Deer picture

Deer numbers look good across the state.

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.”

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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