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Wisconsin’s annual nine-day regular gun deer hunting season opens this Saturday, Nov. 17 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 25. It is followed by a muzzleloader only hunt Nov. 26 through Dec. 5 and a statewide antlerless deer only gun hunt Dec. 6-9. License sales are running slightly ahead of this time last year, with nearly 500,000 sold through Tuesday, and sales are expected to increase significantly through the end of the week, so officials expect that as many as 650,000 gun hunters may go afield this year. Wildlife officials say if the weather cooperates, which it is forecast to do, prospects for the season are excellent. Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer herd is estimated at 1.6 to 1.8 million animals, with population levels well above prescribed goals in most deer management units. White-tail bucks are still reported at near full rut, with lots of sign still being seen in the woods and bucks actively pursuing does.

Hunters who hunt in any of 57 units that are designated as Earn-a-Buck (pdf; 33kb) must first shoot an antlerless deer before being able to shoot a buck, unless they are pre-qualified for a buck by having shot an antlerless deer from one of those units last year or during the early archery deer season.

Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are being cautioned that wild fire danger has increased in the last week and is now at moderate to very high in some locations. Department of Natural Resources wildland fire fighters have been busy putting out grass and brush fires throughout the state. Deer hunters should take extra precautions with warming fires, smoking materials and fire place ashes. Until the ground is snow covered, burning permits are required in many areas to burn brush. If you have questions regarding the need for a burning permit, contact a local DNR ranger station, fire department or local officials for more information.

Hunters are also being asked to not move firewood around the state. Firewood may harbor pests such as the emerald ash borer (exit DNR), which is responsible for the loss of nearly 25 million ash trees in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland and Canada. The insect spends the fall and winter hidden beneath the bark of ash firewood, so by moving infested firewood hunters could unknowingly spread this pest, endangering Wisconsin’s estimated 700,000 ash trees. It's illegal to move firewood out of infested states. Hunters are being asked to buy firewood at their destination and burn it all on site.

Fall turkey and early archery seasons close Nov. 15, and with the a few exceptions, such as waterfowl hunting, gun hunting is not allowed outside of the chronic wasting disease zone on the Friday before the gun deer season. And with gun deer hunting open through Dec. 6, all people recreating and working in the outdoors urged to wear blaze orange or brightly colored clothing. All hunters, except waterfowl hunters, are required to wear blaze orange when gun deer seasons are open. Waterfowlers should wear blaze orange to and from their blinds. Waterfowl closes Nov. 20 in the Northern zone and Dec. 2 in the Southern zone. Plenty of diving ducks still being reported in the state and inland waters are still holding geese in good numbers.

With hunting seasons in full swing, fishing activity has diminished to near nothing on most lakes, with the exception of a few diehard musky and walleye anglers still trying their luck. The musky season closes statewide on Nov. 30. Water temperatures are in the low 40s and cold night-time temperatures have caused some skim ice to form on small ponds and shallow bays.

The Mississippi River water level at Prairie du Chien was 7.9 feet this week. Eagle numbers along the Mississippi are high due the abundance of waterfowl that died as a result of trematode infestations. Tundra swan numbers are still rising and will likely approach peak numbers during the week of Thanksgiving. And due to the Thanksgiving holiday there will not be a DNR Outdoor Report next week. Have a safe and healthy holiday and deer hunt.

A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling (608) 266 2277.

A new report is put on the line each week.



Superior DNR Service Center area

Lake Superior Area DNR wildlife management report - The turkey introduction program in the Lake Superior Area has been very successful. While many people were skeptical about the ability of turkeys to survive and propagate in this area others were more optimistic. To date turkeys appear to be doing better in the area than even what most of the optimistic hoped for! In 2004, 164 turkeys were released in six locations in Douglas and Bayfield counties and 53 turkeys were released in 2006 at two sites in Iron County. Since these releases turkeys have successfully reproduced and expanded their range far from the release sites. Turkeys are now present across much of the four counties. With three years of experience, it now appears that turkey numbers and distribution will both continue to increase in the area. In 2006 three new Turkey Management Zones (TMZs) in northern Wisconsin were open for the spring turkey season. With the opening of these new turkey zones, the entire state is open for spring turkey hunting. While the number of permits in TMZ 46 was kept small to protect the new and growing turkey population 46 birds were harvested in 2006 and 62 in 2007.

