2023 Big Game Hunting Recommendations Approved

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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved recommendations for 2023 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons at its meeting April 19 in Fremont.

Commissioners approved staff recommendations that will help the agency manage big game populations at socially acceptable levels.

Adopted changes to Commission orders pertaining to big game hunting include:

  • removing 70 either-sex and 282 doe/fawn antelope permits,
  • including archery season on all Mule Deer Conservation Area permits, making them valid for all open seasons,
  • prohibiting antlerless mule deer harvest statewide on all lands open to public hunting, except land in the Open Fields and Water Program,
  • reducing the nonresident either-sex and buck only deer permit quota to 10,000, excluding landowner and youth permits,
  • reducing the nonresident archery deer permit quota to 3,000 and make it not valid for mule deer in the MDCA,
  • reducing the nonresident muzzleloader deer permit quota to 1,000,
  • creating a new Plains Whitetail firearm deer permit,
  • reducing available November Firearm permits by 5.9% and Antlerless Only Season Choice permits by 7.4%,
  • setting the nonresident quota at 15% for the Calamus West, Plains, Sandhills and Upper Platte November Firearm and the Frenchman MDCA permits,
  • restructuring of the elk management units,
  • adding 39 bull elk permits and 214 antlerless elk permits,
  • minor adjustments on other deer, elk and antelope permits to meet management objectives.

The approved 2023 big game season dates are:

Deer:

Archery – Sept. 1-Dec. 31; November Firearm – Nov. 11-19; Muzzleloader – Dec. 1-31; Late Antlerless Only Firearm – Jan. 1-15, 2024; October River Antlerless Firearm – Oct. 1-15; River Antlerless Late Firearm – Jan. 1-31, 2024; Antlerless Only Season Choice – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2024; Youth – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2024; Limited Landowner – Sept. 1-Jan. 15, 2024; Special Landowner – Nov. 4-6

Antelope:   

Archery – Aug. 20-Dec. 31; Muzzleloader – Sept. 16-Oct. 1; Firearm – Oct. 14-29; Late doe/fawn – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2024

Elk:

Archery bull – Sept. 1-Oct. 31; Firearm bull – Sept. 21-Oct. 31; Antlerless – Aug. 1-Jan. 31, 2024; Antlerless, Private Land Only – Aug. 1-Sept. 20; Early General Antlerless – Aug. 1-Oct. 31; Late General Antlerless – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2024

The commissioners also approved a Board Resolution to apply for Transportation Alternatives Program grant funding through the Nebraska Department of Transportation to surface with limestone 24.6 miles of Cowboy Trail from Rushville west to mile marker 400.

In other business, commissioners approved permanent and temporary easement requests from NDOT for work on Nebraska Highway 7 in Ainsworth and the temporary diversion of the Cowboy Trail there.

Also, commissioners approved a staff recommendation to designate Phillips Canyon and Midway Lake, both located near Johnson Lake State Recreation Area in Dawson County, as state recreation areas. A new access to Phillips Canyon Lake on the north side of the canal, just off Hwy. 283, is being developed by Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and the Game and Parks. Construction should be completed late this spring.  Designation of Midway Lake access will allow for improvements of existing ramp, dock and parking area. Both Supply Canal access points will be managed by the Parks Division through a lease agreement with CNPPID. Both areas will provide critical public boat access for fishing and waterfowl hunting. 

There also was a review of the 2022-2023 river otter season. The season, which ran from Nov. 1 until the end of February, saw 53 otters harvested. In the first two seasons since the otter was delisted, 131 have been trapped.

Also, commissioners were given an overview of projects, updates and activities in Northeast Region by regional staff.

They also learned about the GoOutdoorsNE mobile app, which allows customers to access their account, view privileges, friends and family, hunter education, landowner information, cancel electronic turkey permits and report turkey harvest.