A wet, cold and windy spring hasn't been kind to wild turkey hunters and most anglers, but all the water has helped inch Lake Michigan water levels up a bit.
Even before two storms this week, Lake Michigan gained back some of the losses it had sustained. Water levels were still down about seven inches from the same time last year, however. Those levels were about 13 inches above the record April low from 1964, and 4 feet, 3 inches below the all-time high from 1986.
Last fall's dredging spoils — about 10,000 yards of them — are still being removed from the giant bags they're stored in at Algoma Marina. City officials have announced that the marina opening will be delayed about two weeks for seasonal slip holders, but boats have been able to launch.
Turkey registration stations continue to tag plenty of birds, the majority of them adult toms weighing 20 to 23 pounds but a few of them as light as 17 pounds and some rare specimens pushing 26 pounds reported.
A good number of jakes and an occasional bearded hen have also been taken. Many hunters are reporting seeing good numbers of jakes again this year after a sub-par season for juveniles last year. That could mean that the 2011 hatch was much better than what we had in 2010.
On the fishing scene, the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility at Kewaunee closed down for the season earlier this week after handling only about 600 steelhead.
High, cold and too often dirty water made things difficult for anglers, and a large run of suckers mixed in with the "late" runs of steelies also played a role.
Still, there's plenty of water and fishermen should be able to target some late-runners yet.
When it's not too windy, boating anglers at Algoma and Kewaunee have hooked a few brown trout. Stickbaits and spoons run in 10 to 20 feet of water have taken the majority of fish.
I've only seen a few wading anglers casting the creek mouths, and have not heard if anyone has been having any smelting success locally. There have been reports of smelt catches off Ashland in Lake Superior and in the Bays de Noc in Northern Green Bay.
With as many smelt as were caught in the Chaudoir's Dock and Olde Stone Quarry areas this winter, I'd guess some of the bay creeks could be luring some spawn-minded fish.
In case you read the 1,000-plus wolves figure here last week as anything but my personal opinion, here's a clarification.
The Department of Natural Resources' preliminary winter estimate was within a range of 801 to 858. That included 39 wolves on Indian reservations and less than two dozen lone wolves.
While a few of 207 documented packs had as many as 10 to 12 animals, DNR wolf ecologist Adrian Wydeven said the average most years is 3.5 to 3.9 per pack.
That said, it is my opinion that biologists and volunteer trackers — even with their best scientific efforts and citizen reports to follow — can in no way come close to "finding" all the wolves in Wisconsin's vast woodlands.
Legislators take shot
A number of legislators have used declining deer kills to take verbal shots at the DNR in recent years, so it came as no surprise that they're now aiming to restrict the agency's authority.
A bill introduced in the Assembly last week, AB 99, would prohibit the DNR from being able to manage deer herds in the future with earn-a-buck rules, early antlerless deer hunts or an earlier November gun deer season.
In addition to ending any earn-a-buck or early season antlerless gun deer hunts, the bill generally prohibits the Department from establishing a fall deer firearm season that begins before the Saturday immediately preceding the fourth Thursday in November.
The prohibition would not apply to youth, disabled or Learn To Hunt deer hunts, or to control the spread of CWD or other disease in deer if the hunt is for antlerless deer only and is held before Oct. 15.
The DNR had already announced that it was eliminating the October antlerless gun deer hunt this fall and that the only earn-a-buck regulation in place would be in the CWD zone after a hunter took his or her first deer of either sex.
But that wasn't enough for legislators, who want to place restrictions on the DNR's authority in the future.
Fights over earn-a-buck and October "Zone T"-style hunts may be over, but there will be others in the future.
Some gun-only hunters are advocating that if the October opportunity is taken away, then so should be the extra four days of archery season that were awarded just before the gun opener in mid-November after the October antlerless-only seasons were instituted years ago.
And, the recent Conservation Congress advisory question vote opposing crossbows for all isn't likely to be the end of that controversy, with crossbow manufacturers and supporters trying to get their tools allowed.
Kevin Naze is a freelance writer covering outdoors. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.