Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer season opens this Saturday, and if the weather cooperates prospects should be excellent for hunters, as white-tailed deer are being reported as near peak or just past peak of their mating season known as the rut, with many reports this week of bucks actively pursuing does throughout the day.

The forecast does call for the possibility of some rain in the south and snow in the north. As of Thursday, only portions of far northern Wisconsin were reporting any remaining snow cover. Much of northern, western and south central Wisconsin are reporting very dry conditions, while recent rain in the northeast and southeast have marshes and lowland very wet.

While portions of the state are included in Herd Control or CWD seasons that allow for addition harvest to curtail growth, most of the state will have limited or no antlerless harvest, under the in the 2011 deer season structure. The only Earn-A-Buck requirement this year is within the chronic wasting disease management zone and the rule has been modified to allow the harvest of one buck deer per unused gun and one buck deer per unused archery buck deer carcass tag without earn-a-buck requirements. Also new this year hunters may harvest deer with archery equipment during the nine-day gun deer season however they must observe blaze orange hunting clothing rules.

Hunters can get last minute questions answered by calling the toll-free DNR Customer Information line from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463).

Waterfowl hunters continued to report increased numbers of diver ducks and Canada geese moving into Wisconsin with the cold front of the last week. Unfortunately, wildlife officials report that a collard trumpeter swan cygnet was shot and killed in St. Croix County, prompting officials to again warn waterfowl hunters to be sure of their targets. The hunter in this case turned himself in to conservation wardens. Due to the mild fall conditions, the nearly 200 pairs of swans that nested in Wisconsin this year have not really begun migrating and are still widely dispersed.

Fishing pressure continues to be very low. Musky anglers continue to be the most active, though there are still fly fishers working Lake Michigan tributaries where they were now seeing fewer coho salmon and more rainbow and brown trout. In the north, the native brook trout spawning season is nearing its peak, with males exhibiting some spectacular spawning colors. Look for the spawning fish around gravel areas in riffles in the smaller tributary streams, but watch from a distance and not disturb the fish or these fragile spawning areas.

As of earlier this week there were more than 60,000 tundra swans in the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge. The loon migration is beginning to speed up with recent cold temperatures. Birders are also reporting an ongoing phenomenon of vagrant birds from the southwestern United States showing up in Wisconsin, including a broad-billed hummingbird, a Eurasian widgeon and Pacific loons.


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