ZEKE WILSON: First seasons on way
Being outdoors lately has had me thinking fondly of August, although the heat is sure to return.
Despite fall still being months away, cooler temperatures combined with the release of migratory bird seasons and limits easily allow a hunter’s mind to drift toward the first seasons. Goose and dove will open on Sept. 2, with the daily limit of dove remaining 15 and limit of geese set at 8 per day.
New this year is that possession limits have been raised from two days to three. Instead of being able to possess 30 doves and 16 geese, it is now legal to possess 45 doves and 24 geese.
Crows will undoubtedly receive attention from those wing shooters not satisfied with simply breaking clay pigeons until the migratory seasons begin.
Rabbits still are nesting, and taking advantage of the summertime crow season on the weekends can make an impact on the area’s small game.
Bird activity is almost constant at this point in the year, and during recent lunch breaks a host of birds have been seen. A family of flickers in particular is often seen flushing from the field along with the resident starlings that continue to grow in numbers.
In recent weeks I have also spotted cooper and redtail hawks hunting the area.
A couple recent coon hunts allowed me to assess the upcoming crops. Cherries are plentiful and are easily seen on the tree at this time, as the fruit is now bright red.
Grapes also look to be on their way having a good crop.
Acorns appear to have been affected by the frost, and I encountered several trees now dropping basically just the shell with a kernel inside. I hope other woodlots are doing better than what I have seen or it will be a year to hunt the corn rather than the acorn.
Hazel nuts in the creek bottoms are carrying a healthy fruit and hopefully can help compensate for the lack of apples.
Most species that forage on mast such as acorns and beechnuts are willing to migrate, if needed, in search of high-fat food. In the fall, squirrels are for the most part found in close proximity to nut trees, and when they are spotted in oak stands it can quickly indicate that at least some trees are dropping.
At times it can be difficult to evaluate the crop from the ground, and those fruits that fall now are gobbled before they can accumulate. With any luck, all will find enough to eat even if it isn’t what they had hoped for.
Row crops appear healthy, and the amount of corn, beans and oats in the county should make hunters happy. Unfortunately for wildlife, once these food sources are picked, the fields are largely void of food or cover.
Tree lines in and around standing corn are outstanding for squirrel, but once the fields are picked they can quickly dry up if nuts aren’t present.
Understanding, locating and hunting food sources can be done in a multitude of approaches with good results typical anytime animals are found to be actively feeding on the food source just prior to or during the hunt. Oftentimes hunters assume the food will be there and then wonder why there are no animals. This is more common in the larger forests of the northern tier of the state, where finding a squirrel can be almost impossible at times.