You want more rooster pheasants to hunt and increased hunting
locations this year, next year and for future generations?
There is good news!

 

First, How Does It Work?

Very simple. If you want more roosters stocked, you simply buy a pheasant hunting license; the total fee goes to purchasing roosters. Michigan’s non-profit Pheasant Hunting Initiative is in charge of releasing birds on state land. Michigan Bird and Game Breeders Association provides roosters and releases them at public locations after shooting hours. Pretty simple. If you want more roosters, the public only needs to buy licenses, and the more sold, the more birds will be stocked. The goal is to encourage you to go hunting and make roosters available for everyone.

Who Is MPHI?

The Michigan Pheasant Hunters Initiative, MPHI, is a group of sportsmen dedicated to providing hunting opportunities for the public. It is perhaps the largest conservation effort ever created in Michigan that guarantees hunting opportunities on a monumental level. This is a fantastic boon for Michigan hunters. But the key to success depends on license sales and public support. So, here’s your chance to sample rooster hunting like Michigan had years ago; simply buy your license today.

MPHI was created by Ken Dalton, a long-time rooster fan who wants others to experience the thrill of the flush. “The goal of MPHI is to get you outdoors and bring hunters back to the fields in record numbers,” says Dalton. “We are not a habitat organization. Instead, we stock thousands of rooster pheasants designed to get boots-on-the-ground hunting.”

Many Michigan hunters enjoy time outdoors with their dogs. For them hunting is all about the dog. Author photo

Many Michigan hunters think the stocking is done by the DNR, not so. MDNR stocks zero pheasants for hunters, while 24 other states have flooded fields with roosters, and public support is outstanding. Pennsylvania has built brooding pens and now raises thousands of birds for public hunting. The list of states stocking significate numbers of birds includes Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, and many others. Wisconsin stocks 75,000 roosters to increase hunter recruitment. They even release birds on 22 state game areas over the Christmas holiday so the public can have successful outings over Christmas and the New Year. Pennsylvania releases 220,000 yearly through a state DNR program.

“We are bringing Michigan hunters back to the fields in record numbers,” reports Dalton. “Our goal is to activate the 3 Rs of hunting: Retention, Recruitment, Reactivation.

“Retention of all hunters, young or old. We give them a golden opportunity to experience first-hand how pheasant hunting should be in Michigan.

“Recruitment of new hunters who will go bonkers once they flush that first rooster and guns are blazing. Guaranteed they will be back for more.

“Reactivation to get Michigan sportsmen back out hunting pheasants that dropped the sport due to lack of birds. Don’t forget the thousands of dog owners that will rush to the fields because the habitat is ideal and birds are finally available. Hunters will be overjoyed to get their private hunting dog outdoors, and hunting dog sales will skyrocket. The fact is, this will encourage new hunters and seasoned veterans to get outdoors and go hunting on public lands. We promote hunting and guarantee Michigan citizens enjoy our state’s valuable natural resources.”

How Many Roosters Will Be Released In 2023?

Let’s get to the good news. You will see a huge increase in pheasants released compared to 2022 when MDNR held back funding. This year an estimated 6,460 roosters will be released on state land open to hunting. This year 14 state game areas will come alive with cackling roosters, hunters enjoying the outdoors and abundant hunting opportunities. In addition, there will also be a late rooster season from December 1 thru January 2024. Hunting locations will be available online at www.Michigan.gov/smallgame.com. Roosters will be released after dark weekly. A $25 license is required for hunters 18 or older. The daily bag limit is two roosters, four in possession.

As word gets out to local hunters that pheasants are available, sportsmen and communities are becoming involved with MPHI. Take Cass City, for instance. The Cass City, State Game Area, will have a hunt this year, and local hunters are excited about the news. The 200 acres of land will receive roosters this year, and birds will be released twice weekly.

The benefits of MPHI are many. First, you can actually hunt birds that do not exist in the wild in Michigan. Plus, you don’t have to ask for permission from landowners. This conservation effort increases the use of unused public lands owned by the Michigan public.

