2017 Wisconsin ring-necked pheasant season opens Oct. 14

MADISON – The longtime and popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin will again take center stage when the fall 2017 pheasant hunting season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The season will run through Dec. 31, with the possibility of being extended until Jan. 7, 2018.

The popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin will again take center stage when the fall 2017 season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14.
The popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin will again take center stage when the fall 2017 season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Photo Credit: DNR

Several other seasons also open that day including bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse in Zone B and Hungarian partridge. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m. The ruffed grouse season opens with the start of legal shooting hours.

Hunters should check the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations booklet for rules and season structures for the game species they will pursue.

“Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin very well,” says Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources. “Pheasant hunting offers the chance to explore landscapes and habitat types you might not otherwise see.”

Pheasants are one of the most sought-after gamebirds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern and western Wisconsin provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year, according to Witecha.

Witecha says hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands which provide food and nesting cover. It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas.

During the 2016 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 43,520 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 307240 birds. The top counties for harvest included Fond du Lac, Waukesha and Kenosha.


A 2017 Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide, as well as a valid small game license. Please note that the free leg tags previously required on the hen/rooster areas are no longer required. The daily bag limit is one pheasant daily for the first two days of the season and two pheasants daily for the remainder of the season, with a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit. More information is available in the 2017 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available online at, keyword “regulations.”

Pheasant Stocking Program

This fall, DNR wildlife staff plan to release approximately 75,000 game farm pheasants on 91 public hunting grounds. These numbers are a similar to 2016 stocking efforts. State game farm production goals will remain at 75,000 birds moving forward. In addition, pheasants raised by conservation clubs through the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall on both designated public hunting grounds and private lands open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.

Hunters can view a summary of stocked properties on the 2017 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, available at, keyword “pheasant.” In addition, hunters can use the DNR’s gamebird mapping application, FFLIGHT, to locate and explore properties stocked with pheasants (along with ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat and managed dove fields). FFLIGHT also allows hunters to use aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make their trips more productive and enjoyable. To learn more about FFLIGHT, visit, keyword “FFLIGHT.”

Pheasant Hunting Opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program

2017 marks the ninth year of the Mentored Hunting Program, which allows hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program. For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit, keyword “mentored hunting.”

“Pheasants are a popular gamebird, and they offer a great hunting experience to both novices and experienced hunters,” said Witecha. “I wish hunters safe and successful trips this fall.”

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas Releases Third-Season Findings

Volunteers document 220 bird species breeding in Wisconsin, including rare marsh birds

MADISON — After the third year of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas survey, volunteers have documented 220 bird species breeding in the state, most recently including a family of rare and secretive marsh birds called king rails. With this addition, 12 new species have been observed nesting in Wisconsin that weren’t found during the first Breeding Bird Atlas survey two decades ago.

Click on image for larger size. (exit DNR)
Click on image for larger size. (exit DNR)

“A few of these king rails were reported in the first atlas but none were confirmed as nesting here,” says Ryan Brady, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the Atlas. “So it’s exciting to see wetland management efforts having positive benefits for a species that requires high-quality marshes to successfully raise its young.”

Good wetland management by state and federal wildlife management staff have also contributed to another Atlas finding — that trumpeter swans are undergoing an impressive expansion in range and numbers since the last survey from 1995-2000, Brady says.

Trumpeter swans were decimated by overhunting by the late 1800s, and the species was mostly absent from Wisconsin until DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program and partners began reintroducing the species in 1987.

“Even a decade ago, most breeding pairs kept to the more remote northern lakes,” Brady says. “Good wetland management and protection have allowed trumpeters to use unoccupied marshes and increase their numbers to over 5,000 birds.”

Volunteers have documented them breeding across the north, northwest, and central regions and birds have even colonized the Lower Wisconsin River.

Volunteers Still Needed to Accurately Reveal Trends in Birds

The purpose of the five-year atlas effort is to document all bird species that breed in Wisconsin, from common year-round residents like northern cardinal to species of high conservation interest like Connecticut warbler. Some of these species may be vanishing, while others are holding their own, or even increasing, but only a statewide effort will reveal these trends, says Nicholas Anich, Breeding Bird Atlas coordinator for DNR.

“The project has already amassed records of 4.9 million birds but we still have a ways to go,” Anich says. “We need more volunteers to survey priority areas so we get a complete picture of what’s going on with our bird populations and how we can help them moving forward.”

