LINCOLN, Neb. – Hunters from around the country returned to rural Nebraska on the weekend of Oct. 26-27 for the pheasant and quail season opener.
Hunter activity was highest on opening day and most effort subsided by midday on both Saturday and Sunday. Across the state, hunters were greeted with pleasant conditions and temperatures in the 70s on opening day. That all changed Saturday night with the passage of a cold front, which brought low wind chills and some ice.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff contacted 840 upland hunters while making bag checks. These hunters harvested 471 pheasants, 25 quail, two greater prairie-chickens, and a sharp-tailed grouse. Pheasant-release sites on 14 select WMAs continue to be popular in eastern Nebraska, with an additional 721 hunters encountered there. They bagged 438 pheasants and six quail. More than 85 percent of roosters harvested on release sites were pen-released birds.
Based on field reports, hunter success for pheasants on the opener was highest in the Panhandle (0.73 birds/hunter). Hunters also found good pheasant numbers in the southwest and portions of the northeast where Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields were abundant.
Public lands were popular, including WMAs and private lands enrolled in the Commission’s Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program. Overall, hunter activity on the opening weekend was slightly lower compared to previous years but harvest success on wild pheasants (0.56 birds/hunter) was higher compared to 2018 (0.40 birds/hunter).