Nebraska pheasant hunting opportunities in 2015 should be better than last year, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Upland Game Hunting Outlook.
Mild winter conditions and timely spring rains have resulted in increases in pheasant abundance statewide. Spring rains also resulted in abundant cover, with Game and Parks staff reporting excellent habitat conditions across the state.
The outlook is based on spring and summer upland game surveys, and conditions reported by biologists. Regional weather events that could impact populations are considered.
Surveys indicated that pheasant abundance was higher in all regions of the state compared to 2014. The southwest and Panhandle regions should offer the best hunting opportunities this year, but better opportunities should be available statewide. With the lush vegetation comes an abundance of insects for chicks to eat. Reports from several regions indicate plentiful grasshoppers this year.
Quail abundance continued its ascent from lows resulting from the drought of 2012-2013 and the severe winter of 2009-2010. Surveys indicated increases in abundance compared to 2014 across almost all of the quail's range. Habitat conditions were excellent for production and brood-rearing across the state. The southeast and south central parts of the state should offer the best opportunities this year, but there will be good opportunities throughout quail range.
Habitat conditions for grouse were excellent this year, particularly in the Sandhills, and surveys indicated increased abundance in most regions compared to 2014. Abundance was highest in the central part of the state.
Cottontail abundance appears to have increased significantly across the state, particularly in the southeast and central regions. Staff also report observing multitudes of young rabbits.
Photo courtesy of Nebraska Game and Parks