Woodcock Season Opens Sept. 20 in Wisconsin

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Woodcock Season Opens Sept. 20 in WisconsinMADISON — The woodcock population across its range in the Midwest and northeast United States has shown a steady decline over the last 30-plus years, a drop that wildlife biologists believe is primarily related to changes in forest habitat.

However, in Wisconsin, this decline appears to have leveled off with no significant change over the last decade.

“Interest in pursuing the ‘timberdoodle’ throughout the forests of Wisconsin remains high with more than 17,000 woodcock hunters spending 79,000 days in the field in 2007,” says Kent Van Horn, migratory wildlife specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Wisconsin ranks second in the nation for woodcock harvest at about 48,000 birds. Overall, hunters should expect to see woodcock numbers similar to the last few years and depending on the weather, should enjoy a good fall.”

Woodcock season runs Sept. 20 to Nov. 3, with a daily bag of three birds.

Since woodcock are a migratory species, hunters should remember that if they wish to hunt woodcock they must not use a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless the magazine has been plugged. This also means they need to be registered for the Harvest Information Program (HIP), a federal program that helps the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitor the harvest of migratory bird species by randomly selecting a sample of HIP registered hunters and asking them to participate in a harvest survey. HIP registration is free and available at all locations where hunting licenses are sold.

Becoming HIP registered is a simple process. When hunters apply for a license they are asked if they intend to hunt migratory game birds in Wisconsin this year. If they answer “yes,” they are asked about the number of ducks and geese harvested last year and whether or not they hunted other migratory birds. Once those questions are answered, the hunter is HIP registered.

Many hunters hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock at the same time and the federal requirements for HIP registration and hunting with a shotgun limited to holding thrershells are not required for ruffed grouse. However, these regulations must be followed if hunting both species at the same time.

Detailed woodcock hunting regulations can be found in the Small Game Hunting Regulations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR Migratory Game Bird ecologist – (608) 266-8841 or James Christopoulos (608) 261-6458