Less Hunters in Northern WI?

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Hodag Hunter
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Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:26 pm

Ok guys what's your opinion. My first full weekend in the Rhinelander area and spent Friday night cruising back roads looking for deer and hunters trucks. Saw a few deer, no bowhunters.

Sat in my backyard Sat morning and saw better than expected activity, all does and dink bucks, but nice to see action anyway.

Walked some of my old spots today with my son, couldn't get to the best ones as his little legs just wouldn't carry him all day. Others I won't venture in until bow is in hand.....just walking perimeters.

With the straight north wind tonight couldn't sit in the backyard or another "easy" access spot on the public Austin and i could get to. Soooo we cruised in the truck again driving all over the back roads. On a Saturday night of Halloween weekend did not see one vehicle hunting, bow deer or any grouse hunters.....really shocked.

Not that I'm complaining but what gives? Just because it's buck only up here, no doe shooting? My son just couldn't understand my enthusiasm. Tonight we put on 40 miles.....all around (2) good chunks of land. Up and down every access logging trail and no-one parked. Some roads still had trees blown over from the week where no-one drove down, others had truck tracks on. Usually this drive would show at least a dozen vehcles. Some bowhunters, some bird hunters.


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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby headgear » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:46 pm

Well I can only apply your experice to northern MN, generally the further you go north the less hunters you find. That makes sense overall but what I think you are seeing is the calm before the storm, I know and several others stay close to home before the action peaks, this can vary a little year by year but in my experice the weekend before rifle in MN can be very quiet because most of the men are home kissing some bootey. It could very well be the same in WI.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Dewey » Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:30 pm

In the past I have spent 5 or 6 long weekends up north bowhunting around the Eagle River/Sugar Camp area but we tapered way off the past few years because buck hunting is so much better down south. Don't get me wrong I love the northwoods but the areas we hunt have really been wiped out thanks to the dnr and everybody shooting everything that moves the last 10 years.
The only time I will be up north this year is for the gun season and to be honest I am not really excited since most of the guys in our group are going against tradition and hunting somewhere else. That seems to be the same story from other deer camps around us as well. It's sad to see but I am going to keep at it and maybe do some still hunting and tracking this year since I'm sure the woods will be pretty quiet during the gun season.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:01 am

I'm sure come rifle season the pressure will increase, always does, but this is shocking the lack of people.

We went out and ordered a pizza; talked to the registration station/bar....hit a few other local places this weekend....get this, registerd more bear than bow bucks so far this year. I won't even tell you the total # of deer. He asked me not tell it is so low. (I assume could hurt business)?

I am seeing some sign in the woods, nothing like it was years back but this may be the chance, if the orange army stays away, maybe decent buck hunting could return for a few years.

Next few weekends will be the true sign. This is when the big corn piles and orange hunters start their scout in the woods. Love leaving them little bits of sign ..... fake buck rubs and scrapes.......works just about everytime where I need them to set up. :shock: ;)
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Dewey » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:59 am

I think most people will not head north for the gun season just because of the fact that it is buck only up there again this year. Many people just will not spend the money to travel unless they can at least shoot a doe to fill their freezer. Last year was very quiet and hunting pressure was way down so I can only imagine how quiet it will be this year after how unhappy everybody was last season.
I look at it as a challenge and if I can shoot a big buck up there that is complete satisfaction to me because I know how hard it is to do.

Hodag Hunter...is there any truth to the story I heard of somebody having a picture of a pack of wolves in the Rhinelander area. The DNR claims there is a pack of 3 wolves in the area but the picture showed a pack of 13 wolves! :roll:
From what I heard the DNR claimed the picture was verified and agree that their count was off. Imagine that!! :x
If you heard about this do you know where the picture was taken? We hunt around Sugar Camp and keep hearing about wolf sightings nearby and just wondering if it was in that area or not. I know there are other packs nearby but we never had any in our area. You can bet I will be looking for tracks during the gun season to verify.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:09 am

Don't know where the DNR says there isn't wolf or is wolf, years ago tried reporting my findings and no responses. Haven't heard anything about the picture you speak of but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

I know there was/is 2 packs west of rhinelander near the willow flowage, one south of rhinelander near Pelican lake, another that is near enterprise. These packs have been around a while....6 plus years. Haven't really hunted in the Sugar camp area....don't know much about. Do drive thru for fishing, but that doesn't meen much.

