Deer from Side by Kim LeBlanc -  USFWS

Deer from Side by Kim LeBlanc -  USFWS

Deer Retrieval Guidelines for Neighboring Hunts

Required steps for legal hunters wanting to retrieve a deer that entered the refuge:

1) Request approval either in-person or by calling refuge headquarters at 989/777-5930:
  • If unsuccessful in reaching a person (ex. outside of office hours), hunter must call the MI DNR RAP line at 800-292-7800. The dispatcher will forward the information to the appropriate personnel.
2) Required Info in Request:
  • Hunter Name
  • Phone Number
  • Area Where Looking for Wounded Deer
  • Desired Starting Time for Search

Retrieval Guidelines:

  • Hunters must gain approval before retrieval.
  • Hunter is limited to 1 guest to assist with tracking.
  • All State and Refuge regulations must be followed. 

Please see our Hunting Brochure (2021 edition - PDF - 463KB) for information about all refuge hunting opportunities.

Deer Hunting - Gun and Archery

 Deer 22 by Tim Kaufman

Voluntary Non-Toxic Ammunition Program

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge encourages deer hunters to use non-toxic ammunition during the refuge deer hunt.

Recent scientific studies show a strong link between spent lead ammunition and lead poisoning in scavenging birds. Eagles eat lead when they feed on animal carcasses or gut piles that contain toxic lead bullet fragments. Lead fragments the size of a couple of grains of rice can be lethal. Once lead enters the bloodstream, it damages a bird's nervous system and paralyzes its digestive tract. 

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge hosts a several pairs of bald eagles during the fall and winter. It is one of several refuges in the Midwest encouraging hunters to switch to non-toxic ammunition for deer hunting. 

For more information on these findings see the following:

Non Toxic Ammunition FAQ (PDF - 155KB)

Deer Hunting and Lead Fact Sheet (PDF - 203KB)

To find out more about the Non Toxic Ammunition Program visit the official page:

White-tailed Deer Hunt Information

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administers the annual white-tailed deer hunt lottery, permits, and licenses for Deer Management Unit (DMU) 273, which includes Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (SRSGA). Applicants can apply for one hunt at one location (SNWR or SRSGA) from July 15th through August 15th. Drawing results will be posted at on August 30th. Leftover permits will be issued on a first-come first-served basis starting September 7th at 10 a.m. EST. See the application information sheet for detailed information about the hunts and application process.

Important changes for 2021. For all deer hunts on both Shiawassee River State Game Area and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, your access permit is only valid for ONE deer harvest. Your access permit must be attached to a harvested deer along with a validated kill tag.


You may purchase Deer Hunt Permits or Leftover permits from M-DNR website:

For a complete list of all DNR license agents in the State visit:,4570,7-350-79137_79765_84005_81259-32867--,00.html

Late Antlerless Ruling (2020): Valid access permit holders have the option of muzzleloader or archery while harvesting an antlerless deer during late antlerless season (hunts 0217 and 0218).

See additional Natural Resources Commission rulings here:,4570,7-350-79137_79770_79780-534366--y_2020,00.html

Vehicle Permit New Since 2015: Vehicles permits will not be required while hunting at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.


2021 3-Day Scouting Period   

This year's scouting dates are September 24-26, 2021.  During this 3-day weekend, the entire refuge is open to hiking, bicycling, and deer scouting during daylight hours only. Please note that at this moment, there are no other opportunities for you to scout, but are welcome to use the refuge's trails or the Wildlife Drive (when it's open). Please note that you must stay on the designated trails and route on any day outside of Open House Weekend.  

For deer hunt related questions specific to Shiawassee NWR call the General (Hunter) Message Center at (989) 777-5930 opt. 3  

For Michigan E-License Questions contact them directly at (517)284-6057

For questions related to permits or the lottery process contact DNR Bay City office at (989) 684-9141.  

Tittabawassee River Floodplain Wild Game Consumption Advisory - For more information please read the Michigan Department of Community Health's Eat Safe Wild Game leaflet. 


Youth Hunt Deer Hunt

Youth Hunt  

Youth Hunt (16 and younger) September 11th - 12th, 2021

**NOTICE: Youth Hunt will be in concurrence with the State of Michigan Liberty Hunt. 

The youth hunt will be ran as an opportunity hunt only. 

Youth hunters will be drawn same as adult hunters in other hunts.  

For any other questions or concerns about the hunt please reach out to us by phone (989) 607-0009 or by email:


Non-Ambulatory Deer Hunt 

NA Hunt

Actions are being taken on behalf of public and employee safety, and Centers for Disease Control guidance designed to slow spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Traditionally, this is a volunteer facilitated hunt offered to disable individuals that meet specific eligibility requirements; past services provided for this hunt range from hunting blind assistance, retrieval of deer and buffet styled lunch.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is our number one priority.

