The week past saw a return to summer-like conditions. From what I hear, fish of most species are biting quite well with some remaining in the shallower water that they sought when we had a cooler stretch.
I’ve been watching the animals myself. The hunting seasons grow near.
The grouse numbers seem down in the areas I have seen. There are certainly some birds out there, though.
What I have seen in large numbers are turkeys. They simply seem to be everywhere. Not too long ago, turkeys were a rare sight in the Northwoods.
I remember driving down County Highway Q in southern Oneida County in the mid-90s. The wife and I came upon a hen turkey with a number of poults trailing her. We stopped and watched with great interest, thankful at our chance to view such a rare sight.
I see the same scene nearly every day now, and it’s usually more than one hen and it’s many poults — and it’s in many different locations.
Lately, I’ve noticed turkeys (and crows) along State Highway 47 between Lake Tomahawk and McNaughton picking at the ground. I’m not sure what they’re after, but perhaps some sort of bug has been hatching.
If you did not apply for a fall turkey tag, there are some leftover tags available, but not for zones 6 or 7 (Vilas County and most of Oneida are in zone 7). Southeastern Oneida (zone 5) has a few left.
I have been seeing fewer deer this year than last year, but more than two years ago. But that’s just recently.
I had been seeing a number of does and fawns as well as bucks in June and July.
I decided to participate in the DNR’s “Operation Deer Watch” in which citizens report daytime deer sightings during the months of August and September.
When August rolled around, I began seeing very few deer. I have no explanation as to why. I doubt the deer realize I’m even participating. Or do they?
The apple tree in my yard is attracting some attention, though. I have my trail-cam there to get a look at some of the deer I’ll be pursuing those days I hunt near home. No big racks showing up yet.
Usually it’s after dark when the deer visit, but I just surprised a doe there well before sunset. She was reluctant to give up the spot.
Peering at me from the brush across the road, she was apparently awaiting my departure so she could return. Then my black Lab, Griz, noticed the doe and ordered her, in no uncertain terms, to vacate the area. She obliged.
If there’s one thing I can say about Griz, it’s that he’s not subtle.
I can also say “that dog don’t hunt.”
Originally, Griz was to hunt ducks with my wife. Shortly after we got Griz, creeping physical disability kept Cheryl away from the beaver ponds where she used to pursue ducks.
In Griz’s few chances (as a six-month-old pup) he proved effective at flushing ducks, though, as I understand it (and I’m no expert), duck dogs are usually used mostly for retrieving ducks. That was Cheryl’s expectation anyway.
Running well ahead of Cheryl, he’d reach the pond and do a cannonball into the water, then make the rounds through the surrounding grassy areas to purge them of any waterfowl that had yet to heed his warning.
Lagging behind, Cheryl would hear the splashes and quacks a few moments before now-soaked Griz would barrel back in her direction looking for a hug and a treat. I’ll suggest to anyone training a dog that hugs and treats will only reinforce such behavior.
But we love Griz. Now nine, he’s still full of the vigor of youth; essentially a bowling ball with teeth and claws. I’m sure he’d still love to cannonball into a beaver pond and scatter the waterfowl.
My attachment to deer hunting of any sort has kept me from becoming a duck hunter. I bought the appropriate stamps one season and hunted ducks exactly once. I just couldn’t stay away from the deer stand. Sorry, Griz.
I can’t legally take Griz deer hunting with me and I’m quite certain he’d struggle to climb into a stand and sit quietly anyway.
Griz does show the skills of the more or less house-bound canine hunter, though. One can scarcely crinkle a plastic wrapper or clink a bowl with a spoon without him noticing.
The fact that Griz doesn’t hunt, excepting the occasional housefly, is my fault. But right now, I’m interested in why people do hunt.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org