Learn more about ring-necked pheasant, northern bobwhite quail, sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chicken, including identification tips and range maps, in the tabs below.
The charismatic ring-necked pheasant is undoubtedly Nebraska’s most popular upland game bird. Pheasants are native to Asia but are now distributed throughout much of the United States. They have long tails and necks, and males have distinctive plumage and a green neck ringed in white. Pheasants may be found statewide, but the best hunting opportunities have traditionally been in Southwest Nebraska. Other areas with good opportunity include the Panhandle, particularly north of Alliance, and the south-central portion of the state. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is implementing the Berggren Plan for Pheasants, an ambitious and innovative five-year plan to enhance the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska.
Northern bobwhite quail are small, plump and mostly brown-colored birds. Males have distinct black and white markings on the face while females display a duller yellow-brown color on the face. The bobwhite is among the most popular game birds in the state, second only to the ring-necked pheasant. The distinctive “bob-bob-white” call of the male can be heard along country roads from early spring into summer. Bobwhites are native to Nebraska and can be found across much of the state. They are primarily distributed throughout the eastern and southern portions of the state, with core populations in Southeast and South-Central Nebraska. Harsh winters serve as a key regulatory factor for populations in Nebraska, and in years following milder winters populations tend to expand north and west into other regions of the state were suitable habitat exists. The fast-flushing bobwhite is second only to the pheasant in popularity among Nebraska upland hunters.
The sharp-tailed grouse is a medium-sized prairie grouse with a rounded body, blunt wings and mottled dark- and light-brown feathers. Their tail feathers taper to a central point, hence their name. Adult males inflate a violet colored patch on their necks during spring courtship displays. Additionally, sharp-tailed grouse have distinct, dark, v-shaped markings called chevrons, which are most apparent on their breast and belly feathers. Sharp-tailed grouse are most commonly found in central and north-central Nebraska and in most of the Panhandle.
The greater prairie-chicken is one of the larger members of the grouse family and is common in central Nebraska. It also may be seen occasionally in the Panhandle. Adults are stocky with round wings, a short and rounded tail, and brown and white feathers. Greater prairie-chickens have distinct dark lines, or barring, which are most apparent across their breast feathers. During a distinctive mating ritual, males inflate their orange neck patch and raise longer pinnae feathers. The highest densities of greater prairie-chickens in Nebraska occur in the north-central part of the state, especially in eastern portions of the Sandhills.
Find a place to hunt, plan a trip and learn more about upland hunting in Nebraska below.
Where to hunt
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have a long-standing commitment to providing great habitat and hunting opportunities throughout the state. Learn more about Nebraska’s public hunting opportunities, download maps, and view the Public Access Atlas, which details all public land in Nebraska, as well as private land open to walk-in hunting access through Nebraska’s Open Fields and Water’s program, at the link below.
Find a place to hunt
Nebraska Game and Parks has put together trip planners for several especially popular game species. The trip planners highlight areas with particularly good access and game populations, and also offer suggestions on lodging and other activities and attractions in the area. Trip planners may be downloaded free of charge. The pheasant, quail, prairie grouse, and mixed bag trip planners are found below:
View Trip Planners
Berggren Plan for Pheasants
In 2016, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission unveiled a five-year plan aimed at growing Nebraska’s pheasant population and increasing land open to hunting in areas with abundant pheasants. The overall goal is to produce the best pheasant hunting experience for the most hunters.
Small Game and Waterfowl Guide
It is a hunter’s responsibility to be aware of shooting hours, bag limits, season dates and other regulations. Find all that information and more in the Small Game and Waterfowl Guide.