vcnewsreview.com In the Outdoors - Vilas County News-Review
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  • Thick foliage, few birds on opening day
    THE GROUSE opener began last Saturday with damp forests following a week of rain, so it wasn’t surprising that what few birds we found were tucked back into heavy cover or spooky and on the run, because that’s what they do when predators are tough to detect.
    We didn’t much care because it was the start of another grand season of
  • Support growing for wetland conservation
    IT’S OBVIOUS that people from every corner of the United States are connecting more and more with the wetland conservation mission of Ducks Unlimited (DU).
    That’s the bottom line summary given recently by
  • Deer carcass disposal becoming big deal
    THE DISCOVERY of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in both fenced and wild deer in Oneida County should prompt extra prevention efforts, and the state’s Adopt-a-Dumpster program might be worthy of embracing.
    As you may know, several deer from a game preserve in
  • Good old days on Stormy Lake are gone
    THE GOOD old days for fishing in the North Woods come up in conversations from time to time, and it’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly why fishing isn’t what it used to be.
    We’ve lost a lot of size structure in the
  • RGS leads fight for young forest habitat
    THE mission to create healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest wildlife is gaining serious ground thanks to the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS).
    From last year’s report that membership had
  • Grouse, deer seasons just a month away
    YOU KNOW fall is just around the corner when you are standing in a store watching someone purchase multiple bags of deer corn and a big pack of batteries for the trail cameras.
    Of course we all know the deer feeding and baiting part isn’t
  • Grouse plan: habitat focus, shorter hunt
    HUNTERS are being asked this month to comment on draft language of a first-ever ruffed grouse management plan for Wisconsin, a focused effort that’s long overdue.
    Biologists have
  • Summer: time to hit a quiet trout stream
    I’M REALLY hungry for some trout, my wife declared the other day, and what great words those are in the ears of an angler looking for any legitimate excuse to go fishing.
    That statement was enabling for me, in a good way, and
  • Summer ‘soft fillet’ issues easily avoided
    SITTING in one of my favorite watering holes on an evening last week, I listened patiently as an angler explained to his buddy why he doesn’t keep crappies, northerns and most fish caught in summer.
    The man said the flesh is
  • Fishing: where strangers turn into friends
    IT’S FUNNY how a couple of hours in a boat with perfect strangers, catching fish, can open up new worlds of friendship, teamwork and camaraderie.
    It always starts a little slow with introductions, some paperwork and a few questions from parents, then suddenly it’s off to a boat landing during Eagle River’s Fishing Day for
  • I’VE HAD some pretty crazy moments in the woods and on the lakes over the years, taking photos of everything from bear and angry fishers to fawns, fox pups, dive-bombing eagles and albino deer.
    While the list of species is quite long, some of those outdoor experiences turned out to be real adventures because of
  • Larger boats bring bigger AIS challenge
    IF YOU look at the average boat trailer sitting at a landing these days, you soon discover just how big these boats have become and that the majority are transported on bunk trailers with no rollers.
    While the faster, more stable and luxurious watercraft are
  • Time to keep watchful eye for lowly turtles
    OUT OF the first five turtles I saw on or near roadways the past week, four of them were dead — struck by vehicles while heading for their traditional egg-laying sites.
    C’mon motorists. These aren’t
  • Grouse rebounding from mysterious plunge
    BRINGING at least a temporary sigh of relief from grouse hunters, the state reported last week that spring drumming counts in the northern forest skyrocketed by 48% this spring.
    It’s the best news of the year from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after a 38% decline in
  • Let’s keep the booming bass legacy alive
    IF YOU’VE never caught 30 to 40 bass in a day’s time, grab some leeches or minnows and head for one of those clear lakes in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest east of Eagle River.
    That’s my suggestion to anyone who
  • Some Eagle Chain, Kentuck ramblings
    AFTER seeing that tribal spearers had taken 546 walleyes from Cranberry Lake and 411 walleyes from Catfish Lake this spring, I put a call into the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) last week.
