A voluntary waterfowl avoidance area is in effect during the fall migration on areas of Navigation Pools 7 and 8 of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Buoys have been placed at commonly used access points in both areas to alert boaters. Waterfowl are sensitive to human activity occurring near their resting and feeding areas. Even relatively distant boating activity may be enough to cause the birds to flush and burn-up valuable energy reserves. Boaters who voluntarily throttle down and avoid concentrations of waterfowl, wherever they occur, will help the birds accumulate fat reserves needed for the remainder of their long migrations. To further reduce disturbance to waterfowl concentrated in the Goose Island No Hunting Zone, the use of motors is prohibited. For more information, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service La Crosse District Office at (608) 779-2399 or visit the Visitor Center, located at N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Wisconsin ring-necked pheasant season opens Oct. 19
MADISON, Wis. - The fall Wisconsin pheasant hunting season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, and will run through Jan. 5, 2020. Several other seasons also open that day, including bobwhite quail, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse in Zone B. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m. The ruffed grouse season opens at the start of legal shooting hours. Hunters should check the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations for rules and season structures for the game species they will pursue. "Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin very well," Department of Natural Resources Upland Wildlife Ecologist Mark Wietcha said. "Pheasant hunting offers the chance to explore landscapes and habitat types you might not otherwise see." Pheasants are one of the most sought-after game birds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern and western Wisconsin, provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year, according to Witecha. In addition to existing wild pheasant hunting opportunities, DNR wildlife management staff plan to release approximately 80,000 pheasants from the state game farm on more than 100 public hunting grounds, slightly more than were released in 2018. Pheasants raised by conservation clubs as part of the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall. A list of all properties stocked with pheasants is available on the 2019 Pheasant Stocking Information, or go to the DNR website, and search keyword "pheasant." The 2019 spring pheasant surveys in Wisconsin show that pheasant abundance is above the five-year average with the highest pheasant detection rate in the northwestern part of the state. The average number of pheasants detected during each stop was up 0.64 pheasants per stop compared to 0.59 pheasants in 2018. To pursue wild pheasants, hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands that provide food and nesting cover. It will be necessary for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas, according to Witecha. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of the Voluntary Public Access program. During the 2018 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 50,831 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting approximately 403,766 birds. The top counties for harvest included Kenosha, Jefferson and Waukesha. The Mentored Hunting Program allows any hunter, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all the requirements under the program. For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit the DNR website and search the keyword "mentored hunting." Wisconsin's pheasant stamp program uses funds derived from stamp sales to create and maintain the habitat required for pheasants to survive and reproduce year-round. For more information on the pheasant stamp program, go to the DNR website and search keyword "stamps." Regulations A 2019 Pheasant Stamp and a valid small game license are required to hunt pheasants statewide. Anyone can purchase and print a license from home by going online to GoWild.WI.gov or by visiting one of over 1,000 license agents across the state. The DNR's Hunt Wild Wisconsin mobile app also allows hunters to brush up on regulations as well as explore public lands on an interactive map, see up to the minute shooting hours, or even listen to podcasts. For more information and how to download the app, visit the DNR website, search keywords "hunt app."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Hold on, hunters: Wear your harness
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Warden Todd Schaller urges all hunters who use a tree stand to wear a safety harness and avoid becoming another tragic fall statistic. "A sad documented fact bore out by research shows if you hunt from a tree stand, statistics say you are likely to fall," Schaller said. "You can beat these odds if you take the time to review and follow tree stand safety practices." The DNR partnered with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and the UW Hospital and Clinics in 2014 to learn more about deer stand accidents and how to prevent them. A thorough review of medical reports found some common themes, the most important of which is that deer hunters underestimate the risks associated with tree stands. Research published in 2016 by the Wildlife Society research showed the most avid hunters face a 1-in-20 risk of getting hurt in a fall from a tree stand. The society's published research indicates that risky climbing behavior can catch up with you the longer you hunt. "Thinking that 'I am careful' or 'I built that stand myself' does not safeguard you from the fact that falls can happen to anyone. I've experienced one of those close calls, which changed my behavior," Schaller said. Schaller understands hunters want to enhance their ability to see and bag their deer during the archery season. "Without a mind on safety, the tree stand advantage comes with a risk of falling. Falls can cause life-changing injuries or death," he said. Schaller offers these tree stand safety tips: * Always wear a full-body harness, also known as a fall-arrest system. * Connect to your tether line and keep your tether line short. The tether is designed to keep you in the seat, not to catch you after