Turkey Regulations

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New for 2024

Checking – Starting with the 2024 spring season, all turkey harvests must be reported via Telecheck.

Personal permit limits – All hunters are limited to a maximum of two spring permits and one fall permit.

Permit quotas – The quantity of spring permits available for sale to nonresident hunters is 10,000.

Daily bag limit – A hunter may harvest no more than one turkey per calendar day during the springseason.

Fall bag limit – The bag limit for all hunters during the fall season is one turkey.

Season dates – The fall season is shortened to Oct. 1-Nov. 30.

Baiting – It is illegal to create a baited area on lands owned or controlled by the Nebraska Game and ParksCommission.

TURKEYS MUST BE CHECKED

Beginning with the 2024 spring season, all turkeys harvested in Nebraska must be checked in via telephone or internet in a process known asTelecheck. This process must be completed:

  • within 48 hours of harvest but no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of any portion of the season
  • before the turkey carcass leaves Nebraska

Mobile permits must be cancelled and checked immediately after the harvest of the turkey.

BAG LIMIT

Spring season – One male or bearded female turkey per permit, but a hunter may harvest no more than one turkey per calendar day during thespring season.

Fall season – One turkey of either sex

SHOOTING HOURS

For both spring and fall seasons, shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. It is unlawfulto take or attempt to take any turkey perched in a tree before sunrise.

HUNTER ORANGE

Spring – Recommended

Fall – Turkey hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest and back when hunting during the November firearm deer season.

HUNTING METHODS

(Spring and Fall)

  • Archery – Hunters must use archery equipment with arrows or spears that have a sharpened

hunting head, with a blade of at least 7/16-inch radius, or a blunt (bludgeon) head, with a diameter of at least 9/16-inch. Arrows or spearsmay not contain poison or a stupefying chemical or have an explosive tip.

Legal archery equipment: • Longbows • Crossbows • Hand-thrown spears

  • Recurve bows • Compound bows

HUNTING AREA

Permits are valid statewide, except on state and federal sanctuaries or refuges, unless otherwise authorized.

TAGGING

Immediately after a turkey is taken, the hunter must punch or notch the permit tag showing the date the bird was taken. This automatically cancelsthe permit tag. This permit must be kept with the permit holder and/or turkey at all times. When the turkey is not with the permit holder, the entirepermit must be attached to the turkey. The mobile turkey permit allows a hunter to cancel the permit once a turkey is harvested. If a hunter has amobile permit, a turkey may be left unaccompanied by the hunter only if a document bearing the hunter’s name, permit number and time anddate of permit cancellation is kept with the carcass.

HUNTING TURKEYS AND BAITING

It is illegal to hunt any big game animals or turkeys within 200 yards of a baited area. An area is be considered baited for 10 days following thecomplete removal of all bait. A baited area is any location where grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay, minerals (including salt), or any othernatural food materials, commercial products containing food materials, or by-products of such materials that may attract big game or turkey. The use ofscents alone, normal environmental conditions, standard farming and ranching practices, forest management, wildlife food plantings, orchardmanagement, or similar land management activities do not constitute a baited area. It also is illegal to create a baited area on lands owned orcontrolled by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

POSSESSION

Only the successful permit holder may possess all or part of a turkey. Anyone may receive as a gift any part of the turkey if a statement of such gift isavailable to inspect. The statement must include: hunter’s name, telephone number and permit number; species and quantity of each; donor’ssignature; recipient’s name; and date of transfer.

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TRANSPORTATION

It is unlawful to possess any turkey unless the legs, thighs, and breast remain together until the bird is consumed or the bird arrives at thepermanent home of the possessor. The breast meat may be removed from the bone but must remain as two entire halves. Birds taken in thespring must have proof of sex consisting of:

  • the legs with spurs naturally attached;
  • the beard naturally attached to the breast; or
  • the detached beard with at least ¼-inch of skin remaining at the attachment site and kept together with the leg, thighs and breast.

It is unlawful to separate the turkey breasts or legs from the carcass before checking the bird.

YOUTH MENTOR REQUIREMENTS

Youth under age 12 and anyone using an Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption Certificate must be accompanied while turkey hunting. The accompanying person must: 1) be a licensed hunter age 19 or older; 2) have successfully completed hunter education if he or she is betweenthe ages of 19 and 29; 3) not accompany more than two holders of an exemption certificate at one time; and 4) be at all times in unaided visual andverbal communication with the hunter/hunters he or she is accompanying.

UNLAWFUL METHODS

Use of the following is unlawful: electronic calls, live decoys, visible laser or light-projecting sights and baiting.

