In addition, 88 "special deputy wardens" served without compensation to "report status of fish and game, and violations" in their areas. In later years, the special wardens were paid half of any fines imposed as a result of their work. Nebraskans hunting or fishing outside of the county in which they resided were required to buy a $1 permit.
Deer and pronghorn hunting seasons ran from August 15 to November 15, even though it was estimated there were only 50 deer and 100 pronghorns in the state. Grouse season was from October 1 through November 30; the quail hunting season was closed until 1903; and the waterfowl hunting season spanned 7½ months from September 1 to April 15.
1905 - Wolves, coyotes, foxes, wild cats, skunks, and rabbits could be killed at any time of the year. One deer and one pronghorn, or two of either, were allowed annually. Daily bag limits allowed 10 geese, 50 ducks and 50 "other birds." During September it was unlawful for "any person to take, kill, or have in his or their possession more than ten prairie-chickens during any one day."
For the first time, state statutes prohibited the taking of fish in any public water, except the Missouri River, by means other than hook and line. Pheasants were stocked by private individuals and were protected, as were all species of native squirrels.
1907 - The legislature provided full protection for deer, elk, pronghorns and beaver.
Chief Deputy Warden Geo. L. Carter reported to the
1911 - A license to hunt and fish still cost $1, but was not required of "female persons" and boys under the age of 18 when fishing, or boys under the age of 18 when hunting with a parent or guardian.
In the summer of 1911, construction began on a diversion dam and bass and crappie ponds on the Minnechaduza Creek near Valentine. The Commission's Valentine Fish Hatchery is still located on that site.
1912 - In a two-year period of 1911 and 1912, over $75,000 was collected by the Game and Fish Commission from sales of permits and licenses. Those funds went to the state treasury and eventually the State School Fund. The legislature appropriated less than $45,000 to the Commission to fund the agency. Deputy Fish Commissioner W.J. O'Brien repeatedly requested legislation to place all license monies into a State Fish and Game Fund, making the agency self-supporting.
1913 - On April 5, the Nebraska Forestation Commission was created by the Nebraska Legislature "to investigate the feasibility of forestation of school lands in the sand hill region of the state." The Commission found that these mile-square areas of land were too many and too isolated to be managed as forests.
1917 - Soon after World War I was declared, at the request of the National Food Administration, the Commission established a seining crew to harvest fish to help feed the nation. In the first 18 months, the crew seined 125,000 pounds of carp and buffalo fish, which were sold for one or two cents per pound.
1919 - On August 2, the Game and Fish Commission became a division of the newly created state Department of Agriculture to "provide for a more constructive policy and to secure a more rigid enforcement of protective and conservation measures." All school sections in the state were declared game and bird reserves. In its 1919 session, the legislature appropriated funds to purchase and maintain a fish hatchery in Dundy County. An existing private hatchery was purchased near Benkelman for $7,500.
1921 - After two years as a division of the state Department of Agriculture, Game and Fish was reorganized and raised to full "bureau" standing. The legislature created the State Park Board within the Department of Public Works, and set aside one section of school land in the Pine Ridge for Chadron State Park. Two years later, the park board was attached to the University of Nebraska's Department of Horticulture.
In 1921, the 1901 law allowing hunting and fishing in the county of residence without a permit was repealed. A new law required all persons over age 16 to have a license, regardless of where they hunted or fished. The fish law was revised to allow fishing through ice for all species except trout and pike. Prior to that time ice-fishing was prohibited.
1923 - Arbor Lodge, the mansion
1926 - First issue of Outdoor Nebraska, precursor to NEBRASKAland Magazine, was published by the Nebraska Bureau of Game and Fish in June.
The Bureau began to establish a statewide system of recreation grounds to supplement the state parks. In 1925 and 1926, recreation areas were acquired at Goose Lake in Holt County, Walgren Lake in Sheridan County, Rat and Beaver Lakes in Cherry County and Fremont Sandpits in Dodge County "to provide fishing and hunting for the thousands of Nebraska citizens who desire such outdoor recreation."
