By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
On Monday, there were still a couple of hundred permits available to hunt whitetail deer in the Frenchman Unit, one of Nebraska’s most coveted areas for hunting deer each season.
The state firearm season opens Saturday and continues through Sunday, Nov. 18.
While the more sought-after muledeer permits sold out quickly by the middle of June, 1,500 in all, hunters have three other options in the Frenchman Unit to hunt whitetail starting Saturday.
There were still 226 Frenchman Unit whitetail permits of the 1,600 authorized. That allows the taking of one whitetail and one antlerless whitetail during the Nov. 10-18 firearm season.
Of the 1,000 antlerless-only season’s choice whitetail permits authorized in the unit, there were still 553 left Monday. That permit allows taking of two antlerless whitetails until Jan. 18, 2013, by firearm, bow and arrow or muzzleloader.
The third option in the Frenchman Unit is the whitetail antlerless-only permit in the Frenchman West, an area bordered on the north by Highway 23, on the east by Highway 83, on the south by Highway 34 and on the west by the Colorado border. One antlerless whitetail can be taken on this permit.
As of Monday, there were still 166 permits out of the 300 issued in that smaller Frenchman West area.
Game & Parks Conservation Officer Dirk Greene of Imperial said muledeer numbers look good in southwest Nebraska.
He conducted a herd classification study last December and January. The random observation of buck, doe and fawn numbers gave an indication of the “healthiness” of their productivity, which he said looked good.
That’s not the case so much in eastern Nebraska, where they’ve been dealing with disease issues among the deer population.
Hunting areas, wear orange
Greene reminds hunters to get permission from private landowners before hunting on their ground.
Hunters also have the option in this area to hunt in the refuge at Enders Lake Recreation Area, south of the lake.
He reminds hunters in that area that gates are closed on the east and west ends, but they are allowed to walk in. The gate-closings between October and first of March each year are done to limit waterfowl disturbance, he said.
Anyone hunting deer under the authority of a firearm permit during an authorized firearm season must display on his or her head, chest and back at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material, Greene added.
Archers must do the same while archery hunting during the November firearm deer season and during the late Dec. 26 - Jan. 18 deer season.
Greene said it’s important once a hunter bags a deer to immediately cancel their tag before transporting the animal.
Laker’s in Enders will serve as an area check-in station again this year.
Hunters should be aware of fire risk
While the dry summer of 2012 has resulted in wildfires in some parts of Nebraska, the fire risk remains high, especially in western Nebraska, during the fall hunting seasons.
Hunters have a responsibility to be aware of dry conditions that may create a fire risk and act accordingly, according to Nebraska Game & Parks officials.
Tips for hunters include:
If possible, drive only on paved roads.
Avoid driving on roads with tall vegetation in the middle track. If dry enough, this vegetation could contact the vehicle’s catalytic converter and spark a fire. Inspect the undercarriage of your vehicle for plant debris.
Do not park over dry vegetation.
Heed any posted signs regarding fire.
Smoke only inside vehicles or buildings.
Camp only in designated camping areas and do not build campfires.
Have a fire extinguisher and shovel in the vehicle. If necessary, hunters must be able to act quickly to extinguish a fire.
Carry a cell phone.
Keep in touch with the landowner, who may have certain restrictions to follow.
Fires have killed many acres of timber resulting in branches or entire trees that may fall this season or in the future. Hunters should be cautious when hunting any area where trees have been killed due to wildfires or other causes.
Hunters should not park vehicles under dead trees or place tree stands in dead trees.