Elk Hunting in Nebraska

Elk Population Trends

  • Decline from Recent Highs: Although elk populations have seen a decline from recent peak numbers, they are still considered healthy across much of their range.
  • Range Expansion: Elk have expanded into new areas recently, leading to adjustments in management strategies.

Management Unit Restructuring

  • Units 1-7: Align with traditional areas of elk habitation and activity. Hunters can expect quality and permit success rates similar to previous years in these regions.
  • Units 8-14: Cover peripheral areas where elk presence is less consistent. The quality of hunts and success rates may be lower due to the unpredictability of elk movements.
  • Unit 15: A unique zone with no specific permit quota, covering much of eastern Nebraska. Elk presence here is intermittent, and the management strategy allows for more flexible hunting to address this variability.

Permit Allocation and Hunting Opportunities

  • Permit Validity: Permits for Units 1-14 are also valid in Unit 15, allowing hunters to pursue elk throughout eastern Nebraska where their presence is less consistent.
  • Goal of Restructuring: The changes aim to distribute permits and hunters more effectively, ensuring sustainable hunting and management of the elk population across different regions.

The forecast for 2023 suggests that while elk numbers have decreased from their highest levels, there is still a robust population offering good hunting opportunities in many areas. Hunters should be aware of the changes in management units and understand the implications for hunting quality and success in different zones. The expansion of elk into new areas and the restructuring of management units reflect ongoing efforts to adapt to changing elk behaviors and habitats, ensuring both the conservation of the species and the continued enjoyment of elk hunting.

Legal Description of Elk

  • Bull Elk: Defined as a male with antlers measuring 6 inches or more in length.
  • Antlerless Elk: Either sex with no antlers or antlers less than 6 inches in length.

Permit Maximums

  • One Permit per Year: Individuals are limited to one elk permit annually and can submit only one application per year.
  • General Cow Permit: Limited to one every five years.
  • General Bull Permit: Limited to one every five years, with a lifetime harvest limit of one bull elk.
  • Landowner Cow Permit: One per year is allowed.
  • Landowner Bull Permit: Limited to one every three years.

Permit Drawing Systems

  • General Bull Permits: Distributed based on a bonus-point system. Unsuccessful applicants earn points for future drawings, with each accumulated point increasing their chance in subsequent draws. Bonus points are only awarded for first-choice bull permits.
  • General Antlerless Permits: Allocated through a lottery system after the bull permit drawing. Each applicant has one chance in the drawing.
  • Landowner Bull Permits: Assigned based on a preference point system. Unsuccessful applicants accrue points, with more points increasing the chance of future success. Nonresident landowners accrue 0.9 points per unsuccessful draw.
  • Landowner Antlerless Permits: Similar to general antlerless permits, distributed via a lottery system after bull permit drawings, with each applicant having a single chance.
  • Point Loss: All accumulated points are forfeited upon the issuance of a bull permit from the drawing.
  • Point Purchase: In lieu of entering the draw, landowners may buy one elk preference point per year, and general elk hunters may purchase one bonus point during the application period.

Accessing Private Land for Elk Hunting

  • Private Land Prevalence: Most of Nebraska's elk population resides on private lands. Hunters typically need to secure access to these areas for successful elk hunting.
  • Mandatory Permission: Always obtain explicit permission from landowners before hunting on their property.

Special Access Permits

  • Public lands may require special access permits for hunting. Details on specific areas and requirements are listed on a designated page in the hunting resources.

Landowner Elk Permit Application Process

Application Acquisition

  1. Obtain Application: Request from the Commission by telephone, pick up from district offices, or download from the official website.

Application Submission

  1. Eligibility Check: Confirm your land is in an elk zone and you meet the criteria for application.
  2. Submission Timeline: Submit completed applications and fees between May 15 and June 2, 2023, to the relevant district office based on unit location. Late submissions will be rejected.

Application Processing

  1. Validation and Drawing: District staff will validate applications and enter eligible ones into the drawing.
  2. Accuracy Requirement: Ensure all information provided is complete and accurate to avoid disqualification.

Free-Earned Landowner Elk Permit

  • Eligibility: Landowners or lessees with at least 80 acres of agricultural land qualify for an either-sex elk permit after verifying 10 general antlerless elk harvests.
  • Family Inclusion: Immediate family members are also eligible for this free-earned landowner elk permit.
  • Permit Exclusivity: Obtaining this permit does not affect eligibility for other general or landowner permits.

Elk Management Units

Nebraska Elk Hunting Laws & Regulations

Antlerless Elk Permit Information

Permit Validity and Bag Limit

  • Permits are specific to management units and the bag limit is one antlerless elk per permit. Each unit has additional restrictions and descriptions available in provided maps.

Permit Fees

  • Resident: $189 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)
  • Resident Landowner: $48 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)
  • Nonresident Landowner: $542 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)

Special Unit Restrictions and Draw Odds

  • Unit 1 to 14: Varies in quota, special restrictions, and draw odds.
  • Restrictions Note: Access permits are required to hunt in specific areas like Fort Robinson SP and Fort Niobrara NWR.

Bull Elk Permit Information

Permit Validity and Bag Limit

  • Permits are issued based on management units and are valid for the bag limit of one elk of either sex. Additional restrictions and details are provided for each unit.

Permit Fees

  • Resident: $189 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)
  • Resident Landowner: $48 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)
  • Nonresident Landowner: $542 (includes $10 nonrefundable application fee)

Special Unit Restrictions and General Odds

  • Unit 1 to 14: Various quotas and restrictions apply, with general odds and points required for landowners noted.
  • Calculating Odds: Individual odds are calculated by dividing the 0 Point Odds for your unit by your total bonus points plus one.

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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.