Cooler weather equals a better hunt.

Chris Abbott, owner of Hatfield Sports Shop, said deer hunting has picked up as temperatures have gotten cooler.

“Little bucks are starting to run around willy-nilly, but ... I haven’t seen too many bigger ones,” he said. “It’s starting to pick up, and coming into that full moon on Nov. 4 ... they’re going to start moving around more, especially with the cooler temps.”

Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait, agrees that hunting has accelerated.

“This is the time of year where people are trading in fishing poles for weapons to do their hunting,” he said. “(Hunters) must be getting a few deer because I’ve been getting calls every day about buying hides, so there are a few being taken. I haven’t heard this week of any big monsters taken, but I’m sure there were.”

As October ends it’s time to start planning for the gun deer season, said Matt Modjeski, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for Monroe County. The first thing hunters should do is be aware of any changes to the rules and regulations.

Two changes involve carcass tags, Modjeski said.

“They don’t have to be validated, and they don’t have to be attached to the deer and turkey,” he said. “Hunters don’t have to validate or attach them anymore.”

In the past hunters had to validate their kill by writing the date and whether the deer was harvested in the a.m. or p.m., and the bottom half of the carcass tag had to be torn off. The change was made in September as part of the 2017-19 state budget.

The change isn’t for all hunting, just deer and turkey, Modjeski said.

“You still have to have a license and register deer by 5 p.m. the day after harvest,” he said. “It’s the same for turkey — electronic registration either by internet or by phone or stop in at an in-person registration station but still use an electronic registration.”

Another change concerns baiting and feeding laws, Modjeski said. Restrictions in some counties have been lifted, allowing for legal baiting and feeding.

This is not the case for Monroe County, Modjeski said. The best place to determine which counties allow baiting and feeding is the DNR website, Modjeski said, since printed materials haven’t been updated since the budget was passed.

Prior to the hunting season, Modjeski advises hunters to know where they plan to hunt before they purchase their license.

“Know what zone it’s going to be, farmland or forest,” he said. “In Monroe County we have both — if it’s north of Interstate 94, it’s forest; other than that, it’s farmland.”

Also, know if you’re going to be on public or private land, Modjeski said. That question will be asked when buying a license.

Modjeski stresses hunters be aware of things beyond the target.

“Be mindful that others are out there. It’s only required of the hunters (to wear blaze orange) above the waist,” he said. “Also be mindful that florescent pink is a legal color to wear during the gun deer season.”

Modjeski also urges hunters to wear a fall restraint device if they plan on hunting from elevated stands.

“If you’re hunting off ground, make sure to wear a fall restraint device and be attached to the tree going up and down,” he said. “A lot of falls happen when ascending or descending from a stand.”

Where are the fish?

Roscovius said the bite has been minimal this past week.

“There’s very little activity,” he said. “Most of the fishermen that are still out fishing are walleye fishing, taking a few Petenwell trips. Numbers are low as far as the amount of fish being caught, but they are still managing to get a few keeper fish, 15-20 inches, but it’s really slow.”

Minnow and jig fishing has been working best for walleyes, Roscovius said.

Abbott agrees that walleyes are the premier fish right now.

“I’m hearing about a lot of little walleyes being caught, a keeper here or there,” he said. “I haven’t heard about crappies or bass — usually smallmouth bass pick up right around now, the middle to end of October. It’s got to cool down a bit, and then they’ll come down from the river (to Lake Arbutus).”

Besides walleyes, those still fishing are targeting northern pike, Modjeski said.

Roscovius concurs.

“Locally, most of the fishermen have really kind of stopped fishing panfish,” he said. “A few guys are crappie fishing right now, but it has been real slow with panfish, bass included. A few northern fishermen are still fishing.”

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