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The fall and winter small game hunting seasons are just around the corner, with several states indicating that some wildlife numbers are up.

In both South Dakota and Nebraska, when it comes to outdoor recreation, pheasant hunting is a treasured tradition, with opening weekend where family and friends gather in a festival type event, to hunt South Dakota pheasants.

Habitat is the key to pheasant numbers, and if you find the habitat, you’ll find the birds. They not only need summer cover, but also winter cover to survive.

In Nebraska, over the last several years, with the increase on CRP acres and the five-year Berggren Plan for Pheasants, pheasant numbers are on the rise.

The Berggren Plan for Pheasants introduced by Nebraska Game and Parks is helping to improve pheasant populations across the state. The goals of the program are to increasing pheasant numbers, increasing hunter access to land holding pheasants, increasing the pool of potential pheasant hunters, managing hunter expectations and to improve the funding and policy related to the goal of improving the states pheasant hunting.

Last year In Nebraska, an estimated 39,600 pheasant hunters harvested an estimated 170,605 birds, with this year’s July rural mail carrier surveys coming up with similar number as last year’s count.

The best numbers of birds in the state is in the southwest and portions of the panhandle regions because that part of Nebraska has a much more diverse agricultural landscape, providing more habitat for pheasants.

Nebraska will once again have their Nebraska Upland Slam where a hunter harvest four birds — a sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie chicken, ring-necked pheasant and northern bobwhite (quail) and receive an official certificate, Nebraska Upland Slam pin and epic bragging rights.

A link to the official Upland Slam entry page will be available beginning Sept. 1, 2019 at the Nebraska Game & Parks web site www.OutdooNebraska.org. All hunters that complete the slam during the 2019-2020 seasons registered to win one of several great prizes donated by Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever.

For more information on where to hunt in Nebraska, check out the Where to Hunt web page at http://outdoornebraska.gov/wheretohunt/

South Dakota, with its diverse habitat and large pheasant population is the number one state for pheasant hunting, with close to 85 thousand non-resident-coming into the state to pheasant hunt, pouring millions of dollars into the local economies.

In South Dakota, only three times over the past 20 years, that the annual pheasant harvest were under 1 million roosters, and in those “down” years well over 900,000 birds were harvested.

The 2018 states pheasant brood survey shows a 47 percent increase over last year. The 2018 statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index is 2.47, up from the 2017 index of 1.68.

Game and Parks staff and field biologists conduct the 2019 pheasant brood route survey in early August.

The results of that survey available in late August, the most recent information check out on the brood count survey results (current year and ten year trends) at https://gfp.sd.gov/. This will help in identifying where a larger population base of the year’s pheasant hatching.

No matter what species of small game you plan on hunting, both states offer excellent hunting opportunities along with excellent value on their states hunting permits.

Below is a breakdown on each states small game season.

Nebraska

Squirrel Aug. 1-Jan. 31, 2020 7 Daily Possession 28
Cottontail Sept. 1-Feb. 29, 2020 7 Daily Possession 28
Dove Sept. 1-Oct. 30, 2020 15 Daily Possession 45 in aggregate
Snipe Sept. 1-Dec. 16, 2019 8 Daily Possession 24
Virginia Sorrel Rail Sept. 1-Dec. 16, 2019 10 Daily Possession 30 in aggregate
Grouse East Zone Sept. 1-Jan. 31, 2020 3 Daily Possession 3 in aggregate
Grouse West Zone Sept. 1-Jan. 31, 2020 3 Daily Possession 12 in aggregate
Woodcock Oct. 5-Nov. 18, 2919 3 Daily Possession 9
Youth Pheasant, Quail & Partridge Oct. 19-20, 2019 2 Daily Possession 4
Pheasant Oct. 26-Jan. 31, 2020 3 Daily Possession 12
Quail Oct. 26-Jan. 31, 2020 6 Daily Possession 24
Partridge Oct. 26-Jan. 31, 2020 3 Daily Possession 12
Crow-Early Oct. 15-Dec. 15, 2019 No Limit
Crow-Late Jan. 13-March, 2020 No Limit

Waterfowl Refer to the Small Game & Waterfowl Guide or the Game & Parks web page-outdoornebraska.org web page

South Dakota

Squirrel Sept. 1, 2019-Feb. 29, 2020 Daily 5 Possession 15
Cottontail Rabbit Sept. 1-2019-Feb. 29, 2020-Daily 10 Possession 30
Dove Sept. 1-Nov. 9, 2019 Daily 15 Possession 45
Snipe Sept. 1-Oct. 31, 2019 Daily 5 Possession 15
Grouse/Prairie Chicken Sept. 21, 2019- Jan. 5, 2020 Daily 3 Possession 15
Ruffed Grouse Sept. 21, 2019- Jan. 5, 2020 Daily 3 Possession 15

Note* Possession Includes on Grouse, includes Grouse, Prairie Chicken & Ruffed Grouse all in aggregate

Youth Pheasant Oct.5-Oct.-Oct. 9, 2019 Daily 3 Possession 15
Pheasant Resident Only Oct. 12-Oct. 14, 2019 Daily 3 Possession 9
Traditional Pheasant Oct. 19, 2019- Jan. 5, 2020 Daily 3 Possession 15
Quail Oct. 19, 2019- Jan. 5, 2020 Daily 5 Possession 15
Partridge & Chukar Oct. 19, 2019- Jan. 5, 2020 Daily 5 Possession 15
Crow Sept. 1-Oct. 31, 2019 No Limit
Crow 2nd Season March 1-April 30 2019 No Limit

For information on the South Dakota Waterfowl season go to the Game Fish & Parks hunting web page https://gfp.sd.gov/hunt/

These regulated hunting seasons, assist in wildlife conservation and it’s important that we the hunters introduce others to the great outdoors and to the sport of hunting.

Educating and showing them, that hunters are a huge part of wildlife conservation and the groups such as, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and others that fight hard to create habitat and support programs that help to promote healthy wildlife numbers.

By bringing more hunters into our sport, we add to our numbers, to those who support the above-mentioned organizations, educating the new hunters on all hunters do to support wildlife conservation. healthy wildlife populations and to introduce them to all that Mother Nature has to offer, the sights, the sounds, and it’s pure beauty.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb. a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster and recently inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.