Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Quail Habitat Conditions Report

Spring and summer brought welcomed change in quail nesting conditions throughout much of the country. As the saying goes; when it rains, it pours. The rains have fallen in overabundance for some, but many states have found refuge from drought stricken habitat in the form of these rain clouds.
A significant amount of upland habitat continues to be lost countrywide, and the bleeding has not stopped.  The Conservation Reserve Program enrolled only 1.7 million acres in most recent general sign-up, bringing this critical wildlife habitat program down to a 26-year low.

However, in the face of this habitat loss, literally thousands of concerned hunter-conservationists have picked up the upland conservation banner and joined Quail Forever as new members and volunteers. This year, Quail Forever reached an all-time “covey” record of more than 11,000 members with new chapters forming from California to Florida.

Enjoy these habitat reports and as hunting season approaches, consider lending a hand with your local Quail Forever chapter.

Mild winter a boon for bobs

Alabama has had an abnormally wet spring/summer, with only a handful of central and southeastern counties experiencing an abnormally dry season – a drastic change from the recent severe summer droughts. Across the state, there’s been anywhere from 17-40” of rainfall reported for the year (as of the end of July) with temperatures remaining relatively low all the way through the summer months.

“On our public lands that are managed for quail we have seen more birds this spring/summer than in past years and heard from several hunters who were pleased with bird numbers,” says Carrie Johnson, wildlife biologist for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  “Also, I have had reports from landowners who say they have been hearing birds on their property for the first time in 10-15 years.”

This past winter Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries acquired new acreages on several management areas including Lauderdale, Lowndes, Barbour, and James D. Martin Wildlife Management Areas. Additionally, the Forever Wild program bought property that ties into James D. Martin WMA and Lauderdale WMA.

A season worth gearing up for

It can be said even mediocre quail hunting years in Arizona are better than the best years in other areas of the country. “This year will be one worth getting out and hunting quail, but not one to write the relatives about,” says Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

According to O’Dell, the state received better amounts of winter rains this year, but it has been a particularly dry spring that started early. However, the summer monsoons did make a timely return. O’Dell also noted quail in southern Arizona started hatching on time, but birds in central Arizona were late.

The big three in Arizona (Gambel’s, scaled, and Mearns’ quail) all require precipitation at different times for nesting success. Gambel’s need winter precipitation, scaled spring precipitation, and Mearns’ the summer monsoonal rains.

O’Dell also noted spring call counts came in at 20% below last year’s numbers and below the 10-year average. The early, dry spring didn’t help scaled quail due to their typical nesting 2 to 3 weeks behind Gambel’s; however, on the upside, lots of habitat improvements have been made in southeastern Arizona to restore the native grasslands which are important to the scaled quail. Expect to see more Gambel’s quail than scaled quail in those areas this year for a below average season. Mearns’, hunters should be cautiously optimistic. It will take more than 2 good years in a row to bring numbers up, but the state is headed in the right directions. Expect a slightly below average season for Mearns’.

Read the full survey here: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/small_game.shtml

Excellent spring/summer production of food and nesting cover

Georgia received above average rainfall during late spring and early summer. This has resulted in excellent production of food and nesting cover on most quail managed landscapes. This rainfall doesn’t appear to have resulted in significant reductions in nesting success and brood production, particularly on the more well-drained sandy or loamy soils, says Reggie Thackston, program manager for Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Through the Farm Bill, Georgia has about 200,000 acres in CRP CP3A & CP 36 longleaf pine practices; 2,200 acres in CRP CP 33native field buffers; and 8,000 acres in the CP 38 SAFE Pine Savanna practice. Bobwhites and other grassland species benefit where these practices are appropriately maintained through mid-contract management, such as frequent prescribed fire or rotational winter disking.

Additionally, Georgia landowners may be eligible for practice cost share to enhance bobwhite habitat through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife, Environmental Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Within all of these programs, landowners may receive funding for practices that can be value added for quail if appropriately applied and maintained in the proper landscape context. Through the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Private Lands Program, which includes the Bobwhite Quail Initiative, wildlife biologists are available to assist landowners with development of bobwhite management plans and details on habitat practice cost share availability.

