Nebraska’s most popular hunting season – the firearm deer season – is right around the bend. Opening day for it is November 10th.
Are you participating in it? Awesome! Many of us are. I am, as well!
Hey, let me ask you some questions.
Have you purchased your firearm deer hunting permit and habitat stamp? Have you brushed up on your deer hunting regulations and nearest check station locations? Have you firmed up permission with your farmer or rancher friends to hunt their private land? Have you sighted in your centerfire deer hunting rifle already? Have you gone through your gear checklist, looked items over for wear and tear and replaced batteries in those that use them? Have you put your deer hunting clothing in sealed environment with some chunks of cedar wood for scent purposes? Good, good!
Then, it means that it’s time to do what I did already this week, get out and scout! Just make sure you don’t interfere with an archery or crossbow deer hunter on the property. And, don’t spend too much time in one area leading up to the firearm deer season opener to tip off the deer to your presence.
For me though, the joy of scouting just prior to firearm deer hunting season in Nebraska is almost as much or more fun than the hunt itself!
The woods and valleys are quiet now. The leaves on the hardwood trees are nearly in full fall color. Autumn is in all of its splendor!
Any seasoned deer hunter will tell you, scouting plays perhaps the most critical role in the deer hunting process. A few hours spent in the field for a week or two, or even several days before before the season opener, improve the odds for success and makes for a far more enjoyable opening day experience!
So, what does scouting right before the firearm deer hunting season actually mean?
Scouting means noting a number of key things.
Scouting means not only taking a trip to your hunting land to firm up permission with your landowner friend, but also noting the status of the crop harvest in the area.
Scouting means closely noting the current state of wildlife habitat.
Scouting also means examining the condition of your ground blind or tree stand and noting any improvements that need to be made for safety.
Scouting means seeking and noting current, well-worn deer trails.
Scouting means finding and noting various deer tracks like those in this wet spot which is a natural salt/mineral lick.
Scouting means installing and checking your trail cameras near where deer are crossing a creek or similar location and noting individual animals and movement.
Scouting means recognizing and noting other deer sign such as fresh buck scrapes, rubs, beds, and yes, even droppings.
Scouting also means spending quality time in the Nebraska countryside and noting beautiful scenery as well as appreciating nature’s other facets in your deer hunting area before the guns are fired!
All photos taken in rural Sarpy County, NE by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.