LINCOLN, NEB - Turkey hunting is a spring tradition for outdoorsmen in Nebraska and it’s become so popular, it’s drawn those form outside the Cornhusker state.

News Channel Nebraska spoke with Nebraska Game and Parks Big Game Program Manager Luke Meduna about current population numbers and newer regulations for nonresident permits.

“From what I have heard form our field report people is we do have pretty good numbers this year, people seem to report seeing a few more birds, but we’re definitely down from where we were 10-15 years ago, but seems like we may be rebounding, hopefully,” Meduna said.

In 2023, Game and Parks dropped nonresident turkey permits to 10,000, having sold as many as 18,000 in the past - the number of permits have fluctuated since the mid-2010’s.

The reason being? Population.

“Just with the way our turkey population has declined, we really needed to balance that hunting pressure, particularly from our nonresidents,” Meduna said. “As the turkey population has gone down, our resident turkey permits have gone down as well, but we really needed to get a handle on the nonresident permits.”

After nonresident permits took a bit to sell in 2023, they went quick this year, going on sale Jan. 8 and selling out by the 25th.

“There’s pretty high demand for [nonresident] permits,” Meduna said. “Last year they sold out the day before the archery opener, so 74 days, this year, they sold out in 17 days… I think that’s a pretty good window, any faster then that, we’d have to look at going to a draw, but little over two weeks, so hunters who were paying attention and wanted to get permits definitely had an opportunity.”

Meduna and Game and Parks also urges those who do harvest a turkey to check it in with Game and Parks, as it gives them a better read on turkey populations across Nebraska.