Deer 23 by Tim Kaufman

Two male deer at play in a field entitled "deer 23" by Tim Kaufman /USFWS

Please see our new Hunting Brochure 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)


General Deer Hunt Information

2019 is continuing the current white-tailed deer hunt lottery system.  Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is handling the lottery including all permits, and licenses for Deer Management (DMU) Unit 273 (Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge [SNWR] and Shiawassee River State Game Area [SRSGA]).  Applicants can apply for only one hunt at one location (e.g., SNWR or SRSGA).  Leftover permits will be issued on a first-come first-served basis starting September 9th at 10am and may be purchased for either area. See 2019 DMU 273 SNWR and SRSGA Reserved Hunt Application Sheet below for detailed information on the deer hunts and application process.  


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

View E-License Video Tutorial:

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

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


2019 3-Day Scouting Period  

This year's scouting dates are September 27-29, 2019.  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. 

2018 Refuge Deer Hunt Season Results: 531 permits issued across 18 hunt periods which resulted in a total harvest of 119. Overall hunter success rate was 22 percent.  See 2018 Harvest Report for more details (PDF - 682KB).   


Youth Hunt Deer Hunt

Youth Hunt  

Youth Hunt (16 and younger) September 14th - 15th

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

This hunt is for disabled individuals meeting specific eligibility requirements. This hunt has been volunteer ran for over 25 years and provides a service that helps transition hunters into hunting outside of this program. Hunting blinds and assistance is provided. Antlerless Leftover Permits will be available Sept. 9th at 10am.  

For questions about this program contact Steve MacAlpine at 989.750.2742.


Waterfowl Hunt - 2019 


 - This year's waterfowl hunting dates are October 12th - November 14th and November 18th - December 8th concurrently with the beginning of the State’s general waterfowl season in the southern zone. Maps and information about waterfowl hunting in Michigan can be found in the annual Michigan Waterfowl Digest or on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) web site:   

 - This year's scouting dates are September 27-29, 2019. 

 - The refuge would provide five areas to hunt on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; for morning hunts only.   

 - A lottery drawing would be held for area selection each morning of hunting.  The area selection process would begin at *5:30 a.m. at the refuge headquarters, located at 6975 Mower Road, south of Saginaw, Michigan. Doors would open at **5:00 a.m. (*5:00a.m./**4:30am respectively post Daylight Savings Time) for registration prior to the drawing. All hunters must be present by 5:30 a.m. and present their State hunting license and Federal duck stamp to register for the drawing.  You can register as an individual or a party of up to four hunters per party. No hunters can be added to a party after the draw.  

 - 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.                 

Please see the DRAFT 2019 Waterfowl Hunt Information and Regulations Sheet (PDF - 306 KB) for more detailed information on zone conditions and refuge-specific regulations (2019 update coming soon). 

View our 2019 Waterfowl Hunt Area Map (PDF File - 17.9 MB) for zone locations and party information (2019 update coming soon).  

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 - 327KB) for step-by-step directions.

Upland Game Hunting - 2019 

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).

• 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.



2019-2020 Trapping Season (info to be post in September) 

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. A sealed bid including “Shiawassee NWR Trapping Bid” (last page of this packet), is due in the refuge office by a date To Be Announced. A public opening of the bids will be held at 1:05 P.M. on the same day. Successful applicants shall make a full bid payment by 3:00 P.M., date pending. Checks shall be made payable to "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". 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. 

2019 - 2020 Packet will be uploaded in September.