The accumulation of fruits, steaks, venison, and other foods and fuels for future consumption and use has begun and may not abate until it is time to shovel the snow.
Some foragers have stocked freezers with mushroom fruiting bodies from puffballs, hens of the woods, and golden oysters.
A couple of winemakers filled five-gallon buckets with wild grapes from a roadside fence. Others chose to can jelly for the spring orioles.
Shagbark hickory nuts and black walnuts are also being harvested by raking a pile under the tree and then scooping them out, debris and all, into a bucket for later sifting and winnowing.
Most nut meats will be used in baking, on top of cereal, and even to replace nuts as the top layer of pies. Some are chewed instead of potato chips and others help steer squirrels away from more expensive bird food in platform and tube feeders.
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There are many small ginseng plants, proclaimed a Crawford County digger, attached to his own land to search and extract with a screwdriver by hand.
It may seem strange to dig with a screwdriver, but it’s like digging potatoes with a shovel or fork; a fork reduces the chances of cutting through a potato or, in this case, a ginseng root. It’s a minor implement to carry, but could also be a bit more dangerous when falling down a hill. A screwdriver with a colored handle has obvious advantages.
Even something as simple as walking through a forest has its dangerous aspects.
Some plants have yellowed, others remained green. Being conservative and wise, he usually partially digs out the root, estimating its size based mainly on his own standard, and either completes the process or packs it back into the ground to grow for a few more years.
“It seems that almost all the plants I take have been partially excavated before,” said the excavator. He has found an informed buyer who recognizes his selectivity and pays him accordingly, more than the going rate of about $200 per pound fresh, not dry.
Bear hunters in northern Wisconsin were getting some animals and noting what Lafayette County’s Wayne Smith calls the “huntable population of grouse,” even though estimates remain lower than 2021.
A retired WDNR range keeper answered in a whisper from his tree about grouse and woodcock. He had diverted his attention from leading bear hunters to stocking his own freezer with venison and, secondarily, his walls with mounts.
“Deer hunters are out, early duck hunters did pretty well, squirrel hunters are waiting and some are taking advantage of other things fall has to offer,” said Doug Williams, at the DW Sports Center in Portage.
Wally Bamfi, at Wilderness Fish and Game in Sauk City, said the sturgeon hook and line season was about half of what it was in 2021. Still one fisherman, out of 12 fish he saw on the scale, brought in one fish from 72 inches weighing 85 pounds, taken from the Wisconsin River.
“It hunts in the oaks for deer, trophies and turkeys,” Bamfi said. “The harvest of masts is enormous. White oaks are the best right now, any of them white, swamp white and bur oak.”
Bamfi, while also a fishing guide, headed north for a few days to enjoy the fall with his eyes, camera, and ears talking to the fishermen on the lakes, while hitting the trails in a UTV.
Travis Anderson, a wildlife biologist with WDNR, was measuring archery activity while checking samples (deer heads) left at newsstands in Lafayette and Iowa counties. His next big assignment will be releasing pheasants from ringnecks in the area’s public game reserves a few days before the opening at 9 am on October 15.
“It’s likely to bring in hawks and coyotes before the hunters and dogs arrive in a few days,” Anderson said.
Those gathering may be waiting for the leaves to fall for better treetop visibility, but they are spending time preparing.
“We’re selling licenses for most activities even if the guys aren’t ready to go out,” said Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe. “I got my free squirrel feed about the time my wife bought corn stalks to decorate and the ears, 13 of them, were still on the stalks.”
Martin, like others, is happy to be able to finally hand hunters a hunting regulations booklet.
Turkey hunters may be surprised to learn that heavy loads are not readily available in many places. And for those going lighter, .410 cartridges are almost non-existent, Martin said.
“Most of my deer cartridges are around $31.95 a box of 20. I remember when they were $9.99,” he said.
Looking for signs of fall? Williams reminds the people of the city that he, too, look out over the fields, where soybeans and corn are on their way to maturity. The plants also go through some color changes before they are harvested.
Black bears come closer to den time and look much shaggier after gaining some weight for the winter,” Smith said. “Water scarcity will also hamper trappers and some waterfowl hunters.”
Autumn comes but once a year.
GALLERY: Scenes from the 2021 Fall Festival in Durward’s Glen