Outdoor notes: Pheasant hunting safety; Avoid vehicle-deer collisions; Cover crop initiative

LINCOLN, Neb. – Many Nebraska outdoorsmen and women will go afield this fall to pursue a time-honored tradition of hunting ring-necked pheasants and northern bobwhite. Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says safety should be a top priority for hunters.

“This is an exciting time of the year for Nebraska hunters,” he said. “While hunting is one of the safest family sports outdoors, with hunting incidents at an all-time low in Nebraska in recent years, we want hunters to consider some key safety factors when pursuing upland game.”

— Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

— Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

— Properly identify your target and what lies beyond it before pulling the trigger.

— Make sure you know where everyone in your hunting group is located at all times and be in direct communication.

— Keep shots in your safe zone of fire (approximately 45 degrees in front of you), and do not swing on game in the direction of your partners.

— Wear blaze orange on your head, chest and back to become more visible to those around you. The use of blaze orange is responsible for an 80-percent drop in hunting incidents since the 1970s.

— Completely unload your firearm when crossing obstacles such as barbed-wire fences, ditches and creeks.

“Hunting continues to be a safe, family-oriented activity in Nebraska each year,” Ellis said. “By following a few simple safety tips, you and your family can more fully enjoy your time spent afield.”

The pheasant and northern bobwhite seasons run Oct. 27-Jan. 31. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org for more information about hunting or to buy a permit.

Motorists urged to use caution to avoid collisions with deer

LINCOLN, Neb. – Deer are more active this time of the fall. Crops are being harvested and deer breeding season is in full swing. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has suggestions to help drivers avoid deer-vehicle accidents and lessen the risk of injury or vehicle damage.

— During the breeding season, bucks become more active searching for does with which to breed. Bucks are bolder, less wary and more susceptible to collisions with vehicles. Deer movement peaks each day near dawn and dusk.

— Anticipate the possibility of a deer on the road and plan how to avoid a collision. Be prepared to stop suddenly, but braking too sharply or swerving may cause you to lose control and roll your vehicle.

— Wear your seat belt.

— When driving near shelterbelts, woodlots or creeks, especially during evening or early morning, slow down and watch for deer. Keep your headlights on bright if there is no approaching traffic.

— When you spot a deer, assume there will be others in the same area.

— Deer often seem to be disoriented or confused by headlights. Some react by freezing in the light, some dart into the path of the vehicle and others bolt away. Honk your horn and flash your headlights to frighten deer away. If there is other traffic on the road, activate your emergency flashers and tap your brakes to alert other drivers to the potential danger.

— Many places where deer-vehicle collisions occur are posted with deer crossing signs.

— If a deer is struck, the driver may take possession of it but must contact a Game and Parks conservation officer within 24 hours to obtain a salvage tag.

Producers in southwest Nebraska eligible for cover crop initiative

LINCOLN, Neb. – Ag producers in Frontier, Furnas, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, and Red Willow counties are eligible to receive $61.20 per acre assistance for planting multispecies cover crops. Cover crops can be planted in the spring for a full growing season or after wheat or other summer-harvested crop, and grazing is allowed.

“Cover crops can be established on whole fields, partial fields, or as field borders. Cover crops planted as a field border can help with weed suppression and provide high quality forage when gleaning stocks,” said Eric Zach, ag program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program’s Cropland Cover Initiative provides financial and technical assistance to ag producers who adopt multispecies cover-crop mixtures for improving soil health and wildlife habitat. Cost share is available for cover crop seed and planting.

“Cover crops provide a supplemental forage source, suppress weeds, improve moisture infiltration, boost soil organic matter, and provide habitat for wildlife,” Zach said.

The application deadline is Nov. 16.

This Cropland Cover Initiative is a partnership between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Game and Parks, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Interested producers can find more information at ne.nrcs.usda.gov or contact their local office to apply.