Brule River State Forest – Anglers are reminded that the rest of the Bois Brule River (from Highway 2 to Lake Superior) is closed as of the end of Nov. 15. The Bois Brule River is flowing at 150 cubic feet per second (cfs). The 61 year average is 153 cfs. Nov. 17 marks the opening day for the 9 day gun deer season for deer. The bucks are reported to still be in full rut. The weather forecast is for a cool down into the 30s for the weekend with possibilities of snow…hopefully enough for some good tracking. Good luck to all hunters and have a safe season. For those who are not hunting, it is still a good idea to wear blaze orange or dress in bright colors. Even though the regular gun deer season ends Nov. 25, the muzzleloader season will go from Nov. 26 through Dec. 5 and the Herd control season will go from Dec. 6 through 9…keep the blaze orange out!

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) -Fishing activity has diminished to near nothing on lakes in the Park Falls area, with most anglers having winterized their boats and put them in storage until spring. Nearly all waterfront property owners have removed their docks and stored them onshore in anticipation of ice-up in the next few weeks. There have been a few diehard musky and walleye anglers still trying their luck - but little success has been reported. The musky anglers continue to drag large suckers as it's become almost too cold for artificials to be effective. The walleye anglers have had limited success using large fathead minnows and a slow presentation, but the bites have been light with a lot of drops. Water temperatures are now in the low 40's and cold night-time temperatures have caused some skim ice to form on small ponds and shallow bay areas. But for the most part, lakes remain open and several weeks away from any sort of ice fishing activity. The brook trout spawning season is just past its peak, which is typical for the mid-November period. The male brookies exhibit some spectacular spawning colors and they may still be viewed in their mating rituals on many native brook trout streams. Look for the spawning fish around gravel areas in riffles in the smaller tributary streams. Observers are reminded to watch from a distance and not disturb the fish or these fragile spawning areas - as this represents the future of that brook trout population.

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Smaller lakes, bays and ponds continue their trend toward ice up; however, warmer temperatures this past week are slowing this process considerably. The snow that fell during the week has now melted. Anglers have only another couple of weeks left to get out onto the larger lakes and enjoy the final days of fall fishing. Open water fishing activity continues to remain constant with muskies aggressively feeding prior to ice up. Buck activity continues to be in full force with numerous reports of rut at its peak. For those deer hunters who will be hunting during the nine-day gun/deer season a change in the law allows you to purchase your license after the season has opened. As we continue with hunting season, those outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and walking the woods in the fall should remember to wear blaze orange for safety. Please consider the areas where hiking/walking is planned so as not to place yourself at risk. Waterfowl reports improved this past week with greater numbers of migrating birds now in the area. This week predicted warm temperatures will more than likely keep these birds here for a while so take advantage while you can.

Antigo DNR Service Center area

Council Grounds State Park - Hooded mergansers, as well as common mergansers have been spotted below the dam. Deer hunting is allowed in the park by special permit only. Shotguns, handguns, or muzzleloaders may be used form Nov. 17 - 25. Muzzleloaders only from Nov. 26 – Dec. 5. Archery hunting is allowed from Nov. 26 – Jan. 6, 2008. Please contact the park at (715) 536-8773 for more information on hunting in the park. The campground is closed for the season.



Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Light flurries are expected over the weekend with the temperature in the mid 30s for highs. Deer activity is increasing during daylight hours, which is good for the upcoming hunting season. Extra caution should be used during the deer hunt when driving as deer may unexpectedly cross the roadway in front of you. There is no ice forming on the water edges at this time. Fishing activity is slow below the Hattie Street Dam with a few anglers fishing for salmon. Inland lakes are very quiet except for the occasional waterfowl hunters. Waterfowl closes Nov. 20 in the Northern zone. The Southern zone will remain open through Dec. 2 with plenty of diving ducks out on the Bay. Inland waters are still holding mallards and geese in numbers. A Snowmobile Safety Course will be offered at the Coleman American Legion Hall on Dec. 1-2. Please contact the instructor at (920) 897-3340 to register for the class. The Silver Cliff Town Hall will host an ATV Education Course on Feb. 9-10. Please register by calling the instructor at (920) 591-0210.

Oconto County - Safety should be foremost in every hunter's mind when heading for their favorite hunting spot. Check for fresh batteries for flashlights and know your location. Be sure firearms are in good condition and the safety is working. Be observant of other hunters in your area and always be sure of your target and beyond. If you have questions in the field don't forget our Madison toll free Call Center number is 1-888-WDNRINF,(888-936-7463), available seven days a week, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.. Have a safe and enjoyable hunting experience! A Snowmobile Safety Course will be held at the Lena Barn Tavern Hall on Dec. 1-2. Please register by calling the instructor at (920) 829-5467.

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Door County

Peninsula State Park - Waterfowl sightings are abundant along the shore of Peninsula State Park. Green Bay and Lake Michigan are still very low, Approximately 18 inches below the long-term average. Peninsula State Park's black powder deer hunt starts on Saturday, Nov. 17, through Sunday, Nov. 25. Hunters must have received a Park Access Permit to participate. Approximately 80 hunters are expected to participate. About 75 percent of the park is open to hunting. Back roads are closed, and all closed/open areas are posted. The road through the park is open to non-hunters, and Eagle Tower, the Lighthouse and portions of the Sunset Trail remain accessible. Ask for a map at park headquarters before entering the park.



Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Milwaukee County - – In Milwaukee anglers near the Summerfest grounds have been catching browns and a few perch on minnows fished near the bottom. Decent numbers of brown trout have also been caught by shore anglers fishing with spawn or spoons at Jones Island.

Racine County - In Racine flows on the Root River are very low. The majority of fish upstream of the weir are brown trout and coho, and they have been hitting small black, brown, or olive colored flies. Colonial Park has been holding the most fish, but the deeper holes in Quarry Lake Park have been providing some action as well. Downstream of the weir decent numbers of browns and coho remain in Lincoln and Island Parks. The salmon run has slowed considerably, and the Root River Steelhead Facility has been shut down. During the fall spawning season DNR crews handled 3,547 chinooks, 1,169 coho, 98 steelhead, and 242 brown trout. At the Racine lakefront, shore anglers have been catching a few brown trout on spawn sacs near the boat launch at Pershing Park.

Kenosha County - Shore fishing in Kenosha has been hit-or-miss. On good days, fair numbers of browns have been taken on spawn or tube jigs in the harbor.



Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Grant County

Wyalusing State Park – The Mississippi River water level at Prairie du Chien was 7.9 feet as of Nov. 14 up 0.1 feet from the previous day. A few trails remain closed due to washouts and mudslides from the July 17 storm, but many are now open. Bluff Trail to Treasure Cave is now open. Hikers can hike to Pictured Rock Cave from the parking lot for Sugar Maple Nature Trail, but the rest of that trail is not open. The walkway to Point Lookout is open. Bird feeders at the park office are once again up, filled and attracting a variety of birds. Raccoons are still posing a threat to the feeders. Sightings at the feeders and in the park include: bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, purple finches, cedar waxwings, cardinals, bluejays, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, ring-necked pheasant rooster, gold finches. Homestead Campground is closed for the season. Wisconsin Ridge Campground remains open. Showers, flush toilets, dumping station and fountains are shut down.

