Record Antlerless Deer Harvest Expected in Nebraska

Another Record Antlerless Deer Harvest Expected in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – A record number of antlerless white-tailed deer were harvested in Nebraska last year. That record should be broken again in 2009, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The deer population in the state has never been higher. An expanding white-tailed deer herd, especially in extreme eastern Nebraska, has caused increased complaints of crop damage. As a result, 87,000 deer permits in 2008 had free “bonus” tags that allowed the harvest of an antlerless white-tailed deer. This year, 90,000 of those bonus tags will be available. Big game seasons were set Friday by the Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners.

One of the biggest changes in this year’s deer hunting seasons is the result of a need to harvest even more deer in eastern Nebraska. A new October antlerless season has been created for a portion of eastern Nebraska along the Missouri and lower Platte rivers where too few antlerless whitetails were harvested last year. The Commission hopes this season will add 3,000 antlerless whitetails to the 2009 harvest.

The October antlerless season – Oct. 9-11 – is for hunting only in the Season Choice Areas 18 and 21. Deer may be taken with archery equipment, muzzleloader, rifle or crossbow. Hunters may take two antlerless deer with each permit, and there will be an unlimited number of permits available. Hunter orange is required.

Following is a summary of big game species regulations for 2009:


It was a record year in many ways for deer hunters in Nebraska in 2008. The following all-time highs were set: harvest (80,467), permits sold (131,392), whitetail antlerless harvest (32,397), whitetail buck harvest (36,235), mule deer buck harvest (9,115); and nonresident permits sold (12,022).

Record harvests of mule deer, whitetails and elk are expected again this fall as more permits are available and herd sizes remain strong in most areas. The harvest of antlerless whitetails may exceed that of whitetail bucks for the first time this fall. The average age of whitetail bucks is expected to increase for the fourth straight year.

Concern about the age of bucks in some central Nebraska hunting units led the Commissioners on Friday to authorize a reduction in either-sex permits in some of those firearm deer units. This is aimed at increasing the average age of mule deer and whitetail bucks.

Also, in an effort to improve the age structure and population of mule deer bucks in three units in south-central and southwest Nebraska, statewide buck permits will not be valid for mule deer bucks south of Interstate 80. This is expected to reduce the harvest of mule deer bucks by about 250.

Other highlights of the 2009 deer hunting regulations are:

— The number of either-sex deer hunting permits decreased by 1,200.

— The number of season choice antlerless deer hunting permits increased by 1,800.

— The number of bonus tags for antlerless white-tailed deer hunting permits increased by 3,300.


Permit quotas were increased, giving rifle hunters more opportunity to draw a permit. The age structure of bucks continues to improve, with 91 percent of harvested bucks in 2008 age 2 years or older, therefore buck quality and hunter success should continue to improve.

Other highlights of the 2009 antelope regulations are:

— There are 510 firearm and muzzleloader antelope hunting permits authorized, an increase of 65 from 2008.

— A new Eastern Sandhills antelope hunting unit was created.


Nebraska’s elk population is growing, expected to reach 2,000 following calving season. Hunters will have more opportunities than ever to harvest a trophy bull. Last year, 91 percent of harvested bulls had at least six points on one antler, and the average beam length of those antlers was 47 inches.

Other highlights of the 2009 elk regulations are:

— The Ash Creek, Hat Creek, Bordeaux Creek and North Platte River elk hunting units were expanded.

— There are 85 bull and 147 antlerless elk hunting permits authorized, an increase of 12 bull and six antlerless permits

The mission of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is stewardship of the state’s fish, wildlife, park, and outdoor recreation resources in the best long-term interests of the people and those resources.