In recent years in southwest Georgia, approximately 35,000 acres of new and intensively managed wild quail lands have been successfully established on private property through the technical guidance efforts of Tall Timbers Research Station.

Georgia WRD is in the process of finalizing the revision of the state’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. This plan targets bobwhite restoration into strategic focal landscapes that often include a mix of both private and public lands.

Georgia’s BQI is funded primarily through the sale of a vehicle license plate along with direct donations and grants.

Quail population strong heading into breeding season

Idaho experienced a very mild winter that was drier than average, so overwinter survival is expected to be high, reports Jeff Knetter, upland game and waterfowl staff biologist for Idaho Fish and Game.
While overwinter survival may be high, much of southern Idaho has been very dry during the spring/summer nesting season, so there are some concerns regarding brood survival. Unofficial reports have broods being observed thus far, so state biologists remain cautiously optimistic about another good year.

In terms of habitat, Idaho has been holding steady at approximately 670,000 acres enrolled in CRP/SAFE and has not seen a significant decline of acres like many other states.

Through state and local efforts, Idaho continues to promote the CP-33 buffers practice, as well as a new CRP SAFE practice in western Idaho focused on upland game birds. USDA and the Department of Wildlife are putting effort into promoting mid-contract management which will result in better game bird habitat on these acres.

Reports of increased calling and broods observed

According to Beth Emmerich, agricultural wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, it appears quail came through the drought of 2012 and the lingering winter of 2012-13 in good shape.  “Initial nesting ran a bit later than normal this year due to an extremely cool, wet spring, but early indications are that we are seeing an increase over previous years,” Emmerich says.

Nesting and brood-rearing habitat should be in good shape this year after being knocked back by last year’s drought. Quail numbers on the state’s larger grasslands in western and southwest Missouri seem especially good this year.  In addition, staff members and cooperators north of the Missouri River also report an increase in calling males and brood observations.

Population increase expected compared to 2012

Although more rainfall is definitely needed across the core bobwhite range in Texas, enough rainfall events occurred over a large enough area to produce conditions favorable for reproductive efforts. Spring and summer rains occurred in almost every region offering some relief from drought and the following green-up provided bugs and limited nesting cover. “We expect populations to increase compared to last year but remain below the long-term average,” states Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Winter conditions in north Texas did not present any challenges for quail. The region was, however, very dry up until spring and summer when many areas received enough rain to spur male bobwhite calling activity and subsequent nesting activity.
Most of the state has experienced long-term drought (2-3 years) and populations have been declining each year of drought; although, there have been some areas of the state that have fared better than others.

Texas’ quail roadside surveys are ongoing and preliminary information suggests production is up in many areas of the state.

Nesting and brood success high

“Utah is home to California and Gambel’s quail populations.  Gambel’s quail were in fair condition heading into the breeding season; however, California quail were below average ,” says Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “Early indications are that nesting and brood success have been high,” Robinson says.

The winter in Utah was cold and longer than average with snow and cold temps persisting longer than expected, which likely affected California quail populations, but had limited effects on Gambel’s quail.  Early spring precipitation was good, especially in May, with June extremely hot and dry, near record dry and hot.  July precipitation was higher than average, with average temperatures.

The 2013 Quail Habitat Conditions Report was complied by Rehan Nana, Quail Forever public relations specialist, with special thanks given to participating state agencies.

For the following states and the complete Quail Forever article click here


New Mexico
South Carolina

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pre-Season Sale Upland Bird Hunting Gear

I went a bit off the rails buying bird hunting gear over the past year so I am selling some of my excess items.

