Showing posts with label WI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WI. Show all posts

Bird Hunting in Wisconsin for Ruffed Grouse, Woodcock, Pheasant, and Dove

Gabby Zaldumbide is Project Upland's managing editor. 

Wisconsin’s natural beauty caught my eye as a young child. Images of Devil’s Lake State Park and Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area are still vivid in my mind, even though I haven’t been to either of those places in over a decade.

I continued to admire southern Wisconsin’s humble beauty while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During my junior year, I helped a PhD student named Amy with her ruffed grouse research project. We took a trip up to the Sandhill State Wildlife Area to collect grouse scat one weekend, and while hiking around, Amy pointed out several drumming logs she’d found while working on her research project. Although I didn’t lay eyes on the king of the uplands while helping her with data collection, just being in its presence was enough to excite me.

I volunteered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in my senior year of undergrad. I stocked pheasants for them in Dane County’s public lands, something I will never forget. I know planted birds are a completely different deal than wild ones; however, watching roosters explode out of my truck and coast all the way to the treeline is a glorious sight for any bird nerd to behold.

As a future bird hunter, I aspire to return to my home state to hunt ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and pheasant someday. I’d love to take another look at the natural areas that were important to me as a kid through the lens of a bird hunter. It’ll be an honor to join the ranks of other midwestern bird hunters who see Wisconsin’s incredible value.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are one of the most popular species to hunt in Wisconsin. They fill the state’s northern forests. One of the best areas to hunt for ruffed grouse is Price County. Price County and its 300,000 acres of hunting land is known to many as the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World.” There are other places to hunt ruffed grouse in Wisconsin, of course. However, it’s worth making it up to Price County if you’re hunting birds in Wisconsin.

The ruffed grouse season is broken up into two zones. Zone A, which is west of U.S. Highway 151, is open from September 16 through January 7, 2024. The daily bag limit is five birds, and the possession limit is 15 birds. Zone B is in the southeastern corner of the state. It is open from October 14 through December 8 with a daily bag limit of two birds and a possession limit of six birds. 

Read the full Project Upland article for more info on Wisconsin Bird Hunting



WI 2023 11% decrease statewide in ruffed grouse drumming activity from 2022

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that data is now available from annual spring surveys of Wisconsin ruffed grouse, pheasant and waterfowl.

The spring surveys showed ruffed grouse and pheasant counts below the 5-year average, including an 11% decrease statewide in ruffed grouse drumming activity from 2022.

The decreases observed in the ruffed grouse and pheasant populations in this year's surveys were not unexpected.

“We are entering the down phase of the 10-year abundance cycle,” said Brian Dhuey, DNR Wildlife Surveys Specialist. “It is likely we will continue to see some declines in abundance in the coming years before we start to see increases, with the peak of the next cycle likely coming around 2029, 2030 or 2031. While the number of birds detected is down overall, there will still be pockets of good ruffed grouse abundance, although these areas will be fewer and harder to find this fall.”

Read the WI DNR report   


RGS Hiring Integrated Forest Habitat Biologist – 2 Positions WI

Job Type: Integrated Forest Habitat Biologist 2 Positions
Locations: Hayward, WI and Rhinelander, WI

Supervisors: Jon Steigerwaldt Forest Conservation Director

Region: Great Lakes/Upper Midwest

Starting Date: March 20, 2023

Term of Position: March 2023 to July 2024, likely to be extended with additional funding

Background and Primary Duties:

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is North America’s foremost conservation
organization dedicated to creating healthy forests, abundant wildlife, and promoting a conservation
ethic. Together with the American Woodcock Society (AWS), established in 2014, RGS & AWS work
with private landowners and government agencies to develop critical wildlife habitat utilizing
scientific management practices.

The Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society (RGS & AWS) in partnership with the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), are looking to hire 2 motivated individuals to
work effectively with private landowners, industrial land owners, multiple state property managers,
multiple county forests, and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest on forest habitat
improvement initiatives. The Integrated Forest Habitat Biologist will function as a biologist,
technical service provider, and forest habitat manager across multiple forest ownerships in
Northern Wisconsin. The position will work with and under existing conservation staff to provide
habitat/timber treatment planning, habitat project administration, contract development and
oversight support, on-the-ground field assessments, stand evaluations, project prescriptions and
layout for improving habitat, biological surveys, and conduct public outreach.

These term positions will implement vegetation management project planning, design, and
monitoring on a diversity of forest lands. Active forest management efforts will be implemented to
achieve wildlife, silviculture and timber objectives. In particular, the position will focus on restoring
forest structure, composition, and age-class diversity to assist the recovery of Eastern forest birds
and other forest wildlife that are dependent on specific forest types such as early successional, open,
or fire dependent ecosystems within the northern forest types of Wisconsin.


A passion for wildlife conservation and forestry.

Knowledge in the field of Wildlife Management, including: habitat management, young forest
habitat management, deer management, vegetation surveys, and wildlife surveys. Experience
in conservation biology and/or plan writing are a plus.

Knowledge in the field of Forest Management, including: forest inventory, timber marking,
GPS data collection, forest operations, and silviculture. Ability to assess wildlife habitat and
make connections between forest management and wildlife habitat needs. Experience in
environmental regulations and/or project management are a plus.

Excellent spoken and written communication skills, well organized, and ability to engage a
diversity of stakeholders, private land owners, and public lands managers.

Knowledge of project planning prerequisites such as NEPA, National Heritage Inventory,
and cultural resources reviews as they pertain to public and private lands.

Ability to track accomplishments and produce reports with guidance from other team

Read the full job post including how to apply

Wisconsin ruffed grouse drumming down for 2022

By John Myers

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this week announced the annual spring drumming survey of ruffed grouse showed below-average counts while the spring waterfowl breeding survey indicates good numbers and excellent habitat conditions.

