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WILD THINGS: Youth Gun Deer Hunt Oct. 7-8

A strong cold front could make things interesting for this weekend’s youth gun deer hunt across the Peninsula.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-40s both mornings, and no higher than the low 50s come late afternoon sits. Winds could be gusting 15 to 25 miles per hour from the northwest.

The breezy, cool weather should help keep mosquitoes off while having deer fairly active, especially if you can find a field edge out of the wind. 

All hunters, except those after waterfowl, are required to comply with blaze orange clothing restrictions Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8. 

Youths 15 and under can participate in the early gun deer hunt, provided they have the proper license, follow all the rules, and are accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. 

Mentors are encouraged to go over the four basic rules of firearm safety with the youth prior to hunting: treat every gun as if it were loaded; always point the muzzle in a safe direction; be sure of your target and what is in front of and behind it; and keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Find all the rules for participation and reporting at p.widencdn.net/gpkljm/DeerYouthHunt.

Meanwhile, the southern zone duck season runs through Sunday, then takes a five-day break before reopening Oct. 14. That’s the same day that the Open Water Duck Zone and ring-necked pheasant, Zone B ruffed grouse, southern zone cottontail rabbit, and red and gray fox hunts open. Check out all the seasons and rules at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Hunt.

Deer Harvest Update

Bow and crossbow deer hunters registered 3,942 bucks and 5,699 antlerless deer the first 17 days of the 2023 season, including 224 whitetails combined in Door and Kewaunee counties.

Statewide, there were 2,438 bucks and 3,037 antlerless reported by crossbow users (total of 5,475), while vertical bow shooters registered 1,504 bucks and 2,662 antlerless (4,166).

Door County hunters tallied 93 deer (33 bucks) with crossbows, and 43 with archery equipment (nine bucks), while the count was 46 (12 bucks) and 42 (12 bucks), respectively, in Kewaunee County.

Salmon Forecast

Any rain late this week should help spark more upstream movement by spawning runs of salmon and brown trout in the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers, as well as Strawberry Creek.

The first two Chinook salmon egg-takes are in the books at Strawberry, with the next two set for Monday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, there’s an Open House at the Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility on Saturday, Oct. 7, 9 am – 2 pm.

Event for birders

A day-long celebration of birds, October Big Day, is set for Saturday, Oct. 14. This year’s event is during both International Migratory Bird Day and Global Bird Weekend. Birders are asked to submit at least one eBird checklist to help set a new world record. Learn more at ebird.org/news/october-big-day-2023.

Last year, nearly 35,000 people from 185 countries submitted 80,000 checklists with eBird, a worldwide bird checklist program that is free to use.

Birders will have free access to Birds of the World website from 7 am Oct. 13, to 8 am Oct. 16 at https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/home. If you need help identifying what you see or hear, check out the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app.

Wolf Update

Wolves have killed at least 27 dogs and injured eight others this year, including a pet Terrier in Vilas County and hunting hounds in Bayfield and Washburn counties since last week’s report. In addition, wolves injured two llamas in La Crosse County.

Upland game bird, small game animal and predator hunters should be mindful of wolves when hunting with dogs in northern and central Wisconsin. View an updated wolf depredation and threats mapping application at dnrmaps.wi.gov/H5/?viewer=GRAY_WOLF_DEPREDATION.

Order Trees and Shrubs

You can order native tree and shrub seedlings for next spring from the Department of Natural Resources. The trees can’t be resold, but are used for reforestation and conservation plantings that provide wildlife habitat and soil erosion control. 

Some species are limited in supply. See what’s still available and how much they cost at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/treeplanting/order.

Get Wildlife Reports

Data from the annual state surveys of ruffed grouse, pheasant and waterfowl is available on the Wisconsin Wildlife Reports page, dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/reports.

Grouse and pheasant counts were below the five-year average, while ducks and geese are relatively stable.

Water Levels Are Down

Green Bay and Lake Michigan water levels have dropped four inches in the past month. As of Sept. 29, water levels were 31 inches lower than the monthly record high, set in 1986, but still 33 inches above the record low, set in 1964.