By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Put on the hunter orange and dig out those venison recipes. It’s deer firearm season in Nebraska!
The firearm season runs Saturday through Nov. 22. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Wildlife Officer Dirk Greene of Imperial said there will be many opportunities for hunters to bag that whitetail or mule deer.
“If the weather holds and corn harvest progresses on, we’ll eliminate some cover” for the deer, he said Tuesday.
There are four main types of permits used in the geographic boundaries of the Frenchman Unit in Southwest Nebraska. They allow the taking of either whitetail or mule deer, Greene said.
At the turn of the century, there were only about 50 deer in the entire state. Today, the Nebraska deer herd stands at 300-350,000.
The whitetail deer inhabits the wooded river valleys and drainages, and farms, Greene said. The mulies like the open plains, canyons and pastureland.
However, the game warden said he’s finding whitetail deer in mule deer areas.
The two species are of similar build and proportions, but whitetails average about 10 percent heavier.
Other more obvious physical characteristics set them apart, most conspicuously the feature that gives each species its name: the large white tail or “flag” waved by the whitetail when it is alarmed, and the mule deer’s large mule-like ears.
Greene said the area historically has had mulies, but “we’ve seen a westward movement in expansion of the whitetail range.”
He added that there are more whitetail than mules, as the mules tend to be older when they breed.
In addition, the different behavior between the two species when they’re startled by a hunter also determines their survival.
With mulies, “If they’re startled, they bound up and run, but then stop and look back. That’s when they get shot,” he said. “They’re curious.”
But a whitetail, when startled, “gets up and runs and runs and doesn’t stop. It works to their advantage.”
Greene said there are four types of permits sold for this area.
The Season Choice #8 allows the taking of an antlerless whitetail, with a bonus tag for a second deer. This permit cannot be used on the four reservoirs, such as Enders, in the Frenchman Unit, but it can be used anywhere else to help reduce the whitetail population.
“Hunters are allowed to hunt during the season with various weapons,” Greene noted. “If they haven’t filled their bow permit they can hunt during rifle season, then use a muzzleloader during that season in December, or back to rifles in late January.”
The Frenchman Whitetail permit is used in the Frenchman Unit, and can only be used on a whitetail buck or doe.
The Frenchman Firearm permit is used for a mule deer buck or a whitetail buck or doe, but not an antlerless mule deer, Greene said. “We’re trying to help the mule deer population” by excluding deer that can produce another generation.
The Statewide Buck permit allows a hunter to hunt throughout Nebraska. It is restricted this year in that if a buck is taken south of Interstate 80, it can only be a whitetail. This is also aimed at bolstering the mule deer population, Greene stated.
The wildlife officer will be on the road for the next week, ensuring that hunters follow the law. There will be no extra officers stationed in the area, as “we have just a handful to cover the whole state.”
“I hope people comply with the laws, and respect landowners and fellow hunters,” Greene said.
Hunters need to get permission from landowners to hunt on private land. They need to stay clear of farmsteads.
They need to keep their vehicles off the roads to allow farmers to get their harvesting equipment through.
There is no shooting allowed from a road.
Hunters are required by law to wear 400 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest and back.
Greene said that since turkey and pheasant season are underway at the same time, it would be sensible for those hunters to wear orange, too. Turkey hunters are required to, but pheasant hunters aren’t.
He added that farmers and ranchers could probably benefit from wearing hunter orange when checking cattle or walking their fields.
When a deer has been bagged, it needs to be checked in at a station such as Laker’s at Enders Reservoir in Chase County. The permit needs to be cancelled by noting the sex of deer. Instructions come with the permit.
The archery deer season halts while the firearm season is in effect. It resumes after Nov. 22.
Above all, Greene said, “Have an enjoyable and eventful hunt.”