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What Is The Deer Hunting Experience Like?

The morning air is crisp and cold.

The stalks of corn stubble and hardwood trees along the river bottom stand as stalwarts; motionless and silent. The scene offers a picturesque postcard setting against the slowly lightening predawn sky.

An emerging mid-November sunrise on a firearm deer hunt along the Elkhorn River in southeastern Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
The sounds of wildlife awakening for the day can now be heard along the river bottom.

A raucous calamity of crows is off in the distance. Two fox squirrels squabble amid the leaves on the woodland floor along the edge of the cornfield. The insistent nasal yammering of a white-breasted nuthatch captures the attention in the woodlands.

A white-breasted nuthatch is seen going down a cottonwood tree along a river bottom during a deer hunt. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
In the trees, wild turkeys can be heard flying down from their night roost in old-growth cottonwoods; greeting the first full rays of the sun.

Suddenly, and without sound, a large-bodied, adult white-tailed deer buck emerges. Curved antlers thrust forward, nose somewhat delicately testing the autumn air.

The hunter, clad in a blaze orange cap and vest, sitting on a folding camp chair in the camouflaged portable ground blind, freezes.

He is hardly breathing. The adrenaline is beginning to flow in his body. He plants his tripod shooting apparatus firmly on the thin carpeted floor of the blind.

He then places the rifle securely on the tripod. The grip on the rifle is tightened. The hunter bears down on the firearm.

He begins to hone in on the buck positioning the crosshairs of the rifle scope squarely behind the front shoulder of the animal.

Slowly he begins to squeeze the trigger.

This is what hunting is all about — the experience. It is one of, if not the most, essential elements of hunting.

Some think hunting is only about killing a game animal or game bird. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The taking of that game animal or game bird involves only a split second.

Far more time — innumerable hours — will be spent by the hunter surrounded by and observing nature. Not much compares to the beauty, serenity and adventure of being in nature and waiting for game like deer.

For many of us in the Nebraska outdoor community, hunting is an autumn experience that can be compared to the atmosphere of a Husker game day in Memorial Stadium.

Like going to a Nebraska football game in Lincoln, the experience of hunting is about a lot of things.

Sure, it is the ambiance, the feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness. But it is also the tradition, the camaraderie of family and friends and the entire process. It creates memories that a person will carry well into his or her senior years.

Hunting is about being with family and friends! I always enjoy firearm deer hunting with my cousin, Mark Hintz of Gretna, NE on his family’s farm in southeast Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

It’s also about understanding the importance of good habitat, biodiversity (that all living things are interconnected) and the role we play in the natural cycle of life, death and wildlife management.

The hunting experience is truly a celebration of America’s freedom and the North American Model of Conservation.

The hunting experience allows for one to fully escape the concrete jungle, the hustle and bustle of everyday life filled with modern technological devices.

The challenge of the hunting experience is one that is unmatched.

There are factors such as weather and crop harvest coupled with trying to draw wild game animals and birds close enough for a shot on their home turf. The odds are not in the hunter’s favor.

So harvesting a free-ranging, healthy wild game animal or bird for the dinner table is purely a bonus for which we, as hunters, are extremely grateful!

I harvested this nice, big-bodied adult white-tailed buck in the 2018 Nebraska Firearm Deer Hunting season in the Wahoo Unit. I am extremely grateful to have harvested this wonderful game animal for wholesome, delicious meals to share with my family and others! Photo by Rich Berggren/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media sites, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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