Saturday the archery and crossbow deer seasons begin.
Matt Modjeski, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for Monroe County, expects a good turnout of hunters.
“This weekend there’s a small chance of rain Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “I think it will be a good weekend.”
He expects a good deer harvest this year.
“I think we’re growing the herd in the Central Forest Zone part of Monroe County, which is north of I-94,” he said. “The rest of the county is Central Farmland, and we’re trying to maintain the herd. I think the numbers are going to be similar, if not more, deer.”
Curt Barningham of Hatfield Sports Shop agrees.
“It looks good,” he said. “There’s a lot of deer, so it should be a good harvest. I’ve seen more deer than normal this year, so I’m kind of excited about that.”
For safety, Modjeski recommends all hunters form a plan about where and when they plan on hunting and inform someone. For those planning to hunt in a tree stand, he urged using a full body fall restraint device and having a cell phone on their person.
“Historically one-third of all hunters that hunt off the ground will fall during the course of their lifetime,” he said. “By fall that means with a fall restraint device or not. If you’re going to be falling ... you want to have that fall restraint device ... to avoid injuries or death. ... There are more injuries from falls than bullets or broadheads.”
Five other fall hunting seasons are set to open Saturday.
September 16 will see the opening of seasons for fall turkey, ruffed grouse, crow, cottontail rabbit, squirrel and goose. Some seasons don’t open in all zones, and hunters are urged to check hunting regulations for zone dates and restrictions.
Bear season is already under way. Barningham said the shop’s already gotten reports of bear harvests.
“We’re just starting the bear season ... and got three bears so far,” he said. “Hunting is tough (now). There’s too much food in the woods for the bears to (go after many) baits.”
Modjeski agrees. He said the plentiful acorn crop is one reason bears aren’t frequenting baits.
“We have a lot more acorns than last year − last year Monroe County had very, very few acorns going into the fall,” he said. “I think it was (from) a late freeze ... this year we have good acorn crops. I know bear hunting is going on, but I haven’t heard much. I know when they start in the fall, they don’t come to the bear baits as readily.”
As for fishing, Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait, reports a “fair” bite.
“I wouldn’t call it a good bite, but it was a fair bite this past week,” he said.
Panfish haven’t been active, Roscovius reports.
“The bluegills have slowed down,” he said. “I don’t really know a reason why, but they’re a little slower than they have been. .... Crappies are starting to pick up. Most are taking crappie minnows, but some guys are still throwing some beetle spins ... I think you could catch them with a small jig and minnow so some sort or a twister tail in a jig.”
Modjeski also reports a less than stellar panfish bite.
“It’s isolated now; we’re in the dog days of September,” he said. “It’ll be tough for panfishing until we get some colder weather.”
While panfish have slowed down, the perch bite has improved, Roscovius said.
“The perch bite is pretty good,” he said. “I myself did relatively well with them locally ... where I went to some of the cranberry marshes. Earth worms I had the best luck on.”
Perch were also biting on the Mississippi, Roscovius said. Fishermen were catching them on worms, minnows and crappie minnows.
“They’ve picked up now that the water is starting to cool off,” he said.
Bass have also been active, Roscovius reports.
“Lake Tomah has slowed down, but other places are doing quite well with the bass,” he said. “(Fishermen) are catching them on lipless crank baits like rattle traps; they’re working really well. Shallow running crank baits are working pretty decent.”
Fishermen are also catching walleyes, Roscovius said, but they’re small and below the size limit. Walleye minnows on a jig are what’s working now, he said.
In Hatfield fishing at Lake Arbutus is at a standstill, Barningham reports, but the river is producing smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegills, crappies and northern pike.
Lake Arbutus has been lowered about six to seven feet, Barningham said, which is why he’s had no reports of activity on the lake.
“They have to fix something with the dam,” he said. He anticipates it will be down for about a month.