Columbia Warm Weather Cockbird™ Hunting Vest New with Tags - Large

On warm fall days, this lightweight vest will let you cover serious ground in cool comfort. Made of substantial Hammered canvas, it features back mesh insets to enhance airflow in warmer conditions. Two cargo pockets at the side provide handy shell storage, while a rear game bag snaps down for easy cleaning. Lightly padded shooting panels at the shoulder provide great protection against recoil to prevent bruising. Relaxed fit.
  • Shell 1: 100% cotton Hammered canvas. Shell 2: 100% polyester
  • Rear game pocket
  • Padded shooting panels
  • Breathable mesh back
  • Imported

Garmin Astro DC40 GPS Dog Tracking Collar

The DC 40 collar is the "dog half" of the Garmin Astro System. It is the transmitter that relays the dog's position to the handler's Astro 320. The Astro collar gives location updates as often as every five seconds.

  • Wall charger cable
  • One collar charging cradle

    DC 40 Collar Specifications:
  • Fully backward compatible with original Astro 220 handheld receiver
  • Astro can track up to ten dogs per "Handheld GPS" receiver at one time. Add additional Astro DC 40s as needed.
  • Collar strap fits neck sizes between 9 and 22 inches
  • K9 metal collar buckle with metal keeper
  • 14 inch Whip style antenna
  • User replaceable Li-Ion battery pack (rechargeable)
  • User replaceable collar strap
  • Improved on/off power button
  • Collar Battery runtime: 17 hours with 5 second update rate
  • Collar Battery runtime: 27 hours with 10 second update rate
  • Collar Battery runtime: 36 hours with 30 second update rate
  • Collar Battery runtime: 48 hours with 120 second update rate
  • Weight: 8 ounces with collar strap and antenna
  • Range: up to 7 miles line of sight 

  • Innotek Track and Train 1600 Controller and Collar

    Innotek Track and Train 1600.
    Controller and Collar.
    Transmitter and collar work well for training but the wire to the beeper portion is broken.  If you have repair skills perhaps you can repair.
    Collar and Controller are "matched" to each other.

    Sold as is.

    Tri-Tronics® Sport Upland G3 Trainer New In Box

    • Waterproof and ergonomic
    • 10 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation
    • Battery-status LED
    • Replaceable NiMH battery pack
    • 1/2-mile range
    The Sport Upland G3 allows you to control both the beeper and trainer functions right from the transmitter. The transmitter can control up to three dogs with the purchase of extra receiver collars (one included) with a separate button for beeper control. It’s waterproof and ergonomic, with a ribbed overmolding and compact, fixed antenna. The transmitter runs off a 9-volt battery (included). The Sport Upland offers 10 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation. Receiver is waterproof with an on/off button and battery-status LED. It runs off a replaceable NiMH battery pack (included). The Upland G3® Beeper produces an impressive audible range for dog location. It is also waterproof and uses a separate 9-volt battery (included). It has a choice of eight sound modes, with hunt/point and point-only settings. 1/2-mile range

    All are for sale at UplandBirdHunter.com

    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    PreSeason Training Options For BirdDogs - Video

    Since I moved into a house with a yard that isn’t fenced it has been a challenge to effectively condition my dogs so that they are ready for the hunting season.

    Besides daily walks I added in a couple of other activities to get the dogs in shape.

    I bought a sled dog harness @ http://www.kondosoutdoors.com/dog-gear in Ely, MN a couple of summers ago and I use it to run the dogs while I am riding my bike.  I am able to do this in a park behind our house.  This enables me to run the dogs at a faster speed than they will usually run on there own.  I use this to work on their aerobic fitness as well as getting them to stretch out their strides.

    We will do a warmup session and then mix speed work with recovery work.

    This year I have added Underwater Treadmill workouts to our routine.  I like using these workouts because they can provide a good aerobic workout without the pounding that can accompany regular roadwork.  The treadmill is also useful for getting in workouts when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor training.  I have been going to Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in Oakdale.  http://aercmn.com/

    I still am a firm believer in the classic roading to polish up a dog’s fitness.  In the years where I haven’t been able to consistently work the dogs on my own I have taken them to a trainer where he will road and / or free run the dogs.  An extra advantage to having the trainer do these workouts is that I can also have them layer on any specific skill training that the dogs or I might need some work on.  Tina is heading to http://northwoodsbirddogs.com/ on Monday for a couple weeks of roading and free running.