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Dane County

Governor Nelson State Park - All trails are open for hiking. Fall colors are almost over! Enjoy a wonderful walk through our woodland, prairie or marsh! One boat landing pier will remain on the water providing two lanes for boat access. The pier will remain in the water until Lake Mendota begins to freeze. All other fishing and pet swim piers have been removed for the winter The Governor Nelson State Park swimming beach is closed. All swim-lines have been removed for the winter and there are no lifeguards on duty. The swimming beach breakwaters are excellent places to observe migrating waterfowl and shorebirds along the beach and rip-rap.



Baldwin DNR Service Center area

St. Croix County

Willow River State Park - A regular visitor reported two adult bald eagles and one immature bird this week along the Willow Falls Trail. The nine day gun hunting season for deer opens on Saturday, Nov. 17 on the north side of the Willow River and on some land out to the east. No rifle hunting is allowed. All open hunting areas are posted as open. All trail heads are posted that lead to areas near or within open hunting areas. On such trails, bright colored clothing is suggested: Trout Brook (Purple), Burkhardt (Pink), and the Willow Falls (Blue) trails. Blaze orange is suggested on the Mound Trail since it is entirely within an open hunting area, and generally not visited by hikers during hunting season. The gun hunting season ends Sunday, Nov. 25. Hikers have some choices to avoid hunting areas by hiking on the south side of the Willow River. The Pioneer (Yellow), Knapweed (Orange), Oakridge (Brown), Little Falls (Green) and main stem of the White-Tail (Red) are well removed from hunting areas, as is Hidden Ponds. It’s also okay to walk the park road. The Prairie Loop of the Red Trail does approach private property on which the landowners may choose to hunt. The Willow Falls Hill (Gray) trail down the big hill to Willow Falls joins up with the Willow Falls (Blue) trail across the river from an open hunting area. It is a very short distance to reach the point on the Blue Trail that is across from a closed area. The Blue Trail is elevated considerably from the open and closed hunting area across the river. One way signs on various trails apply to skiers. Keep the dog leashed. Choose the trail to match your level of comfort. At all times, hikers are responsible for their own safety. The Willow River Nordic skiers monthly meeting is Monday, Nov. 19 at the Nature Center; 6:30 p.m. A park sticker is required to attend. Dry land ski training continues on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Meet at the Nature Center parking lot at 5:30 p.m. with head lamp, poles and good trail shoes. Dress light because it is a long climb going up the Brown trail. The Wednesday night session could be moving off site soon with snowmaking in progress at area ski hills. Camping facilities are limited. Pit toilets are open in the main campground by site # 62 and the RV lot is open near the beach. Campers may load water at the service building and unload into the dump station. The road to the main campground (and the dump station) will be closed in a few weeks or at measurable snowfall. Snow fell here last week but the ground is still warm enough to melt any snow.

Kinnicinnic State Park - The nine day gun hunting season for deer opens on Saturday, Nov. 17 on all of Kinnickinnic State Park. No rifles are allowed. Signs are posted to indicate the hunting seasons that will be open. A valid park sticker is required on all vehicles within the park and along the borders. There are self pay boxes along the south border. If you are going to the park for reasons other than hunting, wear blaze orange clothing. The gun hunting season ends Sunday, Nov. 25. The late archery season starts Nov. 26.

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Raccoon hunters have reported successful harvests over the last several weeks. Raccoon trapping activity is also increasing with the advent of cooler weather. In 2006, hunters and trappers harvested about 168,000 raccoons in Wisconsin.

Mississippi River - Eagle numbers along the Mississippi are high due the abundance of waterfowl carcasses. The waterfowl died as a result of trematode infestations. These dead waterfowl do not pose a health threat to eagles and other scavengers. Tundra swan numbers are still rising and will likely approach peak numbers during the week of Thanksgiving. Duck and goose numbers remain good, particularly on pools 8 and 9, south of La Crosse.

Buffalo River State Trail - Small game and gun deer hunting are allowed along the trail. Gun deer season is Nov. 17-25. Hunters are reminded to watch for and show respect for moving trail users. Please respect adjacent private landowners' rights. Non hunters are reminded to wear blaze orange while using the trail during gun deer season.

