Nebraska mule deer buck harvest is on pace to set a record this year.
Mule deer buck harvest, as of Dec. 1, has increased for the third consecutive year to 8,486 (up 2 percent from 2015) and is on track to beat the 2008 record of 9,115 adult bucks. Populations continue to grow in response to low mule doe harvest.
Overall, mule deer harvest is higher and whitetail harvest is lower this year compared to 2015.
As of Dec. 1, 48,612 deer have been harvested in the state, compared to 49,100 in 2015, 45,000 in 2014 and 42,000 in 2013.
Whitetail buck harvest (25,300) is down 6 percent from last year and is expected to reach 27,000 by the end of the season.
“Above-normal temperatures likely reduced daytime movement of deer and negatively affected harvest,” said Kit Hams, big game program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Bucks have accumulated fat reserves and winter coats in preparation for breeding season and winter. Warm weather causes deer to become nocturnal to avoid heat stress.”
Hunters likely will harvest 60,000 deer this year, compared to 58,671 in 2015 and 48,000 in 2013.
Archery, muzzleloader, youth, river antlerless and season choice antlerless permits remain throughout the state. They may be purchased at Game and Parks permitting offices or at OutdoorNebraska.org.
Archery and muzzleloader seasons close Dec. 31. The late antlerless season ends Jan. 15.
Hunters are reminded that mule deer does are protected in many management units and public lands across the state.
Apply for multispecies permits
Applications for multispecies Super Tag and Combo lottery permits will be accepted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission beginning Jan. 2.
The Super Tag lottery permit will be valid for one elk of either sex, one antelope of either sex, one deer of either sex and two turkeys (only toms and bearded hens may be taken in the spring). One permit will be authorized for residents only, and one permit will be authorized for residents/nonresidents. Hunters can apply for the residents-only permit once per year for $25, and can apply for the resident/nonresident permit as many times as they like in a year for $10 per application.
The Combo permit will be valid for one antelope of either sex, one deer of either sex and two turkeys (only toms and bearded hens may be taken in the spring). One permit will be authorized for residents only, and one permit will be authorized for nonresidents only. Qualifying persons may apply as many times as they like in a year for $10 per application.
These multispecies lottery permits will be valid in 2017 and 2018 in open seasons with the appropriate weapons. Winners of these permits also must have a Habitat Stamp.
Applications will be received beginning at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2. They must be received by Game and Parks by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7. Beginning Jan. 2, visit OutdoorNebraska.org to apply.
Refuges closed for duck season
Iowa waterfowl refuges are closed to all access until the day after duck season closes. This year the duck season closes later than previous years and the later season dates may impact some deer hunters who have hunted the areas in the past.
Iowa is divided into three waterfowl zones. Duck season closes on Dec. 4 in the north zone, Dec. 15 in the south zone and Dec. 18 in the Missouri River zone.
These waterfowl refuges are always closed to duck and goose hunting, but hunters are allowed to hunt non-waterfowl species in waterfowl refuges after the duck season has closed.
Hunters with questions should contact their local wildlife biologist or conservation officer.