What the Nebraska deer hunting experience is like

November 14, 2023 greg wagner

The morning air is crisp and cold.

The stalks of corn stubble and hardwood trees along the river bottom stand as stalwarts; motionless and silent. The scene offers a picturesque postcard setting against the slowly lightening predawn sky.

An emerging mid-November sunrise on a firearm deer hunt along the Elkhorn River in southeastern Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
The sounds of wildlife awakening for the day can now be heard along the river bottom.

A raucous calamity of crows is off in the distance. Two fox squirrels squabble amid the leaves on the woodland floor along the edge of the cornfield. A dark-eyed junco captures the attention in a tree.

A dark-eyed junco is spotted in a tree during a firearm deer hunt in southeast Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
In the trees, wild turkeys can be heard flying down from their night roost in old-growth cottonwoods; greeting the first full rays of the sun.

Suddenly, and without sound, an adult white-tailed deer buck emerges. Its  curved antlers are vividly apparent as it sniffs the brisk morning air.

A mature white-tailed deer buck uses its nose to check the air for danger or other deer. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The hunter, clad in a blaze orange cap and vest, sitting on a folding camp chair in the camouflaged portable ground blind, freezes.

He is hardly breathing. The adrenaline is beginning to flow in his body. He plants his tripod shooting apparatus firmly on the thin carpeted floor of the blind.

He then places the rifle securely on the tripod. The grip on the rifle is tightened. The hunter bears down on the firearm. The shot to be made is a safe one.

He begins to hone in on the buck positioning the crosshairs of the rifle scope squarely behind the front shoulder of the animal.

Slowly he begins to squeeze the trigger. Boom!

This is what hunting is all about — the experience. It is one of, if not the most, essential elements of hunting.

Some think hunting is only about killing a game animal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The taking of that game animal involves only a split second.

Far more time — innumerable hours — will be spent by the hunter surrounded by and observing nature. Not much compares to the beauty, serenity and adventure of being in nature and waiting for game like deer.

For many of us in the Nebraska outdoor community, hunting is an autumn experience that can be compared to the atmosphere of a Husker game day in Memorial Stadium.

Like going to a Nebraska football game in Lincoln, the experience of hunting is about a lot of things.

Sure, it is the ambiance, the feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness. But it is also the tradition, the camaraderie of family and friends and the entire process. It creates memories that a person will carry well into their senior years.

Hunting is about being with family and friends.

Enjoyed daughter-daddy day during Nebraska’s 2023 firearm deer hunting season this morning. Wonderful time spent with my daughter Emma Wagner Nichols! Photo courtesy of Emma Wagner Nichols of Elkhorn, NE.

It’s also about understanding the importance of good habitat, biodiversity (that all living things are interconnected) and the role we play in the natural cycle of life, death and wildlife management.

A mature white-tailed deer buck I harvested during the 2023 Nebraska firearm deer hunting season along the Platte River corridor in the eastern part of the state. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The hunting experience is truly a celebration of America’s freedom and the North American Model of Conservation.

The hunting experience allows for one to fully escape the concrete jungle, the hustle and bustle of everyday life filled with modern technological devices.

The challenge of the hunting experience is one that is unmatched.

There are factors such as ever-changing weather and climatic conditions coupled with the attempt to draw a wild game animal such as a deer close enough for a shot on its home turf. The odds are not in the hunter’s favor.

So harvesting a free-ranging, healthy wild game animal for the dinner table is purely a bonus for which we, as hunters, are always extremely grateful!

I had a successful late afternoon session for harvesting white-tailed deer on Monday, Nov. 13th during the firearm deer hunting season in rural southeast Nebraska. I took a nice, mature 4 by 4 buck. I enjoyed the hunt and am thankful! Photo courtesy of the Nebraska State Patrol’s Trysten Whitted of Gretna, NE.

The post What the Nebraska deer hunting experience is like appeared first on Nebraskaland Magazine.

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