Pheasant Hunting Forecast  |  09/19/2018

Nebraska Pheasant Hunting Forecast 2018

By Tom Carpenter


“Spring arrived late in Nebraska in 2018, with a severe snow storm hitting parts of the state in early April,” reports Jeff Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). “This potentially led to a late start to the pheasant breeding season. Abnormally dry conditions in spring shifted to normal rainfall over the course of the summer, leading to good nesting vegetation conditions and abundant insects.”


“I’ve heard some encouraging news from staff seeing broods out in the field,” says Lusk, “but most reports seem to corroborate our survey results: somewhat lower pheasant abundance compared to last year, but still better than the 5-year average in several regions, including the Southwest and Panhandle.”


“Nebraska is currently implementing the statewide <Berggren Plan for Pheasants> <>, a ten-year plan to improve pheasant abundance and pheasant hunting in the state,” says Lusk. “NGPC also has an extensive network of private land that has been leased for public hunting through the Open Fields and Waters Program or OFW.  An interactive map of these publicly accessible private lands is available on the NGPC website here.


”I’m expecting a good to fair season this year,” says Lusk. “The Panhandle and Southwest regions will again provide the best opportunities for pheasants, with public land access higher in the Southwest,” says Lusk. “Indices were higher than their 5-year means in the Panhandle, Sandhills, and Southwest, indicating harvest opportunities in those areas should be better than typical over the past 5 years.”

The following map and chart will provide some insights:


“Don’t be afraid to approach landowners for permission to hunt,” advises Lusk, “especially in the neighborhood of OFW plots.  You can increase your huntable area and reduce competition from other hunters.”

 Public land and lands open to public hunting through the Open Fields and Waters program can be found in the Public Access Atlas, available online here