UNLAWFUL ACTS

It is illegal to:

  • trespass on private land; hunters must get permission to access private land.
  • party hunt; every hunter must shoot his or her own game.
  • hunt any game with a rifle within 200 yards of an inhabited dwelling or feedlot and hunt with all other equipment within 100 yards, unlesspermission has been granted by the owner or tenant.
  • drive or disturb game birds or game animals with or from any aircraft or boat propelled by power or sail.
  • harvest or trap any game bird from a vehicle.
  • waste game
  • spotlight from a vehicle or vessel while in possession of a firearm or bow and arrow.
  • dig, cut or destroy natural or planted vegetation on any state-owned or controlled area.
  • cause game birds or game animals to depart from a game reserve or game sanctuary.
  • use electronically amplified imitations of bird calls, including records, tapes, compact discs, and digital audio files, to take game birds.
  • sell or trade the meat of any game bird or game animal.
  • communicate the location of any game animal or game bird by radio or other electronic device to or from any aircraft, vessel, vehicle,snowmobile or other conveyance one day before or during the open season.
  • have or carry any shotgun having shells in either the chamber, receiver or magazine in or on any vehicle on any public roadway.
  • shoot from any public highway, road or bridge, including the traveled surface and the right-of-way, whether on foot or from a vehicle.
  • attempt to shoot any bird, fish or other animal from an aircraft.

GAME VIOLATIONS

Fines and penalties can range depending on the severity of the violation and the species involved. Liquidated damages also may be assessed andare set by the Nebraska Legislature as replacement costs or the monetary value placed on wildlife taken illegally. Liquidated damages can apply toeach animal taken illegally. For a complete overview of the specific laws and regulations, visit OutdoorNebraska.org. Call Nebraska WildlifeCrimestoppers toll free at 800-742-7627 to report a game violation.

INVASIVE SPECIES

Invasive species are plants, animals or pathogens that are non-native to an ecosystem. They cause harm to the economy, environment or humanhealth. They interfere with recreation opportunities and affect wildlife. They impact wildlife by significantly reducing desirable wildlife forage,altering thermal and escape cover, affecting water availability for wildlife, and reducing vegetation biodiversity necessary for wildlife survival.

  • Before leaving home or camp, inspect and remove all plant parts, animals, mud and other debris from gear, pets and vehicles. Dispose of thedebris on site. Do the same before leaving your hunting site.
  • Only burn locally sourced firewood to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer.
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For more information, contact Allison Zach, Nebraska Invasive Species Program Coordinator at invasives@ unl.edu or visit neinvasives.com.

Where to Hunt

PUBLIC ACCESS ATLAS

The Nebraska Public Access Atlas is published each summer and provides hunters, trappers and anglers a guide to morethan 1.2 million acres of publicly accessible lands. It is available in hard-copy form as well as digital and interactive versions available at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas. The atlas displays private lands available to public access,as well as other state, federal and conservation partner lands. Pick up a copy wherever hunting and fishing permits are soldacross Nebraska.

PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE LANDS

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Properties:

State Wildlife Management Areas

  • These areas are state-owned or managed.
  • Hunting and trapping is allowed in season, unless otherwise posted or restricted by special area regulations.
  • Portable tree stands shall not be installed, used or left in place from Feb. 1 through Aug. 15 on WMAs.
  • It is unlawful to build or use permanent or semi-permanent tree stands that attach to any tree with nails, screws, bolts or wire.
  • Camping is allowed, unless otherwise posted.
  • Fires are allowed only in fireplaces, grills or fire rings, where provided by Game and Parks.
  • Use of propane or gas stoves and charcoal grills is allowed.
  • Motorized vehicles are restricted to roadways, parking areas or trails designated for such use.
  • Target shooting is allowed unless otherwise prohibited.

State Recreation Areas

  • Portions of some SRA lands are open to hunting from the Tuesday following Labor Day through the end of the spring turkey hunting season.
  • Hunting and trapping on SRAs is prohibited within 100 yards of any public-use facility or activityarea, including picnic areas,

campgrounds, private cabins, concession areas, boat ramps and parking lots.

A park entry permit is required for each vehicle.

State Parks and State Historical Parks

  • Some SP and SHP lands allow limited managed hunting opportunities.
  • Special regulations apply and hunting access permits often are required.
  • Parks with managed hunting have several safety requirements in place, including distancing requirements from campgrounds, parking lots and other areas, hunter check-ins and signs postedat designated hunting areas.

Trapping is authorized by special permit and only when depredation is occurring.

  • A park entry permit is required for each vehicle.

Other Publicly Accessible Lands:

Waterfowl Production Areas

  • These federal lands are purchased with Federal Duck stamp revenue.
  • They are open to public recreation, but camping is prohibited. Nontoxic shot is required and other special regulations may apply; visitFWS.gov/Refuge/Rainwater_Basin_wmd.