Rather than buying pheasants for stocking, the Bureau began trapping birds where they were abundant in central Nebraska for release elsewhere. Individuals were paid $1 per bird trapped. Approximately 15,000 birds were redistributed. The legislature established Garden County Refuge, a statutory waterfowl refuge, on the North Platte River and "set aside" land in the national forests southwest of Valentine and southeast of Thedford as bird and game refuges.
1927 - Beginning July 1, 1927, all fees received by the Bureau from sale of permits were directed to funding the fish and wildlife department. The Bureau was made self-supporting.
More stringent game and fish laws were enacted. The grouse bag limit was reduced to five, ducks to 20, geese 5 and bag limits and size limits were established for game fish.
Hunting from an auto was prohibited and heavy fines imposed for the use of nets or traps to catch fish. A 16-foot boat with an outboard motor was acquired for law enforcement work.
A three-day pheasant season, Nebraska's first, opened in October in Wheeler and parts of Sherman counties. An estimated 5,000 birds where shot. In 1928, a 10-day season was held in Garfield, Wheeler, Valley, Greeley, Sherman, Howard, Buffalo, Hall and Merrick counties and over 35,000 pheasants were taken by hunters.
1929 - The State Park Board was dissolved and the four state parks were merged with the Bureau of Game and Fish to create the Game, Forestation and Parks Commission on April 22, 1929. The legislation provided that the governor should appoint five commissioners according to districts to serve as the policy-setting board of the agency.
In addition to the Chief Warden and a Special Investigator, there were 15 district wardens and "a number" of special deputy wardens serving principally as eyes and ears for the district wardens. District wardens were issued uniforms and furnished with "small automobiles," and camping equipment so they could live in the field when required.
Fort Kearny State Historical Park was established.
1930 - Niobrara State Park was established at the mouth of Niobrara River. The Commission purchased land near Scotts Bluff to create a "big game reserve" today known as the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.
The Commission began its first research projects: a study of the food habits of the ring-necked pheasant in central Nebraska, and an investigation of vegetation in Cherry County lakes. The hunting season on prairie grouse was closed. There would not be another grouse hunting season until 1950.
1931 - The Commission authorized the building of five trucks designed to transport fish for stocking. Previously, fish were moved in rail cars.
In 1931, the Commission discontinued its three-year wild turkey stocking program along the Missouri River, "owing to the fact that it is extremely difficult to obtain wild birds for stocking." A total of 253 turkey pairs had been stocked. The legislature passed the Hunters Shooting Scrip Act, which allowed the Commission to sell coupon booklets to hunters. Hunters gave landowners one coupon for every pheasant shot on their land. The coupons could be redeemed for cash.
1933 - By the end of 1933, the Game, Forestation and Parks Commission had established 26 state recreation areas. The Commission developed a ten-year program to improve outdoor recreation in Nebraska and to use its resources more efficiently.
1934 - In response to the drought, depression, and a decline in permit sales, all salaries of employees working for the agency were cut ten percent until the end of 1935.
Because of the drought, seining crews salvaged an estimated 1 million game fish from drying waters throughout the state and stocked them in other suitable lakes and streams. Additionally, 118,000 pounds of coarse fish were sold and the revenue was used to fund future operations.
1935 - State statutes were amended to remove the governor and secretary of the Game, Forestation and Parks Commission from the five-person Commission board of directors. The Commission's director also was no longer designated as the state's "Chief Conservation Officer."
Niobrara State Park opened to the public after work by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934 and 1935. A small lake and recreation grounds near Guide Rock in Webster County was completed by Civil Works Administration laborers and destroyed by the 1935 Republican River flood before it could open to the public.
1936 - A new system of identifying hunting and fishing permit holders was introduced in 1936. This was a metal badge or holder containing the permit and worn on the coat or hat. The badges were made by the Nebraska Prison Industries. The use of metal permit holders was discontinued in 1946.
