The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds hunters that changes in Nebraska law now require them to be certified in bowhunter education if they hunt big game with a crossbow and are ages 12 through 29.

Hunters ages 12 and 29 who hunt deer, antelope, elk or bighorn sheep with bow and arrow or a crossbow must carry with them proof of certification of a bowhunter education course.

In addition, hunters ages 12 through 29 who hunt anything with a firearm or air gun must carry with them proof of certification of a firearm hunter education course.

To find hunter and bowhunter education classes in Nebraska, visit HuntSafeNebraska.org.

Help with deer survey

Homestead National Monument of America will conduct its annual fall deer survey on National Public Lands Day Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and walkers and spotters are needed.

Walkers will hike about three-fourths of a mile through the tallgrass prairie (wear long pants, long sleeved shirt, good walking shoes, and appropriate coat for the weather). Spotters will be stationed at various points along the west, north and south boundaries to count deer as they leave the monument.

No experienced is needed; all age and ability groups will be able to help.

Orientation will begin at the Homestead Education Center at 9:30 a.m. The survey will be completed by noon. Motorists on State Highway 4 need to be alert for deer crossing the highway as they drive through the monument that morning.

“The deer survey is a great opportunity for the community and Homestead National Monument of America to work together.” acting park superintendent Sue Bruns said.

After the deer survey, stick around for our special pollinator class with guest speaker Natalia Bjorklund, an extension educator with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The class is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will focus on pollinator and plant identification.

The park is located four miles west of Beatrice.

Getting ready

With Iowa’s bow season just days away, hunters are in the final stages of preparation; adjusting tree stand locations, cutting shooting lanes, or ‘just’ scouting those early season deer habits.

Tops in that preparation? Staying safe above the ground.

Talking with bow hunters, it’s surprising how many have slipped, fallen or had to jump the last few feet to the ground. Iowa’s two hunting fatalities in the last two seasons involved not firearms, but bow hunters falling. With upwards of 50,000 of them in Iowa, it is a hazard that can be eliminated with a little forward thinking.

To play it safe, consider a couple of staples.

“Bring friends when you install your tree stand,” said Dave Giese, Hawkeye Wildlife Area shooting range officer in Johnson County. He recently coordinated an Archery Safety Day there. “Once up, make sure it gets anchored. Have a harness to raise your equipment. Don’t carry your bow up or down.”

Once in the stand, your first move should be to secure your safety harness to the tree.

“A safety harness is an absolute necessity. You are just asking to fall out of a tree if you don’t have one,” said Mark Powers of Cedar Rapids, a 25-year bowhunter. “There are just too many situations where you’re moving your feet, moving your body, changing things around. You have to be safe.”

Basically, follow the ‘three point rule.’ Your hands are two points of contact. Your feet are two more. To safely climb, you need three points of contact.

Purchase a stand made by a supporting member company of the Treestand Manufacturers of America; it includes a basic harness. In fact, safety harnesses — over each shoulder and adjusted at both thighs — are overshadowed now by safety jackets; easier to put on and which spread the pressure should you fall. Some have a telescoping-type strap between you and the tree, which lessens fall impact or even lowers you to the ground.

Probably the best safety advice? Communicate.

“Plan ahead. Let someone know where you are; what time you expect to be home, what stand you will be in that day,” Giese said. “If you do end up with an issue, people have an idea of where to look for you.”

Calendar

THURSDAY

» Voecks/Meade Trail Ride, Fort Robinson SP, Crawford, 308-665-2900

SATURDAY

» State High School Silhouette Match, Pressey Wildlife Management Area, Oconto, 7:30 a.m.

» Becoming an Outdoors Family Camp, Camp Kateri, McCool Junction, 402-471-5547

» Competitive Horse Trail Riding, Indian Cave SP, Shubert, 402-883-2575

» Firearm bull elk hunting season opens

» Public land cow elk hunting season opens

» Brainy About Bats, Rock Creek Station SHP, Fairbury, 8:30 p.m., 402-729-5777

SUNDAY

» Chain Challenge Disc Golf, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, Ashland, 402-944-2523

» Living History, Arbor Lodge SHP, Nebraska City, 402-873-7222

» Junior Naturalist Adventure, Rock Creek Station SHP, Fairbury, 9 a.m., 402-729-5777

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