Outdoor notes: Dove hunting; Schilling WMA closure; September calendar; State Fair

LINCOLN, Neb. – Dove season starts Sept. 1, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urges hunters to get out and scout locations to increase their chance of success.

“During the fall, doves are either preparing for migration or actively migrating south, so they are primarily focused on high energy food,” said Jeff Lusk, Game and Parks’ upland game program manager. “Areas that have abundant food resources, such as sunflower fields planted on certain wildlife management areas (WMA), are ideal places to encounter doves.”

Sunflower, millet and wheat have been planted at several WMAs statewide. To view a list of these planted areas, see the 2018 Dove Hunting Fact Sheet at OutdoorNebraska.gov/SmallGameSpecies.

Other WMAs throughout the state can provide good dove hunting opportunities, depending on local conditions. Open Fields and Waters sites and other public lands also are open to hunting. The Public Access Atlas lists more than 300 publicly owned areas open to hunting. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org/wheretohunt for public hunting access opportunities.

Hunters are reminded that it is unlawful to hunt on state recreation areas (SRA) until Sept. 4. Regulations prohibit any hunting on SRAs until the Tuesday following Labor Day.

The statewide dove season is Sept. 1 – Oct. 30, with daily bag and possession limits of 15 and 45, respectively. Bag limits are for mourning, white-winged and Eurasian collared doves in aggregate. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.

Nebraska residents 16 years and older and all nonresidents are required to have a valid Nebraska small game hunting permit, habitat stamp and Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. Get the free HIP number at OutdoorNebraska.gov/hip or at any Game and Parks office. A federal migratory bird hunting stamp (duck stamp) is not required to hunt doves. Shotgun plugs are also required, restricting it to no more than three shells.

Dove hunters who find a leg band on a dove should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at reportband.gov. In addition, randomly selected hunters will be asked to save one wing from each dove during the first week of the season and mail the wings postage-free to the USFWS.

Eurasian collared-doves also may be harvested between Oct. 31 and Aug. 31, 2019, with bag and possession limits of 15 and 45, respectively.

For summaries of hunting regulations, read the Small Game at Outdoornebraska.gov/guides/. Purchase permits at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Schilling WMA temporarily closed to vehicles, access to other WMAs might be limited

LINCOLN, Neb. – Schilling Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Cass County is closed temporarily to vehicle traffic. The Missouri River has risen due to recent heavy rains, making roads impassable.

The closure is in effect on a daily basis until water recedes. In addition, access to the Peru Boat Ramp in Nemaha County and other WMAs in southeastern Nebraska might be limited because of wet conditions.

Call Schilling WMA at 402-296-0041 for more information.

September outdoor calendar

LINCOLN, Neb. – The following is a listing of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission events and important dates in September. Get more event details at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org for a list of hunter education classes and boating safety classes.

Sept. 1 – Hunting seasons open for cottontail, jackrabbit, dove, snipe, grouse, rail, raccoon and opossum

Sept. 1 – Archery, Season Choice, River Antlerless Private Land Only, Statewide Whitetail Buck, Gifford Point Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Youth, and Landowner deer hunting seasons open

Sept. 1 – Archery bull elk season opens

Sept. 1 – Labor Day Cookout and Fireworks, Indian Cave State Park (SP), Shubert

Sept. 1 – Buffalo Cookout and Humanities Nebraska program, Niobrara SP, Niobrara

Sept. 1-2 – Living History, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park (SHP), Fort Calhoun

Sept. 1-2 – Labor Day Weekend, Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area (SRA), Crofton

September 1-3 – Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island

Sept. 1-9 – Early teal hunting season in High Plains Zone

Sept. 1-16 – Early teal hunting season in Low Plains Zone

Sept. 2 – Sidewalk Chalk Art and Emerald Ash Borer program, Niobrara SP, Niobrara

Sept. 2 – National Park Service Mobile Ranger Station, Niobrara SP, Niobrara

Sept. 3 – Labor Day Celebration, Indian Cave SP, Shubert

Sept. 4 – Portions of some state recreation areas open to hunting through end of spring turkey season

Sept. 4-28 – Mountain lion lottery permit application period

Sept. 5, 12, 26 – Wednesday Walkers, Fremont SRA, Fremont

Sept. 8 – Learn to Hunt: Deer workshop, YMCA of the Prairie, Holdrege

Sept. 8 – Night Owl 5K Run/Walk, Niobrara SP, Niobrara

Sept. 8 – Youth Shoreline Fishing Tournament, Louisville SRA, Louisville

Sept. 8 – Hooked for Life, Barnett Park, McCook

Sept. 8 – Birds and Bagels, Wildcat Hills SRA, Gering

Sept. 9 – Family Fishing Event, Riverside Discovery Center Pond, Scottsbluff

Sept. 9 – Sunday Fun Day Carp-a-thon, Alexandria SRA, Alexandria

Sept. 11 – Introduction to NASP archery, Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln

