2021 pheasant hunting in Michigan

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2021 pheasant hunting in Michigan

Pheasant season dates

  • 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.
  • Dec. 1 - Jan. 1 in selected areas of Zone 3.

See the 2021 Hunting Digest for maps of open hunting zones. The bag limit is two male pheasants daily, with four in possession.

New pheasant license

A $25 license is required for all hunters 18 years of age and older who hunt pheasants on any public land in the Lower Peninsula or on lands enrolled in the Hunting Access Program. A base license is also required for these pheasant hunters. The free pheasant endorsement required in 2019 and 2020 has been discontinued and is no longer required for hunters pursuing pheasants.

A base license is all that is needed for private-land pheasant hunters, hunters on public lands in the Upper Peninsula and hunters 17 years old and younger.  Those hunting pheasants at a game bird hunting preserve and some lifetime license holders (small game, sportperson’s, comprehensive) are exempt from the $25 pheasant license and base license.

Money from the new pheasant 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.

Pheasant releases on state game areas

Live pheasant releases will be conducted during the regular pheasant season, which runs from mid-October through mid-November.

Rooster pheasants will be released at the following state game areas in 2021:

  • Cornish (Van Buren 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)

Additional pheasant release information is available at Michigan.gov/SmallGame.

Pheasant season outlook

While pheasant populations have been in decline for several 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. In the U.P., Menominee County is a good place to begin your pheasant hunting adventure.

There are some localized concentrations of birds elsewhere based on habitat availability. Hunters should look for warm-season grasses and idle farm fields. Late-season hunters can have success in cattail and shrub lands adjoining picked agricultural fields.

Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative

The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat, populations and hunting opportunities on private and public lands. It works by acquiring state and federal resources to improve wildlife habitat on select state game areas, recreation areas and other public and private lands.

MPRI partners work to secure adequate staffing to accomplish habitat improvement, hunter access, education and outreach, hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation, and population monitoring goals.

A Mid-Point Accomplishments Report detailing the work completed by the coalition in the first five years of the MPRI partnership is available for review.  The 2020 MPRI Annual Report is also available.  A ten-year report detailing the accomplishments of the coalition will be available in 2022.

Adopt-a-Game-Area program

Grasslands provide great benefits to wildlife and to people as well. In addition to providing habitat and food resources for wildlife, grasslands help to improve water and air quality – important for all of us in Michigan and throughout the world. They are also simply stunning to view in mid- to late summer when the prairie wildflowers are in full bloom.

In addition, grasslands pollinators like bees and monarch butterflies help to pollinate our crops, keeping the United States fed. Without grasslands, we’d be in real trouble.

Throughout Michigan, grasslands are disappearing to agriculture and development and are now one of the rarest habitat types in the world.

Grassland wildlife needs your help to thrive. The Adopt-a-Game-Area program, a partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever and the Hal and Jean Glassen Foundation, allows you to sponsor habitat projects on state lands that you use and enjoy. Your support of this program will provide valuable habitat for nesting, brood-rearing and foraging as well as winter habitat for a wide range of wildlife including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, cottontail rabbits, songbirds and pollinators.

You can become a sponsor today. Earn Gold (over $25,000), Silver (over $5,000) or Bronze (over $500) sponsorship levels with your tax-deductible donation. Contact Ben Beaman at BBeaman@PheasantsForever.org to make a donation in support of Michigan state game areas.

Learn more about the program and public lands that you can support at Michigan.gov/Pheasant.

Find a place to hunt


No matter where you are in Michigan, you can find public hunting land. Mi-HUNT, an interactive map application, which now works on mobile devices, includes both public hunting land and private land open to the public for hunting.

HAP lands ►

There are private lands open to public hunting through the Hunting Access Program. HAP is a voluntary land-leasing program. There are thousands of private-land acres across the state that are open to public hunting.


Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.