    The harvest totals were
  • High winds often turn on walleyes, bass
    HIGH WINDS that arrived way too early last Saturday morning put a damper on a lot of outdoor activities, with gusts over 30 miles an hour creating white-capped waves on the smallest of waterbodies.
    It meant that anglers adjusted locations, some golfers stayed home and
  • Cold fronts were meant for northern pike
    THREE slip bobbers were dancing across big waves over a patch of weeds when one of them tipped sideways and then plummeted downward, out of sight in the blink of an eye.
    It was one of those nasty cold fronts last weekend that all anglers seem to despise, for they can
  • They often appear when you least expect it
    THE ALARM sounded at 3:30 a.m. and that was surprisingly welcomed due to building anticipation for another rare day of hearing the turkey woods come alive.
    You don’t have to be an environmental nut to appreciate what happens in the spring forest before dawn, as the
  • Sometimes it’s about who’s in your boat
    WE FIRED our first jig and minnow cast of the new fishing season just after dawn last Saturday morning, a father and daughter team elated to be sharing boat space once again.
    Daughter Melissa made the trek home in hopes of getting in some hook-setting action, and this year, we were
  • Turkeys: moment of glory just slipped away
    IT WAS pretty much the last hour of my first turkey hunt of the year last Saturday morning when to my surprise, a gobbler answered the slate call.
    Work dictates that I get several brief turkey hunts every spring in central Wisconsin, where tags and birds are plentiful. Sometimes the hunts last only one day of the week-long season, but I
  • THERE are folks in Chicago who are having a hard time figuring out the difference between a bald eagle and a gray wolf, so thank God the scribbler is here to help them out.
    The confusion surfaced recently after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed to
  • Spring hearings dead: online forum next?
    JUDGING by what we witnessed in Oneida County last week, the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) spring fish and game hearings should be declared dead on arrival.
    When 35 people show up for a hearing compared to
  • ‘Plan B’ ended up being the best choice
    AS WE headed out ice fishing in the early afternoon and discovered somebody else was in the holes we planned to fish, I’m sure my buddy was hoping there was a viable Plan B.
    It was the annual trek northward for Mike Krueger of
  • Spring hearings: your best chance for input
    A MIXTURE of proposed rule changes and big-issue advisory questions will be on the ballot in every county next Monday, April 8, at the annual spring fish and game hearings.
    The spring hearings start in every county at
  • Wildlife adds to ice-fishing adventures
    I WAS bent over a hole in the ice while hooking a new crappie minnow to a tip-down rig when a rush of wings startled me.
    The fish were biting and my attention was so keenly focused on getting another minnow down that I had forgotten about the small, gill-hooked crappie I tossed out for
  • Cure for CWD: discovery or wild claim?
    DON’T BET the back forty or even your worst deer rifle on this one, but a researcher claims to have found a previously undiscovered bacteria that’s the real cause of chronic wasting disease (CWD), fueling hopes for in-field testing and a vaccine.
    Dr. Frank Bastian, a veteran neuropathologist formerly with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, said he’s
  • Spring hearings to see first online voting
    THE Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that through a new online voting system, the public will have greater opportunities to weigh in on proposed fish and wildlife rules at the spring hearings in April.
    There will be two new choices available. Those who attend can just
  • Pay a bounty for CWD-positive deer?
    WE MIGHT develop a new profession and boost farm revenue at the same time if the public supports a pilot project that would pay hunters for every deer they turn in that has chronic wasting disease (CWD).
    The proposed program is called
  • A wild idea: allow broadcast deer baiting?
    TO PROTECT the health of our wild deer population, would you support a statewide ban on baiting and feeding of deer?
    That’s one of the questions that will be up for a vote on Monday, April 8, at the spring fish and game hearings in every county.
    It’s an advisory question from the
  • THERE are numerous reasons for today’s push to control gray wolf numbers in northern Wisconsin, but none of them are more significant to me than taking some pressure off the national forest deer herd.
