There’s welcome news for deer hunters. When asked where the good places to hunt are this season, Luke Meduna of Nebraska Game and Parks replied:
“I don’t know any part of the state where it’s going to be bad.”
Meduna, the big-game program manager, expects another productive firearm deer season.
Most of the corn crop should be harvested, also good news for hunters. When there is a late harvest, it tends to protect more deer.
“With plenty of permits available and excellent deer numbers, there are great hunting opportunities for all ages,” he said.
The season starts next Saturday, which is later than last year. According to regulations, the season opens the Saturday nearest Nov. 13 each year and ends the weekend before Thanksgiving. That falls on Nov. 24.
Last year’s season opened Nov. 10.
“That’s gone on for decades,” he said. “It catches people off guard a little bit every time it happens.”
Hunters killed about 58,000 deer statewide last year, below the highs of the mid-to-late 2000s. In 2008, the harvest eclipsed 80,000.
Meduna expects numbers this year to be comparable to last year, with higher totals in the Frenchman and Loup East deer management units.
“For the most part, in a lot of the state, our numbers are really right in the window of where we would like to be. There are some we are over but we are working to get on top of that,” Meduna said. “In the eastern third of the state, we’re probably at or slightly below where hunters would like us to be.”
Though it’s getting close to the opener, Meduna says the best way to ensure success is to scout the area where you plan to hunt. Make sure your stand is ready and spend time watching how deer are moving in the area.
“Hunters spend too much time hunting and not enough time scouting,” Meduna joked.
The commission has other reminders for deer hunters:
» Permits still are available for several deer management units. Buy them at OutdoorNebraska.gov.
» Cash donations to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program are encouraged so it can continue to feed Nebraskans in need by providing them with venison donated by deer hunters. To make a cash donation, visit Outdoornebraska.gov/hhh.
» Ahead of the harvest, hunters should locate a check station near their location. Firearm deer hunters and archers harvesting deer during the November firearm season must deliver their deer to a check station no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season. To find a list and map of check stations visit Outdoornebraska.gov/deer.
» Lymph node samples to be tested for chronic wasting disease will be collected from select harvested mule deer at check stations in the Pine Ridge and Plains management units, and from whitetails in the Missouri, Loup East, Calamus East and Elkhorn units. Learn more about CWD at OutdoorNebraska.gov/cwd.
» Nebraskans who want to donate or receive harvested deer can participate in the Deer Exchange, which is designed to accommodate the additional harvest of deer. It brings together hunters who have a surplus of deer with recipients willing to accept the deer meat.To join, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/deerexchangeprogram.
» Hunters should keep safety the top priority in the field by always keeping their rifle muzzle pointed in a safe direction, with safety on, and finger off the trigger, until they are ready to fire. They also should identify their target and what lies beyond it before firing. In addition, all are required to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange on their head, chest and back during the November firearm season, regardless if they are hunting with a firearm or archery tackle.
» Hunters also are reminded that permission is required to hunt on private land. Those who have permission to hunt should show the landowner and land respect. The 2019-2020 Public Access Atlas identifies and consolidates the nearly 1 million acres of publicly accessible lands that benefit Nebraska’s hunters, trappers and anglers. Printed copies are available where permits are sold; it also is available online at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas.
» The season also is an opportunity to take a new or lapsed hunter afield as part of the Take ‘Em Hunting challenge. For more information, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmHunting.
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Iowa season going strong
Iowa’s deer hunting intensity will ratchet up in the next few weeks as the peak of the rut approaches.
Archery season is open now. The two shotgun seasons are Dec. 7 to 11, and Dec. 14 to 22.
“If we can get Mother Nature to cooperate, I expect we will have another good year of deer hunting across Iowa,” said Tyler Harms, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Last year, the bad weather during the fall delayed the crop harvest and that impacted hunting during the rut, and then we had another round of rough weather during the first shotgun season. It would be nice to avoid that again.”
Iowa’s deer population is stable to slightly increasing over much of the state.
“Our herd remains within the population goals in part because our hunters work with landowners to direct doe harvest as a means of managing their deer,” Harms said. “What we need from hunters is to be sure to report their harvest. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Besides being required by law, it is some of the most important information we have for tracking the deer population in the state. It only takes a couple of minutes.”
1 of 51
Name: Cade Atkinson, Gothenburg, Nebraska
Species: Mule deer Where: Southwest of Gothenburg
Size: 5x5 Noteworthy: It was the 11-year-old’s second deer, which he took with the help of his dad, Brent Atkinson. Cade was able to take the buck down with one shot at 130 yards.
