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Pheasant hunters ready for opener
Friday, November 05, 2004
Gloria Masoner

This Saturday, pheasant hunters from around Nebraska and across the country will hit the ground in Southwest Nebraska running, and this year they may have a little bit better luck.
According to a report from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the phe-asant population in Nebraska has increased by 28 percent since 2003, the highest population since 1998. The report also says that the state of Nebraska is the only state in the Midwest to show an increase in the ringneck pheasant population.

As a result of the increased pheasant population and the possibility of more hunters, area businesses may see an increase in sales this year.

According to Kathy Parker, manager of the Days Inn Motel, more rooms have been booked this year than last.

Colette Balderston of the Holiday Inn Express said the opening weekend of pheasant season is one of the biggest of the year. She said her facility has a few rooms remaining, but she expects them to be filled by the end of the day.

The Chief Motel has about 10 percent of its rooms remaining, and the Super 8 Motel is at full capacity.

For hunters looking for a place to hunt, the CRP-Management Access Program is available around the area. The CRP-MAP program was developed to improve habitat for pheasants and other wildlife and provide statewide public access for walk-in hunting.

The program was developed through a partnership with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Pheasants Forever.

Maps of the areas are available at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission retailers.

In order to provide more funds to develop Conservation Reserve lands in the area, the Plains Sportsman Chapter of Pheasants Forever will host its annual banquet Saturday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Community Building at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds. The event will include a hog roast and mountain oyster feed with beverages included in the $10 admission fee.

Auctions will be held for a 20-gauge shotgun, numerous outdoor and wildlife prints and sculptures. Games and other raffles also will be offered.

There will also be a raffle for two Benelli Nova shotguns. Master of ceremony for the event will be Nebraska Wildlife Biologist Pete Berthelson. Tickets will be available at the door.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to sponsor habitat development and enhancement in Red Willow and Hitchcock Counties.

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