    Despite increased logging in the
  • Muskies are too valuable to be speared
    IT HURTS to see photos from those tribal muskie spearing tournaments every winter because I know well the heart and passion of die-hard muskie anglers who release everything and can hardly sleep at night when a fish gets hooked too deep.
    To see more than a dozen of their favorite fish lying frozen on the ground, some nearing the trophy 50-inch mark, is
  • Wolf River bag limit going to three walleyes?
    IF YOU like picking on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when they goof up in one way or another, you’re going to love this one.
    The first proposed rule change that went to the Natural Resources Board last month for approval, to get on the spring fish and game questionnaire, was a proposal that would reduce the daily walleye bag limit from
  • Three grouse found with West Nile virus
    THE BAD news is that for the first time, the West Nile virus has been discovered in Wisconsin ruffed grouse.
    According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it was found in three of 16 grouse that were found sick or dead last fall.
    The good news is that right now, there is still no evidence to confirm that West Nile virus (WNV) is having population-level impacts on
  • Deep-water crappies: the king of panfish
    I WAS feeding line down an ice hole in 26 feet of water, a nasty wind biting at wet hands as it became far too apparent the lead sinker was too small for this depth of water.
    Stubbornly, there was no turning back now as I
  • Oneida hasn’t reached its eagle ceiling
    IT TURNS out that Oneida County has not maxed out on bald eagle nesting territories, as the state’s 2018 population survey showed 13 new nests and yet another statewide record as part of the bird’s remarkable comeback in Wisconsin.
    What a difference a year can make. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported last year that when Oneida stayed at 141 territories, it
  • Funding shortfall threatens conservation
    A DROP in hunting license sales the past 18 years has lowered conservation funding, leading to staff cuts and reduced management activities, a new report shows.
    According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, total deer license sales dropped
  • Educating tomorrow’s conservationists
    THE START of winter sports also means the beginning of the student workshop season at Trees For Tomorrow in Eagle River, a nonprofit conservation specialty school that educates more than 5,000 students every year.
    When it comes to the great outdoors and all the natural resources that play into the equation, the importance of
  • It’s been 40 years of ‘living the dream’
    I ASKED a store clerk the other day how things were going, sort of a polite daily inquiry for making conversation, and the reply was a sarcastic “just living the dream.”
    That’s not the first time someone registered a general complaint about life with that whiny tone, and
  • Deer, wolves, habitat work on ‘wish list’
    IN THE heart of the Christmas season, it is time once again to formulate a “wish list” in regard to some of the nagging issues that impact those of us who live to spend time in the great outdoors.
    They call it the season of miracles and as we celebrate
  • Last-minute muzzy deer caps the season
    THE FINAL afternoon of the 10-day muzzleloader season found the scribbler sitting on a trifold chair within the branches of a big balsam tree, my last chance at a buck with the gun.
    It’s been a tough season as the bucks seem to be extremely nocturnal and there’s been no sign of daytime rutting activity near the stands I’ve
  • Endangered grouse: warning on lost habitat
    SAY what you want about the downward slide in ruffed grouse hunting compared to the glory years, Wisconsin’s North Woods still ranks among the top regions in the country for chasing this elusive game bird.
    That thought came to mind the other day as I read about a proposal to list the ruffed grouse as an endangered species in
  • Our final shot at reasonable wolf control?
    IT APPEARS that the U.S. Congress has one shot in the next month at passing legislation that would give states management authority over gray wolves.
    Still controlled by Republicans until the first of the year, the House of Representatives passed the
  • Snow, lack of rut equates to slow opener
    FALLING snow and a lack of rutting activity in the snowbelt of northern Vilas County subdued deer movement on opening day last Saturday, making it a tough opener in the state forest.
    How tough was it? I heard only a half-dozen shots before 8 a.m. and
  • Shed, trophy buck add to prehunt fever
    THEY say you can’t shoot a monster buck if one does not exist in the area you are hunting, the point being that scouting and flexibility are essential for people who seek out trophy deer.