Name: Chris Taylor, Fremont. Species: Largemouth bass. Where: Private lake in Fremont. Size: 21 inches. Noteworthy: The 10-year-old caught the Master Angler fish using purple spinner bait.
Name: Tom Boyer, Omaha, with grandfather Jeff Carney Species: Blue catfish Where: Sandpit Lake near Ashland, Nebraska Size: 45 inches Noteworthy: This isn’t the first big catfish Tom has caught, but he earned his first Master Angler certificate. In the past, the 7-year-old wasn’t able to reel the fish all the way in on his own. This time he did, although he did take three rest breaks.
Name: Dylan Clark, Omaha. Species: Spoonbill. Where: Lake of the Ozarks with grandpa Butch Clark and friend Brian Hinenan. Size: 52 pounds. Noteworthy: This was Dylan’s biggest catch ever.
Name: Bob Story, at left, Central City Species: Channel catfish Where: Loup Canal in Platte County Size: 26.5 pounds Noteworthy: The 75-year-old landed the fish with some help from friends. Despite a severe fish kill a few years ago and March flood damage in the upper canal in March, the fishing in the lower half has been good this summer.
Name: Maezlyn Witherbee-Alef, Bennington Species: White crappie Where: Lake near Plattsmouth Size: ¾ of a pound Noteworthy: It was the 4-year-old’s first crappie. She is pictured with her grandfather, Mark Witherbee.
Name: Nate Ruffino. Species: Muskie. Where: Eagle Lake Sportsmen’s Lodge in Ontario, Canada. Size: 40 pounds, 50 inches. Noteworthy: Ruffino was casting on the dock when a 25-inch northen pike hit his bait. While reaching for his net the muskie came out and grabbed the pike. It took three people to net the fish and hoist him into the boat. Nate was fishing with his father, Tom Ruffino, and friends Frank and Andy Tworek, Ron Schmidt and Frank Mason.
Name: Hunter Redfern, Elkhorn.
Where: Stanton, Nebraska.
Noteworthy: The 9-year-old was hunting with his dad, John, at his Gram’s farm when he shot this cottontail rabbit. It was Hunter’s first animal harvested with a .22 rifle.
Name: Claudia Riggert, Pierce, Nebraska.
Where: Pierce County. Size: 4x4.
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old killed her first deer from 217 yards with her .243.
Name: L.D. “Spike” Gross, Fremont.
Species: King salmon.
Where: Lake Michigan out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Size: 28½ pounds.
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on flash bait from the deck of the Top Banana, a charter boat. The captain was Patrick Vesser.
Name: Jay Wiederholt, with children Mara and Max.
Species: Largemouth bass.
Where: Neighborhood pond in Sedalia, Missouri.
Noteworthy: Jay is a dedicated golfer. His brother-in-law, Bob, offered to take him fishing via golf cart. Several bass were caught and released.
Name: Bill Henk, Omaha
Species: White-tailed deer
Where: North of Loup River in Howard County
Size: 11x8 points. Brow tines 9 inches
Noteworthy: Henk said this is his biggest trophy. It appeared out of a tree-lined draw just 15 minutes after he got in his stand at 2 p.m. He shot it from 150 yards.
Name: John Beeson, Omaha Species: Deer Where: Otoe County southwest of Palmyra Size: 4x4 Noteworthy: The UNK senior killed the deer with one shot from 80 yards with a Savage .270 rifle. It’s the third deer of his hunting career.
Name: Dean Cowles
Species: Tiger trout
Where: Two Rivers
Noteworthy: The 93-year-old has caught virtually all varieties of trout over the years but never the hybrid tiger trout. It was a goal of his before he quit fishing. He caught two that day.
Name: Derek Rutherford, Omaha.
Where: Private lake near Valley.
Size: 16 inches.
Noteworthy: After several nibbles and lots of patience, Derek landed the biggest fish he’s ever caught. It was released.
Name: Emmett Golda, La Vista
Species: Bass Size: 3 pounds
Where: Halleck Lake in Papillion
Noteworthy: Moments after dropping his line in the water, the 3-year-old needed a little assistance from grandpa Keith Bonner to reel in this fish caught with a bait worm. It was his first time fishing. His parents are Luke and Kay Golda.
Name: Klaus Brotzki, Omaha.
Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Private lake in north central Missouri.
Size: 6 pounds, 9 ounces
Noteworthy: It was caught in 12 feet of water using a chartreuse and white chatterbait. It was weighed and released.
