You’re walking in chest-high grass along the edge of a harvested cornfield when suddenly the hunting dog freezes and then leans toward a patch of thicker grass and bramble. You approach it with stealth. A flash of color suddenly rises out of the grass. Everyone yells: “Rooster!” It’s a rooster ring-necked pheasant. You know that you have a scenario for a safe shot. You raise your shotgun reminding yourself to aim slightly beyond the target and follow through with the shot.” You squeeze the trigger. The shot rings out. “Boom!” The rooster goes down. The dog retrieves the colorful game bird and brings it to you. You now have two mature rooster pheasants in your daily bag limit of three. They are absolutely beautiful creatures to behold, resplendent in all of their fine-feathered, long-tailed glory.
This is Nebraska pheasant hunting. It can be the thrill of a lifetime, one filled with exhilaration, but also tradition, companionship, challenge, action, fitness, fresh air and rewards.
Spending hours with nothing but the sounds of nature and the sharp autumn air, one can feel the vast touch of the wild in your heart and soul and feel a direct connection to the land.
Hunting pheasants can be the small things like seeing a variety of songbirds in grassland habitat and having your heart skip a few beats when a white-tailed deer suddenly appears along the edge a brushy creek bottom.
Hunting pheasants can be the grand things, too, like watching a good hunting dog work and witnessing the gorgeous Nebraska landscape with all of its splendor.
The time in between finding pheasants is undoubtedly one of the best times to be in the field. It is a time of keen observation and learning – learning to be a true hunter who understands and appreciates all plants and animals – biodiversity.
A Cornhusker State pheasant hunt also affords a wonderful opportunity to introduce newcomers to the joys of the lifestyle. Trying to get a person who has never been afield interested in hunting while sitting patiently all day in a deer or turkey blind can sometimes have the opposite effect. But pheasant hunting, now that’s different. It is ideal for beginners. Constant motion, dog work, flushing action, repeated shooting opportunities – are all sure to capture the new hunter’s attention and make him or her a life-long pheasant hunting enthusiast.
Pheasant hunting in Nebraska goes beyond the experience. It is steeped in rich tradition. Pursuing wily ring-necked roosters is how many of us ‘boomers’ (baby boomers) learned to hunt. Since Nebraska’s first, three-day pheasant hunting season in 1927, the gaudy rooster pheasant has become the most sought-after game bird statewide.
With the number of pheasants much improved this year where there is suitable habitat, it is time to dust off that old blaze orange upland game hunting vest to take to the field once again for a classic ring-necked rooster hunt. You can get information about getting started pheasant hunting and what pheasant numbers look like around the state by clicking this link.
A host of great pheasant hunting tips can also be found in the NEBRASKAland Magazine’s 2015 November Issue. Read it here.
In addition, I’ll be covering pertinent information regarding this year’s upland game bird hunting seasons on my various broadcast news avenues. Be sure to listen or watch!
Among all the other pursuits that fill the season, pheasant hunting is one of fall’s finest pastimes. Walking the autumn countryside in Nebraska with hunting companions and a good dog is pure enjoyment.
All photos are courtesy of Mark Davis.