Statewide regular season duck zones open Sept. 29

MADISON - Duck hunters in the North, South and Mississippi River zones begin another fall duck hunt one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept 29.
"With average spring breeding counts and a fairly wet summer, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters could have potential for a good hunting season," said Taylor Finger, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources migratory game bird ecologist.
The Northern zone will begin Sept 29 and run through Nov. 27. The Southern Zone will run from Sept 29 to Oct. 7, close for a 5-day split, then remain open from Oct. 13 to Dec. 2. The Mississippi Zone will be open Sept 29 to Oct. 5, close for a 7-day split, and reopen from Oct. 13 to Dec. 4. Opening day shooting hours will begin one-half hour before sunrise.
Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the southern portion of the Exterior Zone will also be closed during the 5-day split in October. Also, hunters should note that goose season in the Mississippi River Sub-zone will not open until Sept 29 and is closed during the 7-day split in the Mississippi River Zone.
"Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 63 years showed in 2018 a drop in most species populations however, most populations remained above their long-term averages. Even with promising breeding indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall. Because parts of the state have experienced wet conditions leading up to the duck season and some areas of the state remain dry, scouting this fall will be particularly important to identify the areas that are holding birds."
The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:
Four mallards, of which only one may be a hen; one black duck; two canvasbacks; three wood ducks; two pintail; three scaup; and two redheads.
Five mergansers may be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers; 15 coot may be harvested daily.
Licenses and stamps required for duck hunting include a Wisconsin small game license (included in the Conservation Patron and Sports packaged licenses), a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp, and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal duck stamp costs $25. The federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at DNR license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive several weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program, which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchase their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.
State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available through Go Wild. For more information regarding Go Wild, visit GoWild.WI.gov. For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."

Regular Goose Season
With resident Canada goose breeding numbers similar to recent years and average production of the Ontario breeders, hunters should have ample opportunities this year, and will again enjoy a full 92 days of hunting in the Exterior zone with a 3-bird daily bag limit.
As a reminder, the Horicon Canada goose Zone was eliminated in 2018 and is now a part of the Southern Exterior goose zone.
Exterior Zone Canada goose season structure is as follows:
* Northern Zone - Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
* Southern Zone - Sept. 16 to Oct. 7 and Oct. 13 to Dec. 2 and Dec. 16-Jan. 3, 2019.
* Mississippi River Subzone - Sept.29 - Oct 5 and Oct. 13 to Jan. 3, 2019.
While afield, hunters must carry proof of their Canada goose harvest permit. Acceptable methods of proof include a paper copy, Go Wild generated PDF displayed on a mobile device, an authenticated Wisconsin driver's license or Go Wild Conservation Card. As a reminder to Canada goose hunters, registration of Canada geese and in-field validation of the Canada goose hunting permit is no longer required.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Online harvest registration requires sign-in for better information security

Hunters who harvest deer, bear or turkey starting this season will need to sign into the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources electronic license system when registering a harvest online.   
“Requiring hunters to log in adds another layer of security to protect their personal information,” said Steve Michaels, licensing program director. “We recognize that online game registration will be a little less convenient and we appreciate hunters’ patience as they adapt to the new process.”
In 2017, half of all deer harvest were registered using the online system, so this new security measure is important.
To register a harvest, go to mndnr.gov/buyalicense. The harvest registration system is available after hunters enter their information in the customer identification page, similar to when purchasing a DNR license or permit. Once signed in, click on the harvest tab. Harvest registration is the same as in past years, and requires hunters to enter a nine-digit harvest registration number that is printed on the license.
“While in the system registering your animal, we also recommend adding your email address to your electronic record,” Michaels said. “The DNR is increasingly using email to conduct surveys and communicate with license holders on a variety of wildlife issues.”
Hunters also can choose to register a harvest by calling 1-888-706-6367 and following the instructions, or in person at any big game registration station.   
Hunting regulations and details about when harvest registration is required are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Good waterfowl opener expected this weekend

Duck hunting is expected to be good when Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season opens a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 22, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“The number of breeding ducks in Minnesota and North America has remained fairly high in recent years, so hopefully that will result in a good duck season,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “We also heard favorable reports on the number of duck broods over the summer.”
Wetland habitat conditions are variable across the state, with some dry conditions in the northern portion of the state.
“Canada goose hunting should improve as the season goes on,” Cordts said. “We had a poor goose hatch this spring and hunting success so far in September has been fairly low.”