Name: Grant Ryan, 10
Species: Blue Catfish
Where: Saunders County sandpit lake
Size: 44 inches long
Noteworthy: The fish qualifies for Nebraska Game and Parks' Master Angler recognition. This is the second big catfish Grant has caught with his grandfather, Jeff Carney. Once the fish was released, he turned to his dad, Ben, and said: "This never gets old!"
Name: Samuel Baumert
Species: 15½-inch crappie
Location: Near Schuyler.
Note: The 6-year-old caught the Master Angler fish on an outing with his family. He used a minnow as bait.
Name: Bridget White, Springfield, Nebraska
Where: Off the coast of Cancun in the Caribbean
Size: 6 pounds
Noteworthy: Bridget and Phil White caught six trigger fish and one white and one red snapper while out on a fishing charter.
Name: Ben Zupan, Elkhorn
Species: Bluegill and crappie
Where: Lake Wanahoo
Size: Around 10 inches
Ben Zupan also was on his first ice fishing outing, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission event at Lake Wanahoo. Game and Parks provided gear and bait and even drilled the holes. The 16-year-old caught 15 fish, and grandpa Patrick McPherson caught four.
“Over the last 12 years I’ve enjoyed teaching him how to fish,’’ McPherson said. “He’s become an extremely good fisherman who loves the outdoors and can’t wait to go fishing. And, he’s a better and smarter fisherman than his grandpa. Don’t tell him that.”
Name: Jamison Childers, Omaha
What: Largemouth bass
Where: Douglas County private pond
Size: 17 inches
It was priceless, Paul Childers said, to see the smile on grandson Jamison’s face when he pulled in his prize on the youngster’s first ice fishing trip.
“Seeing him sitting in his chair and all of a sudden hearing, ‘Papa, I got one.’ All I did was put a few fingers underneath the pole and he reeled them in,’’ Childers said.
The 6-year-old caught a 17-inch and a 19-inch bass on a private pond in Douglas County. Childers caught a 21-incher.
Name: Jace Sheppard
This past July, the 8-year-old caught a pike at Lake of the Woods in Canada.
Name: Becky Connolly with guide Dean Roy, who is holding the fish. Husband Dan is to the left.
Where: Lake of the Woods
Size: 47-¼ inches, about 37 pounds
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on a jig and nightcrawler while fishing for walleye with a 6-pound line and a light-action rod. It was released unharmed.
Name: Don Paltani and grandson Wyatt, Bellevue
Species: Whitetail buck
Where: Cass County
Noteworthy: Paltani said it was a proud moment. Wyatt helped out with everything in taking care of the deer. “It is a moment to not be forgotten,” Paltani said. “We look forward to more proud moments like this one when Wyatt comes of age to hunt.”
Name: Clay Gathye, Gretna, and grandpa Larry Gathye, Omaha
Species: Mule deer
Where: Pine Ridge in western Nebraska
Noteworthy: The 10-year-old shot his first deer on opening day using his grandpa’s .308 rifle.
Name: Charlie Loofe, Elkhorn
Where: Buckskin Lake near Newcastle, Nebraska
Size: 20 inches
Noteworthy: The 10-year old was fishing with grandfather Mike Loofe of Wakefield.
Name: Michael Marcuzzo, Omaha
Species: Flathead catfish
Where: Omaha park
Size: 25 pounds, 39 inches
Noteworthy: Marcuzzo was fishing with a friend at a local park when he caught this master angler with a bluegill. The fish was released.
Name: Truman Stickland, Red Oak, Iowa
Where: Viking Lake in southwest Iowa
Size: 10 inches
Noteworthy: Truman and brother Bennett caught some small fish, then Truman reeled in this one. Mom wasn’t impressed, but Truman insisted he take it home. They then checked with Todd Carrick of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who said it was a master angler catch.
Name: Jeff Schindler, Valley
Where: Homer, Alaska
Size: 45 pounds
Noteworthy: Jeff was fishing with dad Ron and brothers Brad and Rod. As he was reeling in a rock fish, this monster latched on. The quick-thinking captain gaffed it before it let go. Both fish were landed in the boat.
Name: Jack Taylor, Bellevue
Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Private pond in Sarpy County
Size: More than 3 pounds
Noteworthy: He was fishing with his father, Aaron Taylor, and Jerry Lovell.
Name: Doug Mellema, Kansas City, Missouri
Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Smithville Lake, Missouri
Size: 5 pounds
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on the second cast of the morning, using a Rapala Fat Rap, firetiger color. It was netted by Doug’s father, Warren Mellema of Omaha.
