With the opening of pheasant hunting season last week, the Michigan 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, 2017, in selected areas of Zone 3 in the southern Lower Peninsula. The bag limit is two male pheasants daily, with four in possession. A base 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, who recently returned from attending the National Wild Pheasant meeting, 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 idled 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 early-season form should be returned by Oct. 28, and the regular-season report by Jan. 5.
More information about pheasants and pheasant hunting, including recent reports on the status of ring-necked pheasants in Michigan, can be found at www.michigan.gov/pheasant.
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.
“It has been exciting to see what the MPRI coalition of partners has been doing over the last few years to improve pheasant habitat, pheasant numbers and pheasant hunting in southern Michigan,” said Bill Vander Zouwen, Pheasants Forever representative and MPRI Coalition co-chair. “For example, the DNR bought 917 acres and improved thousands of acres on state game areas, Pheasants Forever provided 75,000 acres of habitat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture farm programs provided nearly 100,000 acres of habitat, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped landowners improve close to 3,000 acres. I am really looking forward to seeing what the next five years will bring.”
Bringing back quality pheasant hunting to Michigan is one way the DNR plans to create world-class recreational opportunities with funding from hunting and trapping license sales.