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Firearm deer season opens Saturday, and 'numbers are good across most of the state'
OUTDOORS

Firearm deer season opens Saturday, and 'numbers are good across most of the state'

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Deer

Hunters are passing on younger deer and waiting for them to get bigger racks as they age.

The forecast for deer success and the weather look good for the start of firearm season Saturday.

“Deer numbers are good across most of the state,” said Luke Meduna, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid 50s, so neither too cold nor too hot, he said.

Hunters looking for that big buck could hit the jackpot, too.

Meduna said 40% of the whitetail bucks checked last year were 3-year-olds or older, the highest number ever, and 50% of the mule deer bucks hit that range.

“Older bucks tend to have larger antlers,” Meduna said. “Our age structure of the harvest has changed because hunters have been more selective on what they are harvesting. They are passing on younger bucks to let them live a year or two.”

Hunters will find increased opportunities for antlerless deer in many parts of the state. The same goes for mule deer in southwest Nebraska.

“We’ve increased permits to manage those populations,” Meduna said.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, deer check stations will not be operated this year. However, all deer harvested must be checked in electronically via Telecheck.

In a change from past years, hunters must complete the Telecheck process within 48 hours of their deer harvest and no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season. To use online Telecheck, hunters should record their harvest at OutdoorNebraska.gov/TeleCheck. They also may complete Telecheck by calling 844-279-4564, available 24 hours a day.

Meduna said archery and muzzleloader hunters have already been using that system for the past 10 years.

“It’s really a simple process whether you’re doing it online or calling our staff,” he said. “It’s all listed on your permit.”

Since people will be outside, as long as they stay socially distanced deer hunting should be a safe activity. Meduna said it’s a good idea to avoid big groups of friends and family.

His biggest piece of advice for hunters is to just have fun.

“They put so much focus on filling that permit that they forget all the other things and lose sight of the picture of what it’s all about,” he said. “A bad day in the woods chasing deer is better than the best day of work. That’s the big thing.”

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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