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


DNR asks for hunters to record wildlife observations

MADISON - September hunting seasons usher in the 10th annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, a survey in which hunters can easily record their observations of deer and other wildlife while in the field.
Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey results help track abundance trends for Wisconsin's deer herd and other wildlife.
DNR staff ask archery and gun hunters to record all their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The observations provide the department with an index to abundance for many wildlife species.
Hunters can enter observations by desktop, mail, or as launched last year, by smartphone. For those now interested in submitting observations by smartphone, or who participated last year, a new version of the survey is available for download on the survey's webpage. For more information regarding this survey, visit dnr.wi.gov, and search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."
At the end of the survey, participants can choose to receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife from that season. The survey period ends January 2019.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Deer hunters encouraged to get deer tested for CWD

MADISON - Deer hunting seasons are about to begin with archery and crossbow this weekend, and Department of Natural Resources staff remind hunters who harvest deer to have adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease - this is particularly important in areas affected by CWD.
For more information regarding CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD."
DNR staff continue to utilize disease surveillance objectives (disease assessment and disease detection) statewide, and will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in other CWD-affected counties. Surveillance will also expand to all 19 counties of the department's west central district and parts of northern Wisconsin.
No targeted surveillance will occur in the 4-county surveillance area surrounding the Washburn County CWD positive area due to no additional positives being detected during six consecutive years of surveillance since 2011. However, hunters will still have opportunities to have their adult deer tested within the 4-county area.
Options for CWD sampling continue to include both in-person service as well as self-service options. Self-service kiosks are available 24/7 for hunters to drop off a deer head to be tested for CWD. Hunters can locate this option in the drop-down menu in the registration station database on our CWD webpages.
New for this deer season is the opportunity for local individuals or groups to "adopt-a-kiosk." The goal of the Adopt-a-Kiosk program is to enhance CWD sample numbers, ease, and options for hunters in the world of electronic registration. It also provides an opportunity for conservation groups or individuals to assist the department and it is due to these types of interests that this program originated.
Local DNR staff will work with the Adopt-a-Kiosk participants to identify kiosk location as well as discuss protocols and schedules. Overall feedback from hunters indicates an appreciation for kiosk available availability for CWD sample submission. Kiosks are a useful tool in areas without a current a cooperative sampling station.
Hunters are reminded to contact sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation and that CWD surveillance efforts focus on testing adult deer, since older deer are more likely to have the disease. For more information regarding where to take your deer for sampling, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "CWD sampling" or contact local DNR wildlife management staff.
Hunters can search for CWD test results individually or view a summary. Hunters will need a customer ID or CWD sample barcode to search for individual results. The average turnaround time from when the deer is brought to a sampling station to when the results are available is typically two weeks or less. For information regarding CWD test results, search keywords "CWD results".
If test results come back positive for CWD, hunters should follow advice from the Center for Disease Control, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and World Health Organization to not consume venison from that deer.
The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process. Department staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.
Hunters are also reminded to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast to learn more about CWD in Wisconsin. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube. Season two of the Wild Wisconsin web series will also feature a segment highlighting CWD in Wisconsin.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Sept. 15 marks opening of archery, crossbow deer hunting seasons

MADISON - Excitement levels are high as hunters prepare for fall deer hunting seasons in Wisconsin.
Hunters will have their first opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during the 2018 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 15 to Jan. 6, 2019. The archery and crossbow season is extended to Jan. 31, 2019 in metro sub-units and some counties offering the antlerless-only holiday hunt.
"Deer numbers continue to look good across the state," said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "The central and southern farmland zones are expected to have excellent deer numbers in most areas. Portions of the forested zones experienced their first moderate winter after a string of mild winters. Although there was a heavy late winter snow storm in much of the north, a lush spring green-up and reports of good fawn production are showing the population is stable and increasing in many areas. All reports indicate a fun and exciting upcoming season."
In 2017, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history. Deer hunters in Iron County will be the only county to see buck-only hunting this year. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available using Farmland (Zone 2) and bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations. Visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "DMU" to access an interactive map to find more information on county-specific seasons.
Archery and crossbow hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer harvest authorization using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.
Hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for a higher rate of participation by women than any other deer hunting method. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the buck harvest authorization and antlerless harvest authorization(s) issued with their first license of choice.
Treestand safety is also a key part of the archery season - hunters should always wear a safety harness, use 3 points of contact when going into or out of the stand and use a haul line to bring your unloaded crossbow and bow into the stand. For more information regarding treestand safety, search keyword "treestand."

Changes for 2018
Please note that there have been changes to several Deer Management Zone (DMZ) and metro sub-unit boundaries this year. Hunters are reminded to check the management zone before purchasing bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations.
In addition, the rules for transporting deer carcasses harvested in Chronic Wasting Disease affected counties will change effective Oct. 1, 2018. Search keyword "CWD" on the DNR web page for the latest information on carcass transportation regulations, including a FAQ document. Hunters are encouraged to explore the many opportunities available to submit a sample for CWD testing.

