New pheasant license to fund Michigan pheasant release program

A new Michigan pheasant hunting license, now available for purchase, will generate funds for a pheasant release program.

The $25 license is required for anyone 18 and older who is planning to hunt pheasants on any public land in the Lower Peninsula or on lands enrolled in the Hunting Access Program. Private-land pheasant hunters statewide and hunters on public lands in the Upper Peninsula do not need the pheasant license. Additionally, lifetime license holders, hunters 17 and younger, and those hunting pheasants only at a game bird hunting preserve do not need the pheasant license.

“The new public-land pheasant hunting license will provide funding to continue a pilot pheasant release program that was conducted in 2019,” said Sara Thompson, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Species Management Unit supervisor. “The pilot program was very popular with participants, especially among new hunters who were able to harvest a bird for the first time.”

Passed by the Michigan Legislature in 2020, the new law requiring the public-land pheasant hunting license has a sunset date of Jan. 1, 2026.

The license is on sale now at or over the counter at license retailers. Hunters must have a 2021 base license to purchase the 2021 pheasant license.

Money from the new license will be placed into an account to be used only for the purchase and release of live pheasants on state-owned public lands with suitable pheasant habitat. Releases will be conducted during the regular pheasant season, which runs from mid-October through mid-November.

Pheasants are expected to be released at the following state game areas in 2021:

Cornish (Cass County)
Crow Island (Bay and Saginaw counties)
Erie (Monroe County)
Lapeer (Lapeer County)
Leidy Lake (St. Joseph County)
Pinconning Township (Bay County)
Pointe Mouillee (Monroe and Wayne counties)
Rose Lake (Clinton and Shiawassee counties)
St Johns Marsh (St. Clair County)

Two hunting recruitment events also will take place at the Rose Lake State Game Area in December. When available, event dates and registration details will be posted at

The free pheasant endorsement required in 2019 and 2020 has been discontinued and is no longer required for hunters pursuing pheasants.

Information about pheasant hunting regulations and season dates will be in the 2021 Hunting Digest, which will be available around July 1 at license agents and online at

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Questions about pheasant and small game hunting can be directed to the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 or