Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative

Pheasant Hunting Initiative and Pheasant Releases 

  • Select State Game Areas (SGAs) throughout the southern Lower Peninsula will be receiving released, rooster pheasants throughout the next two seasons.
  • The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 618 of 2018, which appropriated $260,000 from the general fund to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a pheasant release program during the fall of 2019 and 2020.
  • Pheasant releases will be divided into two periods: the October-November hunting period and the December period.
  • A limited number of roosters will be released at each site throughout the pheasant hunting season.
  • The pheasant releases are being done in partnership with the Michigan Association of Game Breeders and Hunting Preserves. Association members will be releasing the birds on a weekly basis at the designated game areas.
  • Pheasant releases in 2019 will take place on the following State Game Areas:
    • Bay County: Pinconning State Game Area (Closed to December hunting/No December pheasant releases) 
    • Cass County: Crane Pond State Game Area (Closed to December hunting/No December pheasant releases)
    • Clinton County: Rose Lake State Game Area
    • Lapeer County: Lapeer State Game Area
    • Monroe County: Erie State Game Area; Pointe Mouillee State Game Area
    • Saginaw County: Crow Island State Game Area
    • Sanilac County: Minden City State Game Area
    • St. Clair County: St. Johns Marsh State Game Area
    • St. Joseph County: Leidy Lake State Game Area
    • Van Buren County: Cornish State Game Area (Closed to December hunting/No December pheasant releases)
  • December's pheasant hunting is only open in selected portions of Zone 3 (see map on page 54 of the 2019 Hunting Digest).  Please be aware that Cornish, Crane Pond and Pinconning State Game Areas and the Fennville Farm Unit within Allegan State Game Area are not within the December Pheasant Management Unit and are not open to pheasant hunting in December. Pheasant releases through the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative will not take place on these three game areas during the December season. 
  • In addition, there will be two more locations that will host a one-time special hunter recruitment event geared towards recruitment and retention of hunters:
    • Allegan State Game Area, in Allegan County, on Nov. 2, 2019 – 9:00 a.m.
      • This hunt is especially for new or novice hunters ages 12 and up at Allegan State Game Area Fennville MI.
      • For more info and to register online go to NWTF.org/events.
    • Shiawassee State Game Area, in Saginaw County, on Dec. 14, 2019 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


  • Are there specific days when birds are released?  The Michigan Association of Gamebird Breeders and Hunting Preserves (MAGBHP) is responsible for releasing the pheasants at the various state game areas. They are responsible for 1 release per week for 8 weeks (4 in Oct/Nov and 4 in Dec). They may select which day of the week the release is made at the area. No specific day is designated for a release. An area may receive a release on Tuesday one week and Saturday another week. MAGBHP representatives are responsible for providing time-stamped documentation that birds were released at the sites.  
  • What time of day will they be released?  MAGBHP representatives are required to release birds outside legal shooting hours. That means birds may be released later in the evening or early in the morning.

Free Pheasant Endorsement (stamp)

  • Pheasant hunters will need a free pheasant/sharp-tailed grouse endorsement on their hunting license.  
  • Anyone hunting pheasants will need this endorsement except those solely hunting pheasants on hunting preserves.  
  • This free endorsement will help to identify the number of pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse hunters in Michigan. It will also allow the DNR to survey a sample of these hunters to get their input about the management of these important birds and possible changes for the 2020 release strategy.