DNR OUTDOOR REPORT For November 29, 2018

Preliminary registration numbers from Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season show an increase in statewide harvest. Overall, preliminary figures show that 211,430 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 197,733 in 2017. The nine-day gun deer season continues to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with three hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities, which DNR law enforcement staff say is the safest season on record.

There is now a statewide muzzleloader deer hunt going on through Dec. 5 and there is a statewide antlerless only hunt that runs from Dec. 6 to 9.

Ice anglers have begun to venture out on lakes in far northern Wisconsin, like these anglers fishing this week on Big Arbor Vitae. - Photo credit: DNR
Ice anglers have begun to venture out on lakes in far northern Wisconsin, like these anglers fishing this week on Big Arbor Vitae. But safety recreation specialists say no ice should ever be considered safe and to check ice conditions before you go out and while moving around on the ice.Photo credit: DNR

Ice is forming on lakes across the state but state recreational safety wardens are reminding people that no ice is safe and that early season ice conditions vary greatly from waterbody to waterbody.

Ice levels in the far north have reached 3 to 4 inches and ice anglers have begun to venture out. Trout Lake in Vilas County froze over this week but not with thick enough ice to support anglers yet. Search the DNR website for “ice safety” for tips on staying safe on the ice.

There seems to be a good strong population of bobcat this year in the Flambeau River State Forest. Their prey: snowshoe hares, cottontail rabbits and rodents are also well populated. Most puddle ducks are long gone, but some open water areas still have diving ducks using them. Lots of geese around yet through southern and central Wisconsin – it takes not only cold, but snow to cover up their food sources before they leave. Rough-legged hawks are now more frequently seen hunting Horicon Marsh. Thousands of sandhill cranes are still being seen in a single farm field around the marsh. The lack of snow and late harvest has provided an ample food supply for them late in the season.

Bird feeder watchers are reporting many of the standard species now, like woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and goldfinches, in addition to a few specialties such as pine siskins statewide, evening grosbeaks up north, and the occasional common redpoll. See a conservation biologist’s Top Ten tips for winter bird feeding to discover some secrets to success this winter on the DNR website.

Spring is a long way off, but don’t forget the spring turkey and 2019 bear application is due by December 10.

Green Bay rea residents can join Wisconsin State Parks for an evening of outdoor fun at “Meet the Rangers.” Get the inside scoop on Wisconsin’s outdoor recreation opportunities from the folks who make it happen. The fun runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4 at Titletown Park in Green Bay.

2019 State Parks & Forests Vehicle Admission Stickers and Trail Passes go on sale December 1 at park and forest offices and DNR service centers. They can also be purchased over the phone by calling the DNR customer service line at 888-936-7463 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. They make great holiday gifts!


No ice is safe ice; ask locals for early winter conditions

Wisconsin again is welcoming early winter conditions as December prepares to arrive, dropping temperatures to form early-season ice on ponds, lakes and rivers prompting the Department of Natural Resources to remind anglers, hunters and outdoor activity fans that no ice is safe.

Early season ice conditions vary greatly from waterbody to waterbody, according to Capt. April Dombrowski of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills Section.

“Good sources of local ice conditions include bait store operators, fishing clubs around lakes, ice fishers and snowmobile clubs,” Dombrowski said. “These are the places locally most likely to have the most current information about the lakes and areas.”

The DNR does not monitor ice conditions stressing the importance of knowing before you go. Remember, she says, even though it may look thick on the surface, moving water from streams, rivers and springs can cause ice to form unevenly

“Your best option for the most reliable ice conditions is to ask local businesses and sporting organizations about the area’s conditions before you go on the ice,” Dombrowski said.

People who do venture out on the ice should:

  • Know before you go. Don’t travel in areas you are not familiar and don’t travel at night or during reduced visibility.
  • Dress warmly in layers and consider wearing a life jacket or vest.
  • Not go alone. Head out with friends or family. Take a cell phone and make sure someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.
  • Avoid inlets, outlets or narrow that may have current that can thin the ice.
  • Look for clear ice, which is generally stronger than ice with snow on it or bubbles in it.
  • Carry some basic safety gear: ice claws or picks, a cellphone in a waterproof bag or case, a life jacket and length of rope, and a spud bar to check ice while walking to new areas.
  • Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice and take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.

If you go through the ice:

  • Carry a set of ice picks in your pocket to help you climb out of the ice hole.
  • Once out of the water, do not stand up. Rather, walk on your forearms until the majority of your body is on solid surface.
  • Try to remain calm, call for help and take steps to get out of the water as soon as possible.

The DNR also has information on its website about what to do should you fall through the ice and how to make ice claws. Learn more by searching the DNR website for “ice safety.”