Students gear up for fall season

Evan Gregor, Staff Writer

Whether on the water or in the woods, fall in Wisconsin is a special season for outdoor enthusiasts.

The cooling weather and shortening days cause changes in wildlife that attract anglers and hunters alike.

“The fish we’re looking for at this time of year are the ones trying to gorge themselves for the winter,” sophomore Jason Gniady said. “The fish are ten times more energetic and you can feel it when they crush whatever’s at the end of your line.”

The walleye and white bass are two native species that feed heavily this time of the year as they swim to spring spawning beds to stage for the winter.

Other fish species cannot help but succumb to the fall frenzy as well. Dragging suckers and throwing bucktails could land a person a trophy muskie. The creeks and tributaries that run into lake Michigan all the way from Manitowoc to Kenosha are loaded with salmon running out of the lake to spawn.

Fall foliage is a sign of something other than catching fish, however, for many outdoorspeople of the state.

“It’s what you do when you don’t go hunting,” says Brian Thatcher, Whitewater resident and long-time outdoorsman. “The second duck season starts, the fishing poles are put away.”

Thatcher continues his duck hunting since the 1960’s, when he would hunt for wood ducks with his father on the family property in Lima Center. Now he hunts on his own 20 acres of marshland that straddles Rock and Walworth counties.                    

  “My dad taught me to duck hunt and I never stopped doing it, even after he passed.” 

  At 58, the challenges of duck hunting are becoming a hassle, but for Thatcher, it won’t put an end to his hunting days.                       

“Having to get out of bed at the crack of dawn and set up decoys in ice cold water is not fun at all, but when that sky breaks and you’re on them, it’s the greatest feeling in the whole world,” he said.

Besides waterfowl, upland bird hunting also serves as a popular rival. Wisconsin’s vast agricultural fields make pheasant, grouse and dove hunting particular favorites.

It’s the kind of competition that keeps avid hunters practicing their shots at trap shooting ranges all year long. Walk into a cornfield post-yield this fall and a person might just find the perfect upland birding spot.

To many, deer hunting is the primary outdoor sport that comes to mind this time of year. But pull up to any farm field or boat launch to see the variety of outdoor enthusiasts ready to bring in the autumn bounty.