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More on Nebraska Turkey Regulations — And a Heads-Up on Possible Changes

May 28, 2009.

In HTW's May 14th discussion, "Bad Regulations: Nebraska's 'Shotgun' Turkey Season," I questioned Nebraska's frustrating restriction that prevents hunters from using archery equipment on their "Shotgun" turkey tag. I also wondered why tags cost a relatively hefty $91 in a state with such a prolific population of birds.

Nebraska's Big Game Program Manager, Kit Hams, provides insight to HTW subscribers on both issues — including some possible changes:

Historically, archery season was statewide and shotgun season was by unit. The move to a statewide shotgun season was a step taken with some trepidation as to the impact. As we have gotten comfortable with the result, we have and will likely continue to liberalize our regulations. 2006 was the first year for a statewide shotgun season. In 2007, we went to three permits. No change in 2008.  In 2009, we lengthened the seasons to May 31 and dropped the youth age limit. In 2010, we will see what happens.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff will be discussing various liberalizations of turkey seasons next month.

On the top of my list:

• One Spring permit valid in both the archery and shotgun seasons.

• We will also discuss an increased bag limit on fall permits.

We have already discussed reduced fee youth turkey and youth deer permits for residents and nonresidents. We will make a recommendation to the Commissioners for the 2010 seasons.

The $91 nonresident turkey permit is priced to limit demand. While the turkey population has grown 500% the amount of public and private land has remained the same. We very much want to maintain the quality of the Spring hunt on both public and private land. Permit price is used to do this. Each spring, we ask turkey hunters about hunt quality, number of birds seen and number of hunters seen. Quality and satisfaction is high and we are trying to keep it that way.

We have statewide, unlimited permits because demand is reasonable and the turkey population can support the current hunting pressure in all areas. If we reduce the price of permits to nonresidents to $60 and double the participation by nonresidents, we are concerned that hunt quality will decline for everyone as hunter numbers increase. More hunters leads to more outfitting and leasing and buying of land for private hunting areas, all of which reduce access to private land by the average hunter. If we get too many hunters, then we will have to go back to limited permits for some units.

Thanks to Kit Hams and Scott Bonertz at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for sharing this information. Let's cross our fingers that the proposed changes are implemented for next year ... when I will likely bite the bullet on the $91 and take advantage of Nebraska's great turkey hunting.

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