LINCOLN – Pheasant and quail abundance in Nebraska this year is higher than the five-year average over most of the state, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Upland Game Hunting Outlook. Survey results indicate conditions for upland birds are better than in recent years.
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. The weather this past winter was generally mild. Most of the state received timely spring rainfall, producing abundant nesting and brood-rearing cover for pheasants.
This fall, pheasant abundance will likely be similar or slightly lower than the 2015 hunting season, which saw a 26 percent increase in harvest compared to 2014. Southwestern Nebraska and the Panhandle will offer the best hunting opportunities in 2016. Surveys indicate pheasant abundance is higher in the central and Sandhills regions, compared to 2015. Abundance in other regions of the state is predicted to be similar or slightly lower than 2015, but not significantly.
Quail abundance continues to be high across the species’ Nebraska range. The Southeast, Republican, and East Central regions should provide the best hunting opportunities for 2016. Surveys show that abundance this fall should be as good or better than the 2015 hunting season, which was 73 percent greater than the year before.
Grouse also seem to have benefited from the mild winter conditions, particularly in the Sandhills, which will offer the best opportunities for 2016. Grouse abundance is higher in the Sandhills and Northeast regions but down elsewhere.
The Commission reminds hunters that surveys provide a broad assessment of upland game species abundance, and cannot be used to determine game abundance at any particular hunting area. Pre-hunt scouting is recommended.
The full forecast is available online at: OutdoorNebraska.gov/Upland.
The hunting season for pheasant, quail and partridge is Oct. 29 – Jan. 31, 2017. The grouse season is Sept. 1 – Jan. 31, 2017. Hunting permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.
Public land and lands open to public hunting through the Open Fields and Waters program can be found in the Public Access Atlas, available online at Maps.OutdoorNebraska.gov/PublicAccessAtlas. Additional properties open to public hunting, including tall wheat and milo stubble fields will be added to the online version of the Atlas in mid-October.