Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Split duck season begins on Sept. 22

All hunters must have stamp in ’07

By Dean
Bortz

Editor

Madison – Wildlife experts believe a combination of consecutive
mild winters and improved grassland and wetland habitat are
responsible for increased pheasant numbers that should mean good
hunting on the state’s Oct. 20 season opener.

DNR wildlife biologists Paul Kooiker, of Grantsburg, and Bill
Ishmael, of Spring Green, both said that cooperation between
private landowners, the DNR, and any number of conservation groups
on habitat projects that increase wetlands and grasslands play a
big role in Wisconsin’s pheasant numbers.

In his area, Kooiker said mild winters also play a key in
keeping the region’s pheasant numbers healthy.

All of that means that hunters should not be surprised to hear
that the state’s rural mail carrier survey showed a 22-percent
increase in pheasants this year, according to a report on the
Pheasants Forever website.

‘The Badger State’s outlook for pheasant hunting is good,’ said
Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever public relations specialist.
‘Wisconsin hunters have harvested 200,000 pheasants annually the
past two seasons and look to hit that mark once again.’

Ishmael and Kooiker said they expect a good pheasant season.
Their view has the support of Jeff Nania, of the Wisconsin
Waterfowl Association. Nania’s job takes him to all corners of
Wisconsin, and he’s seen a lot of pheasants this summer.

‘I’ve been looking at a lot of (waterfowl) projects in
southwestern Wisconsin and I have been pleasantly surprised at the
number of pheasants I’ve seen,’ Nania said. ‘If I were hunting
pheasants, I’d be looking at that interface area between wetlands
and grasslands. That’s where I’ve been looking at projects, and
that’s where I’ve been putting up a lot of birds.

‘I think it’s going to be a great year for pheasant hunting,’ he
said. ‘What I’m seeing also shows that there’s a future for wild
pheasants. Pheasants Forever has done an incredible job of putting
in grasslands in southwestern Wisconsin, and it’s clear that
habitat is the key. It gives me hope for the future.’

In his area, Ishmael said most of the best pheasant habitat is
south of Hwy. 18 and Hwy. 151 .

‘We’re seeing good numbers of wild pheasants in that area, which
is the primary range here in southern Wisconsin; there are larger
blocks of grasslands and wetlands,’ Ishmael said.

He said the better pheasant numbers will be found in southern
Grant, Green, Rock, portions of southern Iowa, and Lafayette
counties.

Kooiker has worked wildlife management in northwestern Wisconsin
for 25 years. He is now the wildlife supervisor in Burnett,
Washburn, Polk, and Barron counties, all of which have at least a
few pheasants.

Kooiker said many pheasant hunters overlook the potential in
those northwestern counties.

‘A lot of people don’t realize what we have for potential
pheasant habitat up here,’ he said. ‘Polk and Barron counties, in
particular, have a lot of ag land. The the limiting factor most
years has been tough winters,’ he said, noting that pheasant
numbers in his counties are up again this year. He attributes that
to not just the mild winters, but also ‘some pretty intensive work
on private lands – a combination of restoring wetlands for
waterfowl and restoring grasslands for duck nesting, as well as
pheasants. There are some townships in Polk County that have a
significant amount of acreage in extensive grasslands. That’s
definitely benefited pheasants.’

Much of the new grasslands are adjacent to wetlands, which often
contain heavy cattail cover, a good winter habitat for ringnecks.
Kooiker hinted that landowners could offset the negative impact of
a tougher winter somewhat by having good winter cover.

Regardless of whether hunters head south or to the northwest,
much of the better pheasant cover is on private land.

‘Hunters will have to do some leg work, knock on doors, just
like anywhere else,’ Kooiker said. ‘There is a lot of land that
might be posted for deer hunting, but landowners might allow
pheasant hunting. The potential is there, and I have been seeing an
increase in interest the past three years.’

Ishmael, too, said hunters will have to get landowner permission
in his area to find the best hunting. He said the public hunting
grounds are stocked, but are worked over pretty hard. Still, he
said hunters would be surprised at the number of pheasants released
on public land.

The 2007 pheasant-hunting season opens statewide on Oct. 20 at
noon and closes on Dec. 31. From Oct. 20-21, the daily bag limit is
one rooster and the possession limit is two. For the remainder of
the season, the daily limit is two roosters and the possession
limit is four. Some public grounds have hen and rooster hunting
(requires free permits and tags) and may have 2 p.m. closure
times.

Stamp required

DNR officials said hunters should know that beginning this year
a pheasant stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide.

The stamp had been required only to hunt within pheasant
management zones.

The state game farm in Poynette receives 60 percent of the stamp
funds to support the pheasant-stocking program and the
day-old-chick program. The other 40 percent goes to pheasant
habitat work across the state.

Also new this year, the pheasant rules are included in the 2007
Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations.

Pheasant stocking

This fall the DNR will stock 70 public hunting grounds with
about 58,000 game farm pheasants. This is an increase from 2006,
when 52,000 pheasants were stocked on the 70 sites.

Hunters can check the pheasant page of the DNR website for
public hunting grounds slated for stocking.

Ishmael said that in his area, most public hunting areas will be
stocked twice a week for the first couple of weeks of the season.
After that, stocking schedules will drop to once a week. Stocking
efforts will continue into early December.

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