September 6, 2011
MADISON - The 2011 fall wild turkey and ruffed grouse seasons are set to open at the start of shooting hours on Sept. 17, and state wildlife officials say that hunter prospects are good for both seasons.
Overall, Wisconsin's statewide wild turkey population remains strong and wildlife officials have maintained the number of fall turkey permits at 95,700, the same number that was offered during last year's fall turkey season.
"After 30 years of sustained population growth and expansion across the state, turkeys are now found statewide, and local populations will likely nudge upward or downward from year to year as weather determines annual levels of survival and reproduction," says Scott Walter, upland game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.
Watson says the spring 2011 Wisconsin turkey harvest was down 16 percent, reflecting a series of relatively hard winters, wet springs, and snow, wind, and rain early in the 2011 spring season that limited hunter access to birds.
"Harvest during the fall season does not play a significant role in turkey population dynamics, and hunters venturing into the fall woods should expect a hunt similar to that of 2010," he said.
As during the 2010 fall season, hunters may use dogs statewide to hunt wild turkey this fall.
Starting with the Fall 2011 turkey season, hunters must register their turkey by telephone or online. No in-person registration stations will be available. All harvested turkeys must be registered by telephone by calling the DNR's Harvest Registration System at 1-888-HUNT-WIS (1-888-486-8947) or online via the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov). The phone-in system will accept touch tone entries only. Hunters will be asked to record a harvest registration confirmation number on their hunting permit at the end of the call or online session. Hunters will still have until 5:00 PM on the day after harvest to register their turkey. Please visit the DNR's Wild Turkey website for updates regarding specific registration procedures.
Turkey hunters may again have additional opportunities during the fall 2011 season. During the 2009 and 2010 fall hunts, the season was extended on an experimental basis in Zones 1 through 5, from the day after the traditional nine-day gun deer season through Dec. 31. The proposal to make this extended season permanent was supported by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress at 2011 Spring Hearings, but legislative approval is pending. Hunters should monitor DNR press releases or check the DNR website to see if the fall turkey extended season will be open again this year. If approved, the extended season will run from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31 in turkey management zones 1-5 only.
Spring drumming survey data suggest that Wisconsin's ruffed grouse population increased 38 percent statewide between 2010 and 2011, and hunters should therefore expect a rewarding season this fall. Due to a variety of factors, ruffed grouse populations cycle up and down, with peaks occurring approximately every 10 years.
In northern Wisconsin, survey data suggest a current grouse population as high as any since the early 1970s. 2011 likely marks the current peak population for grouse in Wisconsin, and hunters should therefore plan to take advantage of outstanding grouse hunting opportunities this fall.
Hunters are reminded of the requirement for blaze orange on ground blinds on DNR lands during any Gun Deer Season (please see page 9 of the 2011 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations for more information). Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended must also have the owner's name and address or DNR Customer ID# attached near the door opening. Ground blinds may not be left out overnight. Please note that these ground blind rules do not apply to ground blinds being used for hunting waterfowl or to blinds built only out of natural vegetation found on the DNR property.
Grouse and turkey hunters should also note that during any gun or muzzleloader deer season, including the Oct. 8-9 youth deer hunt, antlerless hunts, and CWD hunts (see the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for season dates), blaze orange clothing is required. A hat, if worn, must be at least 50 percent blaze orange.
Grouse hunters are encouraged to "Be HIP!" if they also plan to pursue woodcock, mourning doves or other migratory game birds
Upland hunters that may harvest woodcock are reminded that the season does not begin until Sept 24, a week after grouse opens, and that they must meet the federal requirement to be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) before hunting these and other migratory game birds. Registration is free and is available through all license vendors as well as online; hunters will only need to answer a few short questions. Though not a requirement for hunting ruffed grouse, federal rules do require that hunters use a plugged shotgun limited to holding three shells when hunting migratory game birds such as woodcock. These are both important points to remember even if you may only harvest woodcock opportunistically. To learn more about HIP, visit and search for "Harvest Information Program."
2011 Fall Wild Turkey Season Dates:
Sept. 17 through Nov. 17
2011 Fall Wild Turkey Extended Season Dates for Zones 1-5 ONLY:
Nov. 28 through Dec. 31
2011 Ruffed Grouse Season Dates:
Zone A: Sept. 17 through Jan. 31, 2012
Zone B: Oct. 15 through Dec. 8
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, Upland Wildlife Ecologist: (608) 267-7861 or Sharon Fandel, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist: (608) 261-8458 Bob Manwell, Office of Communication: (608) 264-9248