By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Weather, an advanced corn harvest and pheasant numbers were all on the hunter’s side for opening pheasant season last weekend in Nebraska.
The only ones who may not have been as pleased were the hunting dogs, as they worked in warmer-than-usual temperatures for late October.
Dirk Greene of Imperial, wildlife officer with the Game & Parks Commission, said it was a pretty good weekend overall.
He spent the weekend patrolling in Chase, Dundy, Hayes and Hitchcock Counties, and said hunter success was up.
This area reportedly had some of the highest numbers of pheasants in the state, and from his observations, Greene agreed.
He said he saw a lot of hunters with their three-a-day limit early. It appeared to be a one hunter/one bird average overall opening weekend.
“A number of years in the past, it’s been 50 percent of that,” Greene said.
Corn harvest in the Chase County area is much further along this year, compared to 2009 when the Imperial area had already piled up 15 inches of snow in October.
“With less cover for the pheasants, that definitely contributed,” Greene said.
Dry weather also made it easier for hunters to get around, although it was probably a bit warm for their dogs.
The G&P officer was glad to see a lot of pheasant hunters wearing orange, although it’s not required.
It only makes sense, he noted, to be able to be seen especially when hunting in large groups.
Greene said most hunters followed the rules, although he did write at least one citation for shooting from the road, which is illegal.
He reminds hunters that rules do not allow carrying loaded shotguns in vehicles, and he did field some complaints about hunters on ground without permission.
Many of this area’s hunters took advantage of the Conservation Reserve Program-Management Access Program (CRP-MAP) areas to look for birds, with hunting locations in northwest and south-central Chase County, Greene noted.
This land is in the CRP program, but the landowner has taken the step to also enroll it in MAP. They receive some additional payments for enrolling, which allows hunters access to that ground without gaining permission.
The landowner must take some actions to improve the habitat, which then is opened up to the public. Hunters must walk into those areas.
There are also CRP-MAP sites in eastern Dundy County, eastern Perkins County and in Hayes and Hitchcock Counties, Greene said.
All CRP-MAP locations are identified with bright, yellow signs. Maps of these sites are available at most permit vendors, or on the G&P website at: www.outdoornebraska.org
The pheasant season continues in Nebraska through Jan. 31, 2011.
Firearm deer season up next
Firearm deer season is the next big one in the state to open.
This year’s Nebraska firearm season runs Nov. 13-21.
As with pheasant season, the southwest part of the state is one of the more popular deer hunting areas.