LINCOLN – Nebraska pheasant hunting opportunities in 2014 should be on par with last year or slightly better, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s upland game hunting outlook.
The consensus among Game and Parks’ field staff is that habitat conditions have improved across most of the state, providing suitable nesting and brood-rearing habitat for pheasants. However, spring storms seem to have negatively impacted pheasant hatch. Replacement nests for those lost to these early storms might yet compensate for some of the losses.
Pheasant populations are beginning to recover from the drought of 2012-2013. The southwest and Panhandle regions should have the best hunting opportunities. The abundance of pheasants in the southwest should be similar to 2013 but still lower than before the drought. Habitat loss in the eastern part of the state continues to be a concern, particularly east of U.S. Highway 81.
The outlook is based on spring and summer upland game surveys, and conditions reported by biologists. Regional weather events that could impact populations are considered.
Bobwhite quail abundance was higher across the state based on surveys and field observations. Southeast Nebraska, especially Johnson, Pawnee and Richardson counties, should offer the best opportunities for hunting quail, but conditions should be good rangewide.
Abundance of grouse is higher in the Sandhills and central part of the state than in any other region and is higher than 2013 in both regions. Cottontail abundance is higher overall than in 2013, with the highest abundance in the northeast and central parts of the state, where the best hunting opportunities should exist.
To view the full report, visit OutdoorNebraska.org, then click on Hunting, Upland Game, and Forecast.