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September 8, 2015

MADISON - Prospects are good for fall wild turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting seasons, according to state wildlife officials who say hunters should look forward to another exciting year in the field.

Wild turkey

"It's a great time of year to be out in the woods, and fall turkey hunting offers some enjoyable challenges compared to the spring season," said Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We anticipate good numbers for this fall's hunt, especially given favorable weather conditions during the winter and the spring breeding and nesting seasons."

The fall turkey season runs from Sept. 12 to Nov. 19 statewide, with an extended fall season in turkey management zones 1-5 from Nov. 30 to Dec. 31.

Overall, Wisconsin's statewide wild turkey population remains strong. After 30 years of sustained population growth and expansion across the state, wild turkeys are now found statewide. Wild turkey numbers appear to be stabilizing at levels suitable to available habitat - they will likely ebb and flow around those levels in response to weather, food availability, and other natural factors.

Biologists closely monitor harvest during the either-sex fall turkey hunting season, as excessive hen harvest can affect turkey populations. Recent hen harvests in Wisconsin have been very low, and current hen harvest rates do not play a significant role in the dynamics of Wisconsin's turkey flock.

"While this spring's turkey harvest was down slightly compared to 2014, weather has been favorable across the state for much of the year, and hunters should see good recruitment of young birds into the population," said McGinley. "Above all, we encourage hunters to enjoy the time spent in Wisconsin's woods, and to always keep safety in mind."

Turkey hunters are reminded that they are subject to the blaze orange requirement for ground blinds erected on DNR lands during any gun deer season. Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended during legal hunting hours must display the owner's name and address or DNR Customer ID Number near the door opening. Ground blinds may not be left out overnight, and must be removed entirely from the property at the close of hunting hours each day.

Turkey ground blind rules do not apply to ground blinds being used for hunting waterfowl, or blinds built using only natural vegetation found on DNR property. However, all waterfowl blinds on state-owned property and used for waterfowl hunting must permanently display the name of the owner in lettering one-inch square or larger, including when a hunter is using the blind.

As in recent years, the use of dogs to hunt wild turkey is allowed statewide.

Ruffed Grouse

In zone A, the ruffed grouse season opens Sept. 12 and runs through Jan. 31, 2016. In zone B, the season will open Oct. 17 and close Dec. 8.

Ruffed grouse drumming surveys have been used since 1964 to help monitor ruffed grouse population trends. "While we did see some continuing regional declines, our roadside survey index to track ruffed grouse populations is essentially unchanged from 2014," said DNR wildlife surveys coordinator Brian Dhuey. "Ruffed grouse populations are known to rise and fall over a nine to 11-year cycle, and the last peak in Wisconsin's cycle occurred in 2011. Survey results suggest that we have reached the low point in the population cycle and we should start to see increases in the next few years as our grouse population starts to move toward the next peak."

Grouse hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program if they plan to pursue woodcock, mourning doves or other migratory game birds. Registration is free and is available through all license vendors, as well as online.

In 2015, woodcock season will be open from Sept. 19 to Nov. 2.

Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool

Those interested in hunting on DNR managed lands and discovering new favorite spots are reminded to check out the department's Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. FFLIGHT helps hunters of all types locate young aspen and alder habitat, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and managed dove fields.

Features available within FFLIGHT can help hunters locate DNR public parking areas, overlay township descriptions, and view topographic maps or aerial photos of prospective hunting areas. Users can choose which type of habitat to highlight - FFLIGHT can help you find the best grouse and woodcock cover in the woods near your cabin.

The FFLIGHT mapping application is compatible with all major desktop and mobile web browsers (internet access required). To learn more and start your search for hunting land, visit and search keyword "FFLIGHT."

Grouse and turkey hunters must wear blaze orange clothing during any gun or muzzleloader deer season. A hat, if worn, must be at least 50 percent blaze orange.

Hunters are encouraged to check out the 2015 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] for further season information and hunting previews for Wisconsin. The fall forecast provides a great deal of information and helpful tips for all types of hunting and trapping.

For more information regarding wild turkeys and ruffed grouse in Wisconsin, search keywords "turkey" and "ruffed grouse."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, at 608-261-8458

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 08, 2015

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