Pheasant and quail taken during the 2015-16 hunting season in Nebraska increased dramatically from the previous year.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) reports the pheasant harvest was up 26 percent and the quail harvest shot up 73 percent, compared to 2014-15 numbers.
Jeff Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager, says the impact of drought conditions a few years ago have been erased.
“We had some population declines due to the drought in 2012 and 2013, and it appears the populations are rebounding,” Lusk tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Survey data going into last year was indicating both pheasants and quail numbers were high, so we were kind of expecting harvests to increase as well.”
Breeding conditions, which were nearly perfect last year, and similar to this year’s, are credited for the increasing populations.
“There was enough moisture early in the spring so that the plants that they nest in and raise their chicks in were all greened up by the time they were needed for breeding season,” Lusk says. “There wasn’t any heavy rainfall during hatch, when the chicks are susceptible to getting damp and then dying, because they can’t really regulate their body temperatures when they’re little.”
As well as harvest numbers, small game permits were up slightly for residents (2 percent), but there was a substantial increase in the number of non-resident hunters (23 percent).
“We do a lot of promotional, information pieces for national magazines on upland game species, so the exact amount was kind of surprising to me that it was that large,” Lusk says, “but I had expected it to go up, seeing our [population] numbers were going up as well.”
The 2016-17 hunting season for pheasant, quail, and partridge runs Oct. 29, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2017.
The youth pheasant, quail and partridge is Oct. 22-23, 2016.