All About Hunting In Nebraska

The U.S. state of Nebraska is surrounded by the greeneries of the Prairie, the dunes, and the majestic rock formations.

Nebraska offers a variety of game animals to be hunted during the hunting season, ranging from bighorn sheep, antelope, elk, and deer. Besides offering ample hunting opportunities, the state boasts of 87 well-maintained State Parks.

Thanks to its diverse habitat, Nebraska has emerged to be an absolute paradise for avid hunters, drawing them from every nook and corner of the world.

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1. Hunting Seasons

Different game animals have distinct hunting seasons in Nebraska. The primary factors that are mainly taken into consideration while setting the hunting seasons are breeding or nesting, age or gender distribution, economic, and recreational concerns.

The trick is that if the animal population is large, moderators will time it to give the hunters a greater advantage to hunt, and if the population is dwindling, they will set the dates to give the animals a greater survival advantage.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has carefully classified the hunting season into two parts: Big Game Hunting Season and Small Game Hunting Season.

1.1 Big Game Hunting Season

Big game animals in Nebraska mainly consist of deer, antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain lion. The general season for each species is mentioned below.

  • For archery hunters wishing to hunt deer, the hunting season commences from September 1 to December 31.
  • Archery antelope hunting season in Nebraska begins from August 20 to December 31.
  • The Nebraska elk hunting season is from September 1 to October 31.
  • The general season for bighorn sheep is from December 1 to 22.
  • Mountain lions can be hunted from January 2 to February 28.

1.2 Small Game Hunting Season

Small game species mainly consist of squirrel, rabbit, grouse, pheasant, partridge, and quail. The season for each is enumerated below.

  • The squirrel can be hunted from August 1 to January 31.
  • Rabbit hunting season starts from September 1 to February 28.
  • Grouses can be hunted between September 1 and January 31.
  • Pheasant, Quail, and Partridge can be hunted from October 31 to January 1.

2. What Species To Hunt In Nebraska?

2.1 Deer

Throughout the state of Nebraska, white-tailed deer are found in higher densities in the eastern part. Mule deer occupy the western part of the state. They have a reddish-brown coat that changes into grey-brown in the winter season.

Their horizontally-split pupils allow for good night vision and color vision during the day. The bag limit is either one whitetail deer of either sex or one antlered mule deer.

Deer Hunt Nebraska

2.2 Antelope

Antelope horns grow continuously and live in a wide range of habitats. They possess superb leaping and evasive skills. They are agile and have good endurance.

Its horn is highly valued for medicinal and magical powers in many places. The best antelope habitat can be found in North-western Nebraska. Today, the number of antelopes is estimated to be 6000 in Nebraska.

The bag limit is one antelope with horns longer than ears.

2.3 Elk

Elk is a large animal having antlers which they shed during the winter season. They have a loud vocalization consisting of screams, known as bugling. They are hunted mainly for elk skin shoes, gloves, and belts.

Potential habitat for elk in Nebraska is extensive and landowner tolerance for elk has increased. The bag limit is 1 antlered elk per permit.

2.4 Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep are named for its large horns, which may weigh up to 14 kg. Hunting for male bighorn sheep is allowed, but highly controlled in the US. Around 200 wild bighorns now inhabit Nebraska.  

Males have large curved horns and can weigh up to 30 lbs. One needs to abide by the hunting norms while going for bighorn sheep hunting.

2.5 Mountain Lion

Mountain lion has a round head, erect ears, powerful neck, and jaw and is slender and agile. They are threatened by habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Nebraska has three mountain lion species.

The largest species can be found in the Pine Ridge. The Niobrara Valley and Wildcat Hills also have populations, and those areas have remained closed to hunting.

The bag limit for each permit is one mountain lion of either sex.

2.6 Squirrel

Fox squirrels are largely found in Nebraska. They are 18 to 24 inches long, including the tail. They are covered by a fur that is generally a grizzled rusty brown on top and buff to bright rust below but can vary from silver-grey to black.

