More than just the Great Lake State: Michigan offers great bird hunting.
As a popular destination for tourism and camping, Michigan prides itself on natural beauty and some of the best beaches in the Midwest. Upland hunters are discovering that bird hunting in Michigan gives the state even more reasons to be proud. With its unique geography, Michigan offers a variety of opportunities to bag a few birds.
Michigan recently simplified its small game licensing. You’ll only need to buy a base license to access its 10 million public acres of hunting. Nonresidents pay $151, while residents pay only $11. If you’re a nonresident and want to pay a smaller fee for bird hunting in Michigan, a small game 7-day nonresident license costs $80.
The Upper Peninsula is the best place to go hunting for ruffed grouse in Michigan—especially if you’re willing to brave the cold winter. You don’t have to be on the peninsula itself to find great forests for hunting. Drummond Island, accessible by ferry, makes for a distinctive location for bird hunting in Michigan.
The ruffed grouse season runs from September 15 to November 14 and December 1 to January 1. The daily bag limit is five.
American woodcock is another excellent hunting prospect in Michigan. While populations should also be strong in the Upper Peninsula, the Allegan State Game Area in the south is a good place for woodcock. There are plenty of national and state forests in the northern parts of the Lower Peninsula, as well.
The American woodcock season runs from September 23 to November 6, with a daily bag limit of three.
(Governed by federal migratory bird laws. HIP Survey Required)
Though not all that common, Michigan does offer a chance for sharp-tailed grouse hunting. Chippewa County in the northeastern portion of the Upper Peninsula is the only place to find these birds. But that is more of an opportunity than a handicap. There is some state land available for bird hunting as well as Hunting Access Program lands.
The reason runs from October 10 to 31, with a daily bag limit of two. In addition to the base license, the state requires a free sharp-tailed grouse stamp.
Bird hunting in Michigan would not be complete without ring-necked pheasants. When pheasant hunting began to decline, Michigan in collaboration with conservation groups established the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative. Hunters can find ring-necked pheasants in CRP program acres in southern parts of the Lower Peninsula. Some other places for ring-necked pheasants are in the center of the Lower Peninsula and within the Huron, Tuscola, and Sanilac counties.
The ring-necked pheasant season (males only) happens within three separate zones. Zone 1, the Upper Peninsula, is October 10 to 31. For Zone 2 and 3 in the Lower Peninsula, the season runs from October 20 to November 14. For the southern parts of the Lower Peninsula, which is Zone 3, the season is December 1 to January 1. There is a daily bag limit of two.
The bobwhite quail is the only threatened species that is still available for bird hunting in Michigan. Hunting is limited to 27 counties and much of their habitat within these counties is privately owned.
The bobwhite quail season runs from October 20 to November 14, with a daily bag limit of five.
Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Michigan Bird Hunting
The Michigan Hunter Safety Course and Further Regulations
Like most states, Michigan requires anyone who wants to purchase a small game license to have completed the related hunter safety requirements. If someone is over the age of 10, however, and does not have a hunter safety certificate they can purchase a 7-day apprentice hunter license for 2 years. They will have to complete a hunter safety course after that time. An apprentice hunter afield has to be accompanied by a resident at least 21 years old who possesses a current-year hunting license. Otherwise, if you were born after January 1, 1960, you will need to complete a hunter safety course.
For training your dog to bird hunt, the dates are July 8 to April 15. You can use non-native birds, except for pheasant, during this open season on State Game Areas and Wildlife Management Areas. There are designated Field Trial Areas for closed season training. In these areas (Highland, Holly, Ionia, Sharonville, Lapeer), you will need a permit for shooting anything other than a starter pistol.
The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Michigan.
Last modified: August 10, 2018