If there was any doubt that the gun deer hunting season was just over the next ridge, a surprise Halloween snowfall erased it.
Whitetail fanatics love the white stuff, and while it wasn’t expected to last, bow and crossbow hunters on stand late Tuesday got an early treat to aid sightings and tracking.
Through the first seven weekends of the 2023 deer hunts, just under 1,000 whitetails had already been taken in Door and Kewaunee counties. With activity increasing due to the pre-rut seeking and chasing phase, nearly 200 deer were harvested in the past week, including 129 bucks.
The Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties region produced 1,579 whitetails through Oct. 29, including 583 in Brown County (296 bucks), 548 in Door (219 bucks) and 448 in Kewaunee (205 bucks).
Statewide, a total of 47,380 had been registered, including 24,553 bucks. Crossbow users had 23,484 (12,721 bucks); bowhunters 16,061 (7,883 bucks); and youth gun deer hunters 7,855 (3,949 bucks).
Drivers concerned about a run-in with a whitetail should note that — despite hunters thinning the herd — vehicle-deer crashes have still exploded in recent days. That’s expected to continue the next two weeks as the mating season peaks.
If you hit a deer, or find one that was recently hit, it is legal to take and salvage what you can from the carcass once you report it.
The phone line to call is 608.267.7691. It’s staffed daily 7 am to 10 pm. After hours, leave a voice message with your name, call-back number, deer location (road name, township, county) and whether it’s a buck, doe or fawn.
Alternatively, you can register a vehicle-killed deer or turkey online at gowild.wi.gov/wildlife/harvest/carkill.
Meanwhile, opening day of the gun deer hunt (Nov. 18) is just two weeks away. Now’s the time for final preparations, including license purchases, sighting in firearms, checking stands and blinds, and readying the blaze orange clothing and other gear.
For a complete look at the deer hunting regulations, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/deer, or pick up a hard copy wherever licenses are sold. You can also purchase licenses online at dnr.wisconsin.gov/gowild.
Pumpkins can be great treats for backyard or back-40 wildlife, but keep in mind there are rules in place for baiting and feeding.
Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties are three of only 14 counties where deer baiting and feeding remains legal in Wisconsin (see the complete list, rules, and reasons for the bans in 58 counties, at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/bait).
Whether your pumpkins were carved into jack-o’-lanterns or just used for seasonal decorations, once you’re done with them many critters could enjoy them. However, if yours were painted, it’s best to put them into the trash.
Also, if you have way more than the legal limit of the equivalent of two gallons of bait/feed to put out, you could compost your pumpkins.
Salmon Run Update
Through Oct. 30, 697 Chinooks and 87 cohos were sorted at the Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility on the Kewaunee River. Additional coho and brown trout were kept in holding ponds for sorting, Nov. 1.
Meanwhile, 2,363 Chinooks and 1,336 cohos were handled at the Root River facility in Racine. There were 124 cohos spawned.
As reported here last week, nearly 4,000 Chinooks were sorted at the Strawberry Creek facility at Sturgeon Bay. More than 3 million eggs were fertilized and trucked to hatcheries after being taken from 650 spawning female salmon.
Solid Bay Fishing
Most boaters have stored their rigs for the year, but many of those who haven’t are still enjoying some good, late-season yellow perch, northern pike and walleye fishing from Sturgeon Bay to Dyckesville.
Elsewhere, heavy rain finally raised creek levels last week, allowing the smaller Lake Michigan tributaries to attract spawn-minded salmon and brown trout.
Larger systems like the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers continue to produce a few Chinooks, cohos, browns, pike and steelhead, but most anglers are putting in long hours to get bit.
Wolf Plan Approved
A new-look state Natural Resources Board approved the DNR’s revised Wolf Plan last week. Check the webcast for the debate and details at dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/NRB.