Regional Reports-Midwest

Pine Ridge

To truly appreciate hunting the wild turkey in Nebraska, hunters will do well to go back to the roots of the 1959 reintroduction efforts by the Game and Parks Commission in the Pine Ridge country. The "Ridge" is ideal habitat for Merriam's-large expanses of ponderosa pine woodlands set in a picturesque land of canyons and buttes. The area is part of the commission's Northwest Turkey Management Unit. It has a high turkey population and more public hunting land for turkeys than anywhere else in the state and unlimited turkey permits-meaning hunters can apply for and receive two permits if they so desire. The heart of the ridge country is in northern Sioux, Dawes and Sheridan counties. Within that area there are roughly 90,000 acres of public land that is almost all turkey habitat. In addition, the Oglala National Grassland, which is located north of the Pine Ridge escarpment, includes about 90,000 acres. It also hosts birds along the brushy draws and creek bottoms. Lon Lemmon, wildlife biologist with the Game and Parks Commission, says he expects hunting success to be great again this spring following a 46 percent permit-success ratio last year. "We had good production in the spring of 1999, and that means we should have a high number of adult toms this spring," he says. "Production last spring looked promising as well and that means we also should see a lot of jakes." Contact: Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln office (402-471-0641). For a map of the Forest Service lands (308-432-3367).