For general questions about this program contact Non-Ambulatory Hunt Volunteer Coordinator, Steve MacAlpine at 989.750.2742.

CAUTION: The Non-Ambulatory Hunt is subject to cancellation without refund. This assistive hunt is administered by volunteers and may be cancelled based on results of a Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission risk assessment.  Notification of cancellation will be given to successful hunters by Oct. 15th.     



Waterfowl Hunting  

Register Now

Download and complete  Waterfowl Registration Form Word Version (MS Word - 31KB) or Waterfowl Registration Form (PDF -73KB). Then, email completed form to (up to six days in advance) using Subject Line: Waterfowl Hunt

Lottery Winners: Record your assigned unique party number and submit Harvest Report (PDF -167KB) by email or drop box immediately following hunt.

Morning Hunts: Hunters may setup ("splash" equipment) no more than two hours before legal shoot time. 

Thursday Afternoon Hunts: Legal Shooting Time is Noon (10am "splash" time).   

Thanksgiving Announcements: 


  • The Thursday Thanksgiving Hunt will be a MORNING ONLY HUNT (Nov. 26th).

  • The pre-recorded message for the results of the Thanksgiving Weekend Draw (Saturday and Sunday) will be available on Wednesday, Nov. 25th by 3:00PM.


Check Weekly Results by dialing: 989.607.6056 Updated Mondays and Fridays at 3pm. 

 Common Mergansers preflight by Ryan Dziedzic

2020 Waterfowl Hunt Information

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge has shifted to a self-registered lottery waterfowl hunt for the 2020 season. This action was taken on behalf of public and employee safety, and Centers for Disease Control guidance designed to slow spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a break from the traditional system where hunters would visit the refuge check station for a live drawing and will increase our ability to provide a safe, quality hunting experience. 

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is our number one priority. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the federal, state and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation.

We have finalized our new self-registration lottery system. Changes have been made to still provide the same quality hunting experience hunters are used to here at the refuge.

General Information

For complete information on Waterfowl Hunting at the refuge see the 2020 Waterfowl Hunt Info Sheet (PDF – 776KB)

Download the 2020 Refuge Waterfowl Scramble Area Map (PDF- 8,355KB). 

Example of Federal Boundary Marker (JPEG - 134KB).


The 2020 waterfowl hunt at Shiawassee Refuge will be held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sundays during the State of Michigan’s regular waterfowl season for the southern zone from October 10th through December 6th. However, there will be no waterfowl hunts on November 15th or 17thNote: Thursday hunts will be afternoon hunts only. The exception is Thanksgiving Day (November 26th) which will be a morning hunt, not an afternoon hunt. The following table summarizes the available waterfowl hunts:


10/10 – 11/14

11/15 -11/17

11/19 – 11/24



11/28 – 12/6


a.m. hunt

No hunt

a.m. hunt


a.m. hunt


p.m. hunt


p.m. hunt

a.m. hunt

p.m. hunt


a.m. hunt


a.m. hunt


a.m. hunt


a.m. hunt

No hunt

a.m. hunt


a.m. hunt


Maps and information about general waterfowl hunting in Michigan will be available in the annual Michigan Waterfowl Digest or on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) web site:    

  - This year's scouting dates are September 25-27, 2020.  

  - All hunters participating in the refuge waterfowl hunt must follow all State and Federal waterfowl regulations as well as refuge specific regulations. Visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources  for information about State regulations, licenses and more.           

Self-Registered Lottery Hunt:

All hunt parties must self-register for random draw up to six days in advance using one of the following methods (there will be no “same-day” registration):

A) Register on-site at the newly constructed Waterfowl Hunt Registration Kiosk (Shiawassee Refuge Office, 6975 Mower Road, Saginaw MI). Drop hard copy of Waterfowl Registration Form Word Version (MS Word - 31KB) or Waterfowl Registration Form (PDF -73KB) into the appropriate kiosk box labeled for the desired hunt day. 

Waterfowl Hunt Registration Kiosk (JPEG - 127KB) Second Front view of Waterfowl Hunt Registration Kiosk (JPEG- 138KB)


B) Register Online: Step 1 –Download and complete Waterfowl Registration Form Word Version (MS Word - 31KB) or Waterfowl Registration Form (PDF -73KB). Step 2 –Email completed form with desired hunt date to (up to six days in advance) using Subject Line: Waterfowl Hunt.