    I’ve never been an aggressive trophy nut in my hunting or fishing, choosing instead to let fate decide when I might get lucky enough to catch that
  • Native nonresidents deserve break on fees?
    HAVE YOU ever wondered why the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t treat our native sons and daughters a little better when they leave Wisconsin for a career, but still want to hunt and fish here?
    When it comes to fishing and hunting licenses, the only categories are resident and
  • Late fall was meant for chasing roosters
    WE LET the dog loose and turned our faces into a light breeze, ever anxious for the first rooster pheasant to bust from cover, cackling for all it’s worth.
    It’s on the cooler days of late October that hunters across the country get the urge to chase ringnecks, the king of upland game birds.
    Despite their nonnative history, pheasants fit perfectly into 
  • Unexpected glory from the grouse woods
    IF YOU said there was a chance I’d shoot a limit of grouse on a two-hour walk after work one night this month, the response would have included something about a doctor’s visit and a head examination.
    Grouse flushes have been hard to come by this fall after a crash in the population last year sent spring drumming counts to a
  • Deer debate: will rampant cheating return?
    WE WERE sitting around the campfire the other night, talking about the state’s brilliant new deer tagging and registration system, when the tone turned to downright cynical.
    Jackpine went on a little bit of a rage, talking about
  • Modern maps, apps point to best habitat
    THE DAYS of striking off into a public forest and walking miles just to locate pockets of aspen and other potentially good upland bird cover are quickly ending, for technology is about to revolutionize how we scout.
    Hunters are now honing in on the best locations long before they hit the woods, thanks to
  • A tree stand, a doe, a hunt to remember
    I CRAWLED into a tree stand at 6:15 a.m. last Saturday on the first hard-frost morning of the fall season, hopeful that deer would have fed heavily and might be filtering through the hardwoods after daylight with a late return to their favorite bedding area.
    As many northern hunters do these days, the scribbler had trekked to 
  • No better place to honor hunters, anglers
    IF YOU set your sights on finding the best places in America to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day, this unique area of northern Wisconsin would be among the top choices.
    That was on my mind last Saturday walking across a Pennsylvania pheasant field with son Brian as we snuck in a hunting trip on a visit to
  • In pursuit of birds: it’s all about the dog
    AS WE embarked on yet another grouse opener last Saturday morning, the scribbler walking trails with Gracie out in front, it didn’t take long to rekindle exactly why this sport is all about the dog.
    We were walking an old snowmobile trail corridor through some pretty young aspen when
  • Anyone can join DU’s wetlands legacy
    DID YOU ever wonder why there’s an army of volunteers in this country, more than 50,000 strong, who donate countless hours as chapter committee members for Ducks Unlimited?
    As a former committee member, the scribbler can testify to the fact that it’s not just
  • Like hunters, trappers are conservationists
    THE FLAP over whether the Wisconsin Trappers Association should be allowed to promote their cause at Forest Fest in Eagle River is nothing new, for there will always be people who
  • Rule may kill deer hunt faster than CWD
    FOR the first time in the history of Wisconsin deer hunting, most hunters will no longer be able to cross county lines with a deer they’ve harvested under a new state regulation.
    Claiming it wants to prevent deer carcasses from high-density chronic wasting disease counties in southern Wisconsin from moving northward, the
  • RGS leads fight for young forest habitat
    THE mission to engage more hunters in the future of their sport to help promote the creation of healthy forest habitat is gaining serious ground thanks to the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS).
    Membership in this conservation organization jumped
  • Tranquil trout streams: a cure for stress
    I FLIPPED a chunk of crawler toward the undercut bank and let the current do its thing, naturally, as the line peeled off the spinning reel until the bait reached its destination.
    The scribbler was working a deep hole on a sharp corner of 
  • Wolf issue proves need for Act’s revision
    THEY SAY the pendulum of power swings easier in the opposite direction when one group abuses the system, and that is exactly what is happening with proposed modifications to the Endangered Species Act.