    Why do I go to all of this trouble to get my dogs into shape before the seasons even start?  Because I know that weather / work / family issues will take up a number of the days that I can hunt so I don’t want to miss out on any of the opportunities that I do get to hunt because the dogs aren’t physically prepared to hunt.  Also, included in these trainings is getting the human part of the team into shape.  It seems that each year it gets more difficult to fit into the hunting pants at the start of the season.  I’ve been trying to ride my bike more and to make the dog walks longer so that I can shed some pounds.

    Tina and I just returned from the vet and she is 4 lbs lighter than at this time last year.  A 10% decrease for her and I think that she actually has more muscle also.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    2013 Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Season Forecasts


    “We had a lot of grouse on the ground in the spring,” noted Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist Kelsey Sullivan, and the statewide woodcock survey revealed woodcock numbers were unchanged from recent years. May had higher than average rainfall. The negative effects on woodcock nesting and brood production were evident during annual brood surveys in central and eastern Maine, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Biologist Dan McAuley. Overall, Sullivan expects average fall grouse and woodcock populations, with above-average numbers of grouse in the North Woods.

    Department of Natural Resources Upland Game Bird Specialist and Program Leader Al Stewart reports, ruffed grouse drumming counts were conducted statewide along 95 survey routes during April and May 2013. Using data from 87 routes run in both 2012 and 2013, statewide there was a 10.3 percent decrease in the average number of drums heard per route between 2012 (11.8) and 2013 (10.6). Highest drumming counts were in Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula; 14.5), followed by Zone 2 (northern Lower Peninsula; 9.4) and Zone 3 (southern Lower Peninsula; 6.4).

    Analysis at the regional scale indicated there was nearly a significant difference (n=26; t=2.0, P=0.4) in the number of drums heard per route in Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula) between 2012 (17.4) and 2013 (14.9).  There was no significant change (n=52; t=2, P=0.4) in the average number of drums heard per route in Zone 2 (Northern Lower Peninsula) between 2012 (9.9) and 2013 (9.1).  In Zone 3, there were eight routes conducted in both 2012 and 2013.  Due to the low sample size, statistical analysis at the Zone 3 regional scale is not appropriate.

    Grouse/woodcock hunter cooperators hunting the first four days of ruffed grouse season reported an average of 1.7 grouse per hour in 2012 compared to 2.0 grouse per hour in 2011. Hunters opinions about the 2012  ruffed grouse population were mixed; 27 percent of the respondents thought grouse populations were up or slightly up from 2011 in the areas they hunted, with 41 percent reporting the population is the same and 32 percent reported they were down or slightly down.  For the full season, the average number of ruffed grouse flushed per hour by cooperators in 2012 (1.66) was slightly lower than the number of birds flushed per hour in 2011 (1.91).  The average number of woodcock flushed per hour statewide by cooperators was slightly higher between 2012 (1.57) and 2011 (1.2).

    Stewart concludes, “Based on current survey data, I expect the grouse population this fall will be on a slight decline following the peak of the cycle in 2011.  The 2013 fall ruffed grouse and woodcock numbers could be similar if not a little bit lower statewide compared to 2012.  With favorable annual production, hunters could take approximately 240,000 grouse and 74,000 woodcock in 2013.  Although spring arrived two weeks later than normal; the warm, average weather conditions this year may have a positive impact on brood survival.  If we have favorable production this spring, I anticipate fall ruffed grouse and woodcock numbers could be similar to or only down slightly from last year. Due to normal rainfall and lack of early summer frosts, I expect soft mast production to be very good this fall compared to 2012.”

    The ruffed grouse season begins on September 15, statewide.*  In 2013, the opening date for woodcock hunting will be September 21.*  The USFWS framework for Michigan allows for the woodcock hunting season to open no earlier than the Saturday closest to September 22 and to run for no more than 45 days.

