is a pattern it may well be that there are more deer than the past few years but the jury is still out on grouse numbers. On the latter, the grouse, thick foliage and high heat have cut participation but those going out are not seeing as many birds. A weather front this week moved some birds in and among them the first woodcock of the season. But again, too much heat has cut enthusiasm.
Duck season opened a week ago with reports of decent numbers of ducks in the area. They are spread out; there remains a lot of water. But hunters we talked to did see ducks even in the heat last weekend. This past Wednesday brought stiff north-northwest winds and some migratory birds, ducks, geese and woodcock were on the move.
Fishing also was thrown off by the heat of September. It simply seems to have stalled the normal move toward cooler water and more active fish. Muskies and walleyes have been so-so at best and the brightest report we’ve heard has been with some very consistent crappie fishing. The week ahead looks to be trending toward lower temperatures, though still no hard frost. That should bring better hunting and fishing conditions and, hopefully, an improvement in results.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.