Nebraska Deer Season To Be Warm

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The weather man says when Nebraskas regular firearm deer season opens Nov. 11 hunters will be greeted by mild temperatures and predictions are that highs throughout the nine-day season will be in the 50s and 60s, which means hunters should dress and cool their deer as quickly as possible after it is killed.

Two of the most critical factors in determining the quality of harvested game are time and temperature, which the hunter must consider when processing game.

All game species should be field dressed as quickly and carefully as possible to keep the meat from spoiling or becoming contaminated. University of Nebraska-Lincoln meat department specialists say meat deteriorates rapidly at 45 degrees or higher, and they recommend game be hung or stored at temperatures below 40 degrees. Meat begins to spoil immediately when the animal, bird or fish is killed so time is a critical factor, and the higher the temperature, the more critical time becomes.

In the case of deer, it is important to hang or store the animal in as cool an area as possible for 10 to 12 hours to let the meat go through rigor mortis -- the contraction of the muscles that causes the carcass to stiffen -- before it is frozen or butchered. Otherwise, the meat will contract when thawed or cut and be tough when it reaches the table.

Once the deer is down, the hunter must tag and field dress it, check it in at a check station, then hang the carcass in a spot out of the sun. Hanging the carcass overnight usually allows rigor mortis to occur. Unless the meat is to be aged under controlled conditions, the carcass should be processed and the meat frozen as quickly as possible.

It may be difficult to find a shady spot where the temperature stays below 40 degrees in the fall, so its a good idea to have inexpensive Styrofoam coolers on hand to transport the iced-down, boned meat to your home.

When transporting the deer, avoid draping it over a front fender of the vehicle because engine heat accelerates spoilage and because the careless display of dead animals is offensive to many people. Heat from the sun can be detrimental to a carcass tied to the roof of the vehicle or transported in the uncovered bed of a truck. Remember to discreetly cover the carcass.

Nebraska resident deer permits cost $28 and resident November firearm statewide buck permits are $68.50. Nonresident deer permits are $178, nonresident November firearm statewide buck permits are $443.50, and nonresident antlerless-only season-choice tags are $55.

Permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis both online at the Commissions web site at www.outdoornebraska.org, and over the counter from Commission offices in Alliance, Bassett, Chadron State Park (SP), Fort Robinson SP, Kearney, Niobrara SP, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, Lincoln, Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and at the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium. Completed application forms will also be accepted by mail at the Commissions Lincoln office at 2200 N. 33rd Street, Lincoln, NE 68503.