In the Outdoors - Vilas County News-Review
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  • Opener was warm and humid, but still great
    WE WERE walking an old two-track on state property early Saturday morning, opening day of the 2022 ruffed grouse season, and the first thunder of the season echoed from a group of balsams on the edge of a tag elder swamp.

    I didn’t see any of those three birds in the heavy foliage of mid-September but
  • Many grouse surviving West Nile virus
    IN THE fourth and final year of a multi-state effort to evaluate ruffed grouse exposure to West Nile virus (WNV), state officials say about 25 percent of Wisconsin grouse tested had antibodies to the virus in their blood.

    According to
  • Vilas forester eyes better aspen rotations
    IF YOU hunt ruffed grouse, American woodcock or deer on the Vilas County Forest, the best news I’ve heard in years is that the new forest manager has already scheduled aspen timber harvests with habitat improvement as the priority.

    Chad Keranen, Forest administrator, is
  • Optimism reigns for fall deer hunting
    IT’S NOTHING but good news for North Woods deer hunters this fall as deer populations appear healthy following a winter with low severity and a spring with great fawn production, which boosts optimism and the future outlook for the northern herd.

    While we’re
  • RGS leads fight for young forest habitat
    GROUSE fever is about to hit the North Woods.

    It’s banquet time for the organization that is solely focused on a mission to create healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and
  • Swim jigs work in the weeds of summer
    IT TOOK an overcast, windy day in August to create the kind of conditions that get the big northern pike stirred up and on the move, so I spent the last hour at work plotting strategy on what lake and what shoreline would be best to hit.

    Most anglers know that
  • It’s the land where the eagles, ospreys fly
    WE KNEW the small crappie was hooked a little deep in the mouth when trying to release it, but sometimes that chance for survival is the only option.

    Nothing wastes in nature, as they say, so  
  • Hard to deny that fall is just around the corner
    AS WE roll quietly into August, technically the final month of summer with fall hunting seasons coming just after Labor Day, it’s once again time to start preparing equipment, the shooting eye, the hunting dog and everything else that’s part of the autumn tune-up.

    This is when
  • There are ways to avoid soft summer filets
    I WAS running some plastic tube jigs over deep wood the other day when I ran into a nice batch of suspended crappies, and they were hitting those red and white baits with reckless abandon.

    While you can
  • PMTT anglers to decide technology limits
    IN LIGHT of the fact that the winning team in the recent Professional Muskie Tournament Trail (PMTT) event here caught a record-tying 10 muskies using numerous live-imaging sonars, tournament officials are asking participants to decide the fate of technology restrictions moving forward.

    Most of the tournament participants were
  • Like an old friend, Escanaba Lake returns
    IT WAS the first time in 18 years with the chance of keeping a walleye that we slid the boat into Escanaba Lake on the third weekend in June, a chance to rekindle a fishing tradition on a lake that brought us so many great memories before the turn of the century.

    The scribbler and daughter Melissa were
  • Grouse drumming survey hardly conclusive
    I’VE BEEN waiting patiently for a ruffed grouse drumming survey that offers solid answers to where the population is headed and this spring’s survey, showing a 2% decline from last year in the northern forest, is not exactly what I had in mind.

    Add that onto
  • IN ALL the years I’ve tried to give readers some tips on how to take better wildlife photos, to preserve some of the incredible sights they witness in the great outdoors, I’ve leaned on the cheap when it comes to equipment.

    Being in the newspaper business, my
  • Big walleyes are a fishing fever all their own
    WE WERE anchored in deep water off a rock bar, in about 19 feet, casting jigs and slip bobbers up into 11 to 14 feet in hopes that some walleyes were lingering there from a feeding run the night before.

    Daughter Melissa returned from Minnesota to
  • Treaties: state has sole management authority
    THERE’S a sticky issue lingering in Wisconsin over the Chippewa tribes disdain for wolf harvest, and whether the tribes can effectively influence overall management by refusing to participate in the harvest of a species they consider sacred.

    The issue popped up as I was reading
  • Turtle survival hits yet another major snag
    AS IF the lowly turtles of Wisconsin didn’t have enough survival issues with loss of habitat and death to traffic during the spring egg-laying season, now state officials are asking the public to help stop the illegal turtle trade.

    The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced recently, for the first time, that
  • The turkey chase can change in seconds
    IT WAS an incredibly quiet morning in early May, a light frost covering the ground and the winds calm as light appeared in the eastern sky shortly after 5 a.m.

    The scribbler had returned to Wisconsin farm country to chase turkeys on a third-week tag, getting a single morning off the work schedule and knowing full well that the weekend was
  • Don’t be the one who spreads an invasive
    ENORMOUS amounts of boat traffic are expected on Memorial Day weekend after back-to-back pandemic years that severely increased demand for outdoor recreation.

    Booming sales on everything from 
  • Tribes adding some not-so-good history
    MAYBE it’s just ironic that the recent over-harvest of 121 walleyes on a single lake by members of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa occurred on the very lake where legal off-reservation spearing began some 37 years ago?

