MADISON - The longtime and popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin will again take center stage when the fall 2017 pheasant hunting season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The season will run through Dec. 31, with the possibility of being extended until Jan. 7, 2018.
Several other seasons also open that day including bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse in Zone B and Hungarian partridge. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m. The ruffed grouse season opens with the start of legal shooting hours.
Hunters should check the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulationsbooklet for rules and season structures for the game species they will pursue.
"Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin very well," says Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources. "Pheasant hunting offers the chance to explore landscapes and habitat types you might not otherwise see."
Pheasants are one of the most sought-after gamebirds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern and western Wisconsin provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year, according to Witecha.
Witecha says hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands which provide food and nesting cover. It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas.
During the 2016 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 43,520 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 307240 birds. The top counties for harvest included Fond du Lac, Waukesha and Kenosha.
A 2017 Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide, as well as a valid small game license. Please note that the free leg tags previously required on the hen/rooster areas are no longer required. The daily bag limit is one pheasant daily for the first two days of the season and two pheasants daily for the remainder of the season, with a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit. More information is available in the 2017 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "regulations."
Pheasant Stocking Program
This fall, DNR wildlife staff plan to release approximately 75,000 game farm pheasants on 91 public hunting grounds. These numbers are a similar to 2016 stocking efforts. State game farm production goals will remain at 75,000 birds moving forward. In addition, pheasants raised by conservation clubs through the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall on both designated public hunting grounds and private lands open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.
Hunters can view a summary of stocked properties on the 2017 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "pheasant." In addition, hunters can use the DNR's gamebird mapping application, FFLIGHT, to locate and explore properties stocked with pheasants (along with ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat and managed dove fields). FFLIGHT also allows hunters to use aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make their trips more productive and enjoyable. To learn more about FFLIGHT, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "FFLIGHT."
Pheasant Hunting Opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program
2017 marks the ninth year of the Mentored Hunting Program, which allows hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program. For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "mentored hunting."
"Pheasants are a popular gamebird, and they offer a great hunting experience to both novices and experienced hunters," said Witecha. "I wish hunters safe and successful trips this fall."