    The Trump Administration, lawmakers and lobbyists have joined forces to overhaul that 45-year-old law because it has been misused in a variety of ways.
    More than two dozen pieces of legislation, policy initiatives and amendments designed to weaken the law have been recently introduced or voted on in Congress. It’s only fair that each one be
  • Mysterious grouse plunge gets attention
    THERE is so much debate going over the mysterious drop in adult ruffed grouse numbers that the citizen-run Natural Resources Board (NRB) wants to close the grouse season early this year.
    At issue is an unexpected 34% decline in spring drumming counts this year despite a 30% increase the previous year, which records going back to 1964 indicate has never happened when the population is growing and headed toward the next peak in the 10-year population cycle.
    The board has instructed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to formulate an emergency rule that would close the Northern Zone grouse season on
  • Overcast skies perfectly timed for the kids
    SCORCHING temps this summer have caused water temperatures to exceed 80 degrees, pushing a lot of panfish out of the shallows and into deeper water.
    That was going to make finding fish a little more challenging for Kids Fishing Day in Eagle River, the scribbler surmised as he scouted several lakes prior to the July 12 event.
    But just before that special day arrived, there was a cooler night and some rain as clouds finally returned after about 10 days of hot, bluebird weather. It was great timing for
  • An ode to Dad: veteran, athlete, mentor
    THE MAN who taught the scribbler about fishing, hunting, camping, waterskiing, golf, newspapering, faith and life in general breathed his last July 12. My dad died last week, at age 89.
    Many have seen the face of Leland H. “Korny” Krueger on these pages in recent years because we had a decade-long stretch where he would give up chasing the little white ball for a couple of days each year to fish in the North Woods.
    And without fail, we caught up, we caught fish and we reminisced about the good old days when a family of six spent countless weekends every summer fishing and boating in Three Lakes or Boulder Junction while growing up in
  • I’VE HAD some pretty crazy moments in the woods and on the lakes over the years, taking photos of everything from bear and angry fishers to fawns, fox pups, dive-bombing eagles and albino deer.
    While the list of species is quite long, some of those outdoor experiences turned out to be real adventures because of the unexpected things that occurred.
    For instance, I can’t explain why on one Monday night in early June a pair of common loons with two newborn chicks decided, after an hour of distant encounters, that a long white boat with a human aboard was
  • UNIQUE is the right word to describe the Three Lakes Fish & Wildlife Improvement Association, one of the few truly local nonprofit conservation organizations in Wisconsin.
    Few would guess that a community with a little more than 2,000 residents could support a full-fledged nonprofit that raises tens of thousands of dollars each year in the name of conservation, youth education, habitat work and the enhancement of facilities used by hunters and anglers.
    It’s one of the only community groups to be part of a conservation story series that Wisconsin Outdoors magazine published a few years back, because there are not many
  • Gathering wild things: a Wisconsin legacy
    WE WERE watching bobbers dance in the ripples of an east wind, attempting to suspend sucker minnows over thick, deep weeds where the northern pike like to lurk in June.
    It was bluebird weather with sunny skies and not very much wind, so jerk baits and swim jigs would have been ineffective compared to the teasing nature of a live, wounded-looking minnow.
    Live bait is always the answer when conditions aren’t favorable, especially if you are chasing minnow-loving crappies or aggressive northern pike that prefer a
  • Surveys confirm mysterious grouse plunge
    GROUSE drumming activity in the northern forest region dropped this spring to its lowest level since 2005, confirming last fall’s dismal hunting reports while puzzling wildlife biologists who had been tracking a population climb toward the next peak in the cycle.
    Spring surveys on 43 established northern transects produced only 1.28 drums per stop, a 38% decline from last year and the lowest level recorded in the past 13 years.
