Outdoors: 23 days of blaze begins Nov. 21
Thousands of Kewaunee County deer hunters will be sighting in guns, checking on stands and readying gear this weekend in anticipation of the Nov. 21 firearm deer season opener.
The annual nine-day hunt is immediately followed by a 10-day muzzle-loader season, then a four-day, antlerless-only gun hunt.
If pre-season sightings are an indicator, opening weekend may be one of the best in many years for local gunners.
Through Oct. 31 — the first seven weeks of the 2015 bow and crossbow seasons and including the youth gun hunt weekend — Door and Kewaunee County’s camo and blaze orange crew had already registered 1,202 whitetails.
The numbers include 664 in Door County (288 with bow, 272 with crossbow and 104 in the youth hunt) and 538 in Kewaunee County (263, 198 and 77, respectively).
Hunters have taken slightly more bucks than antlerless deer so far in KC and a few more antlerless than bucks in Door.
Statewide, more than 52,000 whitetails had been registered through Oct. 31. The numbers include 27,597 with bow (14,164 antlered bucks), 17,181 with crossbow (9,782 bucks) and 7,245 during the youth gun hunt (3,349 bucks).
Archers and crossbow hunters with unfilled tags report buck activity has increased dramatically in the past weeks, with a lot of scrapes freshened and does being chased. Peak mating activity typically takes place the first two to three weeks of November, offering a chance of some seeking early on in the gun hunt.
Meanwhile, rains have lured in some fresh runs of coho salmon and brown and rainbow trout to Lake Michigan tributaries. Fresh spawn, single salmon eggs, wax worms and egg imitators are among the top baits to drift.
DMAP numbers up
The Deer Management Assistance Program took a big leap this year but so far hasn’t lured a lot of participation locally.
In its first year, the DNR accepted 114 applications and worked with nearly 300 landowners. By this fall, 248 applications were received, and the DNR was working with more than 700 landowners on nearly 88,000 acres of land.
DMAP provides habitat and herd management assistance to private landowners and public land managers interested in improving habitat conditions for deer and other wildlife.
Three enrollment levels are available, depending on the size of the property. Landowners should submit an application prior to March 1 to be considered for a site visit this summer. Get more info at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/DMAP.html.
The DNR reports that state park camping was up this year, and visits to national parks were also up.
In its Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2016, the American Recreation Coalition reported strong sales and activities in many areas in 2015 and has expectations of still stronger activity in 2016.
The group says Americans spend more than $650 billion annually on equipment ranging from skis and tents to RVs and boats and on services ranging from fishing licenses to zip lines, supporting millions of jobs in manufacturing, sales and service.
As always, fishing remains one of the most popular lures to the great outdoors. According to the 2015 Special Report on Fishing released by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the Outdoor Foundation, the sport continues to grow, with 2.4 million newcomers among an estimated 46 million participants.
With an estimated 6 percent growth expected in 2015 and another potential 6 percent growth in 2016, the boating industry would be poised to return to near pre-recession levels of 250,000 new boats sold, including power, sail and personal watercraft.
The market for RVs has maintained its strength and sales of new units in 2015 will rise to more than 370,000 units. It expects next year to surpass that by about 10,000.
Recreational use of on- and off-highway motorcycles, ATVs and ROVs is also growing. Nearly 30 million Americans ride motorcycles on and off roads, and ATV ridership is some 35 million annually.
The U.S. bike industry is enjoying another steady year with nearly 18 million sold. One study estimated that 103 million Americans rode a bike at least once in 2014.
Revenues for whitewater rafting, kayaking and paddlesports are up significantly over 2014, with lower gas prices fueling family travel.
Finally, snowmobile sales in the U.S. and Canada increased 6 percent compared to 2014, and miles ridden was up.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Outdoors: 23 days of blaze begins Nov. 21