Ponca State Park along the Missouri River in Dixon County was created with the donation of 200 acres from area residents and developed almost entirely with federal funds through the CCC. It opened in July.
1937 - The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was passed by Congress establishing an 11 percent manufacturer's excise tax on sporting rifles, shotguns, ammunition, and archery equipment, and a 10 percent tax on handguns. Revenues from the tax are still distributed to state conservation departments to help support wildlife research and management.
Beginning July 1, 1937, state parks were funded by an appropriation from the state general tax fund.
The Commission established a game farm near Madison to raise pheasants, chukar partridge and bobwhite quail for stocking. A total of 2,700 birds were raised the first year. Two years later, the Commission established a second, smaller, game farm at Niobrara State Park.
1938 - A survey by conservation officers estimated there were 1,675 deer and 700 pronghorns in the state. Most of the deer were found in the Panhandle and along the Niobrara River.
1940 - Separate hunting and fishing permits were issued for the first time. A hunting or fishing permit cost $1; a combination permit was $1.50. Previously, all hunting and fishing permits were combination permits and cost $1. A third game farm was established at the Benkelman fish hatchery in Dundy County.
1943 - Walter Keiner, the Commission's first professional fisheries biologist, was hired.
1944 - A 10-day quail season was allowed in four southeastern Nebraska counties. The last previous quail season was in 1918.1945 - Deer had become so abundant on the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey that a December "experimental season" was allowed. It was the first since the season for deer was closed by the legislature in 1906. Five hundred permits were issued and 350 deer were checked in by hunters.
The Commission was granted a 99-year lease by Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District to manage recreation grounds on portions of the newly created Lake McConaughy and other reservoirs in the system.
1946 - Work was completed on a new fish hatchery south of the city of North Platte.
1947 - The legislature increased the number of commissioners governing the Game, Forestation and Parks Commission from five to seven.
Game wardens began using a single-engine airplane and walkie-talkie radios to locate and apprehend violators. The plane was also used for wildlife surveys.
1949 - Nebraska's second deer season since 1906 was held in the Pine Ridge. Fifteen hundred permits were authorized. There has been a deer hunting season in every year since.
1950 - Dingell-Johnson Act created the Sport Fish Restoration Program by establishing an excise tax on fishing equipment. The tax, collected by the federal government, is reallocated to the states to enhance sport fisheries.
1952 - Beaver trapping was allowed without limits in some parts of Nebraska. Before 1952, there had been a limited beaver trapping season in some counties. In 1945, and, before that, beaver trapping had been prohibited since the early 1900s except when a depredation permit was issued.
1953 - Nebraska held its first open season on pronghorns since 1906 in a portion of Cheyenne County. During the three-day season, 121 of 150 hunters tagged a pronghorn.
1954 - The Commission reorganized and began to establish five district offices located in Alliance, Bassett, Norfolk, North Platte and Lincoln to more efficiently manage the state's resources on a regional basis.
Research was initiated on what would be one of the Commission's most ambitious research projects: The Life History and Ecology of the Ring-necked Pheasant in Nebraska. Field work for the project would not be completed until 1965.
1955 - The first Upland Game Bird Stamp was issued at a cost of $1, and was required of all hunters 16 years old or older. Funds from the stamp sales were used for the propagation and restoration of upland game birds. Nebraska held its first archery deer season.
1958 - Pronghorns trapped in Colorado were released in north-central counties in January to re-establish herds once native to the Sandhills. From 1958 through 1962, 1,077 pronghorns were released. During the winter of 1958-59, 28 Merriam's wild turkeys obtained from Wyoming and South Dakota were released in the Cottonwood Creek drainage of Sioux County.
Outdoor Nebraska began publishing monthly rather than quarterly.
1959 - The Division of State Parks was established and funded by state general fund money and user fees. Assigned boating safety responsibilities by the legislature, the Commission began issuing licenses for motorized boats and publishing an annual boating guide. The Commission was also assigned tourism responsibilities for the state.
