The Joys of September Are Here

by Free Speech on September 3, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

River Currents
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Big tom turkeys, like this one, will soon lure hunters to the woods.

Big tom turkeys, like this one, will soon lure hunters to the woods.

Where did the summer of 2010 go? I’m sure that many of you have thought the same, but this summer for whatever reason just seemed to just fly by! It seems like just a short time ago, I was writing about spring walleye fishing on the Wisconsin River and this week is the beginning of many fall hunting and fishing (sturgeon) seasons. September, October, and November are the favorite months of the year for hunters and fishers who have been looking forward to these months since last fall. September brings the early Canada goose season, the opening of the mourning dove season, the fall bear season, the deer bow season, the fall turkey season, and the sturgeon fishing season on the Wisconsin River.

The morning dove and the early Canada goose season both open September 1 in Wisconsin and mark the beginning of the fall hunting season. The early goose season runs from September 1 through September 15 statewide and requires the hunter to buy a $3.00 early Canada goose permit. This early season targets Canada geese that breed in Wisconsin and whose numbers are constantly increasing with a resident population of almost 166,000 Canada geese. This is an increase of 12% from 2009 according to DNR migratory game bird ecologist, Kent Van Horn. Van Horn expects a good early season, but advises hunters that Canada geese will often change their feeding and movement as the hunting season begins in September. He also suggests that hunters do some scouting before hunting and stay mobile for the best success. The daily bag limit is 5 geese and 10 birds in possession.

The mourning dove season opens September 1 and runs till November 9. The daily limit is 15 doves statewide. The dove population in Wisconsin is stable with a 10 year trend of less than a 1% increase. The DNR reports that over 14,000 hunters harvest about 140,000 doves each year. Scouting, like for geese, can greatly improve a hunter’s success by finding where the doves fly between their roosts, feeding locations, and watering spots.

Canada geese and mourning doves are the only migratory birds that may be hunted from September 1-15. Both goose and dove hunters must be HIP (harvest information program) certified to hunt these migratory birds. This certification is simple, free, and easy and may be done when you purchase your licenses, stamps, and permits. A few other regulations to remember are; since doves are migratory birds you must have your shotgun plugged with no more than three shells in the chamber and nontoxic shoot is required on all state lands. There are numerous state lands in much of southern Wisconsin that have good populations of doves, so get out over the holiday weekend and do some scouting.

The fall turkey season in Wisconsin opens September 18 and runs through November 18. Initially, there were 95,700 permits available for the fall turkey season. More than 48,900 permits were issued to hunters who applied by the August 2 deadline. This means that 46,800 permits are available on an over the counter first come first served basis. These left-over permits went on sale Saturday, August 28. You should have received your permit, if you applied early, in the mail by now or you may check online at the DNR Licensing Center. If you didn’t apply early, you may go on the DNR website at and see the turkey zone map and the permit availability for the area that you want to hunt. All the available left-over permits are for Turkey Management Zones 1-5; there are no permits for zones 6 and 7 after the initial drawing.

There is a $10.00 fee for a resident permit and a $15.00 fee for non-residents. All permit buyers must also buy a fall turkey license and stamp unless they previously purchased a license and stamp or a 2010 Conservation Patron License holder. The left over fall turkey permits can be purchased on the Internet through the Online Licensing Center, by calling 1-888-945-4236, and at all license sales locations.

The fall turkey outlook looks good and this is the first fall that dogs are allowed to aid in hunting. A hunter may harvest 1 turkey of any age or sex per carcass tag and you may only hunt in the zone that is specified on your permit and carcass tag. The fall hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise and end at sunset. You must also register your turkey no later than 5:00 pm the day after it was killed.

A nice black bear, shot with bow and arrow, by Bob Lochner of Sauk City

A nice black bear, shot with bow and arrow, by Bob Lochner of Sauk City

All one has to do these days is read the Wisconsin State Journal or your local newspaper and you’ll see stories on how bears are showing up all over Wisconsin. The state’s black bear population is growing and its range is expanding. There were 7,310 harvest permits available in 2009 and hunters harvested more than 3,900 bears. The success rate decreased to 53%, but some of this may have been due to an abundant mast (acorn) crop which took many bears off baits. Zone D had the highest success rate last season with 67.4% of the hunters harvesting a bear. The three year average success rate is 59%.

A Class A license is required to shoot and tag a bear. The resident fee is $49.00 for residents and $110.00 for non-residents. A Class B permit does not allow a hunter to shoot or tag a bear. A Class B permit allows the holder to assist a Class A bear license holder in handling dogs, placing bait, and locating bear.

Youngsters under the age of 12 can help in any of these activities without a permit. Under the hunting mentorship program, anyone age 10 or older may obtain a Class A hunting license without the need to first complete hunter education certification. The child must be within an arms reach of the mentor and there can only be one gun or bow between the mentored hunter and mentor.

Hunters must also make sure that they know what constitutes an adult bear. An adult bear is defined as a bear 42 inches in length, measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail.  A good tip is to lay a 42’ log next to your bait to help in gauging the size of the bear. The DNR is also asking for a tooth sample from the bear when you register it to aid in the DNR research. There are many rules and regulations in bear hunting and too long for this article, so be sure to pick up the state’s bear hunting booklet or check the DNR website.

The Wisconsin bow deer season opens on September 18. This is the season that most hunters have been looking forward to all year-long. I mentioned in early columns that you should be out scouting, networking your trail cams, doing some shooting, and getting some exercise for the season. I’ll have a future column donated to bow hunting before the season opener. Now, continue your scouting and get permission to hunt on private land, if you don’t already have a deer hunting location. I’ll have more information and tips soon!

September 4 is also the opening of the hook and line fishing season for lake sturgeon on selected waters in the state. The season closes September 30 on all state waters. The season is open on the Chippewa River, the Flambeau River, the Jump River, Butternut Lake, and the Wisconsin River downstream from the Wisconsin Dells Dam which includes Lake Wisconsin. Be sure to check the exact areas on these waters for where lake sturgeon fishing is allowed.

If you intend to harvest a sturgeon, you must purchase a sturgeon harvest tag besides a valid fishing license from a DNR Service Center. You do not need a harvest tag if you plan to immediately release the lake sturgeon. A legal sturgeon must be at least 60 inches long and if you are keeping the fish the tag must be validated immediately and attached above the sturgeon’s tail. The sturgeon must be registered by 6:00 pm the day after you caught the fish. One legal sturgeon is allowed per season by an angler.

The area below the Prairie du Sac Dam near Sauk Prairie is good water for sturgeon. One needs heavy gear and dozens of nightcrawlers or cut-bait hooked on a large 1/0 or 2/0 hook and fished on the bottom to catch these pre-historic fish. Transition areas between sand and rock are good locations for sturgeon. Fishing at night seems to be better because these huge fish move shallower to feed. If you accidentally catch a muskie, please release them because I believe that all muskies should be released or they will soon be gone in the Wisconsin River. I’ll have more on this at a later time too. If you have any questions go to the DNR website or you can always contact me at www.garyengbergoutdoors . This is the best time of the year if you fish or hunt. Be safe and follow all state and federal rules and regulations while enjoying the Wisconsin outdoors.

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