Where I hunt mainly, what I call home turf, is north of Rhinelander along hwy 47 up top lake tomahawk. This area was reletivly wolf free until about 5 years ago when I noticed 3 wolves moved in the area. I have mentioned this many times on this site and the old one....a black, redish grey and a grey one.

Are these the 3 the DNR speaks of? could be. Now my time has been limited hunting/scouting in the northwoods. Two years ago I started hunting Shawano co. and litterly stopped walking the woods on a regular basis. Don't know what happened to the 3 wolves....there may be more or moved on.

This years spring scouting was spent in shawano on (2) properties.....loss access to both, one early summer the other late summer. Throw in a last minute work assignemnt out of town that will last until about nov 10th I have very little to go on for accurate assement of my woods/"home turf". This weekend was my first full weekend(Fri-thru Sunday) in the Rhinelander area since late August.

Saddly, but not complaining, I don't have a good handle on what is out there or what to expect....wolf or good bucks. But I'll be giving 'er after Nov 10th. 8-)
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:46 am

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/outdoors/105610238.html

13 wolves > 4 Adults, 9 little ones... All one pack. Follow the link above to find the other link to the YouTube.Com video of the wolves.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:27 am

Cool article and thanks for the link.

In states this is the "Pelican Lake" pack.........which wolves have been in this area for 6 years plus.

On a side note: Race Foster is one of the owners of Foster and Smith, the pet store giant located in Rhinelander.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hilts » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:40 am

There isn't many people hitting the woods in my area yet. But there rarely is much bow pressure. Deer numbers appear to be about the same or lower than last years from what I have seen so far. I haven't been out in the woods as much as I normally am though either.

We'll see what the woods looks like this weekend and next though. Like you said Hodag, this is when the orange wave begins. I'm sure I will here some banging and clanking of stands along with corn being dumped this weekend. Not too mention lazy people driving there wheelers through the middle of the woods since that 100lb bag of corn is too heavy to carry 2-300 yards off of the trail.

The gun pressure was definitely lower last year because of deer numbers and no doe tags. I am guessing even fewer people this year, especially after opening weekend when people give up because of lack of deer sightings.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby huntinnurse » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:38 am

Seems it would stand to reason: less deer, no doe hunting, less opportunity, long drive, poor economy= why make the drive? Better for you tho!!!!!! Always an upside if you look for it, granted, it could be tough to find that upside tho!!!!!
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:17 am

I'm not totally convinced the deer herd is significantly lower than years past... I'm thinking it has a LOT to do with baiting and deer going nocturnal, resulting in less sightings. These guys think that means they should bait even MORE and yet they still aren't seeing deer because they don't grasp the concept of how baiting is driving deer movement towards the cover of darkness.

Those Northwoods deer are nomads... You change the way they live by feeding them a plate of food that's always filled up, they become much like how people lost the concept of hunting/gathering for food and began to rely on grocery stores and fast food places... WE EAT WHENEVER WE WANT, so do these well fed baited deer.. Only deer have predators to watch out for, and since they don't need to search high and low for food anymore, they bed in the day and feed into the night.

My opinion only... Guess it has to do with consistently having to dodge deer in the roads up and down HWY 70, HWY 17, HWY 8, HWY 45... etc. Seems like every couple hundred yards there are deer on the side of the road - or middle of it.

