Gathering has begun in oh so many ways, even open with a flyrod after trout, firing a .410 shotgun at a turkey poult, if only one could find the shotshells, picking the few shagbark hickory nuts from among a bed of leaves, clipping a twig from a bittersweet vine after not finding wild grapes, and cutting a very, very young sulphur fungus from a red oak tree bole.
The shelves of the fungus were so immature, so crowded among the bark fissures and imperfections that identification was hesitant. Pound after pound filled a cardboard berry box, milky fluid dripped from the cuts and a few ants crawled to escape.
The drought has been blamed for more than it can hold but why put culpability entirely on the lack of summer and autumn moisture. Chicken-of-the-woods fungal growth has been sporadic and that of maitake (hen-of-the-woods) is just beginning after a long wait.
Both are edible, easy to identify ONCE someone has pointed out the nuisances.
Eating a lake sturgeon fish from the not-so-mighty Wisconsin River near Sauk City is good, too, but first one has to be caught, registered and prepared. “Last year, here at Wilderness Fish and Game, we registered 17 fish but only one so far this year,” said Wally Banfi, a fishing guide and clerk at the sports shop. The river is three feet low and fishing is near impossible from boat or shore. I’ll be surprised if we register five fish this year.”
On another line, Tony Granato caught a 25-inch walleye from six feet of water on one of the Madison lakes.
Deer, some large bucks, are now showing up on trail cameras. Most are moving at night and loners now that the velvet is gone from their antlers.
Archers/crossbowers are advised to take caution in using tree stands. The WDNR encourages practicing the TAB-K mnemonic, use a safety harness, use three points of contacts getting in and out of the stand, use a haul line to raise the equipment, let others know where you are hunting and operate ATV/UTV responsibly.
Hunters should review baiting and feeding of deer and other species before scouting and hunting. Baiting and feeding deer is prohibited in 55 for the 72 Wisconsin counties. The 17 counties were it is allowed are mainly in the northeast and along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Jane Voskuiolen, Lafayette County DNR field warden, says to open the regulations booklet and make sure of dates, times, and other regulations. In addition, identify the target (species, too) and practice firearm safety.
Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe and Doug Williams, at D W Sports Center in Portage remind hunters to repair equipment early to have it for an opener. “Clean that gun and remember parts may not be readily available,” Williams said.
“Everyone is in a hurry, so get the gun cleaned and fixed well before the season opens. Some ammunition is a bit cheaper, like the .410 turkey loads at $41.95, but more are about the same price. Regular .410 shells are almost impossible to get” Martin says.
Autumn is on the calendar and in the woods, fields, gardens, and roadways, too. Remember that plants, fungi, mammals, fish, and birds are all signs of autumn. Some are migrating, others change appearance and some hibernate. Not seeing a chipmunk is a sign of autumn and winter. So is frost on a lobelia bloom and sneezeweed.
Monarchs, ticks, sticktight plants and red oak acorns are abundant now. Most apples have fallen.
Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.924.1112.