    Are you looking for new places to hunt grouse and woodcock?  Stewart invites hunters to explore the 10-million acres of public land in Michigan. You can plan your next hunting adventure online with Mi-HUNT. This DNR hunting tool allows people to search for grouse and woodcock habitat on public hunting lands. “Bird hunters have found this tool to be very helpful for viewing different forest types, topography, satellite imagery and road layers…all from the comfort of their own home”, said Stewart.  “There’s even a tutorial designed for grouse hunters.”  To learn more about this free interactive mapping application, visit www.michigan.gov/mihunt for details.

    Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Ruffed grouse drumming counts were down across most of the bird’s range, according to the annual survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    “This decrease was not unexpected because the ruffed grouse population is still in the declining phase of its 10-year cycle,” said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse biologist. “Drum counts peaked most recently in 2009.”

    Drumming counts dropped from 1.1 to 0.9 per stop in the northeast, which is the forest bird’s core range in Minnesota. Counts in the northwest declined from 0.9 in 2012 to 0.7 drums per stop in 2013. Drumming counts did not change significantly in the central hardwoods or southeast, with an average of 0.9 and 0.4 drums per stop, respectively.

    Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population.

    This year, observers recorded 0.9 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2011 and 2012 were 1.7 and 1.0 drums per stop, respectively. Counts vary from about 0.8 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 1.9 during years of high abundance.

    The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer. Drumming did occur later this year because of the late spring, suggesting that nesting likely occurred later than normal.

    “Later nesting would have pushed the hatch out a bit, hopefully beyond the spring rains,” Roy said. “Time will tell if that occurred and the impact on production.”

    Minnesota has an abundance of aspen and other ruffed grouse habitat in the state, much of it located on county, state and national forests where public hunting is allowed. An estimated 11.5 million of the state’s 16.3 million acres of forest are grouse habitat. For more information, see www.mndnr.gov.

    Brian Dhuey, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife researcher reported, “Statewide ruffed grouse population indices decreased 9 percent between 2012 and 2013, based on the number of drumming grouse heard during roadside surveys. Changes in indices to breeding grouse populations varied by region, and the statewide mean number of drums/stop was not significant (P= 0.58) from 2012 to 2013. Drummer densities on the two research areas, the Sandhill Wildlife Area in Wood County and the Stone Lake Experimental Area in Oneida County were mixed, Stone Lake showed an increase of 2 percent and Sandhill a decrease of 5 percent from 2012 levels.”

    Dhuey also stated, “This is the second decrease in the ruffed grouse indices since 2011. Survey indices show a decrease in drumming grouse in three of the four regions of the state.  Despite the decrease in breeding grouse in the spring of 2012, brood production in the summer of 2012 was 17 percent higher than in 2011. This unfortunately did not translate into more breeding grouse in the spring of 2013. Wisconsin’s primary grouse range, the Central and Northern Forest Regions, showed mixed results. The Central Forest had a decrease in breeding grouse of 18.1 percent this spring, while the Northern Forest had a small increase of 1.6 percent.”

    A long winter with snow still present in late April in northern Wisconsin delayed the ruffed grouse breeding season.  Nesting began 10 days to 2 weeks later than usual in the region with most broods starting to appear during the second week of June. Unfortunately the cool, wet spring continued during this period that most likely will impact fall populations.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service woodcock singing ground surveys from 2012 were up 2.1 percent from 2012 numbers for Wisconsin with 3.01 singing males heard per survey route.   This is the sixth consecutive spring that showed increases in singing males in the state.  The late arrival of spring also negatively affected breeding woodcock with heavy snow falling across most of the state in late April.
    As for the 2013 Wisconsin hunting season, at this time it appears both ruffed grouse and woodcock numbers likely will be down when compared to last year.

    *References to season dates or regulations are as provided by our correspondents and should be verified on that state’s official website or published materials.