    The mysterious drop in adult ruffed grouse came after an encouraging spring of 2017, when drumming counts were up 30% over the previous year following a productive spring hatch and
  • Know what’s in the lakes you’re leaving
    THEY say variety is the spice of life, and so it is for anglers in early June when there are so many choices on what species to chase and what lakes to fish.
    The harvest seasons will be open for every species when the bass catch-and-keep season opens this Saturday, June 16, adding another choice to the lake mix with walleyes, muskies, northern pike and panfish.
    We’ve got a rich history of sport fishing in the Badger State, and the angling community has never been more mobile than it is today. The modern equipment of the information age makes it
  • Lowly turtles need break from motorists
    SEATED at a local bar and grill the other night, a fellow patron was entirely bent out of shape while looking at photos of a huge snapping turtle that was crushed and killed by a vehicle on a rural road near his house.
    “Don’t people realize that some of these freshwater monsters might be 100 years old?” he quipped in an angry voice. “What are they thinking? They’re not!”
    While accidents of all kinds do happen on Wisconsin’s roadways, it’s pretty hard to miss seeing a 40-pound snapping turtle on a rural road in broad
  • Nothing like jigging walleyes in the weeds
    WE WERE trying to explain how to detect the difference between a weed and a walleye while working a jig and minnow combination when suddenly, out of nowhere, our guest set the hook.
    It was an early-morning outing on the Three Lakes Chain, on a weekday, and we pretty much had the lakes to ourselves prior to the big holiday weekend.
    It was a fishing trip with the girls again, this time daughter Melissa and daughter-in-law Jalonna, so there was no big surprise that one of them came up with the first hook-set of the morning.
    But Jalonna doesn’t fish that often so
  • **  DRUMMING GROUSE VIDEO BELOW COLUMN  **


    MY QUEST to get more than still shots of a male ruffed grouse on his favorite drumming log, during spring breeding season, has been fulfilled.

    I love those nature photos of a fanned grouse at his best, don’t get me wrong, but they just don’t show enough to our readers about the exact manner in which the drumming sound is created.

    People have told me they beat their wings together. They’ve said they pound their wings on their chest to make that drumming sound. It appears that neither is correct.

    They make a percussion sound by

  • Crossbow gobbler steals the spring show
    IT WAS a long sneak to the top of the ridge, using gullys and depressions to hide my frame, but there were no turkeys to be found in that favorite strutting area upon arrival.
    The good news was that I didn’t spook anything along the way, which meant there could be a chance for success if a gobbler returned to his ridgetop playground.
    Some light calls from the slate produced no gobbles from close-by birds, so I lit the place up with a series of aggressive clucks, purrs and yelps. Spring turkey
  • World’s ‘best guide’ got out-fished, again
    THE ANCHOR had barely reached the bottom of the Wisconsin River before my fishing partner announced “fish on,” and a scramble ensued to free the net from a tackle box and bench seat in the old 14-foot Alumacraft — at one time, the staple of the fishing industry.
    Wife Alice had fired a cast downstream as I was still maneuvering the boat into position in the current, anxious for that first walleye to grab a jig and minnow that was suspended under a slip bobber. And her luck, on the first cast, pretty much told the story of how that outing would go.
    Moments later, I slid the net under a fat 16-inch walleye, a male fish that was squirting “milk” all over the boat, part of its annual spawning run. And we were on the board with a
  • Solid ice in late April — good and bad
    IT WAS hard to believe last Sunday morning that just six days before the open water fishing season officially opens, the scribbler was standing on 27 inches of ice catching crappies.
    And that was on the dark waters of the Three Lakes Chain, pretty much the second type of lake to thaw behind the really shallow waterbodies.
    The ice would be thicker and will last longer on those deep, clear lakes, which include North Twin, Trout, Lake Tomahawk, Butternut, Big Arbor Vitae and probably Big St. Germain.
    That list of lakes is probably where
  • Warblers: young forest conservation at work
    RECENT publicity from the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) about the importance of young forest habitat has mentioned the endangered Kirtland’s warbler as an example of a nongame species that is helped by vegetative management, i.e., logging.
