Nebraska’s 2023 pheasant and quail season opener Oct. 28 greeted hunters with a front of cold winter weather and variable success.

Based on field reports from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff and law enforcement, pheasant hunters found better success in parts of northeast, central, and south-central Nebraska. Many hunters also found good numbers of quail, especially throughout their core range in south-central and southeastern Nebraska.  

Success during the opener was more limited in Nebraska’s traditional pheasant strongholds. The southwest and Panhandle regions experienced feet of snow persisting throughout most of last winter following three years of drought.

According to an Oct. 30 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, crop harvest is on track to slightly ahead of schedule this fall – with 76% and 92% of the state’s corn and soybean acreage harvested, respectively.

Dry conditions persist throughout parts of Nebraska again, with about a quarter of the state experiencing severe to exceptional drought (

Upland hunters planning trips to Nebraska are reminded to be adaptable and plan accordingly as habitat conditions are variable this fall, due to persisting drought and emergency haying and grazing in parts of the state.

Effects of multiple years of drought is still evident in this year’s bird populations, according to surveys and field reports. Late spring and summer moisture did provide relief and produce quality late nesting and brooding habitat. Results of this are being seen with reports of lots of young birds during the opening weekend. Populations look to be rebounding from good reproduction in most parts of the state, but variability remains. However, where quality habitat exists hunters should be able to find birds.

Hunters looking for new places to hunt are encouraged to pick up the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which consolidates and displays more than 1.2 million acres of publicly accessible land throughout the state. This includes more than 380,000 acres of private lands enrolled in Game and Parks’ Open Fields and Waters Program. The atlas is available at Game and Parks offices and numerous vendors throughout the state. It also can be viewed at

Nebraska’s pheasant and quail seasons run through Jan. 31, 2024. For more information on upland bird hunting in Nebraska or to view this year’s Upland Outlook, visit

Make safety a priority this firearm deer season

Hunters across Nebraska will hit the field in droves this firearm deer season, which begins Nov. 11. When they do, safety should be top of mind.

“There’s a good reason hunter orange is required during the November firearm deer season,” said Hunter Nikolai, hunter education coordinator with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Hunter orange significantly increases your visibility to other hunters, helping you and other hunters follow one of the four primary rules of firearm safety: be sure of your target, what is in front of it and what is beyond it.”

Anyone hunting under the authority of a firearm deer permit must display on their head, chest and back at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material. This includes deer hunters in an enclosed blind and those hunting with archery equipment during the November firearm deer season, which runs through Nov. 19. Camouflage hunter orange patterns are legal as long if they meet the 400 square inch requirement.

Communicate and follow the four primary rules of firearm safety with your friends and family:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Always point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction.
  • Be sure of your target, what is in front of it, and what is beyond it.
  • Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.

If you see someone breaking one of these safety rules, speak up. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure safety in the field. Hunters also should be sure to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Never shoot at sound, movement, through thick brush, toward a roadway, at water or ice, or at a sky-lined deer.
  • Never use a rifle scope to identify deer; always identify your target with binoculars or a spotting scope.
  • Never cross a fence, waterway, steep embankment or other obstacle with a loaded firearm.
  • Always wear a full-body harness while hunting from an elevated stand or blind and remain connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you return to the ground.

Hunting continues to be a safe recreational activity for family and friends to participate in across Nebraska. Visit to learn more about hunter education and to read the 2023 Big Game Guide for the regulations hunters are responsible for knowing and following.

If you witness a game violation, call Nebraska Wildlife Crimestoppers toll-free at 800-742-7627 or visit

Cottonwood-Steverson WMA boat ramp reopens after repairs

The boat ramp at Cottonwood-Steverson Wildlife Management Area, located north of Hyannis in Cherry County, has reopened.

The ramp underwent significant repairs due to the undermining, settlement and separation that had occurred. Riprap was added to the perimeter of the ramp to protect it from future erosion. A new Americans with Disabilities Act accessible parking pad was installed to provide access to the top of the boat ramp. Crushed rock also was added from the access road to the concrete ramp.

This project is made possible through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Program grant. Direct questions to [email protected].

Enders’ Area A boat ramp closed through end of month

A boat ramp at Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area in Chase County is shut down temporarily due to concrete work. The ramp, located in the Area A campground, will be closed Nov. 8 through the end of the month.

A vehicle entry permit is required at Enders.