Upland hunters see variable success in opener

Jerry Kane Public information officer


November 9, 2023

Nebraska’s 2023 pheasant and quail season opener Oct. 28 greeted hunters with a front of cold winter weather and variable success.

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

Success during the opener was more limited in Nebraska’s traditional pheasant strongholds. The southwest and Panhandle regions experienced feet of snow persisting throughout most of last winter following three years of drought.

According to an Oct. 30 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, crop harvest is on track to slightly ahead of schedule this fall – with 76 percent and 92 percent of the state’s corn and soybean acreage harvested, respectively.

Dry conditions persist throughout parts of Nebraska again, with about a quarter of the state experiencing severe to exceptional drought.

Upland hunters planning trips to Nebraska are reminded to be adaptable and plan accordingly as habitat conditions are variable this fall, because of persisting drought and emergency haying and grazing in parts of the state.

Effects of multiple years of drought is still evident in this year’s bird populations, according to surveys and field reports. Late spring and summer moisture did provide relief and produce quality late nesting and brooding habitat. Results of this are being seen with reports of lots of young birds during the opening weekend. Populations look to be rebounding from good reproduction in most parts of the state, but variability remains. However, where quality habitat exists hunters should be able to find birds.

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 380,000 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.gov/PublicAccessAtlas.


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