Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Michigan Pheasant season offers growing opportunities for hunters

With pheasant hunting just under way, 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 runs 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 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 among 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." 
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 Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative 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.” 
The best counties for pheasant hunting are in south-central Michigan 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 cattails and shrub lands adjoining picked agricultural fields.
Hunters may be interested in the recently published 2015 Michigan Ring-Necked Pheasant Status Report. The report, along with more information on pheasant hunting and the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, can be found at mi.gov/pheasant.  
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 form should be returned by Oct. 28 for the early season, and by Jan. 5 for the regular season.
/Editors, please note: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Suggested caption follows:
Pheasant season, now under way, offers hunters a growing number of opportunities to take part in this treasured Michigan tradition