U.S. Forest Service

  • These are federally managed lands; special regulations may apply.
  • Most national forests and grasslands managed by the U.S. Forest Service are open to hunting, unless otherwise posted.
  • The U.S. Forest Service restricts motorized travel on the Nebraska National Forest and Grassland to designated roads or trails. Routes aredesignated “open” or “closed” for motorized travel. Cross-country or off-road uses of motorized vehicles are prohibited, unless routes orareas are designated open. Motor vehicle use for big game retrieval and dispersed camping is allowed within 300 feet of most roads and trailsthat are designated open. Areas in Nebraska include Bessey Ranger District near Halsey, McKelvie National Forest near Valentine, PineRidge Ranger District near Chadron, and Oglala National Grasslands near Crawford. Refer to the Motor Vehicle Use Maps issued by theU.S. Forest Service. They may be obtained at all Forest Service District offices, by request at U.S. Forest Service, 125 N. Main St., Chadron,NE 69337, 308-432-0300 or by visiting FS.USDA.gov/Nebraska.

National Wildlife Refuges and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • These are federally managed lands. Check with these agencies for special regulations that may apply.
  • In an effort to expand existing hunting opportunities, the USFWS listed new rules for NWR lands during the fall of 2020. Visit the refugewebsites for the most up-to-date information.
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Natural Resources District

  • These lands are owned by local government entities; special regulations apply.
  • Some NRD-owned lands are managed by the NRDs and some are managed by Game and Parks as WMAs.
  • Contact the nearest NRD office for more information about these lands.

Conservation Partners

  • These lands and are owned or managed by conservation partners such as Platte River Basin Environments,

Pheasants and Quail Forever, and Ducks Unlimited. Check with those organizations for special regulations.

Open Fields

and Waters Program

  • These are private lands open to walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing.Game and

Parks’ OFW program provides financial incentives to private landowners willing to allow access.

In 2022-2024, the

program provided public access opportunities on more than 370,000 land acres, 42 ponds and lakes, and nearly 43 stream miles acrossNebraska. Visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/OFW for more information.

Other Public Access Programs

  • The Platte River Recreation Access Program provides limited, walk-in public access on select lands through an online reservation system.Visit PlatteAccess.org.
  • The Passing Along the Heritage Program provides youth and their mentors access on select lands through an online reservation system.Only youth under the age of 18 may hunt. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org/PATH.

PRIVATE LANDS

Most hunting and trapping in Nebraska is done on private land, where trespassing is prohibited by law. Hunters and trappers must get permissionbefore hunting or trapping on private land that is not part of a public access program, whether it is posted or not.

CLOSED LANDS

You may not hunt in, unless otherwise posted, state wayside areas, hatcheries, reserves, state refuges or any roadway or highway, including theright-of-way.

STATE REFUGES

These areas, established by statute, are closed to hunting, except as noted. These are private lands where landowner permission to hunt isrequired:

Garden County Refuge – Those portions of Garden County within 110 yards of the banks of the North Platte River are open to archery deerhunting from Sept. 1 – Oct. 31 with landowner permission, except; 1) that portion within

the Clear Creek Refuge portion of the Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area west of the Garden County line is

open to deer hunting during all established deer seasons from Sept. 1 through the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

  • Lincoln County Refuge –

Sections 21, 26, 27, 28, 34, 35, 36 T14N, R30W in Lincoln County within 110 yards of the banks of the North Platte River are open to deerhunting.

  • Boyd-Holt County Refuge – Those portions of Boyd and Holt counties lying west of State Highway No. 11 that occur within 110 yards of the banksof the Niobrara River and its channels are open to all deer hunting.
  • Dodge-Saunders County Refuge – Those portions of Dodge and Saunders counties west of the Nebraska Highway 92 bridge at Venicewithin 110 yards of the banks of the Platte River are open to all deer hunting.

RED PAINT MARKS INDICATE CLOSED TO HUNTING

The landowner or tenant who is the principal operator of a farm or ranch may post such property to allow for hunting, by written permission only, byplacing identifying red paint marks on trees or posts in the following manner:

  • The marks shall be vertical lines of at least 8 inches in length and 3 inches in width on trees or on any post that is not metal. If metal posts are used,the marks shall completely surround the post and extend down at least 8 inches from the top of the metal post. The bottom edge of the identifying red paint marks shall be not less than 3 feet and not more than 5 feet off the ground;
  • The marks shall be readily visible to any person approaching the property; and
  • The marks shall be placed at each field entrance and shall not be more than 100 yards apart.
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>