With the opening of pheasant hunting season Thursday, the Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that there are a growing number of opportunities to take part in this treasured Michigan tradition.
Pheasant hunting season is Oct. 10-31 in the Upper Peninsula in Menominee County and portions of Iron, Marquette, Dickinson and Delta counties; Oct. 20 – Nov. 14 in the Lower Peninsula and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1 in selected areas of Zone 3. The bag limit is two male pheasants daily, with four in possession. A small game license is required to hunt pheasants.
“A few years ago Outdoor Life magazine rated Michigan’s Thumb in the top 10 places in the country to go pheasant hunting, which points to the fact that pheasant hunting is still alive and well in our state,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “The DNR and our partners are making progress toward creating more quality pheasant hunting opportunities with the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort to revitalize Michigan pheasants.”
Stewart explained that, while pheasant populations have been in decline for a number of years, pheasants can be found in southern Lower Michigan and in some areas of the Upper Peninsula. The best counties for pheasant hunting are in south-central to mid-Michigan and into the Thumb. There are some localized concentrations of birds elsewhere based on habitat availability. Stewart advises hunters to look for warm-season grasses, especially idle farm fields. Late-season hunters can have success in cattail and shrub lands adjoining picked agricultural fields.
The DNR asks hunters to help monitor pheasants and quail in Michigan by becoming a “hunter cooperator” and filling out a survey form, which provides important information about the status of these game birds.
The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative aims to create small game hunting opportunities, increase wildlife populations, improve hunter satisfaction and help Michigan’s economy. Landowners can get involved – and can get technical and financial assistance – by forming cooperatives to create and enhance pheasant habitat.