IRON MOUNTAIN - Although warm weather and a lack of snow may make it more difficult for firearm deer hunters in Michigan and Wisconsin, several nice bucks have already been taken.
Local sports outfitters are reporting strong license sales in both states. Michigan's firearm deer season has been under way since Thursday, and Wisconsin's gun season began today.
Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River said the season is off to a good start.
"I've got lots of guys coming into town with nice deer," Ciochetto said. "We just had a 10-pointer and a nice looking eight-pointer come through."
At Crystal Bait in Crystal Falls, Tom Bean agrees the season is going good. He said an eight-pointer and a six-pointer were brought in on Friday.
In Florence, Patti Teske of Florence Sport and Bait helped Wisconsin hunters prepare for the hunt.
"We're just nuts today," Teske said on Friday. "I have had a lot of guys in getting their licenses and supplies. We're off to a great start."
John Grier of Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township said he's been busy with hunters as well.
"We're definitely ahead of where we were last year on license sales," Grier said.
Grier has seen some nice bucks already as well, including his 14 year-old grandson's first buck, a six-pointer.
Bean said license sales at Crystal Bait are up as well. "There are a lot of hunters this year," Bean said. "I haven't heard too much yet, but there are a lot of guys out in the woods and that's good to see."
The warmer weather the past few days may have an effect on this year's hunt, Grier noted.
"I'll take this nice weather anytime, one more day without snow is a good one," Grier said. "It really should be cooler to get the deer moving, though."
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, with one of the earliest openings possible, reports from around the state are indicating white-tail bucks are still in rut. A few areas are reporting the mating season is past its peak, but many locations are reporting bucks still actively moving in pursuit of does.
With most people focusing on deer hunting, not much fishing activity was reported.
Grier said the warmer weather brought some fishermen out Wednesday, and they were having some luck fishing from shore.
The Michigan DNR reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:
Marquette: Anglers are picking up whitefish and trout off the breakwall in the Lower Harbor. Most are using eggs.
Fall's River: Is producing steelhead for those casting spoons and spinners or drifting crawlers and spawn bags.
Little Bay de Noc: Perch fishing was fair. Off Kipling, anglers fished crawlers in 8 to 25 feet of water but most of the fish were small. Those fishing Gladstone Beach, the mouth of the Escanaba River and the Escanaba Yacht Harbor had the same results. Walleye catches were down except for those night fishing. They did well when trolling stick baits in 10 to 28 feet of water along the reefs near Kipling or 12 to 25 feet near the Black Bottom. Some nice walleye were caught near the Escanaba Lighthouse when jigging minnows in 20 to 35 feet of water. Northern pike have been very active and were caught by those trolling for walleye.