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Upland hunters find variable success on opening weekend

Hunters returned to rural Nebraska the weekend of Oct. 29 for the 2022 upland bird hunting season opener and found variable success.

Based on field reports from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff and law enforcement, pheasant hunters had the greatest success in parts of northeast and south-central Nebraska, including the Rainwater Basin. Many hunters also found good numbers of quail, especially throughout their core range in south-central and southeastern Nebraska.

In Nebraska’s traditional pheasant strongholds, including the southwest and Panhandle regions where drought conditions have been prolonged, success was more limited.

Upland hunters planning trips to Nebraska are reminded that habitat conditions are highly variable this fall.

“The ongoing drought conditions, coupled with emergency haying and grazing of CRP lands, have greatly reduced the availability of suitable habitat in many areas,” said John Laux, Game and Parks’ upland game program manager. “When cover is more limited, scouting becomes even more crucial. Finding quality cover is going to be more challenging this year and hunters should focus on tracts adjacent to irrigated cropland, wetlands and other water sources – where birds can make a living despite the dry conditions.”

Crop harvest also is ahead of schedule this fall – with 80% and 97% of the state’s corn and soybean acreage harvested, respectively, according to an Oct. 31 U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Hunters looking for new places to hunt are encouraged to pick up the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which consolidates and displays more than 1.2 million acres of publicly accessible land throughout the state. This includes more than 370,000 acres of private lands enrolled in Game and Parks’ Open Fields and Waters Program. The atlas is available at Game and Parks offices and numerous vendors throughout the state. It also can be viewed at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas.

Nebraska’s pheasant and quail seasons run through Jan. 31, 2023. For more information on upland bird hunting in Nebraska or to view this year’s Upland Outlook, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/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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