    For the record, the organization’s use of several warbler species to argue for more active timber management in Wisconsin has integrity not found in the cries of wilderness proponents who used wolves, pileated woodpeckers and scarlet tanagers to argue their cause — with laughable results.
    Last week, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that after years of intensive habitat management involving young forest types, the Kirtland’s warbler was
  • Big Fork Lake: factory for little walleyes
    Tuesday, April 17, 2018 1:18 PM
    IF YOU’VE ever wondered why it is difficult to catch anything but a cigar-sized walleye on the Three Lakes Chain, there is an easy explanation.
    Natural reproduction is virtually off the charts on this stained waterbody, and when you combine that with slow growth rates, you end up with a ton of little walleyes.
    Part of the problem with growth rates is that there are just too many walleyes competing for the same food supplies, which is why the average walleye takes five years to reach 13 inches.
    So not only do small walleyes dominate the fishery, but
  • War on muskies raging in Minnesota
    Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:06 AM
    THE age-old question of how a big predator fish such as the muskie impacts other species, including walleyes, crappies and other panfish, has developed into quite the battle in Minnesota.
    Headlines in some major newspapers there indicate that the Minnesota Legislature has declared war on muskies, introducing a bill that would blow up the long-range muskie management plan of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
    While the bill isn’t going anywhere fast and has lots of opposition from key legislators, its introduction is a sign of growing discontent from those who cherish the
  • Spring hearings: your best chance for input
    Tuesday, April 3, 2018 11:23 AM
    SOME wide-ranging, serious advisory questions on dozens of topics that might make their way to proposed rule changes in coming years are on the ballot in every county next Monday, April 9, at the annual spring fish and game hearings.
    The big ones come from the citizen-run Natural Resources Board, which wants to know if sportsmen and -women favor eliminating group deer hunting and shortening the length of the crossbow deer season for able-bodied, nonelderly hunters.
    The board is also trying to drum up public support for a $5 annual fee for all users of state fishery, wildlife, natural areas and leased public hunting grounds, which could raise more than
  • Another fishing adventure to remember
    Tuesday, March 27, 2018 11:32 AM
    WE WERE looking over a small spread of tip-downs when one of the rod tips popped, sending the line, bobber and tip slowly toward the icy hole below.
    My fishing partner was all over that bite, setting the hook with reckless abandon and hauling in a beauty of a crappie, all 11 inches of it.
    We were suspending small minnows under bobbers in deep water that’s adjacent to a rock bar when the bite occurred. That’s where anglers find those golden-sided crappies in late winter.
    What has been a challenging winter for finding a consistent panfish bite took a turn for the better last Friday as a good friend arrived for a weekend of serious
  • Bear quota signals stabilized numbers
    Tuesday, March 20, 2018 11:58 AM
    THE BEAR capital of the United States is suddenly setting a lower kill quota and is adjusting permit numbers to reflect lower hunter success rates, a sign that the population has finally stabilized.
    Wisconsin issued 12,800 permits and had a harvest quota of 5,000 bear in 2017, yet hunters killed only 4,159 animals. That’s a surprise considering that estimates still show we’ve got just shy of 30,000 bears in the Badger State.
    Though wildlife managers didn’t get the harvest they were hoping for, the Natural Resources Board responded with a lower harvest quota this year, dropping it to
  • DNR eyeing another statewide bass rule
    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 11:02 AM
    IN A YEAR when there are virtually no significant rule changes that will be voted on at the spring fish and game hearings, there are still some advisory questions that deserve public scrutiny.
    Fisheries managers with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are asking two bass-related questions that could form the basis of future rule changes.
    The first is whether anglers favor establishing a statewide, continuous open season for bass fishing but
  • Public land use annual fee being floated
    Tuesday, March 6, 2018 12:07 PM
    THE Natural Resources Board (NRB) is wondering whether state anglers and hunters would support a new $5 annual fee, a proposed permanent funding source for management of state public lands.
