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Hunter Surveys: The Importance of Being Heard

Are you a hunter? Have you have received a couple emails from us at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission asking something about hunting surveys? If so, answer them, don’t delete or trash them!

But, why? Why does Game and Parks care about what I think as a hunter or what wild game I put in my freezer during these past seasons?

A rooster pheasant is retrieved to the hunter during a recent Nebraska pheasant hunting season. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Well, let me tell you that our wildlife biologists are genuinely, genuinely interested in what you think about the different aspects of hunting here in Nebraska and how you did in the field.

Your blogger displays two rooster pheasants he harvested in the grassland habitat of a Conserve Reservation Program field in eastern Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Mark Davis.

Surveys, especially online versions, are convenient opportunities to share careful thoughts, opinions and harvest data with the wildlife division’s managers. Our staff did not go to the trouble of asking you questions because they have nothing else to do. They want and need your input. They want hunter’s views expressed and documented!

Currently, we are surveying hunters and other interested parties about their success in the field as well as their views and preferences as part of an evaluation of upland game shooting hours.

Sunrise approaches in the eastern Nebraska countryside on an upland game bird hunt. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Shooting hours are the time of day when legal hunting can start and by which time hunting must end during the hunting season. Upland game includes species such as pheasant, quail, prairie chicken, sharp-tailed grouse, dove, rail, snipe, woodcock, partridge, cottontail and squirrel. Wild turkey and waterfowl are not included.

A rooster pheasant is spotted in the grassy acres of a Conservation Reserve Program tract in Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Mark Davis.

To share your views, please visit our website, and click on this link for the shooting hours survey. Further, if you purchased a hunting license in 2016 and did not receive an invitation to participate in the annual hunter success survey, here is the link to that survey on our website.

You need to know that the information you provide on the surveys will be used and presented as a summary of all responses as a whole. Your comments will be compiled with those of other hunters and be considered before seasons are set.

“These are very important surveys,” says Dr. Jeff Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager for Game and Parks. “ The participation of  hunters is essential for determining what they prefer to have for start times regarding upland game shooting hours, and for estimating the annual harvest of game so that sound management decisions can be made.”

“Hunter involvement is a central component of wildlife management in Nebraska and throughout the United States,” Lusk added.

There is no question that wildlife professionals have become increasingly sophisticated over the years in the use of surveys as one of the tools in their conservation management toolboxes for all manner of game birds and animals, their respective habitats, and the use of public access lands. One of the reasons for doing so is that they have learned that hunter surveys are a valuable addition to their other data. These surveys allow biologists and managers to better understand the attitudes and wants of hunters plus the dynamics and trends of specific game populations on both public and private lands.

A successful upland game bird hunter poses with his dog and a couple of northern bobwhite quail and rooster pheasants he harvested on an Open Fields and Waters walk-in site in Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Mark Davis.

Sure, we all have heard the they-don’t-listen-anyway, what-good-will-it-do excuses that circulate so often around work water coolers, cabin chats and online forums. All these are is an easy way out, an indication that you perhaps you really do not care enough to help the resource or your outdoor pursuit. In fact, some of the folks I have heard saying such things are usually the first ones to complain about not enough game, too liberal of seasons, too few public lands, whatever. Just because the wildlife division of Game and Parks doesn’t do exactly as they say, complainers are quick to argue that they are being ignored.

Of course, if you ignore the surveys, keep in mind that you are casting votes as well – for whatever other hunters think. So I encourage you take several minutes to complete the surveys.

I have done mine already.

From a personal standpoint, I look forward to participating in hunting surveys. As important as the information is for our agency, it’s also a chance to make my voice heard as a licensed hunter for potential changes to regulations, and to look back over past hunting season experiences because most harvest surveys will ask the number of days you hunted, where you hunted and what you harvested or at least tried to harvest.

Even though you may be a bit hesitant to fill out a survey, take it from one who’s entered more zeros than I’d care to admit throughout the years, all data is equally important, whether you’re an avid hunter or someone who simply enjoys a day or two afield.

Don’t let me have the only say from the hunting community!

Your blogger pursues wily ring-necked rooster pheasants in the grassland cover of the Conservation Reserve Program farm field in eastern Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Mark Davis.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Communications and Marketing Specialist and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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