More than 1,400 volunteers have contributed to the survey so far, but more are needed to survey remaining priority areas, particularly in northern, central, and western regions of the state.

Getting Involved

Volunteers collect data by observing birds, and enter their sightings online, where the information is reviewed by Anich, Brady, and other ornithologists from organizations leading the project: The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, and DNR.

All Wisconsin residents are encouraged to participate, especially those who live or travel to priority areas like northern, central, and western Wisconsin. “It’s easy to participate and you don’t have to be an expert birder to help,” says Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, “We’re constantly hearing from people how rewarding atlasing is, and we welcome participants of all ability levels.”

To volunteer, visit the project website at Training sessions and field trips will take place throughout Wisconsin in 2018. When the project is completed, the data will be published in a hard-copy book and online for use by researchers, land managers, conservationists, and citizens interested in birds and their habitats.

2017 Fall Festivals and Events at Wisconsin State Park System Properties

MADISON – From fall color hikes, runs and bicycle rides, to releasing small sturgeon, pumpkin carving and Halloween activities, visitors to Wisconsin State Park System properties have multiple opportunities to enjoy fall in Wisconsin. More than 20 fall festivals and events are planned at properties over the next month.

Fall color festivals begin this weekend at Wisconsin State Park System properties.  Copper Falls will be holding
Fall color festivals begin this weekend at Wisconsin State Park System properties. Copper Falls will be holding “Art in the Park” with hikes on the parks Doughbou’s Waterfall Trail.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Fall is one of the best seasons of the year to get out and enjoy our state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas,” said Wisconsin State Parks Director Ben Bergey. “The combination of the heavily forested areas and the great vistas make our parks and forests key destinations for fall color viewing. And thanks to our many friends groups and partnerships with other organizations, our properties are able to offer a wide variety of fall activities.”

Festival events kick off Sept. 30 with fall color bike rides at the John Muir Trails in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, SturgeonFest at Milwaukee’s Lakeshore State Park–where people have an opportunity to release a live young sturgeon–and Fall Color Weekend at Governor Thompson State Park. Events then run each weekend through the end of October. For a complete list of events, search the Department of Natural Resources website,, for keywords “Get Outdoors.” To find fall festival events, click on the checkbox for “festivals” under the “Type” button.

