River Antlerless Deer Permit Part of Nebraska's Big Game Changes

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A change in strategy has the state’s antlerless white-tailed deer harvest focused on river corridors. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners adopted big game regulation amendments at their meeting in Lincoln on March 9.

New in 2012 is the River Antlerless permit, which allows 126 days of hunting along 11,300 square miles of river corridors. The permit is not valid on federal or state public land. This $11 permit replaces the October Antlerless permit and has a bag limit of two antlerless white-tailed deer. The new permit is valid for archery Sept. 15-Dec. 31, muzzleloader Dec. 1-31 and firearm Oct. 1-10, Nov. 10-18 and Dec. 26-Jan.18, 2013.

The River Antlerless Unit includes most of the state’s major rivers and allows hunting within 3 miles of the banks on designated stretches of rivers.

“Harvest is focused on areas where white-tailed deer populations are highest and avoids most upland areas where populations are low,” said Kit Hams, Game and Parks big game program manager.

Another major change this year is the removal of Earn-a-Buck rules in eastern firearm units. “The Missouri, Wahoo, Elkhorn, Blue Southeast and Blue Northwest units have had a decline in deer herds and landowner complaints,” Hams said. “It is time to revert to liberal use of antlerless tags to control the herd.”

Game and Parks’ deer management goal is to provide quality hunting and viewing opportunities within the limits of the deer resource, while maintaining deer populations at a level acceptable to most landowners.

Other major big game regulation changes include:

— A new nonresident statewide buck permit allows nonresidents access to mule deer harvest in the high-demand Mule Deer Conservation Area (MDCA) during the November firearm season.

— The statewide archery permit is valid in the MDCA for mule deer and white-tailed deer.

— Season Choice Area names and boundaries are changed to match names and boundaries of November firearm deer units.

— Youth and landowner deer permits are not valid with a firearm Oct. 1-10 in the River Antlerless Unit.

— Archery, muzzleloader, youth and statewide buck bonus antlerless deer tags are not valid on the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest, McKelvie National Forest or Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.

— Nonresident youth statewide permits that allow harvest of any deer are not valid in the Republican, Platte or Frenchman draw units.

— Hand-thrown spears are legal equipment for hunting big game and .357 magnum and .45 Colt rifles are legal equipment for hunting deer and antelope.

— Quartering big game is defined as the head, loins and four quarters with the femur/scapula attached.

— An additional 40 buck/either sex permits, and 51 firearm doe/fawn permits for pronghorn antelope have been added.

— A late doe/fawn antelope season has been added in the Box Butte West Unit.

— The definition of a legal antelope doe/fawn has changed to include bucks with horns shorter than the ears.

— Elk landowner zones have been expanded to accommodate a growing elk population.

— Twelve elk bull permits have been added in the Ash Creek, Bordeaux, Hat Creek and North Platte River units, and all bull permits were removed from the Boyd Unit.

— Three cow permits were added in the Ash Creek Unit and three are removed from the Boyd Unit.

— Electronic calls are not allowed for elk.

— Rifles at least 25 caliber that deliver at least 1,700 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards are legal for hunting elk and bighorn sheep.