Take this big doe I shot a couple of years ago, the one on the left. I bought a couple doe tags early enough and filled them. The doe on the left was disgustingly bloated, and come to find out she had some intestinal issues going on because they were as packed as 4 summer sausages in one casing. Cut them open to figure it out and all you saw was corn... Thanks neighbor :roll:

Guess it works out once in a while... You don't do the baiting, just give them the cover to live in during the day so when they get out of their beds and stage around, their in your face before they head out under the stars to feed on the neighbors property.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:25 pm

Dodging deer on Hwy 8,17,45 and 70 has more to do with feeding at most of the cabins in the area. I rented a cabin in Boulder Junction a few times and we had as many as 25 deer at one time in the back yard feeding on you guessed it.. corn. Yet if you go a few miles out of town deer sign and sightings significantly drop. They are concentrated around the towns because of feeding.

As far as the deer going nocturnal they would obviously still leave plenty of sign in the woods. This deer sign has drastically been reduced especially the last few years. It is hard to even cut a track in some of our best areas. I understand that areas change and the deer adapt to other areas but tell me how can a 3-4 year old clearcut be totally devoid of any deer activity. This is prime habitat for whitetail at this stage. This area held a large deer herd before the clearcut and it makes no sense why they are not there except the fact that there are very few deer. In my opinion baiting is much less than what it was about 10 years ago and back then you would see deer everywhere at all times of the day and driving at night was almost dangerous. I'm just not buying into the theory that the deer herd is not any lower than years past. This is just my opinion and it is based on first hand knowledge from hunting the area since the early 90's and from talking to local residents.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:17 am

Dewey wrote:Dodging deer on Hwy 8,17,45 and 70 has more to do with feeding at most of the cabins in the area. I rented a cabin in Boulder Junction a few times and we had as many as 25 deer at one time in the back yard feeding on you guessed it.. corn. Yet if you go a few miles out of town deer sign and sightings significantly drop. They are concentrated around the towns because of feeding.

As far as the deer going nocturnal they would obviously still leave plenty of sign in the woods. This deer sign has drastically been reduced especially the last few years. It is hard to even cut a track in some of our best areas. I understand that areas change and the deer adapt to other areas but tell me how can a 3-4 year old clearcut be totally devoid of any deer activity. This is prime habitat for whitetail at this stage. This area held a large deer herd before the clearcut and it makes no sense why they are not there except the fact that there are very few deer. In my opinion baiting is much less than what it was about 10 years ago and back then you would see deer everywhere at all times of the day and driving at night was almost dangerous. I'm just not buying into the theory that the deer herd is not any lower than years past. This is just my opinion and it is based on first hand knowledge from hunting the area since the early 90's and from talking to local residents.


Very good post.

I am in 100% agreement with everything Dewey mentioned.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:50 am

Update:

Went out and hit wing night and do the sign-ins.

One group of guys hunting I talked with was a group staying at their cabin w/(6) guys. Most bowhunted all day, dark to dark and (2) saw deer. These guys admidting to baiting and said half their piles were not hit since last weekend. Group shot one deer, a spike and regerstered it that night.

Get this, that makes SIX (6) deer so far registered for the year here. Since my last post the number was (4). The owner told me buck numbers are typcally in the upper 30's at this time of season. When doe are legal he has hit 100 before rifle season opens.

Talked with a few other locals, guys I know well, their struggling to see deer. Most were quite shocked I was seeing so many does. Now, I am seeing deer but realize the popoulation is still considerably less than years past but is rebounding some. The locals just mentioned wouldn't agree with me to say it was rebounding a little; their take was it was still sliding lower.

Take the registration numbers either way, 6 bucks is a low number, either not enough hunters or as most locals and the weekenders I talked with agree, deer numbers are significantly low yet.
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Re: Less Hunters in Northern WI?

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:05 am

I will be heading up to Eagle River next Thursday night to get ready for the coming gun deer season.
Pretty much know what we are getting into as far as the deer population but want to carry on the tradition of hunting this area. I don't have a lot of high expectations for scoring on a deer but still excited as usual since I love hunting the northwoods so much and haven't been up there yet this year.
All I can do is put in my time and log some long hours on the stand and hope for the best. Looks like there is a pretty good chance of having snow on the ground so that is definately a positive. :D


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