you fall. * Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the tree stand: This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times. * Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use the haul for other things like a heavy backpack. * Use a lifeline when climbing up and down; this keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down. * Be aware of suspension trauma. Suspension trauma can happen in less than 20 minutes and can be fatal. Attaching an additional foot strap to the body harness will take pressure off your upper legs. * Consider taking a free online tree stand safety course. A 15-minute investment of your time in taking an online safety course could save your life. The tree stand Manufacturers Association provides a free, interactive course that you can finish in minutes. Schaller also urges hunters always to inspect their stands - especially the ones left up all year. "Inspect the tree, check straps, check hardware, wood condition," he said. "Another way to check your stand is to pull on the stand and move it around to see how much it moves." To learn more about tree stand safety and take the free safety course, visit the DNR website.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin celebrates 20 years of deer donation program
MADISON, Wis. - Each year, hunters, meat processors and food pantries help families in need by working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners to donate thousands of pounds of venison to food pantries. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Deer Donation Program, and to celebrate, hunters who donate a deer will receive a commemorative ball cap while supplies last. "Whether it is harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have historically shown their willingness to help others by donating deer to the Deer Donation Program," said DNR Wildlife Damage Program Assistant Liz Tanner. "As deer hunters begin preparations for this hunting season, we are encouraging them to again consider the Deer Donation Program." Wisconsin's Deer Donation Program began in 2000, and since then, more than 92,000 deer have been donated, translating to more than 3.7 million pounds of venison distributed to food pantries across the state. "There are a couple of ways hunters can help," Tanner said. "Hunters can donate a deer at one of the participating meat processors or, when they purchase a hunting license, they can make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs." Hunters are advised to plan by knowing where participating processors are located and whether the deer needs to be tested for CWD before donation. Hunters should also call the participating processor before dropping off a deer to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer. For more information about the DNR's deer donation program, a list of participating meat processors, CWD sampling requirements and more on how to help, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "deer donation."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin DNR warns of hunting license scam
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Mower County’s newest public hunting land dedication set
The public is invited to attend the dedication of what is destined to become Mower County’s newest public hunting land at 4 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 11, as part of the Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener. The dedication ceremony will include comments from Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen and Explore Minnesota Director John Edman among other local leaders. The new tract was made possible by Pheasants Forever, the Austin Area Foundation and the Outdoor Heritage Council fund. “We’re excited and honored that we could help with this project,” said Austin Area Foundation Executive Director Jeff Baldus. “We hope the public will enjoy this parcel for generations to come.” The future wildlife management area features approximately 140 acres of drained and partially drained wetlands as well as wet meadow and shrub swamp along Murphy Creek. Restoration work will begin next year. It will become part of a larger complex of nearby public lands that includes wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas. The land was donated by the Worlein family of Austin. “The benefit of this land goes beyond wildlife habitat,” Baldus said. “This new land improves water storage capacity, water quality and groundwater recharge in Mower County. We’re very grateful for the Worlein Family and their generosity to help make this happen.” The parcel is located northwest of Austin in Mower County. The dedication is part of the 2019 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Walz leads the weekend festivities, which feature many hunting, recreational and travel opportunities the Austin area has to offer visitors. More information and updates on the event can be found at exploreminnesota.com/mngpho. With a population of 24,563, Austin is the county seat of Mower County. It is situated at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218. Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting Discover Austin in planning the event.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Waterfowl hunters take caution as water levels rise
MADISON, Wis. - Following recent storms, water levels have degraded the safety conditions on many public hunting grounds and waterways around the state. The Department of Natural Resources advises waterfowl hunters as well as anglers and boaters to take additional safety precautions while afield. "Currents are running fast in unexpected places. Anyone heading into the water should wear a life jacket and watch for floating debris," said DNR chief warden Todd Schaller. "It's important to remember to stay within your ability and equipment limits and to avoid strong current areas." DNR properties across the state are experiencing unusually high water levels. Loose cattail mats have rapidly changed marsh topography, stranding some hunters in the field. Conservation wardens have responded to distress calls from hunters stranded on the water as flood stage conditions worsen. DNR staff members are working to remove blockages and control water flow where possible, and the department expects water levels to remain high for many days to weeks following recent storms.