Shorter Season, Fewer Tags as Deer Struggle to Recover

A combination of weather and disease that ravaged the deer population in one midwestern state has prompted wildlife agency officials to make some drastic changes for the upcoming deer season.

Regulations designed to help deer herds grow in much of the state were adopted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners at their meeting March 21 in Norfolk.

In 2012, a drought and an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease killed an estimated one third of the state’s whitetail population. Regulations created to help recover the populations began last year and continue in 2014.

The regulations that should allow deer numbers to increase this year include:

– remove 18,420 antlerless deer bonus tags from 12 units;

– remove 950 buck/either-sex deer permits in the Elkhorn, Platte Whitetail, Pine Ridge and Sandhills units;

– shorten the Late Antlerless Deer Season by nine days to Jan. 1-15.

Game and Parks’ goals are to allow whitetail herds to rebuild slowly in most units and to allow mule deer herds to grow in all units.¬†Other changes to deer regulations include:

– increase the River Antlerless (areas of highest deer densities) permit quota from 5,500 to 7,000;

– eliminate the Nonresident Statewide Buck permit (restricted statewide buck permits are available to residents and nonresidents);

– close the Pine Ridge Unit to antlerless mule deer harvest, except by those with landowner permits;

– create a quota in which nonresidents are allocated no more than 8 percent of the Frenchman Mule Deer Conservation Area (MDCA) permits;

– add 200 Frenchman MDCA permits with bonus tags for an antlerless whitetail;

– add 300 antlerless whitetail bonus tags to Frenchman West permits.

Among other big game regulation changes are the addition of 10 late season Box Butte East Unit antelope permits and removal of 15 bull elk permits from the Ash Creek, Bordeaux and Hat Creek units.

Nebraska’s big game (deer, antelope, elk and bighorn sheep) regulations will be summarized in the 2014 Big Game Guide, available later this spring where permits are sold and at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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