1960 - Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park was established. A statewide two-way radio system was installed, enhancing law enforcement efforts. Throughout the 1960s, a chain of lakes in central Nebraska, created by construction of Interstate 80, were developed as hunting, fishing and recreation areas.
1961 - Buffalo Bill State Historical Park was established. Deer hunting seasons were held statewide for the first time.
Rio Grande turkeys were stocked in central and southern Nebraska.
A trout-raising station was completed on Verdigre Creek in northern Antelope County.
1962 - Fort Robinson State Park was established. Since 1957, the Commission had operated part of the park-to-be under a special-use permit from the federal government. The first turkey hunting season in Nebraska was held in the Pine Ridge.
1963 - Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Ash Hollow Historical Park and Indian Cave State Park were established. Nebraska had its first split duck season. Chukar partridge were released in the Panhandle.
1964 - Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs including Merritt, Enders, Box Butte, Medicine Creek, Red Willow, Sherman and Swanson were leased to the Commission for recreational development. Lake Minatare had been added in 1960 and, in 1983, Calamus was included.
The name of the monthly magazine was changed from Outdoor Nebraska to NEBRASKAland.
The first modern-day pronghorn hunting season was held in the Sandhills, as was the state's first spring turkey hunting season. Under a management agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Commission began developing recreational facilities at Salt Valley reservoirs near Lincoln.
1965 - Buffalo Bill Ranch was dedicated as a State Historical Park.
1966 - A Master Angler Award program was created to acknowledge large fish caught by Nebraska anglers. Acquisition of the 10,300-acre James Ranch expanded Fort Robinson State Park.
1967 - The legislature created a new post of state forester within the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, removing the responsibility for forestation from the Commission, which was renamed the Game and Parks Commission. Land was purchased for what would be the core of Rock Creek State Historical Park in Jefferson County.
1969 - Enrollment in the Acres for Wildlife program began to encouraged farmers and ranchers to protect small plots of wildlife habitat.
1970 - The Commission initiated a program to release young Canada geese in the Sandhills to re-establish them as breeding birds.
The last release of chukar partridge was made. Over six years, 27,456 chukars were released in an attempt to establish it as a game bird. Subsequently, the project was deemed unsuccessful.
1971 - The seining crew was disbanded after more than 50 years of salvaging and relocating fish.
Since its beginning, the Commission administration was housed in the state capitol. As it grew, division offices were located at several sites in Lincoln. In 1971, a new headquarters was built at 2200 North 33rd Street.
Tourism and promotion responsibilities for the state were transferred from the Commission to the state's Department of Economic Development.
Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area was established.
1972 - The Legislature provided for fee-exempt hunting and fishing permits for veterans 65 and older, or anyone over 70 years of age.
A falconry program was implemented requiring licensing of falconers using birds of prey for hunting. The Benkelman hatchery was surplused and sold.
1973 - Sixteen bison were moved from Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area to start a herd at Fort Robinson State Park.
The Outdoor Nebraska television program debuted with 13 half-hour segments.
A 15-year study of the life history, ecology, and management of sharp-tailed grouse in the Sandhills was completed.
1974 - The Gretna fish hatchery, the state's first, acquired in 1881, was closed. The grounds remained the centerpiece of Schramm Park State Recreation Area. A Commission information office was opened in Omaha. The legislature required a hunting safety course for young hunters. The new law took effect January 1, 1976.
1975 - The legislature enacted the Nongame and Endangered Species Act declaring that it is in the public interest "to preserve, protect, perpetuate, and enhance" all species in the state. Under this act, species becoming rare within the state receive protection as well as those included on the national threatened and endangered species list.
Dove hunting season opened statewide. There had been no season since 1953 when the legislature reclassified the dove as a songbird. The state's first large-scale outbreak of avian cholera occurred in the Rainwater Basin wetlands in south-central Nebraska.
1976 - A five-day muzzleloading rifle deer hunting season was held on DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. It was the first black powder hunting season in the state's history.
