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Stories from the River

The Best Time of the Year by Gary A. Engberg

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If you’re a fisherman and or a hunter then this is your favorite time of the year. You can go fishing and hunting on most fall days and it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for on any given autumn day. I live in south-central Wisconsin on the scenic Wisconsin River which boasts of having most freshwater fish species. Wisconsin has numerous and I mean numerous Public Hunting Grounds in all parts of the state where one can hunt big game like deer and bear, hunt many species of ducks and Canadian geese, hunt upland game birds like pheasants, grouse, Hungarian partridge, quail, and mourning doves plus Wisconsin has both a spring and fall wild turkey season.

On a typical fall day, you could duck and goose hunt early in the morning or go to a wooded area with roost trees to catch wild turkeys as they do there fly down early in the day to feed. The state will release about 75,000 pheasants on the public grounds throughout the state. Dove hunting is also popular and one can usually find doves anywhere there is harvested grain fields and grasslands. Many doves will winter here unless there is a large accumulation of snow or extreme weather.

The Wisconsin River has boat landings if you’d like to duck and goose hunt. You can always find a good location to set up a blind or pull your duck boat up on shore or hide in fallen trees limbs. The River attracts many northern ducks as they migrate south. Mallards, wood ducks, red heads, canvasbacks, pintails, and gadwalls pass through this area as long as there is food and open water. There is little if any competition from other hunters as the weather cools. The Wisconsin River stays open most of the winter because of its moving current and many geese will winter in this area unless the weather becomes below zero. I feed many birds, ducks, and geese during the winter months. They consume over a hundred pounds of black oil sunflower seeds weekly. The ducks and geese can also be found in the many harvested corn and soybean fields in southern Wisconsin. The northern ducks will often fly into a field and hurry down the harvested field rows eating rapidly and flying off to another feeding location in the area.

 The bow hunting season has been open by over a month. But, now the deer are easier to see with most crops being harvested. Your visibility is much greater and finding and seeing a feeding location or area is not too difficult. We haven’t had a frost yet, but the temperature last night was in the upper 30’s F. The rut is still weeks away, but it’s still a great time to enjoy the magnificent fall weather. Things are a little behind this year as far as trees changing colors, but soon it will happen and deer will know that winter is not far away and breeding time. I hope you have done some practice shooting from different positions that you may encounter when out hunting. I’m seeing deer everyday now as the year progresses.

One good area to hunt is the Mazomanie and Blackhawk Public Hunting Grounds which are located between Sauk City and Mazomanie. The thousands of acres of public land is bordered by Highway 78 and County Road Y. Everything a hunter or angler can find here; deer, pheasants that are stocked, doves, and ducks and geese on the northern border, the Wisconsin River. Check out this area if you’re not familiar with it and see the various types of land there is; the wooded areas, the marsh land, the harvested crop land, and the grasslands. There are thousands of acres for you to explore and get away from the crowds. It can get a little crowded on the weekends when working people are out chasing the stocked pheasants. But, there is enough land where you can always be secluded with game scattered everywhere.

The angler has the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin to fish for most fish species like; walleyes and saugers, smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskies, northern pike, catfish, sturgeon, and all species of panfish. Crystal and Mud Lakes are only a few miles away and they both have good fishing and boat landings. You can fish using any technique you choose. Live bait seems to work better this time of year, but try anyway that you like. Fish know that winter is coming and with the days getting shorter with cooler water have fish “bulking up” for winter when their metabolism is much slower and the spring spawn.

I’ve given you the basics and where to go this fall for some very good fishing and hunting. You can tailor your day to include the things that you want to do. Many of my friends take a week’s vacation this fall and get in on one of the year’s best times for the outdoors. Make sure to buy all the licenses and tags that you need to be legal for your game and fish. Be familiar with the rules and regulations of Wisconsin. Be safe and if hunting private land be sure to talk to the land owner and help them out with any work if given permission to hunt. Outdoors in Wisconsin is here and enjoy what God has given us. We are lucky to have such a wonderful state for anyone who enjoys hunting and fishing. You may call or email me if you have any questions on this area at or (608)-795-4208.



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