2008 Fall Wild Turkey and Ruffed Grouse Seasons Open Sept. 13 in Wisconsin

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2008 Wisconsin Turkey Stamp Art by John Nemec, Jr.Hunter safety should be a top priority

MADISON – The 2008 fall wild turkey and ruffed grouse seasons are set to open at the start of shooting hours on Sept. 13, and state wildlife officials say hunter prospects are good for both seasons.

Wisconsin’s wild turkey population also continues to grow, and wildlife officials have increased the number of fall turkey permits to 95,700 from last year’s 94,800. Wisconsin’s grouse population also continues to climb as it is still on the upward side of this popular game bird’s 10-year population cycle.

New for the fall 2008 wild turkey hunting season is a consolidation of the previous 46-zone structure into a new seven-zone structure (pdf; 256kb). There is still the same amount of turkey hunting area and the application and permit process remains the same. The consolidation will allow turkey hunters more flexibility to move about in search of birds this fall.

Hunters also may use dogs to hunt wild turkey for the fall 2008 season. Use is restricted to a nine county area including: Crawford, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Sauk, Vernon, and Wood.

Leftover turkey permits on sale Sept. 6

Leftover fall turkey permits will go on sale beginning at noon on Saturday, September 6 over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center; by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236); and at license sales locations. DNR service centers are closed Saturdays but permits may be purchased at DNR service centers during their regular business hours (check service center link for hours of operation). Postcard notifications from the fall preference drawing have been mailed to those who were awarded a permit in the drawing. Hunters can also check their permit status on the Online Licensing Center.

Hunters are reminded that new for 2008 is the requirement of blaze orange on ground blinds on DNR lands during any Gun Deer Season. Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended must also have the owners name and address or DNR Customer Identification Number attached near door opening. Ground blinds still may not be left out over night. Please note that these ground blind rules do not apply to ground blinds being used for hunting waterfowl or to blinds built only out of natural vegetation found on the DNR property.

Grouse and turkey hunters should also note that during any gun or muzzleloader deer season, including the Oct. 6 – 7 Youth Deer Hunt, antlerless hunts and CWD hunts (see 2007 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations), Blaze Orange clothing is required. A hat, if worn, must be at least 50 percent blaze orange.

Turkey, grouse hunting have special safety concerns

Hunters need to keep safety in sight due to the nature of hunting these challenging game birds.

“There’s something very special about turkey and grouse hunting,” says Tim Lawhern, hunter education administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources. “And with the enthusiasm that goes with this type of hunting, we should all be mindful of making sure we return home safe and sound at the end of each hunt.”

Here are some things Lawhern says hunters need to keep in mind when going afield after ruffed grouse and fall turkey:

  • In grouse hunting, two is company and three is definitely a crowd. Any hunt with more than two will become difficult to manage from a safety aspect.
  • Communicate. Grouse cover is thick and sometimes it will be difficult to see a hunting partner who might only be a few yards away.
  • Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. Keep it simple. Know in advance how far and in what direction you will be going and when turns will be made.
  • Advise someone else of where you will be hunting and when they should expect you back. Then, if something goes wrong, at least someone will know where to start looking.
  • Know your safe zone of fire. If you are on the left, your safe zone is to the left and slightly forward. The opposite is the case if you are on the right. Always advance forward in unison and don’t get ahead or behind your partner.
  • In heavy cover, shoot only at birds that are at least eight feet above the ground. Don’t shoot at low birds that could have a hunter or a dog behind them!
  • Wear blaze orange clothing and stay in visual contact with your partner at all times. If you lose sight of your partner stop hunting, call and listen until you locate each other.
  • Turkey hunters need to be sure of their target – shooting into heavy brush without positive identification can lead to tragedy
  • Follow the four basic rules of firearms safety: TAB+K.
    • Treat every firearm as loaded;
    • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;
    • Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it;
    • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Camouflaged hunters can be hard to see. Grouse and turkey hunters also need to be aware that there might be other hunters afield at the same time after other types of game. Bow hunters may be perched in tree stands and other turkey hunters may be under a tree. Most of them will be wearing full camouflage and very hard to see.

Lawhern suggests hunters also consider wearing some type of eye protection. A good pair of clear or light colored safety glasses can go a long way toward avoiding injury to eyes and sight.

“Famed conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote, ‘There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting, and ruffed grouse hunting,’” Lawhern says. “Don’t let careless hunting practices spoil this special tradition.”

Fall Wild Turkey & Ruffed Grouse Season Dates and Reminders

2008 Fall Wild Turkey Season Dates:

Sept. 13 – Nov. 20

2008 Ruffed Grouse Season Dates:

Zone (A): Sept. 13-Jan 31, 2009

Zone (B): Oct. 18 – Dec. 8

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern, hunter safety, (608 266-1317 Scott Hull, grouse and turkey seasons (608) 267-7861