How many free antlerless deer tags should Door and Kewaunee County hunters get this fall? North to south, you’ll typically get different answers.
Many Northern Door hunters say there are not nearly enough deer to warrant giving out any “doe tags” for free. From Sturgeon Bay south, there’s little debate that there are pockets of very high deer numbers, but some wonder whether three (Kewaunee) or five (Door) free tags – as there have been in recent years – are too many.
Yet even with all those tags, hunters have proven they’ll shoot only so many deer. And in a winter like this one, wouldn’t it have been better to take out more with bow, crossbow and gun than let them further decimate their year-round habitat?
I’ve seen some pretty rough-looking deer stripping cedars and raiding bird feeders. In other areas, where year-round feeding takes place, the deer and turkeys look to be in good shape.
Regardless of where you stand, Door County’s Deer Advisory Council made its initial recommendation this week; Kewaunee County’s council will meet March 20 at 7 pm at the Muskrat City Sportsman’s Club.
Those who want to weigh in on this year’s final antlerless permit and season recommendations can attend Door’s April 16 meeting at the County Courthouse or the April 17 meeting at Muskrat City. Both begin at 7 pm.
Meanwhile, you can get contact info for local council members and see the metrics they use to make their decisions at dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html.
Licenses on sale
New 2019-20 DNR fishing and hunting licenses are now on sale. The current licenses expire March 31.
Most anglers age 16 and older are required to have a fishing license. Exceptions include resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty (they receive a free license when on furlough or leave) and anyone born before Jan. 1, 1927.
There is also a try-before-you-buy option: a one-day license that allows people to fish, and if they want to continue, their purchase price ($8 for residents, $10 for nonresidents) is credited toward an annual license. It is not for salmon and trout fishing, however; for those species, you’ll need at minimum a two-day Great Lakes license for $14, or the Great Lakes Salmon/Trout Stamp ($10) in addition to a fishing license.
Any state resident who has never purchased a fishing license, or who hasn’t purchased one in at least 10 years, can get a discounted license for just $5. Nonresidents who qualify can purchase one for $25.75.
If you’re good at recruiting new people to the sport, you can be rewarded with a discount next year: Wisconsin residents whom license buyers designate as recruiters three or more times are eligible.
The DNR’s license site, gowild.wi.gov, is a great place to start if you need information about licenses or permits, creating a customer number, safety-education classes, or boat and other recreational vehicle registration.
A March meltdown is making a slushy mess out of the snow and ice, but there’s still some recreational potential in the coming weeks.
As long as you know what you’re doing, chances are there will be walkable ice on parts of the bay and inland lakes for much of the month yet.
The woodland trails are now either sloppy or icy, and snowshoes are the best bet for getting around.
Birders in the southern half of the state are celebrating the return of sandhill cranes and red-winged blackbirds. Individual robins are being seen, too, but it’s hard to say whether they’re new arrivals or part of a small number that overwinter.
Bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and great horned owls are being seen at nest sites.
Get boxes ready
If you love birds, chances are you have some nest boxes on your property. Bluebirds, chickadees, tree swallows and wrens are among the most common tenants of more than 80 species that require a cavity for nesting.
If you already have birdhouses in your yard, be sure they’re cleaned out and ready for the upcoming nesting season. If you don’t have any – or you want to add more to the mix – now’s the time to buy or build those new additions.
If you’re new to this, search for details about the right size of entrance hole, style of box, height and habitat preferred by the species you want to attract.
Predation is a problem, so it’s important that nest boxes are protected from squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and other nest robbers.
You can get a lot of information and inspiration at nestwatch.org.
Birds on cam
Anyone wanting a break from this winter needs to check out this Costa Rica GoPro video with 15 colorful tropical-bird species – including some that migrate to Wisconsin – destroying dozens of bananas at a feeding station. Visit youtube.com/watch?v=AJ4kbT_0RsA.