Great River State Trail - The trail is open to small game and gun deer from Midway to Trempealeau and from Lehman Road to the Trempealeau National Wildlife Area. Gun deer season is open from Nov. 17 to 25. Hunters are reminded to watch for and show respect for moving trail users. Please respect adjacent private landowners' rights. Non hunters are reminded to wear blaze orange while using the trail during gun deer season.

Perrot State Park - Hunting is allowed in portions of the park during the gun deer season Nov. 17-25. Non hunters using the park during this time are reminded to wear blaze orange. Blaze orange vests are available at the park headquarters.

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Brunet Island State Park - Fall colors are over with most of the leaves having dropped due to windy conditions. The tamaracks are still a brilliant gold. The open water Crappie action has been sporadic on a variety of baits. Species of birds seen or heard include: ravens, black capped chickadees, phoebes, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great horned owls, barred owls, bald eagles, and Canada geese. Deer activity is up; bucks are making an appearance during daylight hours in the park. An area to the north and east of the main office, including part of the Nordic Trail system, will be open to limited antlerless deer hunting, with special access permit only, beginning Saturday, Nov. 17. The park’s islands are not open to hunting. The muzzle loader antlerless deer hunt, with special access permit only, will run from Nov. 17 through Dec. 5. The antlerless archery season, with special access permit only, will take place Nov. 26 through Jan. 6. Hikers are strongly cautioned to wear blaze orange if they will be using the areas open to hunting. The main island is not open to hunting and we would encourage hikers to use the trails and roadways available there. Please contact the office at 715-239-6888 if you have questions regarding the hunt. The campground shower facility, the picnic area flush toilet building, and the camper dump station are closed for the season, but campsites remain open with electric sites, hand water pump, and a pit toilet available. The park road renovation resurfacing portion is completed. Line painting and signing will occur next spring.

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Gun deer hunting is allowed in the Yellow River Wildlife Area (formerly wildlife area B) ONLY. New hunting maps are available at the park office and on the park Web site for parkland, Buckhorn wildlife area (formerly area A), and yellow river wildlife area (formerly area B). The yellow river wildlife area (area B) is open to everything in the regulations. Buckhorn wildlife (area A) is open for small game, waterfowl, trapping, and deer bow hunting. The park is open for early and late bow seasons. Deer can be registered at the park office when it is staffed. Campsites 8, 9, 16 are open year-round. Sites in the group camp are open. Sites are first-come. Drinking water is available at the park office and group camp.

Roche-A-Cri State Park - Deer movement has been substantial lately, with many bucks spotted moving throughout the day. The Roche-A-Cri Woods state natural area east of Highway 13 is open for hunting and trapping. It’s not too late to take a fall hike up the Roche-A-Cri Mound. The campground and facilities are currently closed for the season, but the park remains open for day use. Roche-A-Cri is accessible through the winter parking lot on Czech Avenue, the southern border of the park. The 2008 photo contest is now underway. Take advantage of the unique seasonal photo opportunities!

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VHS fish disease update for Nov. 15, 2007

Fish farmers, minnow dealers, wild bait harvesters and others in the live fish trade are encouraged to attend a Nov. 29 training session in Madison on state natural resources and agriculture department rules that affect their businesses and are aimed at preventing the spread of the fish disease viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS. The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Side Businessmen's Club, 3735 Monona Dr. The Wisconsin Aquaculture Association, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility are sponsoring the training session in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The $15 registration fee includes the workshop, break and lunch. Interested people may download a copy of the registration brochure from the DNR Web site.

Outreach and information

The web site has been updated to reflect emergency rules that took effect Nov. 2 and extended statewide bans on moving live fish, including minnows away, from a waterbody. Other new features include an archive of all the past VHS updates which carry the latest news about VHS, the DNR’s response to the disease, and how anglers, wild bait harvesters, and others are being affected.

Last Revised: Thursday November 15 2007
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