Hunting Seasons Getting Close
It’s almost the end of August and to say the least it’s been a very unusual year for those who enjoy the outdoors. This spring’s water was high and sometimes even unfishable. Now, the summer is almost gone and we’ve had a few weeks of hot and dry weather. But, lately the temperatures and weather has been more fall like than the end of summer. Most of the state of Wisconsin has experienced the same weather patterns which to say the least, has made most fishing inconsistent. Water temperatures have gone down the past couple of weeks anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees in most of the state. This unpredictability has made for a summer of up and down fishing. Some fishing guides that I’ve talked to northern Wisconsin said that if we continue with the recent cool weather, we may be in a fall pattern for the rest of the season. But, this column is not about fishing, but the various hunting seasons that are rapidly approaching.
The early September goose hunt opens September 1st and runs through September 15th. Most of these early season geese are local birds that are born and raised in southern Wisconsin. Many of these birds will move around once the hunting season starts, so the key to being successful is to do some pre-season scouting and be mobile. The milder winters that Wisconsin has experienced the last few years has allowed many geese to stay reside here year- round. Scouting is important in being successful, so get outdoors and see where the geese are and where they go every morning and evening. If pressured by hunters, they will change their traveling routes and feeding locations.
To participate in the early season hunt, all goose hunters must have the following; a current Wisconsin small game hunting license, a current Wisconsin Early September Canada Goose Hunting Permit ($3.00), Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration, a federal waterfowl stamp, the state waterfowl stamp privilege (on your license), and if you were born on or after January 1, 1973, a valid hunter education certificate. The early permits are available on-line, at DNR offices, license vendors, and by phone.
The daily bag limit is 5 Canada Geese with a limit of 10 in possession. Non-toxic shot (steel) is required. Another important thing that each hunter must do is to report each goose killed. You may call 1-800-99-GOOSE (1-800-994-6673) to report your kill. You must also validate your permit by slitting the date of the kill.
The early Canadian goose season is possible because of the tremendous growth in the giant Canada goose populations. This spring, the breeding goose population was up 12% with over 176,000 geese counted during the spring survey. The early goose season now accounts to one-third of the total goose harvest in Wisconsin.
Another season that will soon open is the deer bow season which opens the 17th of September and runs thru November 17th and then re-opens November 28th and is open thru January 8, 2012. The new deer hunting pamphlet the DNR puts out is available at DNR offices and license centers or it may be gotten on-line (www.dnr.state.wi.us) if you check the DNR web-site. There are different zones again, (Herd Control Units and Chronic Wasting Disease Earn-A-Buck Units ) in areas where CWD has been found. There are unlimited Earn-A-Buck regulations except during the Youth Gun Hunt and during the anterless-only seasons. Be sure to read all rules in the deer pamphlet and check the DNR website for any questions that you may have concerning deer harvest. There are many opportunities for the archer and deer hunter under this years regulations, so read the rules carefully, do your pre-season scouting, tune your bow, and practice shooting from your stand or tree. Many of these things you should be doing now and if you have a trail camera or cameras you should have them up and running so that you can check the photos to see what is on your land.
The fall turkey season opens September 17th and runs through November 17th. To hunt this fall season, you had to apply by August 1st for the fall permit, so I hope that you have applied for the permit or you’re out of luck this fall. Fall turkey hunters can shoot hens, jakes, and toms. Last fall, over 7,394 turkeys were harvested which is down from the record 12,554 harvested in the fall of 2003. The number of turkeys harvested in both the spring and fall has decreased in numbers and the hunter success ratio has also declined the last few seasons. Since turkeys are not mating in the fall, most of your hunting success will again depend upon the pre-season scouting that you do. Find an area were the birds roost and feed and you’ll be well on your way to locating birds. Fall turkeys don’t come running like they do in the spring, when they hear a turkey call. But, find the feeding areas is a key factor and this scouting will always help you find birds. Calling doesn’t work like it does in the spring, but a little calling won’t hurt and can help under some conditions.
Wisconsin’s dove season opens September 1st and runs through November 9th with a daily bag of 15 birds. Though, millions of birds pass through Wisconsin and many even spend the winter here, doves are not hunted in big flocks like down in Texas. Here, the hunters who do best, again do some scouting. Doves in Wisconsin are found near most grain fields, grasslands, and fence rows. Try to find the trees that the doves roost in and where they drink their water for success. If you can find a location between the bird’s roost trees are and their watering hole is, you are bound to have success. Many doves are shot when the hunter is out hunting something else (pheasants, Hungarian partridge) and by accident. Try to take advantage of these many early opportunities for hunting that we are lucky enough to have in Wisconsin. This is also a great time time to hunt with the young and new hunters since there are going to be fewer hunters in the field and allows a one on one interaction between you and the young and new hunter. Be safe and have fun!