SW Nebraska

Just got back from a 2 day hunt in SW NE. Bagged 1 bird in about 10 hours of hunting. Some of the worst conditions I have seen in 25 years hunting the same places. Really appears there was not much of a hatch last summer cause there are not many birds period. Guess I am gonna have to try SD or ND next. Pretty sad...
 

Munster927

Active member
Where abouts were you? I'm planning a trip this January and curious what area of the SW you were in. Don't need to know your honey holes, just general areas.
 
West of McCook, Hitchcock and Dundy counties.
If I was you I would maybe rethink it. Mowed CRP, grazed CRP, poor cover and a buddy of mine hunted up by Imperial and did pretty much the same.
 

Munster927

Active member
Hopefully where I'm heading will be somewhat better. I'm going a little East of where you're referring too. *Fingers crossed*
 

birdhunter6

New member
You may want to rethink your hunting location options, as in another state like South dakota. Hunted the mccook area for 5 days in November. Bird numbers in my AO were down at least 50% from previous years. Two of us only shot 13 pheasants in 5 days with 3 setters.

My scientific opinion.
Despite brood surveys indicating a 47% increase, I believe very few birds fledged.

Many CRP fields consisting of native warm season grass have been hayed 50 to 100%

Shot very few hatch year roosters.

Quarter sections that held 25 to 50 birds in the past, I was only able to fly 6 to 15..

Conditions are similar further east...

Disappointing compared to previous years especially when I have a 12 month old pup
 

huntnfool

New member
Birdhunter6,
Your assessment is dead on. I have hunted Nebraska for 40 years and this year is very disappointing, appears Nebraska DOW over stated the bird counts? The CRP haying won't help matters unless they get a ton of moisture this winter and spring. Hoping for a better 2021.
 

birdhunter6

New member
Was beginning to think my dogs were having an off week. Lol. I typically make 2 five day trips to nebraska over the past 3 years.

I do believe that DOW brood surveys indicating a significant increase were probably initially accurate. However I suspect the severe drought reduced insect abundance causing near totally mortality of chick's to survive to fledgling growth stage.

The release of CRP for haying to supplement livestock feed was probably necessary However from my experience, a late August and/or September haying may cause delayed grass growth the following season. nesting in these fields may be delayed as native warm season grass doesn't break growing dormancy till soil temps reach 65 degrees.

BTW I am a retired wildlife biologist with 34 years of service. Would rather hunt over my setters than deer hunt. However the section lines seem to get longer each year.

R
 

BruteForce

New member
Spot on folks. We stayed in McCook over the Thanksgiving weekend also. (over from Denver)
Two gentlemen in our group who have been hunting these same spots for thirty plus years said this might be the worst they can remember.

Four hunters and seven dogs kicked up 12 roosters and ONLY three hens in 2.5 days of hard hunting. With only one of those roosters being harvested. Super skittish and not holding!

I got some solid points out of my 2.5 year old GSP so I was really excited.

Always have fun though.

Brute
 

matto

Member
My report from the first weekend of November was essentially the same. It was only our second year hunting the area and we did better than last year, but it was pretty poor nonetheless. Nothing at all like I expected. I'll try again next year because the season is just too short if I only hunt my own state.
 

hunter94

Well-known member
NE has taken to releasing pen raised birds several times each season, tells me all i need to know, pitiful, waste of money and time.
 

Munster927

Active member
I've heard that about the SE. I haven't heard anything about that in other areas. I'm pretty positive SoDak releases birds all over. You don't bank a huge chunk of your tourism income on pheasant hunting and claiming your state has the best hunting of any state and not want people to find birds when they show up.

Plus I've shot alot of birds that were clearly pen raised birds on public land in SoDak. Now maybe I was near a pay to play place and didn't know it.
 

hunter94

Well-known member
Was beginning to think my dogs were having an off week. Lol. I typically make 2 five day trips to nebraska over the past 3 years.

I do believe that DOW brood surveys indicating a significant increase were probably initially accurate. However I suspect the severe drought reduced insect abundance causing near totally mortality of chick's to survive to fledgling growth stage.

