Published September 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

Field reports: Antlerless tag rules change in most Wiscsonsin deer units

If you hunt deer during Wisconsin’s gun deer season in Northwestern Wisconsin, be aware of a change this fall. Most units in Northwestern Wisconsin are now “regular” units, as opposed to “herd control” units, as they were in recent years.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

If you hunt deer during Wisconsin’s gun deer season in Northwestern Wisconsin, be aware of a change this fall. Most units in Northwestern Wisconsin are now “regular” units, as opposed to “herd control” units, as they were in recent years.

Hunters will still get a tag for a buck and an antlerless deer with their gun deer licenses this fall, but the antlerless tags are valid only in Herd Control units. The antlerless tags will not be valid in most Northwestern Wisconsin deer management units.

Some antlerless permits are made available in most units this fall. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. If antlerless tags are still available in the unit where you plan to hunt, you may purchase one. They’re $12 for residents and $20 for non-residents.

In some units, such as Unit 4 in Douglas County, all antlerless permits are gone already, said Fred Strand, Department of Natural Resources wildlife manager in Superior.

Deer management units in Northwestern Wisconsin were under herd control status in recent years because deer populations were too high. But now that they are near or at population goals, most units are regular units. Unit 1M, which covers the city of Superior and some additional land around the city, is the only Herd Control unit in northern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin duck season opens Saturday

Wisconsin’s duck season opens at 9 a.m. Saturday in the northern zone, and hunters again will see the maximum 60-day season. Prospects are decent for opening weekend, said Greg Kessler, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Brule.

“I know we’ve got plenty of mallards and wood ducks still around,” Kessler said. “The teal are always a question. If we get a big northern front, we could lose some of them.”

Other than on opening days, waterfowl hunting begins a half hour before sunrise daily.

The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards, of which only one may be a hen; three wood ducks; one black duck; two redheads; two scaup; one canvasback; and one pintail.

Hunters will see two changes from last fall’s season. This fall, the canvasback season is open for 60 days, and the scaup season will allow a two-bird daily bag for the entire 60 days.

These changes are in response to good breeding conditions and increased duck populations recorded during the 2009 continental waterfowl surveys.

The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin’s fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal, according to Department of Natural Resources officials.

Broadwings make big push at Hawk Ridge

Broad-winged hawks passed over Duluth’s Hawk Ridge in big numbers this past week. A total of 9,007 hawks, most of them broadwings, came through on Monday, and another 5,468 came through on Tuesday, said Eric Bruhnke with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

On Tuesday, about 4,000 hawks, mostly broadwings, passed over Hawk Ridge between 10 and 11 a.m., said Debbie Waters, education director for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

“This is pretty much peak time,” Waters said. “Around Sept. 15 is our peak time.”

Many immature broadwings moved through in August, according to Hawk Ridge official counter Karl Bardon. Now the mature broadwings are moving.

An average of 94,000 hawks pass over Hawk Ridge each fall, and a majority of them are broadwings, Waters said. Monday’s total of 9,007 hawks probably will be the largest single-day flight of the fall, she said. Counters begin counting hawks Aug. 15 at Hawk Ridge and will continue through Nov. 15.

DNR biologist honored

The Fur Takers of America have awarded Dr. John Erb, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources furbearer biologist at Grand Rapids, its Distinguished Service Award. Erb was honored for his work on trapping and furbearer management issues at the state and national levels,

Pheasants Forever's Nomsen recognized

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has presented Dave Nomsen of Pheasants Forever with a National Great Blue Heron Award in recognition of his wetland and waterfowl conservation work. Nomsen is vice-president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever. The award recognizes participants whose activities with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee result in substantial benefits to waterfowl. Nomsen has helped shape the last three federal Farm Bills — 1996, 2002 and 2008 — and has been a champion of the Conservation Reserve Program.

Eveleth native catches record swordfish

Shayne Babich, an Eveleth native who now lives in Houston, caught the Texas state record swordfish Sept. 6, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. His swordfish weighed 326 pounds, breaking the former record of 316 pounds, set in 1979. Babich, 33, said he caught the fish using a large squid for bait while fishing at night.

“You put lights on the line and drop it down 100 to 1,000 feet,” he said. “We were down around 200 feet in 4,000 feet of water.”

He hooked the fish late on Sept. 5, battled it for 3½ hours and landed it early on Sept. 6.