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Abundant opportunities await pheasant, quail hunters with Oct. 26 opener

LINCOLN, Neb. – Abundant hunting opportunities and access await hunters when they go afield for the opener of the Nebraska pheasant, quail and partridge seasons on Oct. 26.

Hunters seeking new places to hunt are encouraged to refer to the 2019-20 Public Access Atlas, which displays nearly a million acres of publicly accessible lands throughout the state. In addition to state and federal lands, hunters will have access to more than 347,000 acres of private land enrolled in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Open Fields and Waters Program, an increase of 30,000 acres from 2018. For those pursuing upland birds in the Southwest or Panhandle regions, the Stubble Access Guide displays an additional 40,000 acres of tall wheat and milo stubble fields open to public hunting access. Both publications are available at OutdoorNebraska.gov/PublicAccessAtlas.

According to the July Rural Mail Carrier Survey, this year’s statewide pheasant index was down 14% but hunters should still find good bird numbers where suitable habitat exists. Habitat conditions across the state look great going into the fall following the abundant moisture received earlier this spring/summer. Hunters will find the best pheasant hunting opportunities in the Southwest and Panhandle regions, which offer good bird numbers and abundant public access.

For bobwhites, this year’s production should make up for some of the population losses incurred from severe winter weather earlier this spring. The Republican, West Platte, and Southeast regions should offer the best quail hunting opportunities this fall according to the Spring Whistle Count Survey. The full upland hunting forecast is available online at OutdoorNebraska.gov/Upland.

This year marks the second year of Nebraska’s Upland Slam, which challenges hunters to try to harvest all four upland bird species in Nebraska – ring-necked pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie-chicken and northern bobwhite. Last year, 140 hunters representing 10 states completed the Slam. Those who complete the Slam receive an official certificate and pin, and are entered for a chance to win prizes sponsored by Pheasants and Quail Forever. For more information, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/UplandSlam.

The Take ’Em Hunting campaign is also a great way to bring a new or novice hunter into the fold. Share the excitement of a hunt and help create lifelong memories for a new hunter. Visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/takeemhunting to get started.

Hunters should be mindful of the following firearm safety rules:

— Treat all firearms as if they are loaded.

— Never point a firearm at anything you do not mean to shoot.

— Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

— Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

The hunting seasons for pheasant, quail and partridge, as well as grouse, run through Jan. 31, 2020.

For more on hunting in Nebraska, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.

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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