  • Parties may register up to six days in advance of a hunt. No hunter can be added to the hunt party after submission. There will be no “same-day” registration.
  • Each party must submit their registration form prior to the hunt, as follows:
    • Tuesday and Thursday Hunts: Draw closes at Noon on Monday
    • Saturday and Sunday Hunts: Draw closes at Noon on Friday.
  • Parties may apply for multiple days but are limited to one entry per day per party.  Multiple entries will result in ineligibility for the hunt.
  • Each hunter is required to submit a completed Harvest Report (PDF -167KB) by email or by drop box.
  • Each party/hunter must carry with them their unique party number obtained from pre-recorded waterfowl message prompt.
  • Morning Hunts: Hunters may setup ("splash" equipment) no more than two hours before legal shoot time. 
  • Thursday Afternoon Hunts: Legal Shooting Time is Noon (10am "splash" time).  

    See 2020 Waterfowl Hunt Info Sheet (PDF – 776KB) for complete guidelines on waterfowl hunt.

    Drawing Schedule:

    Random drawings will take place every Monday (for the upcoming Tuesday and Thursday hunts) and Friday (for the upcoming Saturday and Sunday hunts).  Drawing results will be available by 3:00 p.m. by calling 989.607.6056. The recorded message serves as your hunter orientation covering the rules and regulations along with the drawing results.  Successful hunters must also listen for their assigned party number which they must be able to present in the field.

    2018 Waterfowl Harvest Results:  During the 9-week season, 385 hunters harvested 751 birds (694 ducks and 57 geese) with Mallards, Gadwall, Common Merganser, and Canada goose the most common species harvested. Hunter success averaged 1.95 birds/hunter per day harvested, 85% of parties harvested at least one bird during their hunt. For more details on results download the 2018  Waterfowl Harvest Report (PDF - 1.39MB).

    Download Avenza Maps to Identify Waterfowl Hunt Areas

    Now you can use your smartphone to navigate waterfowl hunt areas through the Avenza Map App.   It can be downloaded from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android).   Download our Avenza Info Sheet (PDF - 700KB) for step-by-step directions.

    Upland Game Hunting -  2021

    We allow hunting of turkey, small game (eastern fox squirrel, eastern cottontail, ring-necked pheasant, American woodcock, and American crow), and furbearers (raccoon, coyote and red fox) on designated areas of the refuge (see map) in accordance with State regulations subject to the following:

    • Must possess and carry a State of Michigan license. No refuge permit is required.

    • You may only hunt turkey during the spring season (Zone ZA via State regulations).

    *Scouting for turkey is prohibited.

    • We allow hunter access for spring wild turkey season from 1½-hour before legal shooting time.

    • We allow hunter access for small game from ½-hour before legal shooting time to ½-hour after legal shooting time.

    • We allow hunting with dogs in accordance with State regulations. Training of dogs is not allowed. Raccoon hunting dogs must wear GPS or radio collars.

    • You may only hunt furbearers from ½-hour before legal sunrise to ½-hour after legal sunset.



    2020-2021 Trapping Season  

    Furbearer trapping on Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is an important management tool in meeting refuge goals and objectives. Wetland habitats, dike maintenance, and migratory bird management are influenced by furbearer management.

    A sealed-bid application system will be used to issue trapping permits. The primary targets of the trapping program are muskrat and raccoon, but other species can be taken pursuant to State of Michigan Trapping laws. River otter and coyote cannot be trapped legally on Shiawassee NWR.

    A minimum bid of $200 is required per unit, payment will be made only if successful. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a public opening of the sealed bids. All bids must be sent via mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters (6975 Mower Road, Saginaw, MI 48601). A sealed bid including “Shiawassee NWR Trapping Bid” (last page of this packet), must be received
    at the Refuge headquarters by Wednesday October 21, 2020. Successful applicants will be notified via phone from Refuge Biologist (Eric Dunton). Winning parties shall make a full bid payment by October 28, 2020. Checks shall be made payable to "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Payments, gate keys, and special use permits will be issued in person by appointment with one party at a time at the parking lot of Refuge headquarters (appointment times will be made by Refuge Biologist when winning parties are notified of winning a unit). Trapping parties may bid on all trapping units but parties can only win one of the trapping units (i.e., 1 party  cannot win and trap all units). If a trapping party is the highest bidder for multiple units that party will have the choice for which unit they want to trap, the second highest bidder for the other units will win that unit. If units are not bid upon, winning parties will then be offered the remaining units based upon the amount of their bid for those units.

    Download 2020 - 2021 Trapping Packet (PDF - 10.673KB)