Deer Hunting Regulations for 2023

Mule Deer Conservation Area

Archery Season Inclusion

All Mule Deer Conservation Area permits now include archery season validity, encompassing archery, November firearm, and muzzleloader seasons. This enhancement provides hunters with extended opportunities for pursuing mule deer within these specified periods.

Antlerless Mule Deer Restriction

A statewide prohibition on harvesting antlerless mule deer is implemented on public hunting lands, excluding areas in the Open Fields and Waters Program. This measure aims to preserve the mule deer population and maintain a sustainable hunting environment.

Nonresident Permit Quotas

Nonresidents face new permit quotas, limiting them to 10,000 either-sex or buck-only permits. Notably, landowner and youth permits are exempt from this restriction. Additionally, a cap of 15% is imposed on the total permit allocations for select regions and seasons.

Changes in Nonresident Statewide Permits

Archery Permits

The Nonresident Statewide Archery permit experiences a reduction in quota, now set at 3,000. Moreover, this permit no longer allows hunting mule deer within the Mule Deer Conservation Area, signaling a shift in hunting regulations.

Muzzleloader Permits

Nonresident Statewide Muzzleloader permits see a reduction in quota, limited to 1,000. This adjustment reflects a nuanced approach to managing hunting activities with a focus on conservation efforts.

Pine Ridge MDCA

Draw Permit System

A significant modification is introduced for Pine Ridge MDCA, transitioning it into a "draw" permit system. Aspiring hunters must apply during the June application period. For further details, refer to page 6.

Landowner Permits Overhaul

New Permit System

Substantial changes in the permit system impact landowner permits. Lands and Immediate Family are now associated with each Qualifying Landowner, with identification based on Parcel Number instead of legal descriptions. Visit OutdoorNebraska.gov and search "landowner permits" for comprehensive details.

Special Landowner Deer Permit

Commencing in 2023, the Special Landowner Deer permit is available for online purchase through the revamped permit system. This streamlined process enhances accessibility for landowners seeking deer hunting permits.

Night-Vision Scopes Prohibition

Unlawful Possession

Hunters are explicitly prohibited from possessing night-vision scopes while hunting game animals and game birds. This regulation emphasizes the importance of fair and ethical hunting practices, prioritizing the safety and welfare of both hunters and wildlife.

2023 Deer Harvest Forecast

Overview of 2022 Harvest Trends

Whitetail and Mule Deer Declines

The preceding year, 2022, witnessed notable decreases in both whitetail and mule deer harvests. This decline raised concerns within the hunting community and prompted a reevaluation of existing regulations to ensure sustainable hunting practices.

Historic Low in Mule Deer Buck Harvest

A particularly striking observation was the mule deer buck harvest in 2022, reaching its lowest point since 1981. This historic low signals a potential shift in the mule deer population dynamics, necessitating a proactive approach to conservation and management.

Statewide Permit and Bag Limit Adjustments

Permit Quota Reductions

In response to the declining harvest numbers, significant reductions in permit quotas have been implemented across various regions of the state. Hunters are strongly advised to thoroughly review the updated permit details to stay informed about these changes.

Bag Limit Adjustments

To align with conservation goals, bag limits have also been adjusted across the state. Understanding these alterations is crucial for hunters preparing for the upcoming season, ensuring compliance with the revised regulations.

Preparing for the 2023 Hunting Season

Stay Informed on Permit Details

Vigilance in Reviewing Changes

Given the dynamic shifts in permit quotas and bag limits, hunters must meticulously read and comprehend the updated permit details. This awareness is paramount for planning and executing a successful and ethical hunting experience.

Adapting to Conservation Measures

Conservation-Oriented Approach

Hunters are encouraged to adopt a conservation-oriented mindset, recognizing the importance of sustainable practices. Understanding and respecting the implemented changes contribute to the collective effort of preserving the deer population for future generations.

Deer Classification Criteria

Buck

Definition

A buck is classified as a deer that possesses at least one antler measuring 6 inches or more in length. This distinct criterion serves as a definitive characteristic for identifying and differentiating bucks within the deer population.

Antlerless

Definition

An antlerless deer is defined as a deer without antlers or with antlers measuring less than 6 inches in length. This classification encompasses a specific set of characteristics, emphasizing the absence of substantial antler growth as a defining trait.

Key Deer Classifications for Hunters

Identification Guidelines

Buck Identification

Hunters should visually inspect the antlers of a deer to determine its classification as a buck. The presence of at least one antler measuring 6 inches or more confirms the buck status, guiding hunters in adhering to hunting regulations.

