The dog days of August are behind us, but canine references remain.

Hunting for early teal, Canada geese and mourning dove seasons start today. Factor in great fishing options for multiple species and a definite taste of autumn in the air, and it’s easy to identify with a blind dog in a meat market: with so many options which way do you turn?

A battalion of doves that has been hanging on the power lines for the past week or so has pushed south over the past several days. This is not unusual. There are still a fair number of birds in the area for the opener, with good numbers typically showing up in southern Wisconsin about mid-month.

The local Canada goose population grows larger every year, with “golf course geese” almost at nuisance levels.

By Tuesday, these large webfeet will figure out they are being targeted and pursuit will morph from goose shooting to goose hunting.

Today you might find better results dressed in khaki shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and Teva sandals, hiding that Benelli Super Black Eagle in a golf bag when putting a casual sneak on ’em.

Blue-winged teal—than vanguard of duck migration—are all over the place as the season kicks off today. Most of these Canadian migrants will be long gone by the time the regular season gets here.

This has been a banner nesting season locally for wood ducks, which are NOT fair game during the early teal season.

These is no excuse for failing to differentiate between these two diminutive duck species. Teal do not go “whoo-eek” when they jump off a creek or sheet water or when coming in for a landing in a stool of teal decoys.

Sturgeon season to open

Saturday brings a couple more notable events. The annual hook-and-line sturgeon season opens, with a one-per-year bag limit, size restrictions and harvest only permitted on a handful of waters.

Lake sturgeon are one of just three species that can live for more than 25 years that are swimming in Wisconsin waters. Spoonbill catfish and the lowly drum, a.k.a. “sheepshead” or “goats” are the other two.

The much maligned drum are excellent table fare if the flesh is kept cold and red “mud veins” are filleted away—at least on drum about 14 inches long or shorter. Scale samples from mongo “goats” sampled from Lake Winnebago can be up to 80 years old.

But any person who would consider eating ANYTHING swimming in the waters of the Fox River Valley for 80 years might consider looking into purchase of a time share in the “hot market” around Chernobyl.

Youth Day clinic Saturday

Saturday also marks the annual Youth Day event sponsored by the Rock River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever. Last year, almost 150 kids came to the Magnolia Game Farm near Evansville for a FREE pheasant hunt, trap shooting, archery, fly fishing—and a number of other interactive clinics.

There are only a limited number of open slots for one of the most dynamic outdoor youth events in the Midwest. No skill or experience required. Excellent mentors and instructors are eager to provide a plethora of outdoors experiences.

For more information visit this PF chapter’s Facebook page.

Water temperatures locally have dropped to about 70 degrees, nearly ideal for many fish species. The only caveat is, many waterbodies have experienced good to banner year classes for baitfish, resulting in plenty of easy food for larger predators.

This is the only plausible excuse for not coming home with a respectable mess for a good fish fry for at least the next couple weeks. Every other parameter in the outdoors is pretty much pegged out at the “near perfect” level.

Even a blind dog can taste the scent of autumn in the air.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc

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