Deer Hunting Regulations
Legal Weapons for Firearm Season:
- .22-caliber or larger rifle that deliver at least 900 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards
- .357 magnum rifle, .45 Colt rifle and hand-thrown spear are legal
- Handguns or muzzleloading handguns that deliver at least 400 foot-pounds of energy at 50 yards
- Muzzleloading rifles .44-caliber or larger
- Muzzleloading muskets .62-caliber or larger, firing a single slug
- Shotguns of 20-gauge or larger that fire a single slug
- Long bow, compound bow, recurve bow, shoulder-fired non-electronic crossbow (with a draw weight of at least 125 pounds), hand-thrown spear
- Ammunition with multiple projectiles is illegal
- Semi-automatic firearms capable of holding more than six cartridges are illegal
- Full-metal jacket or incendiary bullets are illegal
- Arrows or spears must have a sharpened hunting head with a blade of at least 7/16-inch cutting radius from the center of the arrow shaft. Arrows or spears containing poison, stupefying chemical or having an explosive tip are illegal.
Legal Weapons for Archery Season:
- Bows and spears as defined above.
Legal Weapons for Muzzleloader Season:
Muzzleloading rifles, muzzleloading handguns and muskets as defined above.
Shooting Hours - It is legal to shoot 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Sights - It is unlawful to use any electrical device to amplify natural light or to project a light beam or image to a target, including night-vision or infrared scopes and laser sights. Red-dot and illuminated reticle sights and scopes are permitted. Magnifying and variable-power scopes are allowed.
Permit - A permit must be signed by the permitee. It is unlawful to transfer a permit to another person.
Minimum Age - 10 years of age for deer hunting.
Youth Permit Requirements - Youths age 16 may hunt with youth deer permits provided they are age 15 when they apply and are not more than 15 on Sept. 1, 2021.
Habitat Stamp - Residents age 16 and older and all nonresidents must carry proof of a valid Nebraska habitat stamp while hunting big game. Individuals with valid, fee-exempt permits and landowners hunting their own land with a landowner permit are not required to purchase a habitat stamp to hunt big game. A 2021 stamp is valid for deer hunting in January 2022.
Unlawful Hunting Methods - It is unlawful to:
- chase, run, harass, kill or shoot any deer from a moving motor vehicle or vessel.
- shoot from the right-of-way of a public road.
- carry a firearm on a snowmobile, except when it is unloaded and in a case.
- hunt from or with a snowmobile.
- use a spotlight or other artificial light from a vehicle or vessel while having in possession or control any firearm, crossbow or bow and arrow.
- use two-way radios, cell phones or any other electronic devices to transmit information about the location of any game animal or game bird to or from a conveyance of any type (vehicles, aircraft, boats, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, etc.).
Permission - Permission is required to hunt on private land. It is unlawful to hunt with a rifle within 200 yards of an occupied dwelling or feedlot without specific permission for that purpose or within 100 yards using other methods.
Sale of Parts
It is lawful to sell the hide, hair, hooves, bones, and antlers of any deer which is taken legally. The sale or purchase of deer meat is unlawful.
Hunter Orange - Any persons hunting deer under the authority of a firearm permit during an authorized firearm season must display on his or her head, chest and back at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material. Archery deer hunters must do the same while archery hunting during the November firearm deer season and during the Jan. 1 - 16 antlerless deer season.
It is illegal to hunt any big game or turkey within 200 yards of a baited area. An area shall be considered baited for ten (10) days following the complete removal of all such bait. The hunter and the animal must be outside of the baited area.
2021 Deer Hunting Regulations
Deer harvested during the November firearm season must be delivered to a check station before 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season. Telecheck is not allowed during this season.
- Deer harvested during the November firearm season must be delivered to a check station before leaving the state.
- Deer harvested during seasons other than the November firearm season must be checked via Telecheck within 48 hours of kill, but no later than 1 p.m. on the day after the close of any part of the season.
- Each permit holder must accompany his or her deer to the check station.
- The permit/tag and check station seal must be retained while transporting the deer to a point of permanent storage or processing.
The permit holder must record the seal number as provided by the check station on the permit of any deer checked via Telecheck.
The carcass may be separated into loins and quarters with the femur and scapula naturally attached, provided that the head accompanies the carcass to the check station.
All deer harvested outside the November firearm seasons must be checked via Telecheck. This may be done online or by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call the phone number on the permit or visit OutdoorNebraska.org/ deercheck.
Immediately after an deer is taken, the hunter must punch holes in the permit, showing species, sex and date of kill. The canceled permit must be kept with the deer at all times.
Hunting of Other Wildlife
During the November firearm deer season, only hunters with a valid unfilled deer permit may hunt wildlife other than deer with centerfire rifles or centerfire handguns, provided they are hunting in the deer management unit for which their deer permit is valid. Fall turkey permit holders wearing hunter orange required only for hunting during the November firearm deer season – may hunt turkeys, with legal shotguns or archery weapons, during the November firearm deer season.
There is no restriction on the length of time game birds or game animals may be possessed.
Hunter education is required for hunters ages 12 through 29 hunting with a firearm or air gun. Bow hunter education is required for those ages while hunting big game with a bow and arrow or crossbow. They must carry with them proof of certification.
Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption Certificate -
Available for two consecutive years for hunters who have not completed hunter education. The fee is $5.
All deer hunters age 10-15 and all hunters using the Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption Certificate must be accompanied by a licensed hunter age 19 or older when hunting. The accompanying person, if age 19-29, must be certified in firearm hunter education if hunting with a firearm or crossbow, or bow hunter education if hunting with bow and arrow. He or she must be at all times in unaided visual and verbal communication with the hunter. There may be no more than two hunters using the certificate accompanied by the experienced hunter at any time.
Public Land Closures
- All federal and state public lands are closed to the use of River Antlerless deer permits.
- All state and federal lands in the Pine Ridge Unit are closed to antlerless mule deer harvest.
- Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest, McKelvie National Forest, and the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge are closed to AO SCA deer permits, antlerless bonus tags and harvest of mule deer does on November Firearm permits.
- Harlan County Reservoir (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land) is closed to AO SCA Republican deer permits.
- Red Willow, Enders, Medicine Creek and Swanson SRA/ WMA are closed to all Frenchman AO SCA and the use of bonus tags on Frenchman WT and Frenchman MDCA deer permits.
- Crescent Lake NWR is closed to the harvest of antlerless mule deer.
County Refuge Closures
- Garden County Refuge: Those portions of Garden County within 110 yards of the banks of the North Platte River are open to archery deer hunting from Sept. 1 – Oct. 31 with landowner permission, except that portion of the Clear Creek Refuge portion of the Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area west of the Garden County line is open to deer hunting during all established seasons from Sept. 1 though the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
The following refuges are open to all deer hunting, though landowner permission is required: Boyd-Holt County Refuge, Dodge-Saunders County Refuge and Lincoln County Refuge.