With Nebraska’s permit quotas reduced for the upcoming deer seasons, hunters may find tags easily obtained in the past will be in limited supply. They can help improve their chances of getting a permit by applying during the respective periods in June and July.
Changes to permit quotas are driven by changes in the field, notably a severe decline in deer harvest last year.
The 2022 deer harvest was down 11% statewide from the previous year and down 22% from 2020. Mule deer buck harvest was the lowest since 1981 and whitetail buck harvest was the lowest since 1994.
As a result, nonresidents will find fewer permits will be available to them.
Some of the permit changes for 2023 are:
- Nonresidents will be limited to 10,000 total either-sex and buck-only deer permits. Youth and landowners are not included in that quota.
- Nonresidents will be limited to 15% of the available November Firearm permits in each of the following units: Frenchman Mule Deer Conservation Area, Platte MDCA, Pine Ridge MDCA, Upper Platte, Sandhills, Plains and Calamus West.
- The statewide archery permit quota for nonresidents will be reduced to 3,000, from 5,000 in 2022. The permit also will not be valid for mule deer in the MDCA. Nonresidents wishing to archery hunt for mule deer in an MDCA unit must use either a Buffalo, Frenchman, Pine Ridge, Platte, or Republican MD MDCA permit; the archery season has been added to that permit to accommodate for that opportunity.
- The statewide muzzleloader quota will be reduced to 1,000, from 2,000 in 2022. MDCA restrictions still apply.
Like previous years, antelope archery has a nonresident quota of 250 permits. General elk permits are not available to nonresidents.
Overall, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is reducing November Firearm permits available to all hunters by 5.9% and Antlerless Only Season Choice permits by 7.4%.
Whitetail harvest statewide largely remained stable in the years after a large outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in 2012. But between increased harvest due to depredation complaints beginning in 2019 and minor to moderated EHD outbreaks in 2021 and 2022, whitetail numbers and harvest are down over much of the state.
Mule deer harvest has declined greatly from record and near-record levels in many western deer units in recent years. But this decline in buck harvest and populations has been faster than Game and Parks anticipated. Additionally, cases of meningeal brain worm have been reported in several central and southwest deer units the past few years, and fawn production has declined significantly in recent years.
To read more about Nebraska’s big game species and the permit application dates and processes, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov and search for “big game permits.”