Foggy Ice Fishing and Some News.

Last Sunday, we headed out for our first ice fishing trip of the season. There had been enough ice on Mud Lake to fish on for about two weeks, but Sunday was our first chance at it. Continue reading

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Rifle Season Has Come and Gone

And it was a disappointing one. Not that it was entirely unexpected- Forest County was buck only, like much of the northern portion of the state, and the DNR was reporting the overall harvest on opening weekend being down 18%. Willy-nilly tag sales, harsh winters, the presence of coyotes, and the growth in the population of bears and wolves has done in the deer population up there. Continue reading

A Disappointing Opening Day Hunt

It was pretty brisk at ten-to-five Saturday morning. The sun was an hour and 40 minutes from coming up- not even a smudge of bright on the eastern horizon. I had packed everything into the car Friday night after work, and laid my camo out. Last year on the bow opener, I was sweating in light cotton. This year, it was 39F as I shouldered my pack, and trekked up the road in darkness.  Continue reading

Fox Lake In Summer

Sunday afternoon, we hooked up the boat, dumped our gear into the truck, and headed on over to Fox Lake to do some fishing.

Orange cataran was cooking along.

Orange catamaran was cooking along.

The yellow house that marks the spot

The yellow house that marks the spot

At least we weren't skunked.

At least we weren’t skunked.

I’ll cut to the chase- it sucked. Last time at Fox Lake we were under basically opposite conditions. It was windy this day as a front rolled in, making us drift even with both anchors down. We forgot that this lake seems to have an early bite. People leaving as we put in had fish, and last time we caught them around 3:30 or 4pm. On the way down, our front trolling motor just…fell off.  And by the end we were both pretty chilly- in August. Naturally, as I write this, it’s almost 90F. Some nibbles, and possibly some pike or walleyes that got off the hook, but only the one bluegill at about 8 inches. I’m guessing there will be a bit of a fishing lull until the water cools off prior to turn over.

 

 

It All Comes Down to Enough Time and the Right Weather

I’m writing this post after badgering 6 other people to get their portions of a group assignment in to me so I could cobble the bits together into a cohesive whole. And after writing my portion, plus a 4 page paper.

Matt and his buddy Bill got out a few times for bowfishing during the week (albeit more sober). Bill managed to shoot some gar, which we almost never see. And certainly not at this size.

Bill with his biggest longnose gar

Bill with his biggest longnose gar

They got into a few more gar and carp on Friday night while I was at work. Thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon kept me from fishing like I’d hoped to do while Matt was at the radio station’s golf outing. Instead, I spent Saturday afternoon at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. Not wild by any stretch, but still a fun day.

Bagpiper

Bagpiper

Excellent doughnuts

Excellent doughnuts

Cows on the concourse

Cows on the concourse

Calf

Calf

Pretty Jersey cow

Pretty Jersey cow

My haul.

My haul.

The meats you see are a smoked rainbow trout and a whole butchered rabbit. Domestic, of course. I cooked it for dinner Saturday night. If we ever do take up rabbit hunting, I plan to not cook it on the grill. Even a domestic bunny was kind of tough cooked over the flames. Braising it is.

Only one more week of this class.

Wild Food: Venison Kebabs

Matt had a leftover turkey permit for this week for our part of the state, since he didn’t make it up north to hunt. We only made it out Sunday morning, and heard the birds, but didn’t really see any. For all that the weather is more comfortable for turkey hunting in May, the whole, light-at-4:45 bs is a bit too much for me. I’m happier being chilly in April, but able to sleep until 5:30. Speaking of sleeping, I’m low enough on sleep this week from work and also waking up at 4 to turkey hunt that I managed to literally pass out while sitting this morning. I was getting some micro sleeps, so I re-positioned to being propped on my elbow on the ground. I woke up 30 minutes later curled in a ball on my side, head pillowed on my pack. I must have needed it.

So, since I was so tired today, but sick of not eating at home (dinner at work everyday. Yeesh), I threw together these awesome, quick cooking venison kebabs. Also fulfilling my personal goal of eating more veggies.

The small, long muscle from a hindquarter, squash, onion green pepper.

The small, long muscle from a hindquarter, squash, onion green pepper.

I keep them round, but I've seen it done up pretty fancy as a zucchini ribbon.

I keep them round, but I’ve seen it done up pretty fancy as a zucchini ribbon.

Always soak your skewers.

Always soak your skewers.

Meat cubed and in a - apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, and canola oil.

Meat cubed and in a marinade: apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, and canola oil.

Veggies cut up in their marinade- salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and canola.

Veggies cut up in their marinade- salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and canola.

Skewer assembled

Skewer assembled

Place on a piping hot grill.

Place on a piping hot grill.

Cook 'em until the veggies are just charring a bit.

Cook ’em until the veggies are just charring a bit.

 

Tasty, fast, and they’ll be good cold on a salad later this week. I had mine with a roasted sweet potato. Matt got his own meat-only skewer. I’m so glad the weather’s warmed up enough to grill comfortably.

The Strangest Thing I’ve Done (So far)

I’ve done some weird stuff in my short time here. Up and planning a summer term study abroad to Germany in two short months, for example (I was woefully underprepared). Internet dating, for another. Or how about pulling up stakes and moving to a new state, and in with someone I’d only been dating for three months.

But purchasing a tag to sit in a small, dark hut and stare into a big, square hole in the ice, hoping a living fossil would swim past so I could stab it with a trident? I think that takes the cake.