Antlerless Identification

Recognizing antlerless deer involves observing the absence of antlers or the presence of antlers less than 6 inches in length. This straightforward criterion assists hunters in accurately identifying and classifying deer during their hunting endeavors.

Importance of Accurate Identification

Compliance with Regulations

Hunting Ethics

Accurate identification of deer based on antler characteristics is crucial for hunters to adhere to legal requirements. Ensuring compliance with regulations promotes ethical hunting practices and contributes to the overall conservation and management of deer populations.

Conclusion

Clarity in Classification

The legal descriptions of bucks and antlerless deer provide hunters with clear and objective criteria for classification. By understanding and applying these definitions, hunters contribute to responsible and lawful hunting practices, fostering the sustainability of deer populations.

 

Buck Harvest Permits Limitations

Maximum Allowance

Individual Quota

Hunters are restricted to obtaining a maximum of two permits per year that authorize the harvest of a buck. This limitation ensures a balanced and sustainable approach to buck hunting, preventing excessive harvests that could impact the deer population.

Antlerless Permits Unrestricted

No Individual Limit

In contrast to buck harvest permits, there is no individual limit imposed on the number of antlerless permits a hunter may acquire. This lack of restriction offers flexibility for hunters, allowing them to contribute to antlerless deer management efforts without facing an overarching individual limit.

Understanding Permit Regulations

Compliance Importance

Buck Harvest

Adhering to the two-permit limit for buck harvests is essential for hunters to comply with hunting regulations. This measure promotes responsible hunting practices and supports the conservation goals set to maintain a healthy and sustainable deer population.

Antlerless Harvest

The absence of an individual limit for antlerless permits signifies the emphasis on managing antlerless deer populations. Hunters can actively participate in antlerless deer management without encountering constraints on the number of permits they can obtain.

Understanding "Season Choice" Permits

Comprehensive Validity

Open Season Inclusion

Permits operating under the "season choice" format offer comprehensive validity, extending throughout the entire hunting season. Hunters holding such permits have the flexibility to utilize any legal method of take during the current open season, accommodating various hunting preferences.

Methods of Take

Open to Multiple Methods

Hunters with "season choice" permits can employ a range of legal methods, including Archery, November Firearm, Muzzleloader, and potentially Late Firearm Antlerless. This versatility allows hunters to adapt their approach based on the specific requirements and challenges posed by each method.

Permits Following the "Season Choice" Format

Diverse Categories

Several permit types follow the "season choice" format, including Landowner, Youth, Statewide Whitetail Buck, Antlerless Only, and River Antlerless permits. These permits align with the open season structure, providing hunters the autonomy to select their preferred weapon based on the ongoing season.

Special Landowner Season Distinction

Not Considered "Open" Season

It's important to note that the Special Landowner Season does not fall under the category of an "open" season for permits of the "season choice" format. Hunters should be attentive to this distinction, ensuring accurate interpretation of permit regulations.

Practical Guidance for Hunters

Season Dates Adherence

Follow Permit Season Dates

To optimize the benefits of "season choice" permits, hunters should meticulously follow the season dates specified on their permits. This adherence ensures compliance with regulations and facilitates a smooth and lawful hunting experienc

Permit Drawing Process

DRAW Units and Application Period

Eligible Units

Frenchman MDCA, Pine Ridge MDCA, and Platte MDCA permits operate under a DRAW unit system, and hunters can apply for these permits during the designated application period.

Preference Point-Based System

Drawing Mechanism

The deer drawing employs a preference point-based system. Unsuccessful applicants accumulate preference points for future drawings, enhancing their chances in subsequent years. This system ensures a fair and balanced approach to permit allocation.

Optional Preference Point Purchase

Alternative Option

Rather than participating in the draw, hunters have the option to purchase one deer preference point annually during the application period. This provides an alternative route for hunters to accumulate preference points without relying solely on the drawing process.

Permit Allocation Criteria

Points Determine Allocation

Permits are awarded based on the highest number of accumulated preference points. The allocation process prioritizes applicants with the most points until the permit quota is filled.

Point Loss upon Permit Award

Irrevocable Forfeiture

Once a permit is awarded, whether as the first or second choice, all accumulated preference points are forfeited. This policy ensures a reset in the preference point system for successful applicants.

Accessing Draw Results

Past Draw Results

Online Resource

Draw results from previous years are accessible at OutdoorNebraska.gov, providing hunters with a valuable resource to assess historical trends and outcomes.

Unclaimed Permits

Availability and Sale Date

Any forfeited permits may be offered to the next unsuccessful applicant(s) before going on sale on Aug. 7, 2023. This process maximizes the utilization of available permits and provides additional opportunities for hunters.

