Deer are present in every county in Nebraska, thanks to the state’s dense woodlands and lush plains. In the west, mule deer are the predominant species, while whitetail deer are more common in the eastern counties. There are plenty of opportunities to harvest deer on both public and private land in the state. Here is a list of when deer may be hunted using a firearm, along with additional considerations before the season begins.
What is an Antlerless Deer?
During certain times of the season, you will be limited to hunting “antlerless” deer. This means a deer with either a) no antlers at all or b) antlers less than 6 inches in length. When permitted, bucks with antlers greater than six inches may be hunted (i.e. during the general November firearm season).
When Can I Hunt Deer in Nebraska?
Exactly when deer hunting season in Nebraska begins depends on a few factors: the type of deer, your hunting weapon, the location, and your permit. Firearms, specifically, may be used on the following dates:
Antlerless Only Season Choice: September 1 to January 15, 2024
Limited Landowner November Firearm: Nov 11
Limited Landowner Late Season Firearm: Jan 1 to Jan 15
October River Antlerless Firearm: Oct 1 to Oct 15
Special Landowner Firearm: Nov 4 to Nov 6
General November Firearm: November 11 to November 19
Late Antlerless Only Firearm: Jan 1 to Jan 15
What Type of Firearms are Permitted?
If you are hunting deer with a firearm in Nebraska, it must meet the following requirements:
- Rifles must be at least 22 caliber and deliver at least 900 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards
- Handguns must deliver at least 400 ft-lbs of energy at 50 yards
- Shotguns must be 20 gauge or larger firing a single slug
Where Can I Hunt Deer in Nebraska?
You can hunt white tail deer on designated federal and state-owned land in Nebraska, including many state parks. However, as of 2023, antlerless mule deer may not be hunted on public lands. Bucks may be hunted during the appropriate season and with the correct permit.
You can hunt antlerless mulies on private areas participating in the Nebraska Open Field and Waters (OFW) Program. This program incentivizes private landowners to allow walk-in hunting, fishing, and/or trapping. Hunters purchase the appropriate permit and a special habitat stamp, agreeing to walk only (no trucks or ATVs) and stay within established boundaries.
Outdoor Nebraska has a handy interactive map that highlights participating OFW areas by county.
Do I Have to Report a Deer Harvest in Nebraska?
Yes, you are legally required to report to a check station prior to breaking your deer down into pieces smaller than quarters, or prior to leaving the state. You can find the number for your county’s check station here.
Nebraska Deer Hunting Forecast for 2023
2022 was meager hunting for deer in Nebraska, with the lowest reported numbers since the 1980s. To mitigate this, permit quotas and bag limits have been significantly reduced for this season. As you can see in the graphic below (courtesy of Outdoornebraska.gov), November firearm hunters have a bag limit in most areas of 1 or 2 deer (species and gender specific). Hopefully, this will allow for a more robust hunting season in 2023.
Other Requirements for Deer Hunting in Nebraska
There are a few other regulations worth considering before you set out to harvest your first dear this season:
- When hunting deer with a firearm, you must wear no less than 400 square inches of hunter orange (over head, back, and chest).
- It is illegal to shoot from a public bridge or road.
- It is illegal to shoot within 200 yard radius of a dwelling or livestock feedlot unless express permission has been given by the owner of said dwelling/feedlot.
- Night-vision scopes are prohibited.
- It is illegal to use drones to locate game during hunting season.
- All deer permits must be printed and carried while hunting.
- Hunters aged 12-29 must carry proof of completion of a hunting education course when using a firearm OR an Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption certificate. Hunters with an exemption certificate must be accompanied by a licensed hunter aged 19 or older with hunter education certification.
- Deer hunters aged 15 or younger must be accompanied by a licensed hunter age 19 or older.
- You can legally hunt big game from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Can I Carry My Gun While Bow Hunting in Nebraska?
Yes, Nebraska allows open and concealed carry while hunting with a bow or other non-firearm in Nebraska. However, you may not use your gun to hunt if you do not have a firearm permit and/or the gun does not meet hunting specifications (see above). The only time you may discharge your gun in these instances is in a life-threatening situation.
Practice Before Hunting Season
Feeling a little rusty? First time hunting? Stop by the Marksman Indoor Range here in Omaha. We offer one-on-one guidance, fundamentals courses, and more to help you refine your shooting skills and stay safe in and out of the range. Call or go online today to get started.