The release of CRP for haying to supplement livestock feed was probably necessary However from my experience, a late August and/or September haying may cause delayed grass growth the following season. nesting in these fields may be delayed as native warm season grass doesn't break growing dormancy till soil temps reach 65 degrees.

BTW I am a retired wildlife biologist with 34 years of service. Would rather hunt over my setters than deer hunt. However the section lines seem to get longer each year.

R
sounds like the set up for better hunting next year is off to a poor start. the landowner wins, money for providing his property and cutting hay as usual, how does this make any damn sense? done here.
 

hunter94

Well-known member
I've heard that about the SE. I haven't heard anything about that in other areas. I'm pretty positive SoDak releases birds all over. You don't bank a huge chunk of your tourism income on pheasant hunting and claiming your state has the best hunting of any state and not want people to find birds when they show up.

Plus I've shot alot of birds that were clearly pen raised birds on public land in SoDak. Now maybe I was near a pay to play place and didn't know it.
SDGF does not release birds in SD.
 

Frank C

Member
I've heard that about the SE. I haven't heard anything about that in other areas. I'm pretty positive SoDak releases birds all over. You don't bank a huge chunk of your tourism income on pheasant hunting and claiming your state has the best hunting of any state and not want people to find birds when they show up.

Plus I've shot alot of birds that were clearly pen raised birds on public land in SoDak. Now maybe I was near a pay to play place and didn't know it.
Munster,

As stated by hunter94 the STATE of SD does not release birds. I believe the private clubs/lodges are required to release birds throughout the season to replenish birds harvested on their grounds/operations. I've hunted SD a few times (I'm from Michigan) and there are numerous public hunting areas that are immediately adjacent to (share a fence) or in close proximity to "pay-to-play" pheasant hunting operations. So I am not at all surprised that your group harvested pen birds on public hunting areas. We've experienced the same as well.

Frank
 

JPH

Member
NE has taken to releasing pen raised birds several times each season, tells me all i need to know, pitiful, waste of money and time.
NEGP releases birds twice a year at select WMA in eastern/central NE. Once for a youth hunt a week before the season, and again around Thanksgiving in same areas to promote/encourage family hunting. These areas have few wild birds left unfortunately. They are not trying to enhance populations throughout the state by releasing birds.

I agree with much of what has already been stated above. Just a few of my observations. So far this season I have hunted 11 days in SW NE, all on private ground. Have hunted the same area for years. Bird numbers are down from last year. Many of my days afield this year have been very warm and obviously dry. I hunt with one buddy and we usually hunt separate following our dogs. No groups or line up/blocking type hunting. We have killed similar numbers of birds compared to years past, just walking much more between contacts. Also, about a 50/50 mix of last season birds vs. this seasons birds. It seems the birds are grouped up even in the warm conditions which is unusual. When you find one, you find a bunch. I have hunted in precipitation (sleet/snow) on 3 days this season. This made all the difference. Birds held much better and scenting was much easier on the dog.
Some positives: We have seen tons of hens. With some cooperation by Mother Nature there is hope for the future. Cover that hasn't been mowed is generally incredible (Only a couple places we have access to have been mowed). Some of the Kochia is so thick you can't walk through it! Its always nice to get out and follow the dog. It's still hunting! I can't wait to go again!!
 

JohndoeboyNE

New member
This year and last year have been odd to say the least. We've had really warm temps through November and December, which I thinks leads to more spotty grouping until after the first snow and drop in temps. I think the warmer temps has allowed them to be more mobile moving from spot to spot. I've hunted places that held no birds one week and came back the next to find 15-20 have moved in. It's really a game of luck unless you have the weather to hold them where they are. And JPH is right, they're grouping in warm weather too. My wife and I went out on a 60 degree day to hunt quail and kicked up 5 roosters and 2 hens in one spot right as we walked in. Nothing much after that. Late season has been more successful as well. Went out last Sunday and limited within an hour. I think the birds are out there, but they're grouping in different places and moving more frequently.
 
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