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August 21, 2012

MADISON -The first fall hunting opportunities -- the early Canada goose and mourning dove seasons - are soon here and hunters are expected to find good numbers of both birds.

The early Canada goose season in Wisconsin runs Sept. 1-15 statewide. The dove season runs Sept. 1 - Nov. 9 statewide.

"The early season provides wonderful recreational opportunities for our goose hunters and directs harvest pressure toward these locally nesting geese," said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. "With the early spring in 2012 we expect hunters will find good numbers of geese."

During the spring waterfowl survey, Wisconsin's resident breeding goose population estimate was 145,386, with field reports indicating above average production. The early Canada goose season is allowed by federal rules because of the growth of local giant Canada goose populations, Van Horn says. The harvest of Canada geese in the early season now amounts to one-third of the total annual Canada goose harvest in Wisconsin.

To increase their chance of success, hunters will want to remain mobile and watch movement patterns of the geese, Van Horn says. "Wisconsin's resident geese often change feeding and movement patterns this time of year," he says. "Hunters who scout prior to the hunt and stay mobile during the season give themselves the best chance for success."

More early Canada goose season details

The early season daily bag limit is five birds. In addition to the standard small game hunting license and state and federal waterfowl stamps, participation requires a $3 early Canada goose permit and HIP certification. Registering for HIP, the federal Harvest Information Program, is free and can be done at any DNR Service Center, licensing sales agent or online.

There are no "zones" or "subzones" during the early season. The hunt is statewide regardless of what area hunters may hold a permit for during the regular goose season, Van Horn says.

For more information on Canada geese, please go to and search keyword: "waterfowl."

Dove season details and safety tips

Mourning doves are one of the most abundant and widely distributed birds in Wisconsin and throughout North America and populations are slowly growing, according to Van Horn. On average, about 10,000 to 15,000 Wisconsin hunters harvest 100,000 to 200,000 mourning doves each year, Van Horn says.

As with Canada geese, mourning dove hunters should benefit from scouting to see where birds are flying as they move between roosts, water and feeding areas.

This year the Labor Day holiday weekend will coincide with the opening of these hunts, so there will be large numbers of people spending time outdoors.

"We encourage everyone to respect each other's interests," said Van Horn.

Dove hunters also must be HIP registered to be in compliance with state and federal law. This free and easy certification can be requested when purchasing a small game hunting license. The national HIP registry allows biologists to more accurately survey hunters about important harvest information and participation.

"Dove hunting is a great way to introduce new hunters to Wisconsin's hunting tradition," says Van Horn. "It's one of the earliest game bird seasons to open so weather is often milder, access to hunting spots is generally easier and you don't have to be out at dawn to have good opportunities. There are often multiple opportunities to bag birds during a single outing if you scout out a good hunting spot ahead of time."

DNR staff, sometimes in partnership with local farmers, planted sunflower fields on state and leased lands in 16 counties in 2012 providing excellent dove hunting opportunity. Though efforts were hindered by drought, staff still managed to increase the number of successful sunflower fields planted for doves by about 30 percent this year, with several located on leased Voluntary Public Access (VPA) lands.

Ducks Unlimited again worked with DowAgroSciences to donate 250 bags of sunflower seed to the DNR, at a value of $300 per bag. "This is a most generous donation and underscores the commitment, involvement and importance of partners like DU and DowAgroScience to Wisconsin sportsmen and women," said Van Horn.

More information on dove hunting and public lands opportunities can be found at by searching the DNR website for keyword "dove."

Dove hunting regulations and safety reminders

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn (608) 266-8841; James Christopoulos (608) 261-6458

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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