Goose, dove seasons
With cooler nights and Labor Day approaching, hunters may be thinking about the first fall hunting seasons, including early Canada good and mourning dove seasons.
The early Canada goose season in Wisconsin runs Sept. 1 to Sept.15, statewide. The dove season runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 9, statewide.
Early Canada goose season details and tips
The early Canada goose season, with a more liberal bag limit than the regular season, is allowed by federal rules due to the growth of local giant Canada goose populations.
During the spring waterfowl survey, Wisconsin’s resident breeding goose population estimate was 138,925.
The early season harvest last fall was estimated at 21,302 and makes up roughly one-third of the total annual Canada goose harvest in Wisconsin.
“The early season provides additional recreational opportunities for our goose hunters and directs harvest pressure toward these locally nesting geese,” said Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.
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 the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification. Registering for HIP is free and can be done at any DNR Service Center or licensing sales agent.
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.
In addition to slitting the date of harvest on their permit, hunters must register their harvest within 48 hours by calling 1-800-99-GOOSE (1-800-994-6673).
“Canada goose feeding and loafing areas can be very different in September than later in the fall and resident geese often change feeding and movement this time of year,” Van Horn said. “Continued scouting is important during these early hunts, when crop harvest and bird patterns can often change abruptly.”
For more information on Canada geese, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “waterfowl.”
Mourning dove season details and tips
Mourning doves are the most abundant game bird in North America, with populations slowly growing.
“Dove hunting is a great way to introduce new hunters to bird hunting,” said Van Horn.
“It’s one of the earliest game bird seasons to open so weather is generally mild, access to hunting spots is generally easier and you don’t have to head out too early to have good opportunities.”
On average, about 10,000 to 15,000 Wisconsin hunters harvest 100,000 to 200,000 mourning doves each year.
“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,” said Van Horn.
Like with goose hunters, dove hunters must also be HIP certified to be in compliance with state and federal law. “The national HIP registry allows biologists to select hunters to receive mail surveys in order to collect information about important harvest information and participation,” said Van Horn.
To help provide increased bird hunting opportunities, DNR staff, often in partnership with local farmers, planted sunflower fields on state and leased lands.
“In 2013 there were successful fields in 11 counties which should provide excellent dove hunting opportunity,” said Van Horn. “Dove field management has continued and provides excellent opportunity for sportsmen and women, particularly those just beginning the tradition of hunting.”
“The late, wet spring made planting challenging and often later than intended, so hunters are encouraged to check that fields are mature and attracting birds before heading out opening morning,” said Van Horn.
Ducks Unlimited again worked with Dow AgroSciences to provide a donation of 85 bags of sunflower seed to the DNR, at a value of over $18,000. “This generous donation really highlights the importance of a variety of partners to Wisconsin sportsmen and women,” said Van Horn. “This generous donation helped to provide increased bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin.”
Weed fields and shallow water areas can also be good locations for dove hunting, Van Horn said.
Additionally, Van Horn offers the following dove hunting regulation and safety reminders:
• Doves are migratory birds so hunters must use a plugged shotgun with a capacity not to exceed three shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
• Nontoxic shot is required to hunt doves on all DNR managed lands.
• Look for dove bands. Doves are banded to help with population monitoring and harvest management. Pay attention for a small silver band on one leg of harvested doves and follow reporting instructions on the band.
• Be safe! Hunters need to be absolutely aware of their target and beyond, especially when hunting on smaller fields that see high use. Avoid shooting at low-flying birds or at birds on the ground.
Information on dove hunting and public lands opportunities can be found at dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “dove.”