1977 - As recommended by the 1975 Habitat Conference, Nebraska's first Habitat Stamp was issued. The $7.50 stamp replaced the Upland Game Stamp and accelerated the acquisition of wildlife management areas in the state.
Construction began on the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium at the site of the old Gretna fish hatchery. It officially opened June 16, 1979.
1978 - A park-entry permit program, authorized by the legislature in 1976, was initiated to raise funds for improvement and maintenance of state parks.Additionally, the Nebraska Outdoor Recreation and Development Act, funded by a one-cent tax on
cigarettes, began to fund new park construction.
1980 - Nebraska's first gray partridge season was held. The "Hungarian partridge," as the gray partridge was called until recently, had been released by the Commission numerous times beginning in 1907.
The first open season on dark geese in the Sandhills since 1969 was held in 1980. By 1983, when the Sandhills portion of the Canada goose restoration project was completed, 4,100 birds had been released.
1981 - With the support of the North American Wild Sheep Foundation and the Nebraska chapter of the Safari Club International, the Commission released six bighorn sheep on the buttes at Fort Robinson State Park to establish a population.
1982 - In September, the Operation Game Thief Program was founded by the Wildlife Protectors' Association to aid law enforcement officers in curbing poaching and other game law violations.
Platte River State Park officially opened in August.
1983 - The Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation was established to provide financial support for Commission projects.
1984 - A Trout Stamp was required to harvest trout. The legislature directed the Commission and natural resource districts to obtain instream-flow rights in Nebraska streams for fish, wildlife and recreation purposes.
1985 - Land was acquired for the new Niobrara State Park. The old park site, acquired in 1930 was abandoned because of rising water levels in Lewis and Clark Lake. The new park opened in 1987.
1986 - Purchase of land and development of Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Cass County began. The park opened in 1991. Nebraska's first modern-day elk season was held in the Pine Ridge.
1989 - The first statewide muzzleloading rifle deer hunting season was held. The Commission was granted an instream-flow water right to protect Long Pine Creek, the first instream-flow right ever granted for the benefit of fisheries.
1990 - A new, state-of-the-art fish hatchery was completed on the Calamus River near Burwell.
1992 - Smith Falls State Park, the site of the state's highest waterfall, was established on the Niobrara River near Valentine. Commercial harvesting of catfish in the Missouri River was discontinued. The Commission opened a district office in Kearney.
1993 - The Belmont fish ladder was completed on the North Platte River near Bridgeport, the first fish-passage structure placed on any Nebraska stream.
1994 - A gift from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy of 321 miles of abandoned Chicago & North Western rail line across northern Nebraska lead to creation of the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail. When completed, it will be the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the country.
1995 - Federal regulations allowed snow geese hunting as late as March 10 in Nebraska and other states in the Central Flyway to reduce the size of the out-of-control population, which was damaging Arctic nesting grounds for many bird species.
1997 - The Commission disbanded the captive flock of Canada geese at the Sacramento Wildlife Management Area, officially ending a successful, 27-year program to re-establish large Canada geese as breeding birds in Nebraska. The Commission began stocking endangered pallid sturgeon in the lower Platte River as part of a national recovery plan.
1998 - Two permits were issued for Nebraska's first bighorn sheep hunting season. After a decade of work, the Commission was granted instream-flow water rights to protect wildlife and fish habitat in 250 miles of the central and lower Platte River. Nebraska anglers were required to purchase an Aquatic Habitat Stamp, the first of its kind in the nation, to help rehabilitate and enhance aquatic habitat.
1999 - An Urban Fisheries Program was created to improve fishing in city lakes.
2000 - Anyone age 14 or 15 was required to pass a boating safety class before operating personal watercraft.
During the 2000 calendar year, 112,933 deer permits and 19,422 turkey permits were issued.
One hundred years after the Game and Fish Commission was created, there are 54 conservation officers working the state, and the number of public recreational lands has grown to eight state parks, 11 state historical parks, 66 state recreational areas and 254 wildlife management areas.