In Nebraska, the bag limit is 7, with a possession limit of 28.

2.7 Rabbit

Cottontail rabbit, of two species, can be found in Nebraska. The eastern cottontail is widely available throughout the state. The desert or Audubon’s cottontail can be found primarily west of Ogallala. Its average lifespan is about 2 years.

The daily bag limit is 7, with a possession limit of 28.

2.8 Grouse

Nebraska is the home to two grouse species, the greater prairie-chicken, and the sharp-tailed grouse.

The greater prairie-chicken is found in the eastern parts, occupying the sandhills into Northern Nebraska and south into south-central and southwestern Nebraska. To hunt grouse in Nebraska, all hunters must have a small game hunt permit and habitat stamp.

The bag limit is 3.

2.9 Pheasant

In Nebraska, pheasant populations grow in the grain fields and hay crops interspersed with pasture and idle ground. They are 90 to 100 cm in length. The daily bag limit is 3 roosters, and the possession limit is 12.

2.10 Quail

Bobwhite quail are native to Nebraska and are found throughout the state. It is a ground-dwelling bird. They are shy and elusive and will crouch and freeze if get disturbed. The daily bag limit is 6, with a possession limit of 24.

3. Where to Hunt in Nebraska?

3.1 Public Lands

There are over 1.2 million acres of public land in Nebraska, including the state, federal, and conservation partner lands as well as privately-owned lands enrolled in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) program. Nebraska’s public hunting lands comprise 2% of the state’s total land areas.

The types of public lands in Nebraska include State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), State Parks (SP), State Recreation Areas (SRA), National Forest (NF), and Natural Resources Districts (NRD).

  • Kansas Blend Wildlife Management Area, of 1056 acres of land, provides a suitable deer habitat. Hunting pressure is light, especially mid-week, and unlimited permits are available for archery, muzzleloader and firearms buck only.
  • Langdon Blend Wildlife Management Area, of 1307 acres, provides light hunting pressure and the permits are easy to come by for archery, muzzleloader, and firearms hunting.
How To Find Public Land: Nebraska Public Land Atlas

3.2 Private Lands

Hunting rights are privately leased on some of the best private hunting lands in Nebraska. The state is more than 97% privately owned. OFW is a voluntary program that offers financial incentives to landowners willing to allow public walk-in access for hunting, trapping, or fishing.

Landowner permission is a must to hunt on private lands and can be obtained through simple courtesy and communication between the hunter and the landowner. If you are found to be trespassing, your hunting license will be seized.

4. License Requirements

To purchase a hunting license, Nebraska requires that hunters who are 12 to 29 years old must first complete a course approved by the Nebraska Games & Parks Commission and IHEA-USA. Hunters must carry proof of course completion while hunting with a firearm or air gun.

4.1 Types of Hunting Licenses

4.1.1 Nebraska Resident

A resident is a person who has lived in Nebraska for at least 30 days. Active-duty military members and non-resident students who live in Nebraska and attend a school in Nebraska for at least 30 days are considered residents.

All residents of ages 16 or older must have a resident hunting permit and must purchase the Habitat Stamp.

4.1.2 Non-resident

All non-residents must have a non-residential hunting permit and must purchase the Habitat Stamp. Additional permits may be needed.

4.1.3 Youth Hunting Permit

Nebraska residents of ages 15 or under are not required to have a permit. Non-residents of age 15 or under must have the Youth Hunt Permit and the Habitat Stamp.

4.1.4 Senior Hunting Permit

Nebraska residents of age 69 or older are eligible for the reduced-fee Senior Annual Small Game Hunt/Fish Permit.

4.1.5 Disability Permit

Nebraska does not offer a hunting license specifically for people with disabilities except for disabled veterans.

