LINCOLN — Small game, such as squirrel, is a great way to introduce novices to hunting. Skills, equipment and licensing are more basic than other types of hunting.

Squirrel season — Aug. 1 through Jan. 31, 2020 — is the first of Nebraska’s fall hunting seasons. This leaves the hunting woods available to novices and their mentors.

“Squirrel is one of the most easily accessible and feasible species to pursue in the state,” Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis said. “Squirrels are plentiful across most public land close to metro areas, they don’t require any specialized equipment, and the weather tends to be mild and enjoyable.”

Nebraska residents younger than age 16 can harvest squirrels without a hunt (small game) permit or Nebraska Habitat Stamp. Residents 16 and above and all nonresidents require the permit and stamp. A Hunter Education certificate is required for anyone age 12 through 29 who hunts with a firearm.

Squirrels may be hunted statewide, but no hunting is allowed on state refuges and sanctuaries. The daily bag limit is seven squirrels, and the possession limit is 28.

“Bag limits are liberal and the meat is easy to process and create a meal that nearly anyone will enjoy,” Ellis said. “The reasons to take to the field after squirrels are as limitless as the opportunity to be had afield.”

Before a hunt, scout locations for trees that bear mast, as it could pay off when it is time to hunt. Squirrels prefer to eat the nuts of oaks, hickories and walnuts. They will eat other types of nuts and fruit when preferred food types are not available.

Hunters always should follow the basic rules of firearm safety:

—Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

— Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

— Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

— Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Hunt permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org. Read the 2019-20 Small Game and Waterfowl Guide at Outdoornebraska.gov/guides for more hunting information.

In other news

It’s a magical time of year, really. As daylight wanes, the temperature begins to drop, frost appears on the pumpkin, leaves turn color and start toppling to the ground, and experienced bowhunters know the deer rut is beginning.

Jared Buskirk of Lincoln surveys his handiwork while setting up a campsite at Branched Oak State Recreation Area on Sept. 27. Buskirk and Emily Case of Norfolk went camping together to enjoy the cooler autumnal weather and views.

LINCOLN — Busy schedules around the holidays can make it easy to forget to purchase Nebraska Game and Parks Commission permits for the new year.

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is offering special antlerless deer hunting opportunities within Eugene T. Mahoney and Platte River State Parks (SP), as well as Schramm Park State Recreation Area (SRA).