Courtesy of the worst winter since probably 1978, Winnebago had an official average of 30 inches of ice, with a reported max of 37. I was on my own with Matt’s aunt and uncle on Saturday. He came out with us on Sunday, before we had to head home. As of Saturday night, the lake had hit 44% of its quota. If it hits 99%, they call the season. People are figuring it won’t last till next weekend. The most sturgeon were registered on the southern end of the lake near Oshkosh. Naturally, we were toward the north near Neenah. For the day on Saturday, a few over 200 fish were registered. Sadly, I did not get to see one in person. Matt’s aunt texted me a picture of one they saw as they came off the ice today.

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However, I did find this great video from last year that summed up the sturgeon fishing experience pretty well. Enjoy the mustaches, chainsaws, and genuine Wisconsin accents.

This is why we never fish the Madison chain.

We went fishing Sunday morning. It was cold, windy, and snowy. We didn’t catch anything.

The leftover "lrage muskie sucker". He survived the trip and is residing comfortably in our bait tank.

The leftover “large muskie sucker”. He survived the trip and is residing comfortably in our bait tank.

Looking across the lake at Governor's Island and the Maple Bluff area

Looking across the lake at Governor’s Island and the Maple Bluff area

Looking straight east across the lake. Our house would be in this direction, about 3 miles from the lakeshore.

Looking straight east across the lake. Our house would be in this direction, about 3 miles from the lakeshore.

The west end of UW's campus, mostly the medical campus.

The west end of UW’s campus, mostly the medical campus.

Snowflakes on my glove

Snowflakes on my glove

We were in about 8 feet of water, and marking fish.

We were in about 8 feet of water, and marking fish.

Not for the first time, we were marking fish. But they wanted nothing to do with us, in spite of bait and lure changes. Green/orange jigs typically do well for panfish for us, but not lately. Pink is another one we’ve had luck with, but not this day. School after school passed through, with no bites. Matt did have a flag on the big sucker right away, and whatever it was stripped line, but spat the bait. Something that took an 8 inch long, 2 inch diameter sucker had to have been huge, though.

Most of last weekend outside of Sunday morning’s short fishing trip was spent relaxing- Matt’s been puling 4 or 5 days of 16 hour + shifts, plus dropping into the office on weekends and calling the guys to keep them on track. They’re working to meet goals for the beginning of February. February-March-April is hands-down the worst time for recruiters. The last 3 I’ve witnessed have been bad, and this year is no different. Everyone’s burnt out, and there’s no end in sight yet. We’re not too sure where we’re going fishing this coming weekend, but we won’t be limited to just Madison. Maybe Fox Lake again, or make a return to Rock Lake for the first time since last year.

Closing Day

Time to hang up the blaze already. Until doe and holiday hunts, anyway.

Time to hang up the blaze already. Until doe and holiday hunts, anyway.

Since we came back from up north late on Saturday night, we were in Madison for the closing evening of gun season. Matt had to do a little work Sunday morning, but we made it out by about 3 that afternoon. And what a change was wrought by warmer weather. I mentioned how very cold opening weekend was. And how cold it was during the week. Sunday was in the mid-thirties. As we came around the bend at Sunny Slope, there were five cars in the small parking lot. Remember that this piece of land is just about 250 acres. Cramped, when everyone has a gun.

I won’t gloss over it- it pissed me off. I’m not sure exactly what it is that forms the basis of my hatred for fairweather people, but it’s there. Maybe it was growing up and being a fan of Chicago sports- I get grumpy when the Packers fans up here turn off their TVs when they start to lose. I don’t know. It’s definitely translated to disliking people who fairweather outdoor sports as well. Opening weekend, there were two people out there besides Matt and myself. And I didn’t even see them- Matt did, and they hunted, then left. Since the weather had warmed up- Saturday had hovered right around freezing- I had halfway expected there would be more people out. But it still astounds me how inconsiderate people are.

I saw two other hunters and Matt saw one or two himself. From what I saw, and from what Matt told me, they probably had never been out to this area, much less scouted it. Of the two I saw, one lollygagged around for about ten minutes, and the other set up after I did, and we got there a bit late. He didn’t have a blind- he just sat in some scraggly tall grass across the field from me. He was facing entirely the wrong way to see deer where they tend to come out in this field, and to top it off, he was rotating every so often. Taking his coat off, putting it back on. The cherry on the top of all this was he left at about 4:45- about 25 minutes before dark. With a flashlight, when there was still enough visible light to read easily. I hoped he’d spook a deer out to me, at the very least, but no such luck.

I did hear and just barely see one deer Sunday evening, but with how many people were kicking around, I doubt I’d have ever gotten a shot- it was crunching around on the steep backside of the hill I sit on. And I only saw its neck at a distance between some trees. Our gun season definitely went out with a fizzle. Someone got a deer out there- we saw bloody drag marks in the snow and dirt.

I didn’t end up hunting Monday evening. Many fewer people use black powder rifles, given how difficult they are to load, and the extra cleaning required. I figured at the very least, I’d give the deer some peace and quiet. The DNR’s gun season numbers are in- statewide, the harvest appears to be down about 30%. After just opening weekend, it was down 18%. They’re blaming it on the intense cold and fewer people being out, but given how many tags are purchased each year, I don’t see why it couldn’t be a both/and between cold weather and a smaller deer herd over all.

One upside, however, is that we are finally, finally seeing migrating geese. I counted upwards of 100 overhead on Sunday, and have since seen more, as well. Hopefully, we’ll make it out for our first geese for the year soon. The season ends the 21st. Duck is done already. Many of the lakes and rivers up north are actually frozen. The Wisconsin river just north of us had decent ice when we crossed it headed north. We’re getting plenty of skim ice up here. Or we were, when it was still cold. When it dips again, it will restrict landing spots for geese. Our hunting spot has a current strong enough to slow skim ice, so they will hopefully be forced to land near us.