Snow arrives a little too late for gun deer season, and more in the latest Manitowoc outdoors report

Snow arrives a little too late for gun deer season, and more in the latest Manitowoc outdoors report

A ‘remarkably high acorn crop’ led to Wisconsin seeing its lowest bear harvest since 2008.

Bob Schuh
Special to Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter USA TODAY NETWORK – WISCONSIN

As I am putting the finishing touches to this column Nov. 26, the snow is slowly falling.

Light snow throughout the night has the ground covered, and I am thinking, “Why didn’t this white blanket come a week earlier for opening day?”

By the time this column is read, the muzzleloader season will be well under way. The snow should help those who hunt with muzzleloaders and still have an unused tag or two.

Good luck to those hunters still in the woods trying to fill their tags.

Read last week’s column:Manitowoc hunter arrows 9-point buck and more in this week’s outdoors report

Scoping the Great Outdoors: Read on for more outdoors news from throughout Manitowoc County and beyond.

Lights in Lincoln Park back for 12th year

A display at Manitowoc's Lights in Lincoln Park.

The 12th annual Lights in Lincoln Park is now running and promises to be better than ever.

The light show has become a holiday tradition for many in Manitowoc and the surrounding area. With more than 70 light displays winding through 1 mile of wooded park road, this is an attraction that can’t be missed.

The light show features a variety of wildlife displays, including aquatic and avian creatures, along with animals native to North America and Africa. Drive-through light arches and several other spectacular lighting effects are also included.

Lights in Lincoln Park begins at the fieldhouse on Lincoln Boulevard, just off Waldo Boulevard. Show dates are Thursdays through Saturdays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 9 and then every night from Dec. 14 to 29. Show hours are 5-8 p.m. and admission is a donation of $5 per car. Funds help the Lincoln Park Zoological Society make improvements at the zoo and enhance the quality of life for the animals.

Visit Santa in Cabin 1 every Friday before Christmas between 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 15 and 22. Enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate. Take your camera and get photos of your little ones sharing Christmas wishes with Santa!

Christmas at Sinawa is Dec. 2

Christmas at Sinawa will be 4-9 p.m. Dec. 2 and 4-8 p.m. Dec. 3. Cost is $5 per person or $20 per carload. The price includes all activities.

Food, drinks and raffle tickets will be for sale. Wander through 14 decorated cabins along candle-lit trails. Warm up around roaring bonfires. Take a wagon ride through the woods, visit with Santa, and enjoy some dinner and snacks in the warm lodge.

Camp Sinawa is at 9113 Sinawa Road, 4 miles south of Valders. Call them at 920-827-6811 or go to for more details.

FILE - Horse-drawn wagon rides are always among the favorite activities at Christmas at Sinawa.

Toys For Tots Lewis Shoot is Dec. 2-3 at Joe’s Clays

Joe’s Clays, 12720 County K, Reedsville, 2 miles west of Kellnersville, is holding its Toys For Tots Lewis Shoot Dec. 2 and 3. Registration is from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. both days.

Take a new, unwrapped toy and register for door prizes. Cost is $19 for 50 targets plus an optional $5 for the Lewis purse.

Questions? Call Joe’s Clays at 920-732-3533.

‘Remarkably high acorn crop’ leads to lowest bear harvest since 2008

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced preliminary results of the 2023 bear season. The 2023 season harvest is well below the recent annual average of approximately 4,000 harvested bears, representing the lowest yearly bear harvest since 2008.

Wisconsin bear hunters harvested 2,922 bears during the 2023 black bear season, a marked decrease from the 4,009 bears taken by hunters last year. This decline was observed across the state, as the bear harvest fell short of respective targets in all management zones.

Similarly, statewide hunter success dropped to 23%, down from the recent five-year average statewide hunter success rate of 32%. Hunter success rates in individual zones varied from about 60% in Zone A to about 5% in zones E and F.

A black bear is shown in the woods in Wisconsin.

“This fall saw a remarkably high acorn crop across much of the state, and this abundance of natural food typically results in reduced hunter success rates as hunters’ baits are less effective,” said Randy Johnson, DNR large carnivore specialist. “Almost all of the anecdotal reports I heard from bear hunters this fall mentioned the incredible abundance of acorns and other natural foods in the woods. It is difficult to predict when these bumper acorn crops will occur, but when they do, the impact on bear hunting is unmistakable.”

Harvest data indicate zones A and B, in the northern and northeastern parts of the state, were less impacted than other areas, with hunter success rates closer to average at 59% and 50%, respectively.

Zone C, in the central part of the state, fell well short of its harvest target, with below-average hunter success rates as well.

More Bob Schuh:Click here for more of Bob Schuh’s ‘Scoping the Great Outdoors’

Similarly, in the northwestern area of the state, Zone D saw well below-average harvest and hunter-success rates. The drop in Zone D is likely at least partly because of recent management actions intended to reduce bear populations in the area, combined with an abundance of natural foods available this fall.

Finally, zones E and F, encompassing most of the state’s southern areas, saw declines in average hunter success rates and total harvest.

That’s it for this week, so have fun in the great outdoors.