LINCOLN – Nebraska’s upland bird harvest saw a big increase between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and hunter participation was up as well, according to results from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s annual hunter harvest survey.
Pheasant harvest was up by 26 percent. During the 2015 season, 166,285 rooster pheasants were harvested, compared to 131,423 during the 2014 season. Quail harvest increased by 73 percent, with 91,472 quail harvested in 2015, compared to 52,947 birds in 2014.
In addition, resident small game permit sales were up in 2015 by two percent and nonresident small game permits were up by 23 percent.
“To see such large increases in upland bird harvests shows that our pheasant and quail populations are rebounding from the harsh drought of 2012, and that hunters are taking notice,” said Karie Decker, interim Wildlife Division Administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “We are hopeful this is the beginning of an upward trend.”
Early reports indicate that 2015-16 overwinter survival was good for pheasants, quail and other upland game in Nebraska. The April Rural Mail Carriers Survey showed population levels similar to last spring. A second Rural Mail Carriers Survey, combined with pheasant and quail breeding surveys, will provide more details about this fall’s upland game outlook.
Additionally, earlier this year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission unveiled The Berggren Plan for Pheasants, an aggressive and innovative five-year pheasant management plan. The Berggren Plan strives to provide the best pheasant hunting experience for the most hunters by growing pheasant populations and increasing the quality and quantity of upland bird habitat. Habitat improvement work has already begun in several areas across the state, with much more to be done in the coming years.
“This is an exciting time to be an upland game hunter in Nebraska,” Decker said.