Firearm education is required in Nebraska for all hunters ages 12 through 29 that hunt any game species with a firearm or air gun and must carry proof of successful completion while hunting.

A two-hour Hunt Safe session will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 12, in room 209 at North Platte Community College North Campus at 1101 Halligan Drive for youths ages 12 through 15 that wish to hunt this year. Go to OutdoorNebraska.org, click hunter education to take the online portion of the hunt safe session, and then register online for this class. Youth must bring their certificate of completion voucher of the online test to the class along with a parent release form.

For those that cannot attend a hunter education course before the deer seasons, an apprentice hunter education certificate can be purchased for $5, and provides a novice hunter between the ages of 12 and 29 an opportunity to try hunting and receive guidance from an experienced hunter before completing hunter education. A hunter using this certificate must be accompanied at all times while hunting by a licensed adult age 19 or older. This certificate may be purchased twice in consecutive years in a person’s lifetime. The certificate expires on Dec. 31. For more information visit outdoornebraska.org.

Deer exchange

The archery deer season has been underway and other deer seasons will soon follow. Deer hunters will be in the field harvesting deer, some for the love of the hunt and others for meat.

Some deer hunters love to be in the field and love the hunt itself, some hunters may have multiple permits giving them more deer than their freezer space allows. Others may hunt specifically for the meat. No matter the type of hunter the deer exchange program through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is a great resource for those who either need to give deer meat away or for those in need of fresh deer meat on the table.

The Deer Exchange Program is available Sept. 1 through March 1 and is free for anyone to register online at outdoornebraska.gov/deerexchangeprogram.

Hunters Helping the Hungry program

Hunters Helping the Hungry is a program that allows hunters to donate whole, field-dressed deer at participating processors that will be processed and distributed by charitable organizations and food pantries statewide. Unfortunately, contributions to fund the program have decreased over the past couple years. This generous program is in need of cash contributions. Without donations to the program, the number of deer processed and distributed to those in need will be limited.

Over 650,000 meals have been distributed to those in need since the program began in 2012. The participating processors are paid through cash donations to the program to process deer donated by hunters. The popularity of the program has caused an increase in total processing costs that has quickly outpaced cash donations to pay for it. Only program expenses are paid for with donations, and more than 85% of donations are used for processing deer and packaging the venison.

Just $1 provides two meals, $25 equals 56 meals to those in need. Donations are crucial to this program, without donations, many Nebraska families won’t have the meat they need to feed their families.

Tax-deductible cash contributions to support the program can be made in a few ways: Visit outdoornebraska.gov/hhh and make a contribution online today by selecting the ‘donate‘ icon or when you purchase hunting or fishing permits and stamps. Checks can be made out to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with HHH written in the memo field and mailed to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, ATTN Hunters Helping the Hungry, 2200 North 33rd Street, PO Box 30370, Lincoln, NE 68503-0370.

Any whole field-dressed deer harvested and checked with a valid Nebraska deer permit is eligible for donation at any of the contracted processors. Hunters take deer to the participating lockers in their area at no cost to the hunter. Hunters should first talk with processors but may keep antlers, head and cape and donate the rest of the deer. Processors accept only whole deer in good condition to ensure a good yield of pure ground venison. Once processed, the venison is picked up by charitable organizations that distribute the venison to Nebraska residents in need.

Meat processors in our area include Kelley’s Custom Pack in North Platte, and SteakMaster Inc. in Elwood.

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