Rainy weather Saturday didn’t hurt the opening weekend of Nebraska’s firearm deer season.
Nebraska Game and Parks staff checked in nearly 19,000 deer. That’s a 4 percent increase in the northwest and southeast and a 5 percent increase in the southwest and northeast.
“Final harvest numbers are still being calculated, but hunters got off to a great start this weekend,” said Karie Decker, Game and Parks assistant wildlife division administrator.
The season runs through Sunday.
Check stations reported many first-time hunters despite the rain, which pleased the Game and Parks.
Kit Hams, the big game program manager, was working the Scottsbluff check station and said more girls than boys brought in deer.
“That’s been the fun part,’’ he said. “A lot of nice deer and the weather has just been fantastic. Lots of happy hunters.’’
Dusty Schelbitzki, the Southeast wildlife district manager, said numbers there were similar to the past few years. Drizzle and fog didn’t completely deter hunters Saturday, although check stations were slower. They quickly rebounded on Sunday.
“Many new, youth and experienced hunters out making memories to last a lifetime,” he said.
» Lucas Negus, Northeast District: “Hunter success in the Northeast was slightly higher compared to the 2016 opening weekend. Calm, mild weather conditions were ideal for deer hunting, and hunters young and old took advantage of the opportunity to be in the field with family and friends. Generally, hunters reported seeing decent numbers of deer, especially young bucks pursuing does.’’
» Micah Ellstrom, Northwest District: “Heavy fog on Saturday around the Panhandle appeared to have slowed hunters success, but by Sunday evening, overall harvest appears to be average to slightly higher in some areas.”
» Lance Hastings, Southwest District: “Fog seemed to have slowed harvest some Saturday but hunters reported good hunting conditions on Sunday and seeing lots of deer. Overall, the Southwest District saw a slight increase in deer harvest compared to 2016 on opening weekend. Hunter reports vary in regards to seeing deer while hunting, but overall deer hunters seemed satisfied with deer numbers in most of the unit.”
Alicia Hardin, the wildlife division administrator, summed up the weekend.
“It was a great start to the opening deer firearm season,’’ she said. “It was fantastic to see so many families and young hunters out there spending time in the outdoors.”