Late season NE Pheasants

jackrabbit

New member
Have never hunted NE, and won't this year. But one of these years I would like to take advantage of their later season. This is more of an educational/daydreaming post as I try to educate myself for a potential trip or areas to go. It looks like in January the average daytime highs are about 40 degrees. Sometime in a January when I am sick of a MN winter and see that the weather is cooperating and mild in SW NE, I would love to make the drive down for a few days.

I am very familiar with South Dakota public land hunting, specifically anything south of I-90 and north of the NE border. How does Pheasant hunting differ in SW NE as opposed to say south-central SD? Type of cover? Things to expect/encounter? How dogs work (I run a pretty good lab)? It looks like there is a decent amount of quality public land in the SW part of NE?

Not looking for spots, more so just very general areas of what part of the state to concentrate on in January. What the realistic bird numbers are like? If there is a 50/50 chance to shoot a rooster or two with good dog work, weather, shooting, walking, then that is good enough for me.
 

Frangler

Member
Sw Nebraska can be great late season. If there’s been a lot of snow getting around on the roads can be tricky and if it gets warm the mud can be bad. There are lots of sandburrs in that country and can plague some dogs if they aren’t willing to wear boots. Bird numbers vary year to year and aren’t anything like you can experience in the Dakotas but I’ve seen years out there that would rival numbers I’ve seen in SD (this is not one of those years...). If you want to hunt a warmer climate I’d give it a try!
 

hunter94

Active member
Sw Nebraska can be great late season. If there’s been a lot of snow getting around on the roads can be tricky and if it gets warm the mud can be bad. There are lots of sandburrs in that country and can plague some dogs if they aren’t willing to wear boots. Bird numbers vary year to year and aren’t anything like you can experience in the Dakotas but I’ve seen years out there that would rival numbers I’ve seen in SD (this is not one of those years...). If you want to hunt a warmer climate I’d give it a try!
this just happens to be a poor year to hunt nebraska......kinda like the football team!
 

Downtown Bang!

New member
I like hunting NE but as others have said the numbers are not on par with SD and the birds do get pressured.

They have a really good hunter access program called Open Fields and Waters that actually provides some pretty good cover to hunt but it can also be pretty remote as well. 100% agree with the comments on the roads being a challenge without a good freeze or some extended periods of dry weather.

If you hunt the right local areas there are legit opportunities for bonus prairie grouse or bobwhites in addition to the pheasants.

Check out the PF Rooster Road Trip web page. They just spent 3-days in NE and while their success harvesting birds was spotty it does provide some good info what opportunities exist.
 

Makintrax73

New member
I'm on my first Nebraska trip right now. Spent all day driving, but needed to stretch the dogs legs so I stopped a bit short of SW NE. Damn near got stuck risking a "minimal maintenance" road trying a spot that looked decent on the map so I backed out. Drove past a public access crp and saw a couple birds fly from the neighboring corn field back into the crp so I stopped. Flushed a few mostly way out of range, but killed one young rooster. Then drove around scouting a bit. The minimal maintenance roads I saw are a mess and not worth the risk right now IMO, but I saw several fields of nice looking public access crp on roads that are 2wd accessible too. Some of the tall stubble program fields didn't look like much to my eye IDK, but the crp access fields mostly looked ok.

They are calling for crazy wind tomorrow so I expect a very rough day, but so far so good at least I saw a couple birds.
 

jackrabbit

New member
Thanks for the replies, appreciate it! More so just looking into educating myself a bit about the area. Won't be taking a trip to NE this year, but would like to start adding it late season some of these years when the weather, family/kids schedules, and everything else comes together just right for a last minute trip when I am sick of a MN winter and looking for a 40-50 degree getaway with the dog a few weeks after our normal season has ended.
 

Miforester

Member
last minute trip when I am sick of a MN winter and looking for a 40-50 degree getaway with the dog a few weeks after our normal season has ended.
I've hunted late season NE when the temps are below zero without the wind, good chances they will be warmer than MN, but not always a guarantee when you are looking to make the trip.
 

huntnfool

New member
Been hunting in NB since 1980, actually a Minnesota native. Never know what to expect late season in NB, last January we killed a 54" rattlesnake the last weekend of the season, it was 60 degrees. Season before every road in several counties were drifted shut after a 16" snow and 60 MPH winds. This season the bird count is down, hunt with my brother in SD, no comparison between the birds SD and NB. Cover is much thinner in NB, best bet to find birds late season is try to get permission on private land, the public CRP gets hunted pretty hard, if you have some bodies and good dogs and walk the big CRPs you will find birds, just takes alot of energy. Best of luck.
 

hunter94

Active member
again, i hunted some kick ass cover, no birds, they are in a huge down cycle......won't go next season either, simply not worth the effort, don't waste your time, really.
 

jackrabbit

New member
Thanks for the replies. Like I said, won't be going this year. Just trying to learn a few things so someday when everything aligns just right, most importantly the NE weather, that I can make a last minute trip for one final outing for the year.
 

tbob131

Member
Heading out week after Xmas. Was in Cambridge area for opener, saw decent amount of phez on public and private. Saw more quail on private than last year.
 

Makintrax73

New member
Jackrabbit here is my list of bullet points after a couple days in SW NE.

- Saw precious few birds hunting shrubby draws, etc. next to crops. I was hoping for mixed bag hunting but I have not seen a single quail. A few pheasants but just darn few.

- Huntable numbers of pheasants in bigger CRP fields. Had one field with decent numbers, and a few fields with only a couple birds, but only one that I didn’t see any.

- I’ve read a lot of complaints online about KS WIHA fields with no cover. My experience with NE is most of the Open Fields have quite good cover.

- The big crp fields where I’m finding birds are tough hunting, but in this day and age nobody expects public land birds to be a cake walk. If you hunted this area smart and hard (and shoot straight!) 1 or 2 birds a day should be in reach even in a down year.
 
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tbob131

Member
My experience is once you get west of McCook quail become non existent. South and east of McCook pheasants become slim.
 

boomer1

New member
Wrapped up a three day hunt today in SW Nebraska. Pheasants were pretty wild but we managed to scratch out a few. Quail numbers were very comparable to what we experienced in 2017. Three full days of hunting we flushed 60-70 pheasants and 8 coveys of quail. Ended up with three roosters and 22 quail. Not bad for three guys and three pups all under a year and half!
 
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