Bonus Authorizations Still Available
Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations remain available in many counties. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type (public or private) designated on each harvest authorization. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents, and $5 for youth hunters under age 12.
In 2018, additional Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations may be included with each deer hunting license, depending on the county of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the county and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased online at GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.
Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses prior to June 1 may now select their Farmland (Zone 2) harvest authorizations. Hunters who have yet to determine a hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorization selection. When ready, hunters may:
* Make a harvest authorization selection online from their Go Wild account and print themselves.
* Request desired harvest authorization(s) at a local DNR Service Center.
* Or visit a license agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).

GameReg
All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. As conservationists, hunters understand the importance of harvest registration and what it means to deer management in Wisconsin. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the unique harvest authorization number and date of birth.
Hunters have three options to register their deer:
online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword "registration stations").
For more information regarding electronic registration, search keyword "GameReg."

Wild Wisconsin
Following a successful first season, Wild Wisconsin will be back for season two with tons of helpful content for hunters. The series will launch in early September, just in time for the archery opener.
Wild Wisconsin Season 2 - Learn How You Can Join the Hunt
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast - topics covered include public land hunting tips, a deer season forecast, and much more. Search keywords "Wild Wisconsin" for more information - episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube.
To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Minnesota pheasant index up 19 percent from last year

The 2018 Minnesota roadside survey for pheasants showed a 19 percent increase in the overall pheasant index from 2017.
While the index is similar to the 10-year average, it is still 52 percent below the long-term average.
“Given the April snowstorms and heavy rains across a good portion of the pheasant range this year, it was surprising to see increases in the pheasant indices across so many regions,” said Lindsey Messinger, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who coordinated this year’s survey. “It appears hens may have delayed nesting and chicks were able to tolerate the rain in most areas.”
Weather and habitat are the two main factors that drive Minnesota’s pheasant population trends. Weather causes annual fluctuations in pheasant numbers. In the south-central region of the pheasant range, late-season snowstorms and heavy rain this past spring and summer have been tough for pheasants.
Habitat can help mitigate the impacts of weather and the availability of quality nesting habitat is more important for long-term pheasant population trends.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in particular play a large role in providing habitat for pheasants in Minnesota. The program, covered under the federal Farm Bill, pays farmers to remove environmentally-sensitive land from agricultural production and restore vegetation that will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators.
Minnesota peaked in nesting habitat acres, particularly CRP acres, in 2007, but has declined since then. Minnesota added about 82,500 habitat acres in the past year, many of which were CRP acres. However, nearly 297,000 acres of CRP may be lost within the next two years due to contracts that are set to expire.

Roadside survey data
The DNR’s August roadside survey for pheasants showed a 19 percent increase in the overall pheasant index from 2017. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 45.5 birds per 100 miles of roads driven.
The pheasant index increased in all regions except the south-central region, which decreased by 36 percent from 2017. The highest pheasant counts were in the west-central, southwest and central regions where observers reported 48 to 65 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunters should find the best hunting opportunities in these regions.
Minnesota’s 2018 pheasant season is open Saturday, Oct. 13, through Monday, Jan. 1.
During the 2018 pheasant season, the daily bag limit is two roosters through November, and it increases to three roosters on Saturday, Dec. 1. The possession limit is six roosters (increasing to nine roosters on Dec. 1). Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant.

Annual weather impacts on pheasants
Winters that linger can impact the start of the breeding season and success of early nests. Heavy rain, particularly at or just after hatching, can impact chick survival.
One indication of delayed nesting activity were the ages of broods that observers recorded during the roadside surveys. From brood ages, approximate hatch dates are calculated. The range-wide hatch date in 2018 was nearly a week later than in 2017, and a few days later than the long-term average. Hatch dates in the southwest of June 26 and south-central of June 23 were 20 and eight days later, respectively, than in 2017, and they were one to two weeks later than the 10-year and long-term averages.
Another key indicator of annual reproduction is the number of broods observed during roadside surveys. The 2018 statewide brood index increased 28 percent from last year. Regional brood indices increased in every region except the east-central region, where it remained similar to last year, and the south-central region, where it declined by 28 percent compared to last year.
“Unfortunately, heavy rains came during the period of peak hatch in the south-central region,” Messinger said. “And as our survey results indicate, brood survival was affected in this region.”

Survey information
Monitoring pheasant population trends is part of the DNR’s annual August roadside wildlife survey, which began in 1955. DNR wildlife managers and conservation officers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 171, 25-mile-long routes, with 151 routes located in the pheasant range.
Observers drive each route in early morning and record the number and species of wildlife they see. The data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long-term population trends of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, eastern cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits, mourning doves, and other wildlife.
The 2018 August Roadside Survey report and a map of pheasant hunting prospects are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Also recorded in this year’s survey:
* The gray partridge index remained similar to 2017 and was 50 percent below the 10-year average and 93 percent below the long-term average.
* The mourning dove index decreased 7 percent from 2017 and remained below the 10-year average and long-term averages.
* The cottontail rabbit index decreased 23 percent from 2017, but was 13 percent above the 10-year average and similar to the long-term average.
* The white-tailed jackrabbit index was similar to last year and remains historically low.
* The white-tailed deer index decreased 13 percent from 2017, but was still 19 percent above the 10-year average and 99 percent above the long-term average.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR