“THE BEAT GOES on.” Sonny and Cher had it right. America’s favorite couple, at least for a while, had a major hit in 1967 with that song. The beat does indeed go on.

That could be said for what’s happening in the world today with COVID-19, something that has changed all our lives for some time to come, but it’s equally true for everything outdoors. Animals and weather don’t self-isolate. The seasons continue to pass by. No matter the state of world affairs, spring is happening.

Snow is disappearing. South-facing hillsides are bare and the amount of bare ground a person can see while out on a drive or during a hike in the woods is increasing on a daily basis.

Each day I get out in the woods I see brown earth and open areas. I see some evergreen moss and plant life of various species reaching out to the sun and rain; whichever we have on any given day.

Deer, which seem to have come through in excellent shape from what Department of Natural Resources statistics define as a severe winter, are on the move each and every day. Wherever I go, whether by walking or vehicle, getting to walking trails as far and remote from where anyone else goes as I can get, deer are out browsing for more than the twigs, bark, certain evergreen needles and sapling buds they have subsisted on since snow began piling up way back in November.

With my turkey season less than a month away from beginning, I have started to look for those magnificent birds and I have been finding them. They, like the deer, seem to have come through the winter months just fine.

If I could aim my shotgun as accurately as I have been aiming my pointed index finger the last week or so, gobblers wouldn’t have a chance. My heart has been gladdened a whole bunch of times when I have stumbled upon turkeys deep in the woods or driven past them as they fed along byroads and back roads.

I’ve seen jakes, mature gobblers and plenty of hens, enough to convince me that these tough birds can survive anything north Wisconsin can throw at them in a rough winter.

Looking back on my turkey hunt beginnings in Missouri during the ’80s, I cannot believe that during an era when a hunter had to travel afar to hunt a gobbler the time would come when I could actually hunt them out my back door.

The conventional wisdom at that time was that turkeys could not survive a winter in the woods of the far north where there would be no leftover farm crops to keep them going.

Someone forgot to tell the turkeys they weren’t that tough. Now, as I daily drive my housebound-wife crazy with yelps, cuts, cackles and assorted other calls of wild turkey hens within every room of our house, my current case of turkey fever continues to rage far stronger than COVID-19.

The other thing that warms the cockles of my heart more than anything else is the annual spring return of ducks and geese.

Many of the bog ponds and small lakes I search out each April are still snowbound and ice-covered, but last Saturday, while walking with the princess of the house — Molly, my female golden, not Barb, my lovely wife who is the queen of the house — I got to see my favorite of all wildlife species up close and personal.

I had earlier checked the small open-water area where Plum Creek flows out of Plum Lake as well as Rice Crick, a stream not too far from my house which you won’t find on any map by that name, and found them barren of either ducks and geese.

Spotting a little open water fringing the shoreline along the property of my longtime friend, Jim Thomas, I was rewarded for my efforts. It took some stomping through foot-and-a-half deep snow to get to a vantage point above his dock, but there they were, two magnificent Canada geese foraging for whatever served as leftover wild rice or other tasty water plants.

Unlike hunting season when they would have been instantly up and away upon my approach, they were content to let me watch from a mere 30 yards away for as long as I wanted. I watched them in peaceful coexistence for nearly half an hour.

When I retreated to my parked truck I was further rewarded when I found two hooded mergansers in the open water opened up by a continual flow through the Highway N culvert. “Hoodies” may be lousy for eating, but drakes in their spring breeding plumage are one of the prettiest ducks you can find.

Like the geese, they didn’t seem to mind my company nor that of a muskrat that emerged from out of the culvert to join them.

Like the bare earth once again emerging from beneath its winter blanket, for me and the wildlife, the beat goes on.