Nonresident Deer Permit Quotas

Nonresident hunters are subject to a maximum quota of 10,000 permits, covering either-sex or buck-only options. This restriction aims to maintain a controlled and sustainable level of nonresident participation in deer hunting. It's important to note that this limitation excludes landowner and youth permits.

Archery Permits

Nonresidents face a targeted quota for Archery permits, capped at 3,000. This specific limitation is designed to manage nonresident participation in archery hunting, aligning with conservation goals and ensuring a balanced approach to deer hunting methods.

Muzzleloader Permits

Similarly, the quota for Muzzleloader permits is restricted to 1,000 for nonresidents. This focused approach addresses the unique challenges and considerations associated with muzzleloader hunting, contributing to a strategic allocation of permits.

Exclusions from Quota

Landowner and youth permits enjoy an exemption from the overall nonresident quota of 10,000 either-sex or buck-only permits. This exemption recognizes the unique circumstances and considerations associated with these permit categories, allowing for greater flexibility for landowners and youth hunters.

Statewide Deer Permits Overview

Statewide Archery Permit

  • Quota: Unlimited for Residents (R), 3,000 for Nonresidents (NR)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Adult Deer (AD)
  • Season Dates: Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2023
  • Special Unit Restrictions: Yes, refer to page 18
  • Permit Fee (R/NR): $37/$285

Statewide Muzzleloader Permit

  • Quota: Unlimited for Residents (R), 1,000 for Nonresidents (NR)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Adult Deer (AD)*
  • Season Dates: Dec. 1 – 31, 2023
  • Special Unit Restrictions: Yes, refer to page 18
  • Permit Fee (R/NR): $37/$285

Statewide Whitetail Buck Permit

  • Quota: 8,000
  • Bag Limit: 1 Whitetail Buck (WT)
  • Season Dates:
    • Archery: Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2023
    • Firearm: Nov. 11 – 19, 2023
    • Muzzleloader: Dec. 1 – 31, 2023
  • Special Unit Restrictions: No
  • Permit Fee (R/NR): $88/$707

Restricted Statewide Buck Permit

  • Quota: 1,000
  • Bag Limit: 1 Buck
  • Season Dates: Nov. 11 – 19, 2023
  • Valid for MD in MDCA: Not valid
  • Permit Fee (R/NR): $128/$698

Statewide Buck Permit

  • Quota: 70 for Residents (R), 30 for Nonresidents (NR)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Buck
  • Season Dates: Nov. 11 – 19, 2023
  • Special Unit Restrictions: No
  • Permit Fee (R/NR): $173/$938

*Note: A mule deer may not be taken in the Mule Deer Conservation Area.

Additional Restrictions

  • Antlerless mule deer may not be taken on lands open to public hunting, except Open Fields and Waters lands.

Youth Deer Permits Information

Resident Youth Permit

  • Quota: Unlimited (UNL)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Adult Deer (AD)
  • Special Unit Restrictions: Yes, refer to page 18
  • Permit Fee:
    • Resident: $8

NR Restricted Youth Permit

  • Quota: Unlimited (UNL)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Adult Deer (AD)
  • Special Unit Restrictions: Yes, refer to page 18; Not valid in Frenchman, Pine Ridge, or Platte units.
  • Permit Fee:
    • Nonresident: $8

Youth Whitetail Permit

  • Quota: Unlimited (UNL)
  • Bag Limit: 1 Whitetail Deer (WT)
  • Special Unit Restrictions: Yes, refer to page 18
  • Permit Fee:
    • Resident: $8
    • Nonresident: $8

Age Requirements

  • Youth Age 10-15: Eligible to hunt with a youth deer permit.
  • Youth Age 9: Eligible to apply for a draw unit permit if they turn 10 by the start of the season.
  • Youth Age 16: May hunt on youth deer permits if they are 15 when they apply and turn 15 on Sept. 1 (start of the season) of the calendar year.

Permit Limit

  • Youth may have two permits, but only one may allow the harvest of a mule deer.

Habitat Stamp

  • Required at Age 16: A Habitat Stamp is required for nonresident youth at age 16.

NR Restricted Youth Note

  • NR Restricted Youth permit is not valid in Frenchman, Pine Ridge, or Platte management units.

Additional Restrictions

  • Antlerless mule deer may not be taken on lands open to public hunting, except Open Fields and Waters lands.

November Firearm and Antlerless Only Season Choice Units

Nebraska Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

ADDITIONAL ANTLERLESS ONLY SEASON CHOICE UNITS

Nebraska Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

RIVER ANTLERLESS PRIVATE LAND ONLY UNIT

Nebraska Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.