    Visit the RGS website for the full report

    Friday, August 9, 2013

    Pheasants Forever Taking “National Pheasant Fest” Event to Milwaukee in 2014

    Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will take its National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic event to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the first time, to run February 14-16, 2014 at the Wisconsin Center. The largest show in the country for upland hunters, bird dog owners and wildlife habitat conservationists, the event drew 28,855 people last February in Minneapolis.

    National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic returns to Wisconsin for the first time since 2009, when hunters and conservationists visited the 3-day show at Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
    “Pheasants Forever has a strong presence in Wisconsin and the state has a rich conservation tradition, which is why we’re excited to bring our signature event to Milwaukee,” said Howard Vincent, president & CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Vincent adds that Milwaukee is conveniently located near other strong Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever states – Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan – which will allow members from across the region to enjoy the large annual celebration.

    Wisconsin is home to 33 Pheasants Forever chapters. In addition to the 790,000 licensed hunters in Wisconsin, the state is second only to Minnesota in sending nonresident upland hunters to the Dakotas – the top two pheasant hunting states – and both South Dakota and North Dakota will be well-represented with exhibitors at the show.

    “Milwaukee and Wisconsin are thrilled to host the 2014 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic. As the largest city in a state with a history of upland hunting and wildlife habitat conservation, Milwaukee is the ideal setting for this prestigious family-friendly national event. Among the city’s major attractions, the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum is sure to be another draw for visiting attendees,” noted Paul Upchurch, president & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.

    National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is also the country’s largest event for upland hunters, sport dog owners and wildlife habitat conservationists, combining a national outdoor tradeshow, wildlife habitat seminar series, and family event complete with puppies, tractors, shotguns, and art. The event is open to the public.

    If you’re interested in exhibiting at Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2014, contact Brad Heidel, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever director of corporate sales, at (651) 209-4956 and/or email Brad. For media inquiries, please contact Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever public relations specialist, at (651) 209-4973 and/or email Rehan.

    Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 740 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    2013 Pheasant Hunting Season Dates and Information

    We've launched a new site just for Pheasant Hunting Season Dates and Information


    We will be adding more states and dates as the season progresses.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Prospects good for Michigan grouse hunters

    By Darin Potter

    Lansing — Hunters throughout the state in pursuit of upland birds and small game can expect another successful season this fall. Upland game birds like ruffed grouse and woodcock should be found in good numbers, and rabbits and squirrels are plentiful.

    “The 2013 fall ruffed grouse and woodcock numbers could be similar if not a little bit lower statewide compared to 2012. With favorable annual production, hunters could take approximately 240,000 grouse and 74,000 woodcock in 2013,” Al Stewart, the DNR’s upland game bird specialist, told Michigan Outdoor News. “Although spring arrived two weeks later than normal in 2013, the warm, average weather conditions this year may have a positive impact on brood survival. If we have favorable production this spring, I anticipate fall ruffed grouse and woodcock numbers could be similar to or only down slightly from last year.”

    Stewart said grouse drumming counts were down this spring.

    Using data from 87 routes run in 2012 and 2013, statewide there was a 10.3-percent decrease in the average number of drums heard per route between 2012 (11.8) and 2013 (10.6).

    The drumming counts were highest in Zone 1 (14.5 drums per route), followed by Zone 2 (9.4) and Zone 3 (6.4).

    Grouse season runs Sept. 15 to Nov. 14, then re-opens Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. The woodcock season opens Sept. 21 and ends Nov. 3.

    When hunting woodcock, a Harvest Information Program endorsement is required. The HIP survey takes about a minute to complete and must be added by the agent when you purchase a small-game license.

    A relatively new tool created by the DNR called, MI-Hunt (www.michigan.gov/mihunt) gives hunters the ability to scout areas ahead of the season by viewing land from aerial photos and learning the habitat online. With 10 million acres of public land in Michigan, it’s not difficult to find areas that hold upland game birds or game animals, according to Stewart.

    “Bird hunters have found this tool to be very helpful for viewing different forest types, topography, satellite imagery, and road layers – all from the comfort of their own home. There’s even a tutorial designed for grouse hunters,” he said.