Fall hunting season off to a wet start

By Bill Bartusek Jr., Outdoors Columnist

The past weekend was the real beginning of the fall hunting season.

Seasons began for squirrel, rabbit, grouse and bow hunting for deer. I didn't participate in any of the hunts but I sure wonder how things went.

The weather for the weekend was ideal for ducks, as rain came down both Saturday and Sunday over most of the state. Bow hunting is usually difficult early because of all the cover and crops in the fields. However, deer are a bit easier to pattern as they are in their summer movements unhampered by harvest and man. Squirrels are also tough early because of all the foliage in the trees. Your best bet is to sit near some nut trees or corn. The squirrels will come to feed on acorns or corn most every day.

Grouse hunters up north also had it pretty soggy. I'm not sure what grouse do when it rains hard all day. I did take a short walk looking for grouse and found only ducks out and about. I was almost glad I decided to fish rather than hunt last weekend. Don't get me wrong, I do love to get out in the woods to hunt, but it would not have been fun in the rain.

Brenda and I went fishing at the cabin before the rain came. We found that the fish had moved from the weed edges to off shore rock and sand humps. With the help of electronics we spotted them on a small rock pile. We anchored and baited up with leeches. Brenda's first cast produced a nice 15-inch walleye and that was just the beginning. We caught walleye, sunfish, crappies and rock bass in that spot for the next two hours. The mornings were also unbelievable. The northern pike had moved back to shallow water for the fall feed. Each morning we caught and released dozens of pike up to five pounds. A neighbor boated 20 pike in two hours Sunday. We saw the largest, a 34-inch horse. Big bass were also feeding and I boated several in the three to four pound class. Good thing I decided to fish and not hunt.

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