  • September 30, 2017 – Fall Color Festival Bike Rides on the John Muir Trails, Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit – a full day of heart pounding, side aching, gear grinding mountain bike excitement for the entire family. The Fall Color Festival is an annual mountain bike fundraiser held at the John Muir trails in Southeastern Wisconsin. 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • September 30, 2017 – Art in the Park, Copper Falls State Park- Hike the signature Doughboy’s waterfall trail, check out art exhibits from local artists and a wood carving demonstration. Nature activities for kids, T-shirt stamping and pumpkin carving (while supplies last). Refreshments available at the Concession Building. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Followed at 7:30 p.m. by a “Universe in the Park” program.
  • September 30 & October 1, 2017 – Fall Color Weekend, Governor Thompson State Park – hike on the best marked “Color Trail” and when you’re done, enjoy snacks and refreshments in the Visitor’s Center. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • People can release their own sturgeon at Sturgeon Fest.
    People can release their own sturgeon at Sturgeon Fest.
    Photo Credit: SturgeonFest
  • September 30, 2017 – Sturgeon Fest w/RiverEdge Nature Center at Lakeshore State Park – Pre-sponsor a sturgeon at to release your own sturgeon. The festival is free for all ages; a donation of $10 is appreciated for sponsoring a sturgeon. Pre-register to sponsor a fish; registration closes at 2 p.m. Sept. 29, but if there are still sturgeon left, people can register at the event. The festival continues all day with games and crafts for kids, a scavenger hunt, an Adventure Rock climbing wall, prairie tours, a live performance of “The Great Global Extravaganza” from the Milwaukee County Zoo, educational booths, local food trucks and more. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • September 30, 2017 – Fall Festival, Roche-A-Cri State Park – Celebrate fall and the end of the camping season with the Friends of Roche-A-Cri State Park. Games, hayrides, crafts and fun for the whole family. Free admission day, food and drinks available for purchase from the friends group. 1 to 5 p.m.
  • October 7, 2017 – MacKenzie Center Fall Festival – Participate in many activities including archery, compass skills, geocaching, wildlife tours, fire building, hiking, pumpkin painting, a hay bale maze, gunny sack races, face painting, scarecrow making, hayrides, and much more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hayrides are a popular feature at the MacKenzie Fall Festival.
Hayrides are a popular feature at the MacKenzie Fall Festival.
Photo Credit: DNR
  • October 7, 2017 – Changing Colors Ride and Family Game Day, Stower Seven Lakes State Trail – Participants can take a leisurely ride as far as they want to go – up to a 28-mile round-trip – with stops at Wanderoos and seven points of interest along the trail. Family games will be set up at the Soo Line Park in Amery all day. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • October 7, 2017 – S’more Fun Trail Run, Mirror Lake State Park- Join the Friends of Mirror Lake State Park and trail running volunteers for the 2nd annual S’more Fun Trail Run. There will be 5K and 10K runs as well as a 1-mile hike that is great for all ages. All proceeds benefit Mirror Lake State Park. 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • October 7, 2017 – Run Wild 2017, Potawatomi State Park – The Friends of Potawatomi State Park present Run Wild 2017. Events include a 5K run/walk, quarter marathon run, and Smokey Bear Fun Run for the kids. 7:30 a.m.-noon.
  • October 7, 2017 – Fall Candlelight Hike in the Park, Kohler Andrae State Park – Come enjoy a fall evening at Kohler-Andrae with family and friends. Visitors are asked to park in the picnic lots and walk to the outdoor shelter. The hike will be self-guided on a torch-lit trail starting at the outdoor shelter near parking lot #8. Master Naturalist Chris Lilek will entertain with songs and stories around the campfire. Weather permitting there will be telescope viewing by the UW-Sheboygan Astronomy Dept. Cider and snacks will be provided at the outdoor shelter. All children must be accompanied by an adult. No pets please. 6-8 p.m.
  • October 7, 2017 – Fall Candlelight Hike, Governor Dodge State Park – Stroll down the Lakeview Trail lit with glowing candlelight. Enjoy s’mores around the bonfire after your walk. The Iowa County Astronomers will also have telescopes set up on the Cox Hollow Lake Dam for visitors to view the night sky. Sponsored by the Friends of Governor Dodge. Start at Cox Hollow Beach. 7-9 p.m.
  • October 13, 2017 – Harvest Moon Festival, Capital Springs State Recreation Area – Join our autumnal celebration of the natural world featuring educational exhibits along a torch-lit trail with many live critters, kids’ tree climb, and interactive games! Warm up by a roaring bonfire, roast s’mores, and listen to live music from the Poor Hearts. Visitors can also enjoy the silent auction with many locally-sources items and seasonal treats such as homemade pie, chili hot dogs, and cider for sale. Admission is $5 per person (ages 5 and under are free). Military children are free with parent’s military identification. Sponsored by the Friends of Capital Springs. 6-9 p.m.
  • October 14, 2017 – Kinnickinnic State Park Fall Festival- Kids up to age 12 can join us in their Halloween Costume as we celebrate all things fall. We will have fun, nature-based activities and crafts for kids of all ages to enjoy – including the parks largest leaf pile to jump in! 2-4 p.m.
  • October 20 & 21, 2017 – Halloween Nature Hikes Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit – Join us for a fun-filled stroll through the dark autumn woods to meet some fascinating characters including the mighty dragonfly, invading crayfish, wriggly worm, and stealthy preying mantis. This is not a scary hike and is best for those more than five years of age. 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017 – Halloween Mystery Candlelight Hike, Mirror Lake State Park – We will have an easy 1-mile torch lit trail to hike. Kids of all ages can help us find clues and discover our mystery guest. There will also be an activity for the kids at the Amphitheater. The Friends will have food and beverages available for purchase, and everyone can enjoy the roaring bonfire. 6-8 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017 – Spooktacular and Food Drive, Mead Wildlife Area – Join us for our 7th annual non‐scary, family fun night Halloween event: Play games, make crafts, decorate a pumpkin or cookie, warm‐up by the campfire. Admission is free with a non‐perishable food item, or $2 per person.6-8 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017 – Halloween Campground Walk, High Cliff State Park – Traditionally campers decorate their campsites for the Halloween Holiday at High Cliff State Park. The Family Campground roads are closed to motor vehicles from 4-8 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017- “Not So Spooky” Hike, Merrick State Park – Join us for a “Not So Spooky” self-guided night hike on one of our trails lit by jack-o-lanterns and tiki-torches. Try your hand at making fall decorations or just hang out by the bonfire and roast a hot dog or marshmallow! 6-8 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017 – Friends Halloween Hike, Devil’s Lake State Park – You can go on a 1-mile torch lit hike; show off your costume by the campfire while roasting a marshmallow or two, and listen to the songs of Campfire Kevin; enjoy some tasty treats sold by the Friends group; and find out about snakes! You can even make a snake to take home with you. 6-8:30 p.m.
  • October 21, 2017 – Eco-Halloween Hike, Richard Bong State Recreation Area- non-scary, family event. Enjoy jack-o-lanterns, Halloween nature skits, campfires, games and crafts. Refreshments for sale. You may arrive anytime between 6:30 and 8 p.m. to sign up for a hike. Hikes take about a half-hour. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • At many events, friends groups--like the Friends of Lake Kegonsa--sell refreshments as a fundraiser for the property.
    At many events, friends groups–like the Friends of Lake Kegonsa–sell refreshments as a fundraiser for the property.
    Photo Credit: DNR
  • October 21, 2017 – Candlelight Hike, Lake Kegonsa State Park – Spend a beautiful fall evening hiking along the 1.2-mile White Oak Nature Trail, which will be lit with hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns and luminaries. When you are finished, warm up by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments sold by the Lake Kegonsa State Park Friends Group. There is no fee for this event, but a valid park admission sticker is required. Sorry, pets are not allowed on this trail.: 6-9 p.m.
  • October 28, 2017 – Campers Halloween, Kohler Andrae State Park – There are several campers that return each year and set up very elaborate Halloween decorations on their sites. It has become a popular attraction for the public. The best way to see it is by walking. Due to the large numbers of pedestrians, the North campground will be closed to vehicles from 5-8 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 28. Children are encouraged to “Trick or Treat” While walking through the displays.
  • October 28, 2017 – Willow River Halloween Bash, Willow River State Park – Join Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks at the Nature Center for this fun, even spooky evening. Don’t forget to wear your costume! Games, crafts, snacks, storytelling and more for the family to enjoy. 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Get Your Perfect Selfie in Wisconsin State Parks

Travel Wisconsin and Wisconsin State Parks Install Selfie Stands in 10 Parks

MADISON — Looking for a beautiful backdrop to capture that special memory of you and your group of friends and family? Getting the best shot at Wisconsin’s most scenic locations just got easier. In time for the fall color season, Travel Wisconsin and Wisconsin State Parks teamed up to install selfie stands in 10 state parks.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to create an experience that gives people an easy way to capture a lifetime of memories and the beauty of our state parks,” Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

Selfie Stand at Kohler-Andrae State Park
Selfie Stand at Kohler-Andrae State Park
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The stands are designed with smartphones in mind with platforms ready to hold any size or style of mobile device, allowing visitors to safely snap that coveted group photo in front of one of the park’s most popular views. The custom built signs instruct users how to set their smartphones on a shelf, which swivels from left to right 180 degrees and tilts upward 90 degrees, allowing users to create customizable angles to capture the best image.

The selfie stands are designed to hold smart phones.
The selfie stands are designed to hold smart phones.
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism

“These selfie stands are a great addition to some of Wisconsin’s most scenic state parks and we are very grateful to the Department of Tourism for providing another amenity for our park visitors,” said Wisconsin State Park System Director Ben Bergey. “Fall is one of the best times of year to visit state parks and we encourage our visitors to take advantage of these stands and share their experiences enjoying Wisconsin’s autumn scenery with friends, family and other fans of the Wisconsin State Park System.”

Selfie stands can be found in the following list, which includes the location and a brief description of the view that will be sure to earn lots of likes. Stands in Wyalusing and Pattison State Parks are wheelchair accessible. Visitors are encouraged to share their photo using #ScenicWisconsin or upload on See how visitors are already using the selfie stands here.

  • Amnicon Falls State Park: South Range, Sign Location: Just downstream from the covered bridge and lower falls; Picture View: Covered bridge and lower falls.
  • Big Bay State Park, La Pointe: Sign Location: At the end of the boardwalk leading to the beach; Picture View: Beach and bay area.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo: Sign Location: North Shore, 100 yards West of the Chateau; Picture View: Devil’s Lake.
  • Governor Dodge State Park, Dodgeville: Sign Location: Enee Point Picnic Area; Picture View: Enee Point rock face; *This will be erected by Sept. 29.
  • High Cliff State Park, Sherwood: Sign Location: At intersection of Red Bird Trail and Lower Cliff Road; Picture View: Cliff rock formation.
  • Interstate State Park, St. Croix Falls: Sign Location: Pothole Trail; Picture View: Dalles of the St. Croix River.
  • Kohler Andrae State Park, Sheboygan: Sign Location: Park at Lot #3, Sanderling Nature Center, Walk North on the cordwalk, Turn left at first “T” intersection, Stand on the Left;Picture View: Beach and dunes.
  • Pattison State Park, Superior: Sign Location: South overlook at Big Manitou Falls; Picture View: Big Manitou Falls.
  • Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek: Sign Location: Eagle Panorama; Picture View: Panorama of Eagle Bluff lookout.
  • Selfie Stand at Peninsula State Park in Door County
    Selfie Stand at Peninsula State Park in Door County
    Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism
  • Wyalusing State Park, Bagley: Sign Location: Henneger Point; Picture View: Mississippi River valley and overlook.

About Travel Wisconsin
Travelers looking for year-round Wisconsin getaway ideas, travel planning, events and free guides can discover their own fun at,, and Instagram at TravelWisconsin.

About Wisconsin State Parks
Find out more about Wisconsin State Park System by searching the DNR website,, for keyword “Parks” and “Find a Park” to get a list of parks, forests, trails and recreation areas and their locations.

Trees are getting ready for winter as autumn colors begin

MADISON — September is technically still summer on the astronomical calendar, but the days are getting shorter and cooler. Wisconsin has more than 17 million acres of forested lands and changes in color mean the trees are starting to get ready for winter. Peak fall color varies each year, and 2017 is one of the wettest on record, which could have an impact on color this year.

Early fall color is already showing up in Wisconsin's Northwoods.
Early fall color is already showing up in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Fall color viewing helps usher in the change of seasons for Wisconsin residents and visitors every year,” said Colleen Matula, forest silviculturist/ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. “It is time for our forests – both rural and urban – to show off their colors.”

The first hints of color typically appear in isolated, lower-lying areas by mid-September. Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. Central Wisconsin peak color generally occurs during mid-October and in southern Wisconsin during the latter half of October.

Wisconsin’s forests, parks and natural areas are great for fall color viewing. Go to and search “Explore Outdoors” to find a place near you. For the most up-to-date information and an estimated date of peak colors, go to the Fall Color Report on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Travel Wisconsin website and signup for email updates.

Nature’s autumn leaf colors are influenced by three factors: leaf pigments, length of night and weather. The vibrancy of the season depends on the variable weather conditions, like temperature and moisture.

“Shorter days mean the sunlight is less intense, and leaves begin to adjust by producing less chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and orange pigments of the leaves,” Matula said. “Temperature and moisture also affect the color display.”

According to Todd Lanigan, DNR forest health specialist, hardwood trees already showing color in lowland areas are stressed from being in water too long due to the wettest year on record for Wisconsin.

The leaf pigments determine the full range of the color palette. Chlorophyll gives leaves the basic green color and is necessary for photosynthesis. Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange and brown colors, are always present so trees like aspen and birch have more predictable colors each year. Anthocyanin, which produces red and purple tints, varies with the conditions and makes each autumn unique for other species. Visit this page for more information about fall colors:

Whatever the color, or wherever you are in the state, autumn is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin’s trees as they usher in the next season.

Travel Wisconsin asks fans to vote for their favorite scenic route in Wisconsin

Half of the drives highlight Wisconsin State Park System properties

MADISON – In anticipation of the arrival of vibrant fall colors across the state, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is asking fall foliage fans to join the fun and help pick this year’s best fall drive in the state. People can cast a vote for their favorite drive on through Oct. 2.

The Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown (exit DNR) includes 10 scenic routes throughout the state perfect for viewing fall colors. Half of those drives are either through or adjacent to Wisconsin State Park System properties, including: the Chippewa County Ice Age Drive, that goes around the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area; the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive that goes through the Northern and Southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest; the Door County Coastal Byway, which goes by Peninsula, Newport and Whitefish Dunes state parks; the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway that passes by Nelson Dewey, Wyalusing, Perrot and Merrick state parks; and Highway 33 from Baraboo to La Crosse, which passes by Devil’s Lake and Wildcat Mountain state parks and the “400” State Trail.

The Travel Wisconsin Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown lets people vote for their favorite fall drive.
The Travel Wisconsin Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown lets people vote for their favorite fall drive.
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The other five drives include the Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway, the Nicolet-Wolf River Scenic Byway; Rustic Road 62 featuring Timm’s Hill in Price County; Cranberry Highway Wisconsin Rapids Area; and Rustic Road 29 featuring Snake Road in Lake Geneva.

“We invite people taking part in the Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown to take time to stop and visit one of our many properties along these scenic tours. Our parks and forests offer many amenities such as picnic areas and restrooms, hiking and biking trails and campgrounds to stop, rest awhile, and take in the fall colors,” said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System. People can find information about properties by searching the Department of Natural Resources website, for keywords “find a park.”

The best and brightest fall colors throughout the state can be found by visiting Travel Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR). Visitors can use the interactive map to locate peak foliage along with nearby activities, events, places to stay and eat. More than 100 fall color reporters throughout the state provide updates for all 72 counties, making the report the most timely and comprehensive report available.

Fall fanatics can stay on top of the state’s rapidly changing color by: checking the report from their mobile device, tablet or desktop computer; texting “WI Fall” to 468311 to receive Fall Color Report alerts, or sign up to have the Fall Color Report emailed to them every Thursday in time to make weekend plans.

DNR to hold public hearing on agriculture rule revisions

Hearing Sept. 15 in Green Bay and Madison; public comment period through Oct. 4

MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources is holding a public hearing September 15 regarding state rule changes governing the spreading of manure on soils in certain sensitive areas of the state.

The changes, under Ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code, relate to shallow soils over “karst topography,” which are areas where the bedrock may be fractured. Some of the proposed changes to NR 151 may be based on recommendations in the Groundwater Collaboration Workgroup final report, issued in June 2016.

An informational meeting and Q&A will start at noon and the public hearing will start at 1 p.m. The hearing will be held September 15 at the University Union Phoenix Room (Rooms A, B and C), UW-Green Bay, 2420 Nicolet Dr., Green Bay. The hearing will also be broadcast at the same time in Madison at the Wisconsin Natural Resource Building, Room G09, 101 S. Webster St., Madison.

The public is invited to attend and provide oral and written comments on NR 151 rule changes at each location. A public hearing officer will be present to conduct the hearing and may put time limits on individual oral statements to ensure an opportunity for all persons present to make statements.

The public may also submit written comments on the proposed rule changes by October 4, 2017, via mail to Mike Gilbertson, DNR, 101 S. Webster Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53707, or by e-mail to:

Agency staff will provide a brief summary of the available information about the rule changes at the meeting, and will also provide a summary of the steps that must be followed before the changes become final.

Extended inland trout season offers good opportunities for anglers

Higher trout numbers and bigger fish noted in summer surveys

MADISON — Cooler and wetter summer conditions, and trout streams that held up well under flooding in western Wisconsin, add up to even better fishing opportunities this fall for trout anglers who will enjoy a longer harvest season and good opportunities for trophy-sized trout, state fisheries officials say.

“This is the second year we’ve had this extended harvest season so anglers now have opportunities to fish through October 15 on inland waters,” says Joanna Griffin, trout team coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. “We hope people take advantage of it.”

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 7 photos

The open season on inland trout waters runs through Oct. 15 and offers anglers more opportunity to chase trophy-sized trout, like these nice brookies from a recent DNR survey on an Eau Claire area stream.

Despite extremely wet conditions this summer, trout fishing in La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon and Crawford counties has been good,” says Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist in La Crosse.

While a historic flood in late July changed many area streams, filling in favorite fishing holes and creating new ones, “even with these changes, fishing has been very good when water levels and clarity permit,” Olson says. Initial fisheries surveys this summer indicate that the flooding did not have a severe impact on trout populations. so anglers will find plenty of fish for fall action.

Northeastern Wisconsin fisheries biologists noted higher numbers of trout during sampling by the Shawano Crew this summer. In northern Wisconsin, cooler and wetter conditions kept fish dispersed among headwater creeks and large river conditions, giving anglers good access to fish and some very nice brook trout throughout the summer, says Zach Lawson, a fisheries biologist based in Mercer. This fall, look for those larger brook trout in the smaller tributaries of large rivers.

In west central Wisconsin, Fisheries Supervisor Heath Benike notes that natural reproduction has been strong the past three years with ample fish in the 8- to 12-inch range on most streams.

“And larger-sized trout have also been showing up in good numbers this summer, likely from slightly reduced densities from poorer year classes in 2013 and 2014,” Benike says. “This fall should be a good time to go looking for a trophy-sized trout.”

Season regulations and tools to find a trout water

The general open season for inland streams, connected springs and spring ponds runs through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 15 except as noted in the Specific Waters by County section of the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations, 2017-2018 [PDF].   Note that the open season closes Sept. 30 for streams flowing into Lake Superior from their mouths to the first impassable permanent barrier, unless noted in the Specific Waters section.

Anglers can use a new DNR mobile website tool to find places to fish. TROUT, short for Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool, includes trout fishing regulation, classified trout water, public land and DNR fishing easements.

Anglers wanting a printed map can use the tool to find the water they want and then print off a copy, or anglers can also print off county maps showing Wisconsin’s classified trout streams. These PDFs will not have regulations public lands and fishing easements noted on them.

Fisheries forecasts for selected waters

Find below recent short summaries from fisheries biologists for some trout waters in their areas. Other forecasts and survey results are found in the trout section of the 2017 Wisconsin Fishing Report, starting bottom of page 15 [PDF].

Adams and Portage counties

After recent 2017 trout survey work, trout populations are healthy in Adams and Portage counties. Streams surveyed included Big Roche a Cri Creek (Adams), Fordham Creek (Adams), Neenah Creek (Adams), Campbell Creek (Adams), Tomorrow River (Portage), Emmons Creek (Portage), Flume Creek (Portage). – Jennifer Bergman, fisheries biologist, Wisconsin Rapids

Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties

Fishing has been excellent in the Driftless lately as streams have finally come down and cleared. Preliminary results from our electrofishing indicate that the late July flooding didn’t have a substantial impact on trout abundances in most locations. I expect that fishing will pick up as water temperatures cool and trout become more active prior to spawning.- Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist, La Crosse

Baldwin/Eau Claire Area

Fishing opportunities in the Baldwin/Eau Claire Area are very strong. Several good years of natural reproduction have occurred recently and fish densities are once again approaching all-time highs. Angler effort and interest is strong especially near streams close to the Twin Cities Metro Area. The Kinni, Rush and, Trimbelle rivers receive a bulk of the angling interest. Habitat crews completed another project on the Trimbelle River downstream of HWY 10 near the mouth of Spring Creek and will complete a 2,000-foot project on Fall Creek near Durand by the end of the field season. No major complaints have been received in regards to fishing regulations and for the most part anglers appear happy.

Stream restoration crews have busy and have recently completed trout habitat restoration projects on the Trimbelle River in Pierce County, Swinns Valley Creek in Buffalo County, Beaver Creek in Trempealeau County, Tainter Creek in Vernon County, Fall Creek in Pepin County, Tarr Creek in Monroe County and removed a dam on Silver Creek near Fort McCoy. – Heath Benike, fisheries supervisor, Eau Claire

Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties: Bluff Creek upstream of County Highway P in Walworth County now has more fishable stream miles than any time since 1940, thanks to a large-scale stream re-meander project the last two winters. This project has redirected stream flow into the original channel, bypassing hundreds of feet of warm, shallow ditch channel which was unsuitable for trout and fishing. Trout Unlimited, UW-Whitewater Ecology Club and other stakeholders have assisted with installation of woody structure and other habitat features. Local trout anglers visiting Bluff will find trout and other coldwater species already inhabiting the remeandered reaches, providing a brand new and highly accessible trout fishing opportunity in Southeastern Wisconsin. – Luke S. Roffler, senior fisheries biologist, Kansasville

Iron and Ashland counties

Cooler and wetter conditions this summer kept the trout streams of Iron and Ashland Counties flowing at consistent levels and ample temperatures throughout the season, thus fish were dispersed among headwater creeks and larger river systems. Anglers enjoyed good access to very nice brook trout throughout the summer. DNR trout stream surveys documented good brook trout natural reproduction falling on the heels of an immense flooding event in summer of 2016, suggesting that quality angling opportunities experienced today should be carried into future seasons. With summer now giving way to fall, anglers can expect fishing to heat up in the smaller tributaries of larger rivers (i.e. the Potato River, Tyler Forks, and the Bad River) as brook trout set up in pre-spawn areas. The remainder of inland trout season is a great time to locate concentrations of larger brook trout in these areas, with many fish exhibiting especially vibrant coloration. – Zach Lawson, fisheries biologist, Mercer

Oconto and Langlade counties

Large brown trout and brook trout are on the move within the South Branch Oconto River as we head into fall. Popular fishing access areas are along the South Branch Oconto Fishery Area, as well as upstream at County Highway W, County Highway T, Old Grave Road, and Sauls Spring Road. There are reports of 20+ inch brown trout caught recently. – Tammie Paoli, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

Sawyer County

DNR trout surveys this summer show more big brook trout (12-plus-inches) than usual. We’ve even seen some up around 15 inches in a few spots. So anglers will have good opportunities to catch some nice fish. Some new spots to try: We did restoration work on 1,700 feet of trout streams in the Exeland area this summer. The spots were previously dammed by beaver and were wide and mucky. We used some brush bundling to narrow and deepen the channel for trout. The work was done with the help of the Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lac Court Reporter Oreilles Youth Conservation Corps. Typically, downstream of such projects, the new habitat projects deliver more fish very quickly. – Max Wolter, fisheries biologist, Hayward

Online tools show hunters where baiting and feeding is banned

MADISON – Before taking part in upcoming hunting seasons or placing feed for wildlife, hunters and wildlife watchers should be sure to check which counties currently prohibit wildlife baiting and feeding activities.

State statutes 29.336 (2) (b) and 29.336 (2) (c) have been amended to remove deer baiting and feeding prohibitions for counties in which 36 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis within the county. This amendment also removes deer baiting and feeding prohibitions in adjacent counties that are within a 10-mile radius to counties in which 24 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis.

The following 15 counties previously subject to deer baiting and feeding prohibitions have reverted back to regulated deer baiting and feeding as a result of this proposal’s enactment: Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Clark, Dodge, Jackson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Polk, Racine, Sheboygan, Washburn, Washington and Waushara. It is important to note that baiting and feeding restrictions remain in place for 28 CWD affected areas/counties, of which none will be lifted in 2017.

This change affects counties in which an individual is restricted on the placement of bait/feed. The current regulations for placement of bait/feed in counties where this practice is allowed are still in place, including timing, location, quantity, and other requirements. Hunters should continue to follow local ordinances that may prohibit baiting and feeding of deer until they are notified of a change locally.

Those interested in baiting/feeding should take time to be familiar with the associated regulations, found at, keywords “baiting and feeding.”

These outcomes apply equally to positive samples from free-roaming or captive animals. More information regarding current baiting and feeding rules in response to CWD detections can be found at keyword “CWD.”

During the 2017 deer hunting season, DNR will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in the CWD-affected area. To learn more about the 2017 CWD surveillance plan, or for more information on CWD, search keyword “CWD.” Hunters are reminded that the surveillance plan identifies where the Wisconsin DNR will be attempting to collect samples from deer however if hunters anywhere in the state are interested in having their animal tested, they should contact their local wildlife biologist for the county they are located.

Individuals may still feed birds and small mammals, provided feeding devices are within 50 yards of a human dwelling and at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer.

Sept. 16 marks opening of archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons

MADISON – Increased deer observations following another mild winter have hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons – the 2017 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, 2018.

“I’m hearing a lot of optimism from all corners of the state,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. “Hunters should expect good to excellent deer numbers in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and more deer in the forested zones after several years of no antlerless harvest and mild winters. With our most recent mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common.”

In 2016, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history, and Wallenfang expects similar, if not an increase, in the buck harvest this year. Deer hunters in just four predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting this year. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available through the use of Farmland Zone and bonus antlerless deer tags.

Archery and crossbow deer hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer tag using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.

In its first three years, hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for the highest rate of participation by women than any other deer hunting method. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the same buck tag and antlerless tags issued with their first license of choice.

In addition, please note that regulations regarding tree stands and ground blinds used on department managed lands have changed for fall 2017. For other types of property such as county or federally owned lands, contact the property manager to learn about these rules.

Bonus antlerless tags remain available in many deer management units. Bonus tags may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type designated on each tag. Bonus tags are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents, and $5 for youth hunters age 10-11.

In 2017, up to five Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit (DMU) of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the unit and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased through the Go Wild website, GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.

Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses earlier in the year, or who have yet to determine hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tag selection. When ready, hunters may:

  • make a tag selection online from their Go Wild account and print themselves;
  • request desired tag(s) at a local DNR Service Center; or
  • visit a license agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).


All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the carcass tag number and date of birth.

Hunters will have three options for registering their deer:

  • online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
  • by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
  • electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword “registration stations”).

For more information regarding electronic registration, search “GameReg.”

To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled “subscribe for updates for DNR topics,” then follow the prompts and select the “white-tailed deer” distribution list (found within the “hunting” list).

Deer hunters are also encouraged to check out the frequently asked questions page for more information regarding changes for 2017. And, remember to check out the carcass tagging FAQ (search keywords “tag it”).

For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword “deer.”