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

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

A hunter walks through tamaracks while hunting grouse and woodcock with his bird dog.

In Wisconsin, bird hunting is about as lush and alive as the state’s natural beauty.

Nearly half of Wisconsin is covered in trees, but there is a lot of variety across that territory. With uplands, prairies, lakes, rivers, forests, hills and wetlands there are plenty of opportunities for bird hunting in Wisconsin. 

Nonresidents will pay a fee of $85 for an annual license if this is not their first time; residents pay $18. However, first-time nonresident and resident buyers can pay $42.75 or $5, respectively. A 5-day non-resident license costs $55. 

Ruffed Grouse

One of the most popular species to hunt, ruffed grouse fill the north woods of Wisconsin. Arguably the best area to hunt for ruffed grouse in the over one million acres of woods is Price County. Price County and its three hundred thousand acres of hunting lands is known to many as the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World.” There are other places to hunt ruffed grouse, of course, but that’s nothing short of an invitation for bird hunting in Wisconsin. 

The ruffed grouse season is broken up into two zones. Zone A, west of U.S. Highway 151, is open September 15 to January 31. The daily bag limit is 5. Zone B in the southeast corner is open October 20 to December 8 with a daily bag limit of 2. 

American Woodcock

American woodcock is another great species for bird hunting in Wisconsin. They’re usually hunted in the same locations as ruffed grouse. Like the ruffed grouse, they are found predominantly in the northern portion of Wisconsin. 

The American woodcock season goes from September 22 until November 5, with a daily bag limit of 3. 

(Governed by federal migratory bird laws. HIP survey required)

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Ring-necked pheasant can be found in the same area that is the southeast Zone B for ruffed grouse. Other populations of ring-necked pheasant are common in the west-central region. In the 2017 season, ninety properties were stocked with pheasant. A good number of these were in southeastern counties, like Mud Lake Wildlife Area or the Brooklyn Wildlife Area. 

The ring-necked pheasant season runs from October 20 to January 6, with a daily bag limit of 2. An additional fee of $10 is required for a pheasant stamp. 

Mourning Dove

The mourning dove is abundant across Wisconsin. The strongest populations are in the southeastern parts of Wisconsin. The numbers decrease a bit the farther north you get, but the west-central areas are good, as well. They only become uncommon once you get into the far northern Lake Superior lowlands. 

The mourning dove season runs from September 1 to November 29. There is a daily bag limit of 15. 

(Governed by federal migratory bird laws. HIP survey required

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Wisconsin

There are plenty of other species for bird hunting in Wisconsin. Snipes and rails are both governed by federal migratory bird laws. They have daily bag limits of 8 and 25, respectively. Check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for accurate zoning and times for snipe and rail seasons. The seasons don’t run statewide and are a bit more restricted than they are for other species. The bobwhite quail is open for hunting in Wisconsin from October 20 to December 12, with a daily bag limit of 5. So is the Hungarian partridge, with the same season dates as the pheasant and a daily bag limit of 3. The crow season runs from September 15 to November 15 and January 18 to March 20, with a daily bag limit of 15. 

Finally, should permits be available, the sharp-tailed grouse is open for hunting. While there was no season for them in 2017, there might be in the future. A collaboration with the MN DNR and the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society aims to bring good hunting populations back to Wisconsin. If you want to hunt sharp-tailed grouse in the future, you must fill out an application with a fee of $3. 

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society

Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society

Ruffed Grouse Society

The Wisconsin Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training

Anyone wanting a license for bird hunting in Wisconsin will need to complete the relevant hunter education courses. Once you’ve acquired a hunter education certificate, you will be able to use it reciprocally in other states. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1973 will need this certificate. Depending on where you look online, the course costs $24.50. Check out the safety course for more information. 

From August 1 to April 14, you can train your dog for bird hunting in Wisconsin on the Class I and Class II dog training grounds found throughout the state. Class I and some Class II grounds are open year round. You will need a bird dog training license for captive-bred quail, gray partridge, chukar, red-legged partridge, and pheasant.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Wisconsin. 

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