Duck seasons and limits
The duck season structure is similar to recent years. The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway. Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and regulations are available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.
Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones:
* In the north zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Tuesday, Nov. 20.
* In the central zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 30, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 6, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 25.
* In the south zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Sept. 30, closes for 12 days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 13, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 2.
“There seems to be fairly good support for our current zones and split seasons, so we’ve maintained that season structure,” Cordts said. “But weather and other variables play a large role in how the season goes.”
The daily duck bag limit remains six per day. The mallard bag limit remains four per day, including no more than two hen mallards. The daily bag limits are three for wood duck and scaup; and two for redheads, canvasbacks, pintails and black ducks.
The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The reports are typically posted on Thursday afternoon at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

Goose and sandhill crane seasons
Minnesota’s goose season will reopen in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 22, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season. “Dark” geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20. “Light geese” include snow, blue and Ross’s geese. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed.
The season for sandhill cranes remains open through Sunday, Oct. 21, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit will be one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.
More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting is available in the 2018 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet from license vendors and online at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Duck hunters beware of Mead Wildlife Area

STEVENS POINT, Wis. - Low water levels may limit duck hunting opportunities at Mead Wildlife Area, located between Stevens Point and Marshfield.
Due to ongoing dike repairs, construction projects, unseasonably warm and dry conditions and select compromised dike situations, water levels in several impoundments on Mead Wildlife Area will be limited for the 2018 waterfowl season.
Until recently, rainfall amounts in the area have been significantly below normal. Earlier rains to the south and north missed the region.
Several flowages are completely drawn down for construction projects (North Smokey Hill, Smokey Hill, and North Honey Island), Little Birch and Dragonfly flowages are drawn down for management purposes. All remaining flowages may be lower than usual if rainfall continues to be below normal.
Hunters are reminded to focus on scouting and always take water levels into consideration when planning waterfowl hunts this fall. For more information regarding water levels at Mead, contact 715-457-6771.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Tickets available for Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener banquet

Gov. Mark Dayton invites all Minnesotans to join him on Friday, Oct. 12 for the eighth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet in Luverne. Social hour begins at 5 p.m., followed by the community banquet at 6 p.m.
Celebrating the pheasant opener is a long-standing Minnesota tradition, and one that Gov. Dayton has highlighted by hosting Governor’s Pheasant Opener events in each of his eight years as Governor. Gov. Dayton created the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2011, when Montevideo hosted the inaugural event.
“I’m proud of the Minnesota hunting tradition, and have enjoyed pheasant hunting in Minnesota for over 60 years,” said Gov. Dayton. “I thank our hosts in the Luverne area for all of their hard work to make this a terrific event, and invite everyone to join us for this special Minnesota fall tradition.”
Tickets to the banquet are $40 each and can be purchased at the Luverne Area Chamber & CVB, or by calling 507-283-4061. The banquet will feature a social hour, dinner and program which will include Gov. Dayton, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Explore Minnesota Director John Edman, and local presenters. Tickets are available until sold out.
The Governor’s Pheasant Opener banquet is part of a weekend of festivities in Luverne that showcase the many hunting, recreational, and travel opportunities the area has to offer visitors. Luverne has a population of 4,658 and is the county seat of Minnesota’s southwestern-most county, Rock County. The city is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 75. Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting the Luverne Area Chamber & CVB in planning the event.
More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at exploreminnesota.com/mngpho.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Fall wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock hunting seasons open


MADISON - Hunters can expect another exciting fall hunting season for wild turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock.

Wild turkey
The fall turkey season runs from Sept. 15 to Jan. 6 in Turkey Management zones 1-5, and Sept. 15 to Nov. 16 in zones 6 and 7. The use of dogs to hunt wild turkey is allowed statewide for the fall seasons.
"Fall turkey hunters can look forward to good opportunities this year," said Mark Witecha, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "The fall turkey season definitely offers some variety in hunting tactics and strategy compared to the spring season, and you can't beat the backdrop of a Wisconsin autumn."
Overall, Wisconsin's statewide wild turkey population remains strong. Following 30 years of sustained population growth and expansion across the state, wild turkeys are now found statewide. Wild turkey numbers appear to have stabilized at levels suitable to available habitat - they will likely ebb and flow around those levels in response to weather, food availability and other natural factors.
Biologists closely monitor harvest during the either-sex fall turkey hunting season, as excessive hen harvest can affect turkey populations. Recent hen harvests in Wisconsin have been very low, and current hen harvest rates do not play a significant role in the dynamics of Wisconsin's turkey flock.
"We saw a 10 percent decrease in harvest this spring compared to 2017, largely due to the late winter weather we experienced." said Witecha. "That late snowfall likely impacted nesting hens as well, so there may be fewer juvenile birds on the landscape in parts of the state."
Although a fall turkey license, fall turkey harvest authorization and annual Wild Turkey Stamp is required to hunt turkeys, hunters are reminded that for the first time, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. Each fall turkey license or conservation patron license now includes a fall turkey harvest authorization. Hunters must choose the zone for which their harvest authorization will be valid at the time of purchase. If more than one fall turkey harvest authorization is desired, hunters may purchase bonus turkey harvest authorizations in select zones while inventory remains. Licenses, stamps and bonus turkey harvest authorizations are available for purchase online at Go Wild or at any license agent.
Turkey hunters are reminded that ground blinds on DNR lands are subject to highly visible color requirements during any gun deer season. All unoccupied ground blinds must have the owner's name and address or DNR customer ID number near the door opening. Blinds and elevated devices can be left overnight Sept. 1 to Jan. 31 on DNR managed properties north of Highway 64. Blinds and elevated devices south of Highway 64 on DNR managed lands may not be left out overnight and must be removed daily at the close of shooting hours. Binds used for waterfowl hunting and blinds constructed entirely of vegetation do not have to be removed daily.
For more information on wild turkeys, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "turkey."

