Season Dates for Dog Training on State Wildlife Areas

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To protect ground nesting birds, such as pheasants and quail, it is common for state agencies to restrict dog training on public wildlife areas during the spring nesting months. As a result, many states have established season dates for dog training on public land. Remember, season dates go hand-in-hand with season regulations—always consult your state regulations.  
 
As an upland hunter, you’re surely eager to get back in the field with your dog, not only to work on drills, but to improve his/her conditioning. Additionally, being out in the field is a great time to scout for the upcoming hunting season. However, it is still important to remember that late or re-nesting efforts may be taking place. Be conscious of this, and maintain control over your dog.
 

Colorado 

Dates: August 1, 2015 through April 15, 2016
 
Details: Starting August 1, on public land, bird dog owners can train their dogs on wild game birds using blank cartridges or shells only.   
 
 

Illinois 

Dates: September 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016 
 
Details: Dog training on Illinois public land is only allowed in designated areas and requires a valid site dog training permit. Permits are free and can be obtained online or from the public land site office during regular business hours (varies by site, see list). Additionally, the dog training season is closed during the upland hunting season, and training firearms are restricted to pistols/shotguns with blank cartridges only.  
 
For a list of Illinois’ designated areas where dog training is allowed, along with each site’s season exceptions/additional restrictions – Click here
 
 

Iowa 

Dates: July 16, 2015 through March 14, 2016
 
Details: Dog owners are required to have a valid hunting license and have paid the habitat fee to train dogs on game birds in Iowa. Before using any live bird for dog training, the bird must be banded with a band from the Iowa DNR (Contact at 515.725.8200). Upon being banded, pen-raised game birds can be released and shot during training. However, during closed seasons, only a pistol, revolver or other gun shooting blank cartridges can be used for dog training.  
 
Regulations or see the section titled “Dog Restrictions” in the current hunting regulations (page 35) 
 

Kansas 

Dates: Year-round 
 
Details: For non-commercial dog training in Kansas, the dog training season is year-round. Other than pigeons (banding not required), no game bird, pen-raised bird, or wild-trapped bird may be released on department lands or waters during dog training, unless specifically authorized by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks via a permit. 
 
 

Michigan 

Dates: July 8, 2015 through April 16, 2016
 
Details: On Michigan’s State Game Areas and Wildlife Areas, non-native birds (excluding pheasants) such as pigeons, chukars, and Tennessee reds, may be used and shot for dog training. During the closed dog training season, running dogs off lead, in addition to dog training, is not allowed. There are, however, state Designated Field Trial Areas—Highland, Holly, Ionia, Sharonville, and Lapeer—that are open to train and run dogs at during the closed season. Without a field trial permit, only starter pistols are allowed at these areas. 
 
 

Minnesota 

Dates: July 15, 2015 through April 15, 2016
 
Details: Starting July 15, bird dog owners can train on public land in Minnesota using pigeons and blank ammunition. To use live ammunition or domesticated game birds for dog training, a special permit (free) is required. Birds, other than pigeons, must be clearly marked with dye or a streamer attached to a leg in a manner that makes them visually identifiable before being taken.
 
 

Montana

Dates: Prohibited
 
Details: Dog training may not occur within one mile of any designated game preserve, bird nesting, or management area.
 
 

Nebraska 

Dates: August 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016
 
Details: Professional dog trainers are not allowed to use State Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) for training in Nebraska. For everyone else, wildlife areas are open to dog training, conditioning, and hunting (in season), unless posted otherwise. There are five WMAs designated for year-round training—Yankee Hill, Wagon Train Lake SRA, Rakes Creek, Red Willow Reservoir, and Sherman Reservoir. Lands posted as "Dog Trial Areas" are closed to dog training activities. 
 
 

North Dakota 

Dates: August 16, 2015 through May 31, 2016
 
Details: Professional dog trainers are not allowed to use State Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) for training in North Dakota. Any person training on WMAs during closed season (April 1 through August 15) is guilty of a noncriminal offense and will be fined one hundred dollars.
 
 

South Dakota 

Dates: August 1, 2015 through April 16, 2016 
 
Details: In South Dakota, the use of throwing dummies, lures, and pigeons are allowed year-round. From August 1 through the Friday before the third Saturday in September (Sept. 18), dog owners can use public land and road rights-of-way to train dogs on wild game birds. When training on wild game birds and when using pen-raised birds, certain restrictions apply—see the section titled, “Dog Training” in the Hunting and Trapping Handbook (page 41) for more information.
 
 

Wisconsin 

Dates: August 1, 2015 through April 14, 2016 
 
Details: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources maintains Class I and Class II dog training grounds—see the map of training areas. The majority of these training areas follow the general dog training season dates listed above; however, Class I and selected Class II grounds are open year-round—see training areas by county and Class. A bird dog training license is required for anyone using captive-bred quail, gray partridge, chukar partridge, red-legged partridge, mallard duck, or pheasants for dog training purposes.
 


Photo by Martin Sundberg