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Take Part in the Bowhunter Survey

I am one of you.

I am among the thousands of you who hunt deer and turkey with archery equipment.

Your blogger harvested this white-tailed deer doe and hen wild turkey during a recent fall Nebraska archery deer and turkey hunting session in mid October in rural Sarpy County, NE. Photo by Rich Berggren/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

I want you to join me once again in voluntarily participating Nebraska’s  Bowhunter Survey. Bowhunter survey? Hmmm … Another survey? Yes!

So why should you, an archery deer hunter, consider maintaining a diary and counting free-ranging, wild deer and turkeys for us at Game and Parks?

The answer: Because, like me, I know you passionately care about wildlife.

Think about it, bowhunting comrades. We spend innumerable hours in the field bowhunting for deer. We see a lot of wild animals and birds. We see a lot of deer and turkeys. We are selective with what we shoot and thoroughly enjoy what I call “sit, kneel or stand sessions,” patiently watching the surrounding landscape, waiting for the right deer to approach, whether from a treestand, blind or optimum vantage point.

Bowhunters kneel at a key location to rattle a white-tailed deer buck closer during a late fall hunt. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

So why log counts of deer and turkeys? Does it really matter?

Here is Tim Heckenlively of Falls City, NE bowhunting from a tree stand in the Missouri River bottoms of Nemaha County, NE. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

“This survey is very important to us and is entirely dependent on public participation,” said Luke Meduna, Big Game Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “We need our Nebraska bowhunters to be our eyes and ears in the field and document what they see. We sincerely appreciated those who took part in it last year. I hope we can get even more bowhunters involved this year!”

The 2020 survey results can be viewed at this link: http://outdoornebraska.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/2020BowhunterSurveySummary_Final.pdf

A mature white-tailed deer buck is spotted during a late September archery deer hunt in rural Sarpy County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Meduna explained, “The data from the bowhunter survey will help us to better understand doe-to-fawn and buck-to-doe ratios as well as establish a baseline for population trends regarding white-tailed and mule deer and wild turkeys.”

An adult white-tailed deer doe is seen during an archery deer hunt in an unharvested soybean field in early October in rural Sarpy County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

“We would be extremely grateful for assistance by any licensed bowhunter with this project, and this survey will give them the opportunity to be part of the process for deer and turkey management,” added Meduna.

A mule deer doe stands on the edge of a corn field in Chase County, NE Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission..

The survey is currently underway and runs to the start of the regular firearm deer hunting season, Nov. 13.

But, why not carry the survey through November and December? “When you get into November, fawns become difficult to separate from the does and yearlings, and hunting tactics of the November firearm season aren’t as standardized as they are during the archery season” Meduna pointed out, “so we will wrap things up at that point.”

Establishing reliable, long-term indices are crucial for making informed decisions on the management of harvested game species like deer and turkey. A hunter observation survey such as this is citizen-science at its best. It provides a wealth of quality information and metrics for wildlife biologists on a broad spatial scale or even on a more localized one at a low-cost option.

A pair of wild turkeys work their way up a grassy hill near a ground blind during a fall bowhunt in rural Douglas County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

And to help keep those costs low, simple data entry by bowhunters for this survey is available over the Internet at http://outdoornebraska.gov/bowhuntersurvey/. Bookmark that on your phone browser, iPad or PC and enter your information after each hunting session.

Hunter observation surveys are in use by several natural resource conservation agencies. (E.g. Iowa DNR’s Bowhunter Observation Survey) as a well-grounded means for gathering data to monitor wildlife population trends and dynamics.

The bowhunter survey is yet another tool in the toolbox that will go in concert with other deer and turkey surveys in Nebraska to develop effective management strategies and hunting seasons.

The success of the survey rests with us, the Nebraska bowhunters! Remember, your facts will make a real difference to wildlife conservation.

A large hen/poult wild turkey flock is observed in a combined soybean field from a treestand during an archery deer hunt in late October in rural Sarpy County, NE, Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/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 Communications and Marketing Specialist 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 channels, 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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