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Hunts I’m Planning For This Fall

It is about this time every year I get a bit antsy….my wife calls it miserable. The first open hunting season looming at the start of next month gets me a bit crazy. I have gone an entire month without chasing a critter…Its tough on the soul.

Throughout July I like to finalize plans for fall hunts. It gets me through to the opener of squirrel season. Each year I will take to the squirrel woods with a single action 22 pistol to chase bushy tails. Squirrel hunting offers a lot of fun and challenge and it is a good primer for what is to come!

Three fine critters from a fall hunt a few years back.

September 1 will find me and a few friends perched near a pond or sunflower field, eyes glued to the sky, searching for doves. I am puzzled why more hunters don’t take advantage of this awesome season. Dove hunting is like no other. You will get a lot of fast shooting but the type of hunt you can stand and talk to your buddies all morning. For my lab Buster, it is the perfect primer for ducks in the fall. I’ll write more on some of my tested methods for doves in the coming weeks.

Of course, I will plan several evenings and weekends in the tree stand with bow in hand. The early archery season is like medicine in my veins! Not sure I can function in normal society without it. A man (or woman) can do a lot of clear thinking 15 foot above the ground in camo.

For certain, this year I will head out to the majestic Sandhills with my father-in-law and brother-in-law to chase grouse and prairie chickens. The vast Nebraska Sandhills call to me like no other place on earth. A guy can walk for days with his four legged hunting buddy and often you end up finding yourself (I think we all need finding now and then). We will camp about two miles into the hills under the canopy of a large mature cottonwood grove. At night, the cool winds make the cottonwood leaves sing. We’ll sit around a large camp fire, tell stories, make fun of eachother (and ourselves…some of us have more material to work with) and dream of future hunts. These Sandhills grouse hunts also offer prime waterfowl hunting in the prairie pot holes and we take full advantage of it. We start our mornings in layout blinds on a remote Sandhills pond, shoot a few ducks for lunch and then head to hills for grouse. The walking is long and hard but I never seem to mind it up there.

Someone once called this place near Rose, Nebraska...home!
Gotta love this vast country!
In this region, you often find much more than just grouse!

That old cotton wood grove...

I’m sure we will head to the cedar canyon country in south central Nebraska to chase turkeys. If you have never hunted fall turkeys, you are missing out on one of the best secrets in the state. They are fun, plentiful and private land access is excellent. They require a slightly different approach than spring birds but the camping and hunting makes for a great time.

Without question we will have the blind back on our favorite pond in eastern Nebraska in time for the first major duck flights. Time with family and friends in the duck blind is precious. I have already begun planning the breakfast menus…for these important things one can never plan too early. I am sure there will still be day or two where I am forced to make gravy out of coffee….oh well the toils of life still find me.


I may still make a camping/hunting trip to the pine ridge for deer. As a die hard handgun hunter, this part of the country can really challenge you. Yet, at the end of the day, when the sun begins to set over the buttes that protect the Soldier Creek Wilderness, you can only thank God he made you a hunter. I am sure I will round out the season with some predator calling, varmint hunting and such. Those outings are just plain exciting.

Beautiful country that Pine Ridge!

Who knows what awesome sunsets, landscapes and critter encounters await us this fall. Rest assured, some will see their biggest deer. Many will call in their first coyote. A good number will finally harvest that fall turkey. Yep the possibilities are endless….and I for one can’t hardly wait! See You Out There!


About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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