As Nebraska’s largest hunt by participation – the firearm deer hunting season – comes into view from Nov. 13-21, visions of antlers and venison tenderloins can make the mind wander a bit. So before you take to your stand or blind, glance over these deer hunting safety tips and regulation reminders to keep yourself focused, safe, and within the rules.
With 42 years at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and as a landowner and longtime firearm deer hunter in Nebraska, here are my top priorities for hunters, who should:
— Make certain your deer permit is signed, you have a habitat stamp (if applicable) and any other required items.
— Exercise caution driving to and from hunting spots. Deer activity increases this time of year at dawn, dusk and night, so slow down and be alert behind the wheel. Also watch out for slow-moving farm vehicles on rural roads as the crop harvest continues.
— Wear 400 square inches of blaze orange clothing and the head, chest and back. It is required of all deer and turkey hunters during the firearm deer hunting season, regardless of the type of equipment used.
— Place some sort of blaze orange material on your ground blind to be readily seen from all directions and indicate to others that it is occupied.
— Deploy an artificial light like a headlamp going to and from your hunting spot as an additional safety precaution and to allow you to see better in the dark.
— Use only approved safety equipment when hunting from a tree stand. Newer fall arrest systems offer more protection than older models.
— Maintain proper muzzle control at all times! Know where the firearm is pointed and never allow it to be pointed at anything you do not intend to shoot. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded!
— Use binoculars, rather than a rifle scope, to identify your target.
— Keep aware of your surroundings. Be fully aware of your target and background. Before firing a shot, ask yourself: “Is the bullet flight path clear, is that a legitimate target and what am I going to hit if I miss my shot!
— Never go onto private property without the landowner’s permission. This includes trailing a wounded deer onto someone else’s property.
— Have a plan for the cleaning, cooling, transporting and processing and of deer.
— Once the deer is down and deceased, cancel your deer tag on your permit immediately. Firearm and archery deer permit holders harvesting deer during the firearm season then must deliver their deer to an in-person check station no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season.
— Locate an in-person deer check station online before heading out to the field. Visit OutdoorNebraska.gov for an updated list of firearm deer hunting season check stations.
— Only take good, clean shots. Exact shot placement into a vital organ area is a must for all deer hunters. The best shot on a deer is made broadside or quartering-away and hits the heart and lungs.
— Put the Nebraska Wildlife Crimestoppers toll-free telephone number in your cell phone to report game law violations. The number is: 1-800-742-7627. It is staffed 24 hours a day, year-round.
Remind yourself that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s website at OutdoorNebraska.gov is an invaluable resource for any information regarding deer hunting. It includes a multitude of things from the 2021 Big Game Guide to the 2021 Public Lands Access Atlas. Also on the website are links to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Take ‘Em Hunting, Hunters Helping the Hungry and the Deer Exchange.
I wish you a safe, memorable deer hunt! GW.