Game on: Three important factors for deer rifle season
There is, on the outdoor scene, one game and one game only now: Deer season. The nine-day deer rifle season hits full stride Saturday morning and runs full-bore through the Sunday after Thanksgiving. After that, nine days of muzzleloader season. But all eyes and all attention now fall on the big one, the rifle season, the one opening season of all hunt seasons that moves the entire state to action.
What we know is this. One, the deer herd is in good shape. Two, the weather is promising. Three, the rut is still on. We know others things, of course, but those three set the stage for the upcoming season. We’ll take a look at each one.
First off, deer numbers are good. And, as always, they are not evenly dispersed. Some areas will have far higher concentrations of deer than others that are not too far away. No different, in short, than any other game birds or fish or whatever else; certain areas hold more game. But overall the northern herd is in good shape and numbers have rebounded from the disastrous winters of a few years ago. So, we have the deer.
The weather has turned to what we historically have wanted in November with cold temperatures and snow cover. The latter is a huge element in a hunt, offering up great visibility for hunters looking for deer as well as making hunters and non-hunters both far easier to see by other hunters. Good snow cover, and we have that this year, make for a better hunt and it’s been a while since we have the snow on the ground that we should have this year.
The rut is still going. This is an early start date to the season and reports over the past week have been positive; bucks are moving. Bucks in rut will move through the day and will often respond to grunt calls and attractant scents. Both of those should be in any hunters’s kit this weekend. We think bucks will be very active this weekend.
Looming over the hunt this season is the specter of Chronic Wasting Disease, detected last season near Rhinelander. Testing for CWD has been available in the area for some time and this year is more important as biologists try to get a handle on how prevalent the disease is. CWD has also led to a ban on baiting and feeding deer across this area. Without artificial feed sources deer will move more during daylight hours feeding. That bodes well for hunters.
As we look ahead the few days that remain before the hunt starts all the pieces are in place for what should be a very good opening: good deer numbers, favorable weather and the rut ongoing. In most hunters’ eyes all hunts are good hunts but this one may be lining up to be very good to excellent.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.