Outdoor notes: Firearm deer season opens Nov. 10

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s nine-day firearm deer season opens Nov. 10, giving individuals an opportunity to share a hunt with family or friends.

As of Nov. 5, deer permits remain in the following management units: Blue Southeast, Buffalo Whitetail, Calamus East, Calamus West, Keya Paha, Loup East, Loup West, Missouri, Plains, and Platte Whitetail.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also reminds hunters:

— Cash donations to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program are encouraged so it can continue to feed Nebraskans in need by providing ground venison. HHH contracts with processors, who prepare and package ground venison from donated deer. Charitable organizations then pick up and distribute venison to Nebraskans. For more information about HHH or to make a cash donation, visit Outdoornebraska.gov/hhh.

— Ahead of the harvest, hunters should locate a check station near their location. Firearm deer hunters and archers harvesting deer during the November firearm season must deliver their deer to a check station no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season. To find a complete list of available check stations, as well as a map, visit Outdoornebraska.gov/deer.

— Lymph node samples to be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) will be collected from select harvested deer at check stations in the Pine Ridge, Plains, Sandhills, Keya Paha, Calamus West and Loup West management units. Learn more about CWD at OutdoorNebraska.gov/cwd/.

— Nebraskans who want to donate or receive harvested deer can participate in the Deer Exchange, which is designed to accommodate the additional harvest of deer. It brings together hunters who have a surplus of deer with recipients willing to accept the deer meat. To join, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/deerexchangeprogram.

— Hunters should keep safety the top priority in the field by always keeping their rifle muzzle pointed in a safe direction, with safety on, and finger off the trigger, until they are ready to fire. They also should identify their target and what lies beyond it before firing. In addition, all deer hunters are required to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange on their head, chest and back during the November firearm season, regardless if they are hunting with a firearm or archery tackle.

To purchase a deer permit online, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Mountain lion killed in Gordon

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials have confirmed that a mountain lion reported within the city limits of Gordon was killed by the Gordon Police Department on the evening of Monday, Nov. 5.

The response was consistent with Game and Parks’ policy for addressing occurrences of mountain lions in municipalities. The policy may be found in the Nebraska Mountain Lion Response Plan.

The 55-pound male cat was approximately a year old.

Gordon is located in northwestern Nebraska’s Sheridan County.

In June, Game and Parks commissioners approved a hunting season for mountain lions in the Pine Ridge that aims to lower mountain lion densities – a response to public concerns and Commission research. The season is scheduled Jan. 1-Feb. 28, 2019.

More information about mountain lions in Nebraska may be found at outdoornebraska.org/mountainlions.

After a banner year, winners announced for 2018 Great Park Pursuit

LINCOLN, Neb. – After a markedly successful season, several teams took home prizes in the 2018 Great Park Pursuit challenge.

Teams visited up to 20 Nebraska parks and areas of outdoor interest, logging their visits to enter drawings for various prizes. The Furr Fam team claimed the $1,500 grand prize, while other teams took home a $750 outdoor package, an iPad, and a two-night cabin stay in a Nebraska state park, among other prizes.

New this year was the incorporation of a Great Park Pursuit app for Android and iOS. “The app we created made it easier than ever to participate,” said organizer Tracy Stratman.

The program also saw a significant increase in participation. This year, 818 teams took part in the challenge, an increase of more than 50 percent, and park visits were up nearly 20 percent from last year, Stratman said. Teams may hold as many as 10 people.

“Over the past decade, the Great Park Pursuit has provided families with a unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors together and discover ‘their’ amazing Nebraska parks,” said Jim Swenson, state parks director for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “The success of this program confirms the relevance of the parks as desired recreation destinations, and it’s rewarding to provide this fun challenge for everyone to enjoy.”

The Great Park Pursuit is a joint program of the Nebraska Recreation & Park Association and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Program sponsors, who provide the overall funding to make the Great Park Pursuit possible, are the Nebraska Association of Resource Districts, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, Outdoor Recreation Products and Landscape Structures.

A full list of winning teams can be found at negpp.org. Registration for the next Great Park Pursuit begins in April 2019.

Venture Climb now open at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

LINCOLN, Neb. – One of the tallest climbing walls in the region is now open at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (SP) near Ashland.

Mahoney SP’s Venture Climb, housed in a new, state-of-the-art addition to the Activity Center, features a 42-foot climbing wall with both auto- and top-rope belays, as well as a bouldering structure. Climbers are treated to scenic views of the park through the facility’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Mahoney State Park is becoming a destination for visitors who want to have a unique, memorable and adventurous experience,” said Jim Swenson, state parks director for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “We are thrilled to be able to offer another fun and engaging challenge for our park visitors.”

Venture Climb is great for both novice and experienced climbers and is Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible. Admission is $11 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and under. Equipment rental is included with admission price. Personal equipment is permitted but must be inspected first and approved by a Venture Climb employee. There is no time limit for climbing.

Those who use the facility must fit into a harness provided by the park. All climbers must sign a waiver in person prior to using the facility. A parent must sign the waiver for climbers 18 and younger.

Winter hours for the Activity Center, including Venture Climb are: Monday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The center and climbing facility are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Venture Climb was constructed as part of Nebraska’s new Venture Parks Complex, an innovative public-private partnership at four park areas: Mahoney SP, Platte River SP, Schramm Park State Recreation Area (SRA) and Louisville SRA.

Venture Parks are designed to provide unique activities and experiences for a new generation of park visitors, while also inspiring an appreciation of nature and outdoor recreation. In addition to Venture Climb, four new major Venture Parks features were completed in 2018: The Go Ape Treetop Adventure, also at Mahoney SP; three new glamping cabins and an outdoor spray park at Platte River SP; and a floating playground at Louisville SRA. More information on these and other features is available online at OutdoorNebraska.org/VentureParks.

Collared mule deer part of research project

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds hunters of an ongoing mule deer research project in collaboration with University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There are 61 collared and ear-tagged mule deer does and fawns in the Frenchman and Republican management units of south-central and southwestern Nebraska.

The study aims to assess survivability and habitat use of mule deer does and fawns.

Hunters should understand that it is legal to harvest a collared deer and that hunter harvest is a factor that researchers hope to understand, along with other sources of mortality. “Hunters are encouraged to treat a collared deer as they would any other animal they would encounter in the field,” said Will Inselman, a Game and Parks wildlife assistant administrator.

Game and Parks will use this data to help guide future mule deer management in southwestern Nebraska. This study also will provide crucial population information that will enhance Game and Parks’ ability to make harvest recommendations based on up-to-date, scientific data.

The nine-day firearm deer season opens Nov. 10. Purchase permits at OutdoorNebraska.org.