Ruffed Grouse
In Zone A, the ruffed grouse season opens Sept. 15 and ends Jan. 31, 2019. In Zone B, the season will open Oct. 20 and close Dec. 8.
"Statewide ruffed grouse drumming activity was down 34 percent this spring compared to last year," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife survey coordinator. "While this decline does not follow the generally predictable nine to 11-year ruffed grouse population cycle, the 2018 drumming observations do fall within the normal range of variability for the population."
Ruffed grouse drumming surveys have been used since 1964 to help monitor ruffed grouse population trends.
This year, the DNR will be collecting West Nile virus samples from harvested ruffed grouse. Hunters interested in testing their bird for West Nile virus can request a self-sampling kit through their county wildlife biologist. The DNR is also asking for hunters to report and submit sick or dead grouse found in the field. More information on West Nile virus monitoring in ruffed grouse can be found here.
To address concerns over a noted decrease activity in drumming activity, a decrease in fall harvest last year and concerns regarding disease risk, the Natural Resources Board is considering an emergency rule to shorten the ruffed grouse season in zones A and B to end Nov. 30, 2018. The final decision to shorten the season will be made at the Sept. 25-26 Natural Resources Board meeting in Hayward. For more information on the Natural Resources Board, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "NRB."
For more information regarding ruffed grouse, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "ruffed grouse."

Woodcock
Wisconsin's woodcock hunting season is open from Sept. 22 to Nov. 5.
Hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) if they plan to pursue woodcock, mourning doves or other migratory game birds. Hunters must be HIP registered annually and can conveniently do this free of charge when purchasing their hunting license each year. For more information on HIP registration, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "HIP registration."
A small game license is required to hunt woodcock and ruffed grouse. Small game licenses and HIP registration are available online through Go Wild or at any license agent.

FFLIGHT
The Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool gives hunters an interactive summary of young aspen and alder habitat to find woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting areas, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds and dove fields found on public hunting lands throughout Wisconsin
Features available within the program help hunters locate DNR public parking areas, overlay township descriptions, and provide access to maps and aerial photos of prospective hunting areas. Users can also print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and estimate acreage and walking distance.
The mapping application is compatible with all major desktop and mobile web browsers (internet access is required). Mobile users can use FFLIGHT on-the-go to find habitat suitable for the species they wish to pursue. To learn more, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "FFLIGHT."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Collared deer legal to harvest during fall hunting seasons

MADISON - This fall, hunters may spot collared or ear-tagged whitetail deer in the fields and woods of southwest Wisconsin. These deer have been tagged as part of a mortality study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and are legal to harvest.
"The most important thing for hunters to know is that collared and tagged deer are just like the rest of the deer in the area," said Daniel Storm, Department of Natural Resources deer research scientist. "DNR staff collared a random sample of deer, so the collars do not indicate anything about the deer's health or suitability for harvest. Hunters should make their decision without regard for GPS collars. Collared and tagged deer are absolutely OK to harvest."
The deer are collared as part of the Southwest Wisconsin Chronic Wasting Disease, Deer and Predator Study, a five-year investigation into deer mortality. To date, DNR researchers have placed GPS collars on 328 adult deer in portions of Grant, Iowa and Dane Counties.
The goal of this project is to comprehensively examine factors that could impact deer survival and deer population growth in southern Wisconsin. Those include CWD, depredation, habitat suitability and hunter harvest. The study is part of the Governor's initiative on chronic wasting disease.
"We're collaring deer over several years, and this sample will be the foundation for understanding deer mortality for the entire herd in the region. We know that one of the mortality causes for deer is hunter harvest, so we hope that our collared deer will be treated like any other deer by hunters this fall. If you would otherwise harvest a collared deer, go ahead and take it. If you would let it pass by, go ahead and let it go," Storm says.
Hunting licensing and normal harvest regulations apply equally to collared deer as they do to uncollared deer. "The only additional ask is that hunters who harvest collared deer call the number listed on the collar so we can come retrieve it," says Storm. The number to call is (608) 935-1940."
Whether you harvest a collared deer or an uncollared deer this season, the DNR asks for hunters' help by having their deer tested for CWD. The department needs to sample your adult deer to help further understand CWD in your area. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD sampling."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR