Michigan leads the nation in number of active woodcock hunters and in woodcock harvest totals for 2014 hunting season.
An extensive report released in 2014 by the USFWS details the most current status of the American woodcock across their management regions in the U.S. and Canada. The preliminary feedback from various collaborative surveys for the 2014 season shows Michigan as a dominant leader in several statistics. Among the most notable are woodcock harvest totals (79,300), active hunters (30,000), and number of days afield (123,700).
The only states whose numbers came close to Michigan’s were Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s. And even then, they are statistically distant seconds. Wisconsin’s harvest totals came in at 38,400, active hunters at 14,500, and Minnesota had the second highest days afield with 74,700.
Also of note is the number of hunters who submitted wings for the Wing Collection Survey (WCS). Michigan led this too with 253 hunters participating during the 2013 – 2014 collection season. Participation was down 32 hunters from the 2012 – 2013 collection season but was still higher than any other state. Wisconsin had the second highest participation in the WCS with 203 hunters sending in wings of theirs harvested birds.
The surveys used to collect this comprehensive data represent collaborative efforts between the FWS and state wildlife agencies such as the Michigan DNR.
The Wing Collection Survey (WCS) aims to collect accurate woodcock reproductive data and is a cooperative effort between woodcock hunters, state agencies, and the FWS. The WCS gives hunters a time window to submit a wing, and other survey information, from harvested birds during the local season. Participation in this survey is voluntary or hunters can be picked from past survey databases.
The Harvest Information Program (HIP) is used to provide accurate and reliable annual estimates for hunter activity and harvest information for all migratory game birds. According to Michigan’s DNR, registration in HIP automatically occurs when a hunter purchases their woodcock stamp. Once registered in HIP, hunter information is sent to FWS where the agency randomly selects hunters to keep detailed records of their woodcock hunting activity. This information is then used for active hunter data, days afield, and more.
Woodcock management regions are divided into the Eastern and Central regions by the FWS. These regions are biologically based on the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways. Woodcock numbers across both regions are on a ten-year declining trend due to loss of habitat.