Outdoor notes: Top reasons to hunt; stay safe in the field; Hunters Helping the Hungry

LINCOLN, Neb. – There are plenty of reasons to get excited for the start of Nebraska’s hunting seasons in September. None is bigger than the mixed bag opportunities across the state. Nebraska is where east meets west and north meets south, and our diverse habitats and wildlife offer mixed bag hunting opportunities not found anywhere else in the world.

Sept. 1 opens up possibilities for hunting big game, small game and waterfowl. It is the start of the seasons for archery deer, rabbit, dove, snipe, rail, grouse and teal. Fall turkey season opens Sept. 15.

Need more reasons? How about these:

One million acres of access –280,000 acres of private lands are enrolled in the Open Fields and Waters Program, which allows public walk-in hunting. Combined with existing state and federally owned lands, there are public access opportunities on over 1 million acres throughout Nebraska. You can find places to hunt and fish in the Public Access Atlas.

Nebraska Upland Slam – The new Nebraska Upland Slam invites hunters to try to take a pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie chicken and northern bobwhite in the state. Those who complete the Nebraska Upland Slam will receive a certificate and a pin. For more information, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/UplandSlam.

Helping those in need – Hunters Helping the Hungry encourages hunters to donate whole, field-dressed deer at participating processors to be distributed by charitable organizations and food pantries statewide. The Deer Exchange is designed to accommodate the additional harvest of deer. Hunters and recipients join a database in which a search leads to the free transfer of venison.

Long seasons – Pheasant and quail seasons are more than three months long, archery deer season is four and fall turkey is 4½.

Abundance of species – Nebraska has white-tailed deer and turkeys in all 93 counties.

Variety of habitats – Hunt in the Sandhills, Pine Ridge in the northern Panhandle, Missouri River oak woodlands, Rainwater Basin or southwestern mixed-grass prairies.

Education and training – Just getting started or want to refresh your skills? Several learn to hunt workshops are scheduled across the state, and there are educational videos on the Commission’s YouTube Channel. Hunter education can be taken conveniently online.

Supporting conservation – The sale of hunting, fishing and park permits funds wildlife management, as well as conservation of wildlife and wild places in Nebraska.

Online and digital resources – Game and Parks’ website, OutdoorNebraska.org, is a resource for all types of information to plan and prepare for a hunt, including trip planners and guides containing rules and regulations. Mobile permits are available, as well.

Time spent hunting is time well spent – Hunting is never just about hunting. It’s about getting outdoors, making memories with family and friends and enjoying Nebraska’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Visit OutdoorNebraska.org for more information. Spending time hunting with family and friends is time well spent.

Stay safe in the field this hunting season

LINCOLN, Neb. – As summer begins to wrap up and fall hunting seasons approach, hunters should recommit themselves to staying safe in the field.

Nebraska Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis says hunter safety involves the use of hunter orange, firearm rules and proper preparation.

Hunter Orange

Ellis said that since the beginning of Hunter Education and hunter (blaze) orange requirements in the mid-1970s, accidental shootings have decreased dramatically. He said a 2010 report by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that the 81 percent of victims in vision-related hunting incidents were not wearing hunter orange.

In Nebraska, a hunter must display at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material on his or her head, chest and back when hunting:

  • antelope, elk, deer or bighorn sheep under the authority of a firearm permit during a firearm season.
  • under the authority of a muzzleloader permit during a muzzleloader season.
  • deer with archery equipment during the November firearm deer and the January late deer seasons.
  • turkeys during the November firearm deer season.

“Make sure to wear blaze orange when legally required to, but also when not mandated, when hunting game such as pheasants, quail, grouse, squirrel and rabbit,” Ellis said.

Firearm Safety Rules

Ellis said nearly all firearm incidents can be prevented by following four rules:

  • Control the muzzle, ensuring that a firearm never is pointed at anything you do not want to destroy.
  • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Be sure of your target, and what is beyond it.

“Whether you miss your target or the bullet travels through it, be sure that your target has a safe backstop behind it to stop the bullet,” Ellis said. “Never shoot at skylined game, or toward water, a roadway, house or feedlot, or at sounds or movement through brush. Make sure to identify your target as legal game before aiming and shooting.”


Ellis said hunters should create a plan and stick to it. “Tell someone where you plan to hunt, when you will leave and when you plan to return,” he said.

He also said it is important to prepare for unexpected changes in weather by dressing in layers and to be plan for weather more intense than is expected.

A hunter’s gear bag should include a first-aid kit and gear to get him or her through a night alone in the woods, such as a fire starting kit, space blanket and a nutritious snack and water.

Hunters Helping the Hungry meat processors to accept deer donations starting Sept. 1

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hunters may begin donating deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program Sept. 1 at 16 processor locations around the state. Four additional processors will accept deer for the program starting in November.

Hunters pay no processing costs for deer accepted by processors for this donation-driven program.

The HHH program, which is funded solely by tax-deductible contributions, allows ground venison to be distributed by charitable organizations to Nebraskans in need. Hunters should first talk with processors, but they may keep antlers, head and cape and donate the rest of the deer. Processors accept only whole deer in good condition to ensure a good yield of pure ground venison.

The participating meat processors are: Amherst – Belschner Custom Meats; Blair – Blair Meat Market (starting Nov. 10); Cozad – Busy Bones Butcher (starting Nov. 1); Diller – Diller Locker Company (starting Nov. 17); Elwood – SteakMaster; Franklin – Franklin Locker; Humphrey – Country Butcher (starting Nov. 10) and Main Street Market; Johnson – Pelican’s Meat Processing; Lindsay – Melcher’s Locker; North Bend – Bob’s Custom Meats; North Platte – Kelley’s Custom Pack; Oakland – Oakland Processing; Omaha – B.I.G. Meats, Stoysich House of Sausage; Orleans – Harlan County Meat Processors; Oxford – Oxford Locker; Table Rock – Den’s Country Meats; Ulysses – The Butchery; Wahoo – Wahoo Locker.

Learn more about the program and how to support it at OutdoorNebraska.org/HHH or contact program coordinator Teresa Lombard at 402 471-5430 or teresa.lombard@nebraska.gov.