As the sun sets on summer
By Ben Gruber
Summer is drawing to a close rapidly on the 715 area code. Shorter days are sneaking up on us, but the good news is that the bugs and humidity will leave right along with the 16 hours of daylight.
Hunting seasons have already opened. The majority of self-identified hunters in Wisconsin hunt for only one species: deer. If you are looking for other opportunities, central Wisconsin is a buffet for the multispecies hunter.
Early goose season is open with a generous five-bird bag limit. TV hunting would lead you to believe that you cannot goose hunt without a trailer full of decoys and a grand champion goose caller, but I am proof that is not true. Half a dozen decoys, a shotgun, and a little work scouting can put a tasty meal on the table.
If you can find a hayfield the birds feed in that is bordered by standing corn, simply hide in the corn rows, position a few decoys 30 yards into the hay field, and be set up 30 minutes before it gets light. The key is to be exactly where the birds want to be.
Will you bag a limit every time like this? More than likely not, but you will learn a little bit every time, and I promise you will not kill anything sitting inside. Geese are more than plentiful in our neck of the woods. Plus, goose hunting this way is perfect for introducing young hunters. They can move around and sit up inside the corn rows without spooking birds. Nothing beats watching the sun come up in a field.
Bear season opens shortly, but you must apply for a tag early in the year. So if you do not already have a tag, you cannot hunt this year. I have a tag but admittedly am a little burned out from baiting bears for the last four years in a row, and I have not put a bait out yet. Local bear populations are rapidly expanding, causing more conflicts between people and the critters as they move into populated areas.
My plan this year is to start baiting when bow-deer season opens so I can hunt both species at once. I clarified with a local warden last year that as long as your bait is following all regulations regarding being inaccessible to deer, it would be legal to harvest deer while hunting over a bear bait.
Bow-deer, small game, and fall turkey seasons all open on Sept. 17 this year. I have never targeted turkeys in the fall, but I always keep an arrow for them when I am bow hunting and have taken a few this way.
Fishing will pick up a bit here as water temperatures start to fall and fish sense the upcoming winter and feed a little heavier to pack on extra calories.
My daughter, Addy, and I made it out last week and caught a nice meal of pan fish from Lake Dexter. Two hours of fishing from shore with one pole and some night crawlers caught us enough to make Momma happy with a nice meal of fish for the pan.
They were on the smaller side, so rather than fillet them I decided to try scaling them. This method seems less popular today than it was years ago. The process is simple and went more quickly than I expected. Personally, I thought the end result was less than spectacular and will go back to filleting them. If you want to give the scaling method a try yourself, there are many videos online to give you direction. It was not bad, but I prefer the boneless method.
Fall is here, folks. Get outside and enjoy.
Ben Gruber can be reached at [email protected]