Another fall of diverse upland bird hunting opportunities awaits Nebraska hunters.
The Southwest and Panhandle regions will provide the best hunting opportunities for pheasants, with more publicly accessible lands – primarily Open Fields and Waters – available in the Southwest, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s 2019 Upland Gamebird Hunting Outlook.
Overwinter survival was relatively high for pheasants this year but the cool, wet conditions that persisted into May and June likely had a negative impact on nesting success. However, habitat conditions have remained good to excellent and brood survival should be relatively high for those that successfully hatched. The statewide pheasant index from the 2019 July Rural Mail Carrier Survey was 14% lower compared to 2018.
The Outlook is based on spring and summer upland game surveys and conditions reported by biologists.
The best quail hunting opportunities will be found in the Republican, Southeast and East Central regions, but hunters should expect to find lower densities compared to recent years. Bobwhites experienced declines in most regions and statewide indices from two surveys were 21-37% lower compared to 2018. However, bobwhites are prolific breeders and have the ability to repopulate areas very quickly where suitable habitat exists.
The highest densities of prairie grouse are found in the Sandhills region, which also offers an abundance of publicly accessible lands. Spring lek counts were generally lower compared to recent years, but hunters should still find good grouse numbers and plenty of cover to walk this fall.
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.
All publicly accessible lands are displayed in the 2019-20 Public Access Atlas which is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas. Hard copies of the Atlas are available at all Game and Parks offices and wherever else hunting and fishing permits are sold.
The hunting season for pheasant, quail and partridge is Oct. 26, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020. The prairie grouse season is Sept. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020. Hunting permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.
Nonresidents can get a start on preparing for their Nebraska hunts using Trip Planners, located at OutdoorNebraska.gov/upland.
Become a certified youth fishing instructor
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will certify youth fishing instructors in Lincoln and North Platte this fall.
Workshop participants will receive training and tools to conduct youth fishing clinics. These volunteers will have access to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission loaner fishing equipment and educational materials for events. They also will receive program incentives.
Instructors are a key part of Game and Parks’ Youth Fishing Program, and they are encouraged to volunteer for such Game and Parks programs as Community Fishing Nights and the Outdoor Expos.
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The workshops, which are scheduled from 2-6 p.m., are:
Sept. 29 – Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, 4703 N. 44th St., Lincoln
Oct. 20 – North Platte Fish Hatchery, 444 E. State Farm Road, North Platte
Contact Larry Pape at email@example.com to register, which is preferred but not required.
Game and Parks offering hunter's education for women
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will offer several hunter education courses across the state specifically for women this fall.
This classes, which are presented as part of the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, give women the chance to learn the basics of hunter safety and gain hands-on firearm and archery experience in a fun, safe environment among like-minded women. All courses will be led by women who are experienced hunters and certified volunteer hunter education instructors.
Upcoming courses are:
-- Hunter Education Course: Sept. 9, 10, 11, 14 (participants must attend all four days), Schramm Education Center, Louisville
-- Hunter Education Course: Sept. 20-21 (participants must attend both days), American Legion Club, Bassett
-- Hunt Safe Session: Oct. 26, Ponca State Park, Ponca
-- Hunt Safe Session: Oct. 26, Maxwell Gun Club, Maxwell
For more information on each class, or to register, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/BOW.