As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, there’s lots of public land in NW Wisconsin. We have state forests, county forests, and lots of paper company land that’s open to hunting. But the problem, of course, with hunting on public land is that it’s PUBLIC land.
You could end up having a lot of company out there—especially on the opening day of gun deer season, and even on the opening day of grouse season. But if you bow hunt, you have more opportunity to be by yourself out there. And if you enjoy bird hunting and you live up here, you don’t need to wait until Saturday morning.
Depending on the hours you work, you may be able to get out for an hour or two on a weekday afternoon. (If you’re retired, of course, then you have the entire day, every day. So don’t complain.) During the week, it’s going to be quiet out there.
Sunday afternoons are great; a lot of people are watching football games instead of going out hunting.
You’ll find that a lot of people in this area hunt; it’s part of the culture. If you don’t hunt, that’s OK. But if you do, there’s an instant topic for small talk. It’s even better than the weather or football.
If you don’t hunt, don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of people wearing camouflage or blaze orange. It’s the fashion. (And by the way, around here, people just call it “camo.”)
If you live on a body of water that has a lot of marshy shoreline, you’ll also see a lot of people out hunting ducks or geese. Actually, you probably won’t see them; they’re wearing camo. And they probably motored out to their duck blind about 4 am, while you were still sound asleep. They may return to the landing after dark. But if hunting is good, you could hear a little gunfire now and then. On weekends during duck season, we never need to set an alarm clock. But don’t be alarmed. Unless you’re a duck, you’re perfectly safe.
We also have a few bear hunters in NW Wisconsin. Some hunt bears over bait; others with hounds. If you hear hounds baying out in the woods, they’ve probably picked up a bear’s scent. And if you ever encounter a bear hound that seems lost, don’t take it home or give it a ride to the pound. It will be reunited with its owner eventually. That lump on its collar is a special transmitter; the bear hunter has a tracking device, and may be driving up any moment.
Finally, expect to see some extra activity during the gun deer season. If you don’t hunt, it doesn’t mean you have to cower indoors all week. But take some sensible precautions; don’t go for long walks in the woods while wearing your favorite brown or tan coat.
Your new favorite color will be blaze orange. Invest in an inexpensive orange vest, and keep taking your daily walks. You’ll need them after all that Thanksgiving turkey with dressing.
If you hunt, convenient hunting on abundant public land is an extra benefit of living up here. If you don’t hunt, and if you’re from the city, it could be an adjustment. This will be something many of your new neighbors enjoy doing every fall.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll want to give it a try yourself. If not, that’s OK. But they’re all part of living in Northwestern Wisconsin.