In the Wild with Greg Wagner

SLEEP IN; FIND MR. CURLYSPURS & “BOB” LOAFING by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

If you’re heading out with a youngster for the two-day youth upland game bird hunting season this weekend of October 24 & 25 or preparing for the main rooster pheasant and bobwhite quail opener yourself on Halloween, sleep in, then go out and hunt the loafing cover. That’s the advice from Game and Parks Commission Wildlife Biologists like Mike Remund based out of the Osage Wildlife Management Area near Tecumseh, NE.

 Remund points out that pheasant hunters in southeastern Nebraska are more than likely going to be challenged to get a rooster or two for the oven this year. On the other hand, he says the number of bobwhite quail look to be greatly improved in his region. According to surveys, pheasant numbers in Nebraska were highest in the Southwest, Northeast and Panhandle regions this year where there was adequate habitat, most notably permanent grasslands such as those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  See photo below. 


 Remund stresses that hunters after the wary Ring-neck rooster pheasant or the elusive northern bobwhite quail would do well to hunt the grassy, weedy edges of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres that are adjacent to row crop fields, harvested or not, from mid morning to mid afternoon, no matter where they are hunting. “Don’t overlook some of our wildlife management areas for birds on good edge cover either, especially those in my area in Johnson and Pawnee counties,” he adds.  Remund also reminds upland game bird hunters to check out linear patches of habitat such as thick fence lines, old shelterbelts, plum thickets and filter strips next to row crop fields. Hunters are encouraged to check out the 156,000 acres of land enrolled in the Game and Parks Commission’s walk-in hunting programs such as CRP-MAP and Open Fields & Waters as well.


I'm in a 1st year CRP field. Behind me is a brushy fence row and beyond that an unharvested corn field.

 Hunters definitely need to chat with their landowner friends in advance of their upland game bird hunting trips not only for permission to hunt, but to find out about bird numbers, habitat conditions and the status of their crop harvest. 

For best success, hunters should be as quiet as possible, face into the wind and walk slowly with a decent hunting dog.  

 Regarding safety, please remember to wear some blaze orange clothing, establish a game plan ahead of time with your hunting group prior to walking fields, be totally certain of your target before shooting and to maintain proper muzzle control at all times! Happy hunting to all of you! See you out there!

2 Comments so far
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Greg, always enjoy your comments! I just returned from my first pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota. The bird count is amazing to say the least. Why can’t we see the economic impact this could have here? Everyone goes out for breakfast (Can’t pull the trigger until 12:00 the first two weeks, then 10:00 after that); hotel stays, lunch, dinner, etc; and everywhere is dog friendly! I met people that drove from Chicago and St. Louis. Private jets filled the Chamberlain, SD airport. And this is a down economy? I realize NE has more farmable ground and crop prices have increased, but could we incentivize farmers to leave “some” fence rows to hunt? What about areas of Central and Western Nebraska that are used for grazzing? It really isn’t a terribly different setting than South Dakota. Could game and parks work with them to show how they could benefit? OK, I’m rambling, but I was pleasantly shocked by what I experienced in SD and I really feel we are missing out on a tremendous opportunity in Nebraska. Everyone benefits…Game and Parks, Hotels, Restaurants, Gas Stations, Farmers/Ranchers…umm the state….taxes?. Imagine Gameday in Lincoln being in your hometown!

Comment by Bruce

Hi Bruce,

I really appreciate you taking the time to write! Glad you had a great pheasant hunt in South Dakota, but hey, don’t overlook Nebraska for your upland game birds! Nebraska does have good pheasant hunting where there’s adequate habitat and the weather’s been conducive to the production of birds. Here’s our upland game hunting outlook for this year:

Our state also remains the “mixed bag capitol” of the country in my opinion, offering not only rooster pheasants, but doves, sharptailed grouse, prairie chickens, partridge, BOBWHITE QUAIL and LOTS OF WILD TURKEYS in the upland game bird arena alone. South Dakota does not quite have our all-around “mixed bag” potential. They definitely don’t have the deer hunting we do.

You need to know that we at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as well as other organizations like Nebraska Pheasants Forever continue to diligently work on improving all aspects of pheasant hunting in Nebraska. Unfortunately, these things just don’t happen overnight, they take time, lots of time and involve so many different factors, people, entities, etc.

To gain a better understanding of and perspective on Nebraska’s pheasant scenario, go to this link on our Game and Parks website:

Thanks again for writing. Good hunting to you and your group here in the Husker State, Bruce! I always love comments!

“Wags” — Greg Wagner

Comment by Daryl Bauer

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