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Bad Regulations: Nebraska's "Shotgun" Turkey Season

May 14, 2009.

Part of an ongoing discussion of overly-complicated or otherwise misguided hunting regulations in the western states.

Nebraska is a great state to hunt turkeys. It has a lot of them, with populations up 500% since 2002. Given this, Nebraska offers a correspondingly generous bag limit of 3 toms per hunter in the spring. Licenses are valid statewide and there is no drawing to get them.

Archery season for 2009 runs from March 25 - May 31.

Shotgun season for 2009 runs from April 18 - May 31.

As you can see, archery hunters get a head start, but then both archery and shotgun hunting run in parallel throughout most of April and all of May.

I think this is all as it should be.

What doesn't make sense is that from April 18 till May 31, when both archery and shotgun hunting are considered OK by Nebraska Game and Parks, an individual hunter cannot choose to hunt with either archery or shotgun on one tag.

Specifically, if you buy a "shotgun" tag, you cannot choose to downgrade your chances of success by using archery equipment instead.

What would make far more sense would be to designate the April 18 - May 31 period as an "Any Legal Weapon" season. Replace the "Shotgun" tag with an "Any Legal Weapon" tag, allowing a hunter with a tag for this season to use either archery equipment or a shotgun.

The current arbitrary ban on using a legal bow in place of a shotgun should be eliminated -- it just doesn't make any sense for the the April 18 - May 31 timeframe. It unnecessarily decreases hunter satisfaction while doing nothing to improve wildlife management.

Eliminating the "shotgun" limitation would give hunters the option of hunting with a bow for a few days, then switching to a shotgun if they're not having luck with the bow.

Under this proposal, the March 25 - April 17 period would remain reserved for bowhunters as an archery-only season.

(While we're on the subject of Nebraska turkey hunting, $91 is a little steep for a nonresident turkey tag, especially in a state that is overrun with turkeys. At $91, I am buying zero tags this year. If the price was in the $60 range, I'd probably be tempted into planning a hunt ... and then I'd probably be tempted to buy 2 tags as long as I was going. In my case, a cheaper tag would actually result in more revenue for Nebraska. )

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