Nine-day gun season closes as safest on record; grooming begins on ski trails but most snowmobile trials remain closed.
MADISON, WI –-(Ammoland.com)- Wisconsin's 2014 nine-day gun deer season closed Sunday with preliminary harvest of 191,550 deer.
This harvest was down from recent years, which wildlife officials had expected due to greatly reduced antlerless deer tags and a reduced deer herd in northern Wisconsin following two sever winters. Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa all saw similar declines this year.
Only three confirmed shooting related incidents – none fatal — were reported during the season, an all-time low. Deer hunting continues with a muzzleloader season open through Dec. 10 and late archery through Jan. 4. There is also a Central Forest and Central Farmland antlerless hunt Dec. 11-14. Due to these firearm seasons, all hunters except waterfowl hunters need to continue to wear blaze orange until Dec. 15.
Some area of northern Wisconsin received an addition 2 to 3 inches of snow this week and snow depths across the north now range from 2 inches in central Wisconsin to 18 inches in the far north. State parks and forests have begun grooming ski trails, which means that these trails are no longer open to hiking or snowshoeing. The Northern Highland-American Legion and Brule River state forests and Copper Falls and Pattison state parks were reporting trails in good condition. Most snowmobile trails will remain closed until the close of the muzzleloader season. Counties determine when to open trails based on consultation with the clubs that maintain the trails. Using trails before they officially open is trespass.
With 4 to 5 inches of ice on most lakes across the Northwoods, ice fishing season has begun. However, some of the larger lakes have only an inch or two of ice and early season ice is quite variable. Initial reports show the walleye action to be good alone with some good panfish catches. Ice anglers are also enjoying some consistent catches of nice sized crappie and perch. Ice fishing on some of the back bays has started to heat up in central and southern Wisconsin as well. Lake Monona in Madison just froze over this week, nearly two weeks earlier than average.
With the closing wolf harvest zone 3 to hunting and trapping of gray wolves as of noon, Dec. 5, the 2014-2015 wolf season will officially close. As of Dec. 4 hunters and trappers had reached the statewide quota of 150 wolves. Trappers are still targeting muskrats on frozen ponds and rivers in the area and many trappers are reporting otter sightings.
Snowy owls are making another big push into the state. At least 80 individuals have been tallied already this fall compared to 41 by this date during last year's irruption. The cause of this year's flight is unknown at this point. Pine siskins and purple finches have been prevalent statewide. Common redpolls are numerous across the north, where above-average numbers of evening grosbeaks, a few flocks of bohemian waxwings and small numbers of both red and white-winged crossbills are being seen.
2015 Wisconsin state park stickers and state trails passes are now on sale at state park facilities and Department of Natural Resources service centers statewide. The stickers and trail make a great holiday gift that keeps giving throughout the year. Search the DNR website for keyword “gifts” for other ideas for the outdoors lovers on your shopping list.