Sept. 12-14 – Sierra Club Missouri River Expedition, Niobrara SP, Niobrara

Sept. 14 – Stargazing, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, Ashland

Sept. 15 – Fall turkey hunting season opens

Sept. 15 – Continental Drift Music Festival, Fremont SRA, Fremont

Sept. 15-16 – Missouri River Outdoor Expo, Ponca SP, Ponca

Sept. 16 – Muzzleloader antelope season opens

Sept. 17 – Final day of participation in and postmark deadline for the Great Park Pursuit

Sept. 18 – Learn to Hunt: Basics of Hunting workshop, Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln

Sept. 21 – Firearm bull elk season opens

Sept. 21 – Public land antlerless elk season opens

Sept. 22 – Woodcock hunting season opens

Sept. 22 – Learn to Hunt: Predator workshop, YMCA of the Prairie, Holdrege

Sept. 22-23 – Bioblitz, Indian Cave SP, Shubert

Sept. 28-30 – Prairie Blacksmith Convention, Fort Atkinson SHP, Fort Calhoun

Sept. 29 – Ladies Day on the Range, Ponca SP, Ponca

Sept. 29 – Nebraska Youth Smallbore Silhouette Invitational, Pressey WMA, Oconto

Sept. 29-30 – Youth waterfowl hunting season in Zones 2 and 4

Sept. 29-30 – Competitive Horse Trail Ride, Indian Cave SP, Shubert

Enjoy family fun with Nebraska Game and Parks at 2018 state fair

LINCOLN, Neb. – With plenty of features for both kids and adults, the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Encounter exhibit provides a fun stop for the entire family at the 2018 Nebraska State Fair.

Housed in the Nebraska Building, the exhibit includes an indoor archery range, indoor air gun range, kids’ Nerf gun range, 6,000-gallon aquarium featuring Nebraska fish, a bird scavenger hunt, interactive kids’ games, an accessible outdoor sky fort and more.

Also, visitors who can correctly guess the weight of Walter the Flathead Catfish will be entered into a drawing to win a fishing prize package, with a category for adults as well as youth under 16.

For those interested in the latest in outdoor news and information, there will also be specials on 1-, 2- and 3-year subscriptions to NEBRASKAland Magazine, with a 2019 NEBRASKAland calendar included. Additionally, a NEBRASKAland Magazine photo display will feature prints of wildlife, landscapes and beautiful scenes from outdoor Nebraska. Enter the drawing to win a print, or purchase the picture of your choosing.

On select days, you also are invited to join in on a waterfowl calling contest and a presentation on outdoor cooking.

The Nebraska State Fair takes place in Grand Island Aug. 24 through Sept. 3. For more information on Game and Parks activities and features, visit us at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Report shows numbers of ducks remain high for 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Estimated duck breeding populations are strong, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent 2018 waterfowl population status report. Although the numbers are down from 2017, the report shows abundance of most duck species above their long-term averages (1955-2017).

In general, habitat conditions during the 2018 Waterfowl Breeding and Population Habitat Survey were slightly poorer relative to 2017, with a few exceptions. Habitat quality generally declined across the survey area compared to last year, except for southern Alberta and eastern Montana, which improved. Overall, habitat quality remains good over a large part of the region and should lead to average waterfowl production this year.

“For most Nebraska duck hunters, the trends in the dabbling duck species – mallards, teal, gadwall, wigeon, shoveler and pintail – are the most important to examine,” said Mark Vrtiska, waterfowl program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “The top two birds in terms of harvest in Nebraska – mallards and green-winged teal – both are doing very well.” Mallards and green-winged teal still were 17 and 42 percent higher than their long-term averages, respectively.

The estimated mallard breeding population this year was 9.3 million birds, down 12 percent from the 2017 estimate. Green-winged teal were estimated at 3 million birds, down 16 percent from last year. Gadwall, northern shoveler, northern pintail and blue-winged teal also showed decreases, while wigeon numbers were up slightly.

“From a duck numbers standpoint, it’s looking good,” Vrtiska said. “The amount of water on the landscape and the right weather are the two remaining factors that will determine just how good our waterfowl hunting success will be.”

Results from this survey, which primarily assesses duck populations, and other surveys are used to help develop harvest regulations.

The federal status report is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website:


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