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Upland game hunting looks promising in many regions

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska upland hunters have more great opportunities – and one new challenge – awaiting them this fall.

Pheasant harvest opportunities this fall should be as good, or better, than typical over the last five years in the Panhandle, Southwest and Sandhills regions, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s 2018 Upland Game Hunting Outlook.

Abundances of pheasants were higher than the five-year averages in the Panhandle, Southwest and Sandhills regions, according to the July Rural Mail Carrier Survey. Pheasant hunters should find the best opportunities in the Southwest, where there is more public access, and the Panhandle.

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.

Northern bobwhite harvest opportunities will be good in the Republican, Southeast and East Central bobwhite regions, where abundances was above their five-year averages.

Spring weather was unseasonably cold, possibly leading to a delay in the onset of nesting of pheasants and bobwhite. A late April snowstorm also affected parts of the state, but there were no reports of mass mortality of pheasants, and the snow was short lived on the ground. Snowfall in primary bobwhite range was lower than normal.

“All-in-all, winter weather conditions were mild and should not have adversely impacted production, resulting in good harvest opportunities this fall,” said Jeff Lusk, upland game program manager for the Commission.

Prairie grouse hunting should be good to fair in the Sandhills, where rainfall during the spring and summer reversed the effects of last year’s drought, and abundant vegetation and insects were available to nesting and brooding hens.

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. 27, 2018 – Jan. 31, 2019. The grouse season is Sept. 1, 2018 – Jan. 31, 2019. Hunting permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.

A new challenge awaits hunters this year. The Nebraska Upland Slam invites hunters to try to take a pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie chicken and northern bobwhite in the state. Those who complete the Nebraska Upland Slam will receive a certificate and a pin. For more information, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/UplandSlam.

Public land and lands open to public hunting through the Open Fields and Waters program can be found in the Public Access Atlas, available 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.

Nonresidents can get a start on preparing for their Nebraska hunts using Trip Planners, located at outdoornebraska.gov/upland.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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