Nebraska2010 Upland GameHunting Outlook
The following forecast is based on spring and summer upland-game population surveys, including the April and JulyRural Mail Carrier Surveys, and the Northern Bobwhite Whistle Count Survey. In addition, district biologists providedinput on conditions on-the-ground that were used to refine the recommendations based on survey results. Staff inputincluded the amount of public access, regional weather events that could have impacted populations, and general rangeconditions. The descriptions below reflect the best available information regarding the relative abundances of small andupland game species among the regions of Nebraska, but cannot be used to predict hunting conditions or localpopulation densities at any single location within a region.
Severe winter weather in parts of Nebraska and above average rainfall this spring impacted pheasantpopulations in parts of the state. Statewide, however, the pheasant abundance index was similar to 2009, based on theJuly Rural Mail Carrier Survey. Increases in abundance were observed in the Sandhills and Southwest districts (seepheasant boundary map on reverse). Abundance was similar to 2009 in the Central pheasant region, but declines werenoted in the Northeast, Panhandle, and Southeast regions. Observations by district biologists support these results inmost regions. Pheasant abundance appears to be high again this year in the Southwest region, which, combined withpublic access, offers excellent opportunities for hunting.
Bobwhite populations in the core areas of their range in Nebraska experienced prolonged periods of deep snowcover, ice, and freezing temperatures. Above average rainfall and localized hail storms occurred during the breedingseason, as well. These severe weather events negatively impacted populations. Abundance indices from the Rural MailCarrier Survey and the Bobwhite Whistle Count were lower in all bobwhite regions except for the West Platte (seebobwhite boundary map on reverse). Reports from district biologists support the survey results, with reports of lowquail numbers and small covey sizes in the spring. Despite the declines in abundance indices compared to 2009, overallabundance was still highest in the Southeast.
PRAIRIE GROUSE (SHARP-TAILED GROUSE & GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN)
Sharp-tailed grouse abundance indices were lower in 2010 compared to 2009 on four of seven breeding groundsurvey routes completed in the Sandhills. Prairie chickens had lower abundance indices on eight of 10 routes completedin the Sandhills and Southeast. Data collected during the July Rural Mail Carrier Survey indicated a modest statewideincrease in prairie grouse, with the largest increases occurring in the Northeast, Panhandle, and Southwest regions (seepheasant boundary map on reverse). Decreases in abundance were noted in the Sandhills and Southeast regions, similarto results of the breeding ground survey. In the Sandhills, district biologists indicate that the best areas for grouse willbe west of Bassett, where winter conditions were milder.
Cottontail abundance was higher statewide in 2010 compared to 2009, based on Rural Mail Carrier Surveys.Regionally, the Northeast and Southwest (see pheasant boundary map on reverse) were the only regions whereabundance was lower. Highest abundances were observed in the Central, Southeast, and Southwest regions, indecreasing order. Field observations support survey results and indicate a good year for cottontail hunting.
See back of sheet for regional survey results