DNR wildlife biologists reported a 5% decrease statewide in ruffed grouse drumming activity from 2021.

“These results are not surprising. Ruffed grouse typically follow a 10-year population cycle,” said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys specialist. “While we don’t have data for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, we know that cycles usually peak in years ending in 9, 0 or 1. We’re likely going to see that abundance begin to wane in the coming years as we enter the down phase of the cycle.”

During the spring mating ritual, male ruffed grouse beat their wings slowly and then more rapidly to create a deep, drumming sound. Surveyors listen to this sound to identify and count male ruffed grouse each spring.

You can find more on wildlife surveys on the DNR's wildlife reports webpage at



Wisconsin 2021 Ruffed Grouse Numbers on the Decline After Peak in Population Cycle

Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin follow a fairly steady 10-year population cycle.

Through decades of surveys, the Wisconsin DNR has found the population usually peaks in years that end in 9, 0, or 1.

This spring’s drumming survey found a 6% decline in breeding males overall in the state. Drumming is the beating sound males’ wings make during mating season.

The northern half of the state saw a 7% decline. The central region saw no change. The driftless area saw a 33% increase.

Alaina Gerrits is the Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist with the DNR. She says that decline is nothing out of the usual.

“Now we’re just kind of going down that very characteristic downslide and it’s a typical normal thing. I think that 6% decrease isn’t anything we should be really concerned about. It’s something we were anticipating,” said Gerrits.

She said this means the population likely peaked last year or the year before.

The DNR doesn’t know for certain since it wasn’t able to the survey last spring due to the pandemic.

“It’s a little frustrating for sure because we’ve been doing these surveys for decades. To have one year missing is really atypical,” said Gerrits.

While the DNR doesn’t have the drumming surveys from last spring, it does have harvest data from last year’s hunt.

In 2020, there was an increase in harvested grouse.

“That’s kind of a piece of evidence that leads me to believe that we did peak last year,” said Gerrits. “Once we can have harvest information after this season is over in 2021, we’ll kind of be able to use that as a little bit of an index to see where the population is at as well.”

Gerrits said Wisconsin is home to a robust ruffed grouse population. For perspective, roughly 200,000 grouse were harvested last year.

Read the full WXPR article

Wisconsin DNR Asks for Help from Hunters for Final Year Ruffed Grouse Study


The Wisconsin DNR is in its third and final year of study looking at the impact of West Nile Virus on ruffed grouse.

The DNR is looking into how present the virus is in the species and the effect it could have on populations.

So far, results show the virus does not have a devastating impact on the ruffed grouse population in Wisconsin.

“About 20 to 30 percent of the grouse that we’ve sampled have antibodies to West Nile Virus which means that they’re contracted the disease but they’re building up antibodies and flushing it out of their system and actually surviving the disease,” said DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist Alaina Gerrits.

The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating the final year of the study.

Normally DNR staff would get together and assemble sample kits to hand out to hunters. They can’t do that this year because of COVID-19. But Gerrits estimates there are about 500 unused kits out there from previous years.

“We’re just asking hunters that if you have left over kits or if you know someone who does to please send it in. Nothing in the kit expires. We felt that this was our best option instead of delaying the study or canceling it was just to try get as many samples as we could this way,” said Gerrits.

Hunters are asked to collect a small amount of blood, a few feathers, and the heart from their harvested grouse.

It will likely be next winter or spring before the final results of the study are available.

You can learn more about ruffed grouse and the DNR's study on its website.

Read the full wxpr article


WI DNR board moves toward shortening 2019 grouse season

The state Department of Natural Resources board is moving toward shortening Wisconsin's ruffed grouse season to as the population dwindles.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the department to craft an emergency rule that would close the season across the northwestern two-thirds of the state on Jan. 5. The season currently runs from mid-September through Jan. 31 in that portion of the state.
The DNR is concerned that the ruffed grouse population is declining. Drumming activity dropped 34% from 2017 to 2018. Hunters took only 173,347 birds last year, the lowest total in 35 years of hunter surveys.

Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse Drumming 2019 Counts UP 41% Over 2018

Wisconsin statewide ruffed grouse drumming activity increased 41% between 2018 and 2019, based on the roadside survey to monitor breeding grouse activity. Changes in indices to breeding grouse populations varied by region, and the statewide mean number of drums per stop was different (P= <.0001) from 2018 to 2019. Drummer densities on the Sandhill Wildlife Area in Wood County showed a decrease of 13%. 

 Read the full Wi DNR article

WI 2018 Grouse season could prove to be mixed bag

JERRY DAVIS For the State Journal 

Warm, humid weather was not conducive to hunting grouse coverts opening weekend, but those persons who were afield had some success seeing or hearing ruffed grouse and American woodcock. 

The woodcock season opens Saturday, Sept. 22. 

Some hunters did take a bird home, too. Some good news came from the team from Missouri who are trapping birds, 100 each of three years, in trade for grouse habitat improvement in Wisconsin. They reached their goal and were able to stay a bit longer to even out the ratio of males to females. They will return for a second trapping next year. 

“They captured and then released healthy birds very soon after capture, taking them south the same day,” said Mark Witecha, upland bird biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “It took them a while to get started, in part because there is so much good grouse habitat in Wisconsin.” 

Wisconsin biologists learned from the birds, too, before they left for the “Show Me” state. Birds were weighed and blood samples were taken to test for West Nile Virus. 

During the trapping, just walking in to check traps, the team flushed a fair number of birds, including coveys of 4 to 6 young birds. 

Birds were trapped in five Wisconsin counties, and several locations in each county.

Read the full State Journal article