FROM SOUTHERN WISCONSIN - Leave it to the weather to put smiles on the faces of anyone outside during calm, clear, crisp April mornings, and beyond.
The weather is aggrandizing seeing the first morel mushroom, hearing a tom turkey or focusing on the arch of a ginseng plant getting its first sun of 2017.
Gauging the morel season is useless and unnecessary. Now it’s entirely up to the daily high temperatures to make the season a banner or bust. The moisture has fallen aplenty so neither we nor Mother Nature can embellish what the morel hyphae have been doing since last June, when they began drawing nutrients from dying elms, living apples and sick aspen trees.
Unusually warm days earlier this spring hastened the morel’s beginning, but slowing that of late has made pickers wonder. Wonder not, just search and continue to comb the haunts. And continue until the body says stop.
Pushing the spring turkey season one week later seems to have made a positive impact on hunters and turkeys responses, so much so that first period hunters continue to return to sign up for another permit later in May, regardless of what’s in the freezer.
Not everyone is bagging a tom, jake or even a bearded hen, but look for the success rate to increase compared to some of the more recent years.
Gamebirds' profusely calling inform hunters to plan ahead for September and October. The twitter of flushed timberdoodles, songs of bobwhites, drums of ruffed grouse and cackles of ringnecks have all been sounding off, sometimes confusing turkey hunters who think they need to chalk their box call or buff their slate call.
Make sure to carry the turkey carcass tag, and then validate it and register the bird with the new system, or a warden may remind you and could present you with a citation that will put a damper on an otherwise wonderful experience.
It is encouraging to hear and see some quail and grouse in places they are least expected.
Scott Walter, Ruffed Grouse Society biologist, has two drummers on his property this spring. So, too, does a neighbor. This quad of drummers is likely the result of Walter’s creating better habitat six years ago.
Dave Matheys, DNR biologist in Vernon County reported two landowners have seen grouse on their properties this spring. One bird was also spotted roadside in eastern Iowa County last week. That could be late, breaking news at 6 p.m.
Plants of note include emerging ginseng, compass plants poking through, shooting stars blooming on prairies and bloodroot and wild ginger under stands or maple trees.
Hawks and eagles continue to care for their nestlings. Great-horned owlets are being fed away from the nests.
Bluebirds, cardinals and a host of other birds continue to incubate four or more eggs. Reports of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the area suggest if one wants to see them before the red and orange blooms appear, mix the sugar water solution as recommended.
The general fishing opener is nearing and that includes the regular trout season on May 6. Make sure the licenses and stamps, if required, are up-to-date and then carry some proof of having purchased a license.
Capture crews working on the five-year deer predator study have labeled the first capture season successful. Watch for collared deer on the landscape as proof your excise taxes are at work.
Not every parked vehicle belongs to morel gatherers, turkey hunters, or trout anglers. Although uncommon, a gentleman was spotted walking along the roadside sweeping aside the vegetation, not picking cans, but eyeing asparagus shoots.
Continue to participate in spring gathering seasons either by hunting, fishing, picking or communicating with those who do.