By KEVIN NAZE
Mosquito and tick repellent will be almost as essential as having a license, a bow, a gun or a crossbow this coming weekend when many hunting seasons begin in Wisconsin.
Men, women and youth who were out during last week’s early hunt for teal, geese and mourning doves reported very high concentrations of mosquitoes.
Ticks haven’t been too bad along the Green Bay and Lake Michigan shorelines, but there are plenty as you go north or west.
Seasons beginning next Saturday, September 17, include Archery and Crossbow Deer, Juvenile Waterfowl, Wild Turkey, Squirrel, Raven, Zone A Ruffed Grouse, and North Zone Cottontail Rabbit hunting.
Be sure to pick up your hunting license before you leave.
Do it yourself through gowild.wi.gov or visit a business that is connected to the state’s automated licensing system.
If you want a chance to use a vertical bow and crossbow legally, buy the archery or crossbow license, then a $3 upgrade that makes the license good for anyone.
Conservation Patron shoppers can now use either.
Hunting regulations, public land maps, and game registration can all be done with your phone by downloading DNR’s Go Wild app.
If you prefer to use your computer, check out dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Hunt as a one-stop shop for season dates, hunting hours, safety education classes and more.
In addition to gearing up and practicing their shot, many hunters have been scouting through long-distance lenses and trail cameras for the best chance of seeing the game’s opening weekend.
If you don’t own or rent hunting ground, there’s a good chance you’ll be vying for prime spot.
Fortunately, there are plenty of acres available for public hunting.
In addition to DNR-owned or leased properties and national, state, and county forests, hunters can find access to land under open forest management law and many nature conservation areas and land trusts.
As always, those willing to go into cover often see fewer hunters.
But the edges of public and private can also be good, especially early in the season.
However, it can be risky if you shoot something on public land and it ends up running or flying onto private property.
It is illegal to track or retrieve animals on private property without the owner’s permission.
The Hunt Wild app, onX Hunt, and other phone apps are extremely popular for finding public land properties and owner names.
You can also search your computer.
A good starting point is dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/lands.
Bonus Deer Tags
Hunters in Brown, Manitowoc and Outagamie counties can get two free antlerless permits with each archery/crossbow and gun deer license, while those in Door, Kewaunee, Oconto and Shawano can get three with each.
While many hunters choose to target only bucks or shoot an antlerless one, others take advantage of multiple free tags to help reduce deer numbers on farmland or in the metropolitan area.
Things are different in the North or Central Forest areas, where you will need to purchase an additional antlerless permit for public or private land.
Some units are already sold out, but permits remain in many others.
Those are $12 for residents, $20 for non-residents, or $5 for youth 11 and under.
A list of units that still have additional antlerless harvest authorizations is available at dnr.wisconsin.gov/permits/bonusavailability.html.
Comment on storage
A meeting on Lake Michigan fisheries and salmon and trout stocking plans for 2023-2025 drew dozens of anglers in person and more online on Aug. 30.
Anyone who missed the in-person or Zoom presentation can find links to everything on display at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakemichigan/LakeMichiganSalmonandTroutMeetings.html.
A 30-day public comment period on a three-year storage plan is underway, ending Oct. 1.
Weekly water levels
As of September 2, Lake Michigan water levels had dropped nine inches since last September and two feet below the monthly record set in 1986.
Levels were nine inches above the 100-year average.
The lake level is projected to drop an additional three inches in early October.
Good action on reefs and mudflats.
Walleye and perch fishing is very good in Green Bay, with good catches in and around Geano’s Reef, Vokes Reef, Oconto Shoal, Larson’s Reef, and the muddy west coast in 24-30 feet of water.
Trolling crankbaits or crawler harnesses catch the most fish, and casting Ripper minnows or hair jigs has also been good.
Perch are being caught by red worms, night crawlers or minnows.
Musk fishing has been good.
The best have been trolling with crankbaits and bucktails, or casting bulldogs or tube jigs.
If you go, be careful, take a kid fishing, and call your local tackle shop for wind and wave conditions.
For more information on what to wear and where to fish, call Smokeys at (920) 593-1749.
Yes, only at Smokeys!
Captain Jerry Ruffolo
Anglers Plus guide service