Snow could help deer hunters on opening day

Snow could help deer hunters on opening day
Daniel Beck of Louisville with the 14-point buck he shot in Cass County on opening day last season.

The snow that snarled the commute for many Friday should be a boon for hunters Saturday on the first day of the firearm deer season.

Deer tend to move more in colder weather as well as hunters, increasing the chances they cross paths.

“Snow allows for better tracking conditions for both finding deer to hunt and finding deer that have been shot,’’ said Pat Molini of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s wildlife division. “Obviously, deer become more visible with snow on the ground.’’

The nine-day season runs until Nov. 18, with permits still available in several management units. Iowa’s regular gun season 1 runs from Dec. 1 to 5. The second is Dec. 8 to 16.

Molini said deer numbers look good. Many areas have recovered from the large die-off in 2012 from epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

“In some areas we are needing hunters to shoot more antlerless deer, so be sure to check with the landowner regarding the deer population and their desire to reduce it or not,’’ he said. “In cases where fewer deer are desired, hunters should consider passing on younger bucks and harvesting does depending on what their deer permit allows.’’

If hunting white-tailed deer, wooded areas along our rivers and streams can be good areas to hunt. But Molini says don’t overlook the small out-of-the-way parcels of habitat like a fence line.

Mule deer prefer more open areas in the western part of the state and they often find places to spend their time based on available brush or grass cover and the direction the wind is blowing, Molini said. They use scents carried by wind to avoid predators, including humans.

If temperatures predicted to top off at around 36 degrees Saturday don’t sound appealing, Molini said it doesn’t hurt to wait a few days to hunt. Sometimes, opportunities on private land increase after opening weekend.

“It’s hard to beat the excitement of hunting opening day,’’ Molini said, “but hunters can be very successful waiting to hunt later in the week.”

Also don’t think you can hunt only in the morning or evening. Molini said deer tend to move all day this time of year.

He reminds hunters to locate a check station near where they plan to hunt. 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 list of available check stations, as well as a map, visit

Hunters should keep safety the top priority 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.

“Safety first,’’ Molini said. “Know your target and what is behind it.’’

Collared deer can be shot

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.

It is legal to harvest a collared deer. 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 the 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.

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