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Panhandle Passages: Scanning for Deer

For the first time in Nebraska, deer check station personnel in the northwestern district used bar code scanners to check in permits.
For the first time in Nebraska, deer check station personnel in the northwestern district used bar code scanners to check in permits.

I remember when a large retail chain opened a store near my hometown and brought with it something amazing. To a child such as me, bar code scanner technology seemed magical. No longer did we have to wait for the cashier to hand input each item – all that was required was a simple beep.

The same technology received positive feedback last week at a place far from the express lane– a northwestern district public deer meeting at Chadron. The meeting was one of eight across the state for hunters, landowners and other members of the public to provide input on the Commission’s deer management strategy.

Check stations in the northwestern district served as guinea pigs for the bar code scanners during the firearm season. When hunters brought their deer to the stations, workers used handheld scanners to make a pass across the bar code on the permits.

With just that action, most of the information required to check in the deer was automatically entered to laptop computers. After workers entered the deer’s age, gender, subspecies, and location of kill, the data traveled via cyberspace to join a database with information from other check stations. Not only does the new technology speed things up at the check stations, but having the information gathered and tallied so soon helps wildlife staff begin working on recommendations for the next season sooner than years past.

The new system is the result of work by the Commission’s Information Technology Division and input from the wildlife staff. Of course, there were a few minor glitches, which were expected. At the deer check station I worked, a brief error required us to write down a few entries on “the old” paper form. Doing the work by hand made me realize just how great the new system is.

Because the process went smoothly for the first time, next year the Commission plans to implement the technology where possible at points across the state.

Be sure to check it out when you’re checking in.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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