LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Participation in Nebraska's special youth pheasant hunts has increased 77 percent since the program began in 2011 and 42 percent from last year.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says that in 2013, 392 youth participated, compared to 276 in 2012 and 222 in 2011. The goal of the program is to increase youth participation in upland game hunting by providing them an opportunity to experience a successful hunt.

The program allows youth ages 15 and younger to hunt at nine wildlife management areas across Nebraska during the statewide youth pheasant, quail and partridge season, which took place Oct. 19-20.

The regular pheasant, quail and partridge season began Saturday.