Many Michigan outdoorsmen are overjoyed they can take their hunting dogs to locations that actually have pheasants. For many, the thrill of the hunt is all about the dog; watching them work and flushing a big rooster is icing on the cake. Few thrills in hunting are more rewarding than watching a dog get “birdy,” seeing them get fired up, maybe go on point, and in-the-field enjoyment is exhilarating and enhances hunting outings. Savvy hunters know the thrill of flushing a big rooster, wings pounding and cackling like a wild banshee, will fire up any dog. Truth is, pheasant hunting is all about the flush, and the adrenalin rush you get when birds blast from cover will ignite your hunting spirit like no other gamebird species.

State Law Passed to Stock Roosters

But there is more to this story. While Dalton shared his love for rooster hunting, his enthusiastic attitude ignited a fire involving other Michigan conservationists. Soon volunteers came out of the woodwork, and sportsmen across the state supported MPHI. Amy Trotter, Executive Director of MUCC, supported MPHI and was instrumental in helping others to see the benefits. Mike Thorman, from Hunting Dog Federation, joined the fight and was excited about increased outdoor recreation for dog owners and sporting dog enthusiasts. Many Michigan sportsmen became the driving force that got MPHI up and running full steam. Some requiring honorable special mention include Brad Brunken, Carl Griffin, Jim Smith, Tom Shook, Dave Ames, Kenny Darwin, Jack Ammerman, Randy Jorgensen and many more who joined the fight to get roosters for the Michigan public.

Eventually, word got to Michigan’s Rep. Gary Howell, the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Committee Chair. Howell was quick to recognize the importance and benefit to Michigan sportsmen of stocking roosters and penned House Bill 4313. The bill created the Michigan pheasant hunting license that went on sale for $25, and his bill guaranteed the monies would be used to stock roosters statewide. When hunters heard about the new conservation effort, they dug deep into their pockets, and license sales boomed. Keep in mind the law states monies from license sales will be set aside and protected by law to buy rooster pheasants.

Michigan hunters should be grateful to Alex Beachum for his generous donation of $25,000 to MPHI in honor of his mother, who supported pheasant hunting. He wanted to honor her memory through the Pheasant Initiative. Little did she know the monies placed many roosters in Michigan’s grasslands, and hunters enjoyed Michigan’s great outdoors in her name.

Who Provides The Pheasants?

There are 24 states stocking pheasants for hunters on public land. Just look at Wisconsin. They release 40,000 roosters yearly and created the Holiday Hunts, where 22 state areas get thousands more for hunters to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Michigan’s non-profit MPHI purchases birds and has them stocked on state land for Michigan citizens. Michigan’s Game Bird Breeders Association raises pheasants and releases them on state land during the wee hours of the night. Release sites will get pheasants twice weekly throughout the season.

Fundraiser

To raise more monies to buy pheasants, MPHI has joined forces with Rooster Ranch and will host a public shoot on September 16 at Rooster Ranch in Ubly. In addition, there will be a gun raffle, breakfast, clay pigeon shoot, and of course, a pheasant hunt. Contact Rooster Ranch for details at 989-658-2332. Proceeds from the shoot will go toward purchasing roosters for state land stocking.

Also, MPHI is officially a non-profit agency, and conservationists, hunting clubs, sportsman’s leagues or individuals can contribute funds by contacting MPHI President Ken Dalton at (810)358-9372. This means any contribution is tax-deductible, and all money buys roosters.

With the increased stocking agenda, Michigan pheasant hunters have a golden opportunity to experience top-notch hunting on public land this year. For most, the hunting will be fantastic and a special treat to get outdoors and actually hunt, flush and see rooster hunting like it was back in the day. But the success of the program is dependent upon one important variable, license sales. Please take time from your busy schedule to buy your pheasant hunting license today. Come October 20, opening day, you will not be sorry when guns start booming, roosters are flushed, and exciting outdoor adventures are at your fingertips. MPHI was created for you. I hope you will join in the celebration this coming fall.