    It’s being floated as an advisory question at the spring fish and game hearings, scheduled in every Wisconsin county on Monday, April 9.
    While the nuts and bolts of the fee system are just as unknown as where the new revenue would be spent, the board claims the statewide automated licensing system could easily accommodate the new tax.
    Hunters, anglers and trappers are the
  • Group hunting, crossbows on the ballot
    Tuesday, February 27, 2018 11:29 AM
    THE Natural Resources Board is presenting two deer-related advisory questions on this year’s spring fish and game questionnaire, and there’s little doubt that both will be controversial.
    The first is whether sportsmen and -women in Wisconsin favor eliminating the group deer hunting law that’s been in place for decades, allowing gun-deer hunters to fill another person’s tag as long as they are in direct visual or audio contact.
    The second is whether hunters support shortening the length of the crossbow season for able-bodied, non-elderly hunters so that the success rate on bucks will decline — more in line with harvest rates for gun and
  • Wind wasn’t stopping this crappie duo
    Tuesday, February 20, 2018 11:54 AM
    THE WIND was howling with gusts up to 25 miles per hour as we set up the ice fishing tent on a Sunday afternoon, not to be denied an outing with today’s very portable, high-tech shelters.
    There wasn’t a soul on this particular lake, a very popular ice fishing lake for panfish, which should have told us that the wind forecast was a lot stronger than what we experienced in the driveway while packing the truck. Or maybe the fish weren’t biting.
    It was a rare window of opportunity for the scribbler and daughter, Melissa, to try for some winter crappies, which we haven’t chased together in years and
  • Latest wetlands bill is bad for Wisconsin
    Tuesday, February 13, 2018 3:28 PM
    WE’VE all seen or heard stories about some isolated instances where the state deemed some piece of land or part of a lot to be wetlands, causing headaches for property owners.
    In 2001, Wisconsin rushed into action after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and became the first state to approve protections for a class of land known as isolated wetlands — potholes, woodland depressions and lowlands that do not connect to interstate waterways.
    There have been some hardships caused by the national battle cry to protect wetlands wherever and whenever possible, no doubt about it. Any time you draw a line in the sand, passing 
  • Some snail mail is really worth getting
    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 11:22 AM
    THOUGH it’s the age of text alerts and emails that come to your cell phone, there is still some snail mail out there that’s worth waiting for with great anticipation.
    A few days have passed since the scribbler stumbled across a little yellow card in a stack of catalogs and junk mail, most of which were solicitations from credit card companies and premium television carriers.
    It brought a smile to my face long before I could get focused on small lettering that requires aging eyes to grab cheaters, for it could be nothing other than a
  • Need more study on ‘the people’s fish’
    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 11:28 AM
    THE maligned yet popular northern pike gets no respect, though it has saved many a slow fishing day and continues to be one of the best-eating fish in Wisconsin waters.
    They call its cousin the muskie the king of freshwater. Even the muskie/northern hybrid gets a rather cool name, the tiger muskie. 
    So what glorious name do we give to the aggressive, hard-fighting northern pike? Snake! Slimer! Hammer handle! Which is why outdoor writer Dave Otto once called pike the “Rodney Dangerfield of the weedbed.”
    Just go onto the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website and
  • Deer hunters turn to food plots, gardens
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 11:32 AM
    THE STATE of the deer herd and deer hunting in Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties is a complex and often frustrating topic these days, especially since feeding and baiting were banned in response to diseased deer at a Three Lakes game farm.
    While there is no doubt that mild winters and buck-only seasons have helped the deer herd recover, hunter satisfaction doesn’t seem to be keeping pace.
    The talk in most hunting circles I’ve been party to is far from upbeat, focused mostly on a lack of decent-sized bucks along with plenty of frustration over failed attempts to pattern deer or to get them in archery range without the use of bait.
    Most surprising is the number of hunters who tell me they