    I believe it was
  • Late ice-out opener produced good action
    EVERY fishing opener provides its own challenges depending on when ice-out occurred and where the water temperatures have gone since, but there’s a new factor to add.

    We slid a canoe into the Wisconsin River before dawn last Saturday, knowing
  • It doesn’t take much to get hooked on turkeys
    WE WERE standing in the hardwoods long before dawn, having snuck down a field edge that connected with an old two-track in the woods to make as little noise as possible in the darkness.

    It was the first day of the youth turkey hunt in Wisconsin and
  • ‘Safe harvest’ figure all about spearing
    IT’S generally confusing every year for sport anglers when they see the tribal spearing declarations and wonder how in the world the “safe harvest” quota on some lakes is so high.

    Take for example the
  • The silver lining of all those storms
    AS VOLUNTEERS with the Three Lakes Fish & Wildlife Improvement Association were placing “fish sticks” in select locations on the Three Lakes Chain last week to improve habitat for aquatic insects, fish and other wildlife, the impacts of recent storms came to mind.

    Fish sticks are
  • DNR miscounts another predatory species?
    IT’S HUMAN nature to trust that the experts in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have an accurate and science-based handle on predator populations, yet the agency continues to prove otherwise.

    You might remember a few years back when
  • Fishing, hunting topics up for vote next week
    WHILE they are just advisory questions this year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is giving sportsmen and -women a chance to vote on dozens of spring fish and game hearing issues that may turn into rule changes in the years ahead.

    The spring hearing questionnaire process represents
  • Sometimes it’s about who you fish with
    STANDING on the ice last weekend, hauling in some crappies with friends and talking about everything and anything, it once again dawned on me the significance of fishing to life in Wisconsin.

    There was a time when I was in their shoes, excited to
  • State toying with dangerous VHS proposal
    AN ADVISORY question on the spring fish and game questionnaire asks state sportsmen and -women whether they support allowing personal bait harvest of minnows from waters affected by the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), as long as the trappers or netters don’t move those minnows away from the
  • Gun-deer licenses down for many reasons
    THE Natural Resources Board (NRB) will be asking the state’s sportsmen and -women next month, during the virtual spring hearing process, whether they should again authorize a study on the adverse impacts of crossbows on the gun deer season.

    At issue is a drop in license sales, to the tune of about
  • Spearing vs angling: apples to oranges
    IN ITS draft revision of Wisconsin’s walleye management plan, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) speaks of common misconceptions about the tribal spearing side of the fishery.

    One of those issues relates to
  • Target the run: let crappies come to you
    MODERN technology is changing the manner in which many people chase fish, mostly making them aggressive, far more mobile and without a doubt, less patient.

    I guess it makes sense with
  • Shanties: it doesn’t get any better than this
    THAT old saying “beggars can’t be choosers” came to mind last Saturday as I contemplated an attempt at ice fishing with below-zero wind chills, determined not to let cold weather push me indoors on a sunny February afternoon.

    It’s been months since I
  • A loss for common-sense wolf management
    IT’S NOT all that surprising that for the fifth time, a federal judge has shot down the federal delisting of wolves to stall the hope of state-controlled management efforts.

    U.S District Judge Jeffrey White of Oakland, Cal., appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled
  • The ‘guide’ works his magic once again
    WE ANGLERS who truly care about the health of our loved ones should pledge to encourage more exercise and outdoor recreation, and that’s exactly what I did on a recent afternoon.

    Despite a high temperature in the teens and wind chills close to zero, I
  • Freezer stirs some fall memories
    OLD traditions die hard and so it is with the winter practice of discovering a package of grouse breasts in the freezer that were labeled months back, in the heat of the season, providing a great meal and stirring some memories from the grouse woods.

    This particular package was marked with
  • CWD positives raise venison concerns
    WE WERE hoping it would be years before a wild deer in Vilas County tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the fatal, infectious nervous system disease that’s been slowly spreading toward northern Wisconsin the past 20 years.

    But that bad news hit last month when
  • Pick a sport or two; start enjoying winter
    IF THERE is anything I’ve learned in more than four decades of “surviving” winter in the North Woods, it’s that staying active can make this a season you no longer dread.

    The winter blues are inevitable for those who don’t pick a sport or find some seasonal hobbies, because
  • New highs for DU’s wetlands conservation
    I’M guessing that many of us thought a global pandemic and canceled fundraising banquets were going to cripple the wetlands and waterfowl conservation work of Ducks Unlimited (DU), and the good news is that any such speculation was dead wrong. 

    Team DU celebrated a monumental conservation milestone last month when it
  • Family fishing: a holiday tradition
    NO SWEETER words are spoken in my outdoor world than when one of the kids proclaims they are headed for the North Woods, and they want to do some fishing.

    Our plans for the holidays this year didn’t allow for such an adventure because