This spring, I’ve talked about the roller-coaster ride that we’ve been on with fronts and cold weather coming thru every week. This weekend, I planned to stay close to my Wisconsin River Valley home and catch up on the many things that I must do every spring like mow the lawn, trim trees, pull weeds, stack firewood, clean hummingbird and oriole feeders, repair a deck, and many more “jobs and projects” that a rural homeowner must do.
The last week or 10 days has seen a tremendous growth spurt in foliage and the emergence of perennials. The morel and wild asparagus seasons are finally happening and the sun, warm temperatures, and precipitation will keep them producing for another week or two. The lilacs, honeysuckle, and apple trees are flowering with some in full bloom. Salad greens, spinach, and radishes are popping up in the garden.
The “summer’ birds are constantly returning with orioles, bluebirds, hummingbirds, yellow finches, cedar wax-wings, and red-breasted grosbeaks have been arriving in large numbers. If you’re a birder, make sure that you clean and wash out your feeders if you continue to feed birds all year-long. The birds are still devouring bird food, so nesting time is here with parents constantly bring food back and forth to their young. Though birds can easily survive this time of year, I find joy in feeding the many more species that summer in Wisconsin. The bird’s songs add a melodic and serene feeling even if you’re outside pulling weeds or planting your garden. Now, it seems that most of the mating and nesting birds get along or at least tolerate each other. The squirrel population is thriving and eating as much bird food as they possibly can.
The same pair of mallards has returned with a brood of six ducklings as they follow their waddling parents around the yard looking for waste sunflower seeds and anything else they can find to eat. There also are two pairs of Canadian geese with goslings that visit me every day to see what there is to eat. While raking my shoreline this weekend, I saw an eagle and an osprey soaring above the Wisconsin River. I hope that the eagle was from the pair that has been nesting downriver near Ferry Bluff and producing a few eaglets every year.
My land is just across the highway from Wisconsin D.N.R. (Mazomanie and Black Hawk Wildlife units) land and with the last season of turkey hunting ending this Wednesday, it is a great place for hiking, walking, viewing the abundant wildlife and fantastic fauna and flora, and outdoor photography. Most days, its possible to see sandhill cranes (with young), turkeys with poults, and soon deer will be having their fawns. The wonderful thing is that most of this wildlife can easily be seen while taking a short hike on the abundant public grounds. There are thousands and thousands of acres of DNR land that is available for everyone to enjoy in many diverse ways. Go to the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov) for maps and descriptions of the state’s numerous public lands in southern Wisconsin and find ones that suits your taste.
Wildlife is doing very well in southern Wisconsin and in my own little world. Being only 140 miles or 2 ½ hours from the suburbs of Chicago and 100 miles from Milwaukee, much of the beauty of Wisconsin is at your fingertips and less than a tank-full of gas away. You do not have to drive for hours and burn gallons of gas for the serenity, natural beauty, and wildlife of late spring in the Badger state.
Another thing that I noticed recently is the increased number of people (and families) using the Wisconsin River for a variety of outdoor activities like; canoeing, kayaking, floating in tubes, and yes, fishing too! The last few springs and summers have not been the best for river use with bad weather and low water levels being the major culprits for the decline. But, whatever the reasons for this year’s increase in visitors; be it people looking for a vacation spot closer to home, the economy, or the discovery of what a gem the Lower Wisconsin Riverway is for all kinds of recreation and has contributed to more people on the water and in the area enjoying the outdoors.
This is also a great time for fishing the Wisconsin River. The smallmouth are active and going on their beds, the walleyes are recovering from the rigors of spawning and are hungry, and the white bass are chasing river shiners and shad up and down the river. The fishing is very good with action from many different species. Expect to catch walleyes, saugers, smallmouth, white bass, catfish, pike, panfish, rough fish, and even the occasional muskie! The current flow is at a navigable level making boating, canoeing, and fishing much easier than when the rock bars are exposed and outboard motors must be trimmed up for travel. The next month or so is one of the best times of the year to actively enjoy the numerous outdoor activities on the Wisconsin Rivers. Try to get out and experience the outdoor splendor of this area and take advantage of the large number of public lands that are available for you to enjoy. Everything that you could possibly want and need is here for a day’s outing, a couple of day’s stay or a week’s vacation. If you have questions, feel free to contact me at my website, www.garyengbergoutdoors.com. I’ll gladly steer you in the right direction.
Canoe Rentals; Black Hawk River Runs, (608)-643-6724.
Campgrounds; Cedar Hills Campground, (608)-795-2606
Motels; Skyview Motel, (608)-643-4344, Cedarberry Inn, (608)-643-6625, Wisconsin River Retreats, (608)-220-3795.
Equipment, Gear, and Bait; Wilderness Fish and Game, (608)-643-2433.
Restaurants; Leystra’s Venture Restaurant, (608)-643-2004.
Fishing guide; Wally Banfi, (608)-644-9823, Terry Frey, (608)-220-6366.