Last year about this time my dad and I were gearing up for my first out of state hunt with his cousin. We had planned and prepped for hunting Nebraska, or in retrospect now, I am wondering if we planned and prepped enough. Did we use the right tools? What could have been done differently? You can read the post about our “readiness” here, if you haven’t already. Then come back or just read on about the 3 things I should’ve done Hunting Nebraska.
We left for Nebraska the weekend after Thanksgiving of 2015. As deer season slowly approaches, I always reflect on last season’s successes and failures. I had hunted hard in Texas at a few ranches, but ultimately knew the trip for Nebraska was on the horizon. All I could think about when thinking about hunting Nebraska was all the times my dad had come home from hunting with a truck bed full of deer. I wanted that feeling so bad, I could taste it.
The day before we left, I also found out that my wife and I were expecting our 2nd child in 9 months. As you could probably imagine for a 12 hour trip my mind would be wondering about having a second child and seeing a monster whitetail or mule deer – and it was!
As you probably know I didn’t come back from Nebraska with a Truck Bed full of deer. I did come back with lessons learned and a future hunt to prepare for.
“Trust me we’ll find out where to hunt, when we get there?” Don’t doubt it, but prepare better.
Maybe you’ve heard of Mark Kenyon’s podcast, specifically the 100% Wild series going on. Well in one of the podcast he has guest Mark Drury, from Drury Outdoors and they’re talking about getting permission to hunt land they don’t own. When my dad, who grew up in Nebraska, told me a similar concept, I immediately had my doubts. I should’ve stopped right there with that doubt. Asking landowners for permission in Texas is something that you can’t do unless you have cash in hand, serious cash on some ranches. I should have trusted that but I feel like we should have used more tools for finding landowner information. As we were preparing I believe I looked at a free GPS app but over 300 days ago, I forgot which one it was. With technology, I feel we should have researched a few sections of land given terrain, looked up the landowners. We did however get permission to hunt one section (500 acres), that had some major mule deer on it, but I couldn’t get the job done. This bleeds over into the next mistakes.
Scout! When you think you’ve done enough, do it again.
I am not saying just walk around the woods until you’ve left a scent trail a mile wide, but don’t underestimate the power of a good scouting mission. The key to good scouting, you need to allow enough preparation time pre-hunt to get in there and look for the freshest sign possible. That’s when you’re going to find the big bucks. Although they do move based on hunting pressure, rut, and other factors – typically the fresher the sign the better. Taking game trail cameras and leaving a day or more in advance will get you closer to that big buck. On our trip, we had cameras set out prior to showing up. So when we arrived in town, went and checked cameras. Found a good 3 by 3 (6 point) on the trail camera. Here’s where our problem was, we didn’t hunt his area as much as we should have. In retrospect, setting up on his trail, or slightly off of it, would have be the ideal option.
Physical Fitness – Don’t underestimate the demands of the body
I am speaking for both my dad and I, we thought we were in decent enough shape to tackle the sandhills of Nebraska, but looking back, this was probably one of the biggest hindrances. I assumed Nebraska was flat. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that! Nebraska had some of the steepest canyons I had climbed in my life. Get more time WAY in advance to get your body fine tuned for a beating you’re going to take. This year 2016, we’ve both taken our physical fitness to a whole new level. We’re both far from where we want to be, but closer than we were. I can guarantee you now that we would be in better physical shape to take on the Nebraska Sandhills.
With all that said, I was the only 1 eating tag soup this trip. But it happens. Seeing my dad and his cousin get to reunite after so many years, and both have success on this trip is a memory I won’t forget. If you’ve followed HPG at all, you know my father just 3 short years ago had open heart surgery, so climbing all the way up to bring his deer down, was a proud moment for the both of us. The memory of the hunt allows the tag soup to taste at least bearable.
Link to the “Wrap up 2015 Nebraska Hunting Trip”.