Name: Dean Cowles, Plattsmouth
Where: Two Rivers
Size: 14 pounds
Noteworthy: Dean, 92, was fishing for trout when he caught this koi.
Name: Davis Koile, Valley
Size: 21 inches
Noteworthy: The 7-year-old used a green pumpkin worm with a chartreuse tip rigged wacky style on a drop shot rig. The fish, which weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces, was his first master angler bass. This catch made him “want to get even bigger ones.”
Name: Andrue Hackendahl, Elkhorn
Species: Redear sunfish
Where: Lawrence Youngman Lake
Size: Just over 10 inches
Noteworthy: The 9-year-old thought another little fish was stealing his night crawler. It was released.
Name: Ainsley Anderson, Omaha
Where: Lake Pokegama in Minnesota
Size: 29 inches
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old used a Silver Wally Diver to catch the 9-pound fish, which was her second master angler walleye.
Name: Hayden Anibal, Bennington
Where: Sandpit lake near Schuyler
Size: 16 inches
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old used a night crawler to nab her master angler fish.
Name: Emma Anibal, Bennington
Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Sandpit lake near Schuyler
Size: 18 1⁄2 inches
Noteworthy: The 12-year-old used a night crawler to catch the bass.
Name: Carter Cushing, Gretna
Species: Channel catfish
Where: Platte River
Size: 20 pounds
Noteworthy: The 14-year-old was fishing with his family, including sister Avery. The catfish put up a good fight and was released.
Name: Erik Hultquist, Omaha
Species: Brown trout
Where: Fraser River, Tabernash, Colorado
Size: 22 inches
Noteworthy: The 14-year-old was fly-fishing for the first time on a river.
Name: Gary Jacobsen, Omaha
Species: King salmon
Where: Kenai River in Alaska
Size: 50 pounds
Noteworthy: He was fishing with son Chris of Tekamah, Rick Beane of Minnesota and Dan and Eric Jensen of Kenai.
Name: Frankie Jordan, Omaha
Species: Largemouth bass
Where: East Silent Lake, Minnesota
Size: 4 1⁄2 pounds, 19 inches
Name: Mitch Stanley, Elkhorn
Species: Smallmouth bass
Where: Boy Lake, Longville, Minnesota
Size: 5-1⁄4 pounds, 21-1⁄2 inches long
Noteworthy: Mitch was fishing with his grandfather, Gary Lortz. He caught the master angler fish with a leech. The fish was released.
Name: John Swinarski, Omaha Species: Whitetail deer Where: Sarpy County Size: 7-pointer Noteworthy: Swinarski wants to thank the farmers and landowners who allow hunters on their land. “Really appreciate it,’’ he said. “We are always looking for more hunting land.’’
Names: Cooper and R.J. Hladik, Sedalia, Missouri
Species: Largemouth bass Where: neighborhood pond in Sedalia
Noteworthy: The boys also caught dozens of scrappy bluegills that were about 10 inches. They used hot dog bites and worms to catch green sunfish, too. All were released.
Couy, Reece and Nick French with a 113 1/4 pound blue catfish. It was 5-foot-1 inches tall with a girth of 3 feet 11 inches.
Name: Doug Finnicum, Omaha Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Douglas County private lake Size: 4 to 6 pounds
Noteworthy: It was his largest bass from this lake.
Name: John Schulte, Omaha Species: Pheasant Where: Public land near Columbus Noteworthy: The 13-year-old used his 20 gauge shotgun to kill his first rooster during the youth pheasant opener. He was hunting with springers Ruby, who flushed the wild rooster out of a plum thicket, and Camo, who retrieved it.
Drake Clements got a 16-point buck on the first day of the firearm deer season. It was the 11-year-old’s first buck.
Name: Kevin Marr, Omaha Species: Wiper Where: Lake Manawa
Size: About 8 pounds, 3⁄4 inches Noteworthy: Marr fishes at the lake every Monday. This time it was cold and windy, but he persevered on the fourth cast. It took about 17 minutes to bring the fish in.
Name: Michael Bebout Species:Whitetail deer Where: Johnson County by Sterling on his grandmother’s land. Size: 5x5 Noteworthy:Michael shot this 3 1/2 year old deer at 160 yards with a Browning .270. It is his biggest buck so far. This buck was so well hidden in the timber that, after shot, they walked within 2 foot of the deer and couldn’t see him. Michael found him.