4.1.6 Military and Veteran Permit

Active-duty military members who are stationed in Nebraska for at least 30 days may purchase a resident hunting permit. Besides, active-duty military members who are Nebraska residents but stationed elsewhere may purchase a resident hunting permit.

Nebraska residents who have been deployed out of the state may be eligible for a one-time reduced-fee combination hunt permit. The deployment must be within the past 12 months.

Resident veterans aged 64 or older may purchase a reduced-fee combination hunt permit. This includes the Nebraska Habitat Stamp and Waterfowl Stamp.

Moreover, resident veterans with a disability may be eligible for the free Disabled Veteran’s Lifetime Annual Small Game Hunting or Fishing permit.

They must have 50% or more service-related disability or 100% non-service-related disability.

4.2 License Expiration

Licenses, permits, and stamps are good for the calendar year. Nebraska residents and non-residents can purchase a lifetime hunting permit and stamp.

5. Hunters Education

Successful completion of the Hunter Education course is a must for all Nebraska hunters age 12 through 29 who want to hunt any species with a firearm or airgun.

If the accompanying hunter is 19 to 29 years old, he or she must have completed hunter education and carry proof of successful completion while hunting.

Hunter Education course was introduced to train pupils about wildlife management, ethics, archery or firearm safety tips, first aid, and survival.

5.1 Traditional Hunter Education Course

Hunter education courses are available year-round, but most traditional classroom courses and Hunt safe sessions are offered in the fall and spring. Although hunter education is not required until age 12, students can complete the course at 11.

A traditional, 10-hour classroom course for firearm or bowhunter education is available. There is also a provision of a 14-hour dual-class that includes the curriculum for both firearm or bowhunter education.

5.2 Online Hunter Education Course

Students age 16 and older may complete all of the course requirements online.

Students age 11 to 15 may also complete the hunter education course online, but they are also required to take a two-hour Hunt safe session, in which volunteer hunter education instructors spend face-to-face time discussing the most important safety aspects of the course.

Everything You Need to Know About Bowhunter Education

6. Rules and Regulations

6.1 Distance Regulations

In Nebraska, it is illegal to hunt with a rifle within 200 yards of an occupied building without specific permission for that purpose or within 100 yards using other methods.

6.2 Legal Hunting Hours

It is lawful to hunt animals 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. 

6.3 Hunter Orange Requirement

Blaze orange, also known as hunter orange, is required for big-game hunting with a firearm but not for the roughly 93,000 hunters chasing pheasants and quail in Nebraska or for those in many other states.

Upland game hunters are strongly encouraged to wear ‘hunter orange’, especially during the deer rifle season.

6.4 Bag Limits

Depending on the size of the game animal, the bag limit or tag permits vary in Nebraska. If the game animal is big, the bag limit is low, and vice-versa.

6.5 Can You Hunt at Night?

Hunting big game at night is usually not allowed in Nebraska. Artificial lights may be used only while hunting on foot to take unprotected species, including the coyotes and furbearers like a badger, bobcat, etc.

An artificial light source can be used only to dispatch or track an already wounded animal.

Hunting Violations in Nebraska | Nebraska Firearms Attorneys

7. Bowhunting

Hunters need education if they are 12 to 29 years old and must carry proof of course completion while bowhunting deer, antelope, elk, and bighorn sheep with a bow and arrow or crossbow in Nebraska. You must be at least 11 years old to take this online course.

7.1 Bow and Arrow Requirements

The chief requirement is that the longbow, compound bow, recurve bow, and shoulder-fired non-electric crossbow must have a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.

8. Game Calls

Game calls imply signals emitted by the hunters in order to tempt animals to the trap. There are two types of game calls: hand-held and electronic.

Hand-held game calls are carried out with wood or plastic and are very cost-friendly. Electronic game calls are, however, not always considered to be legal.

Recorded or amplified sounds may not be used to hunt any non-game bird or non-game mammal, except coyotes.


Hunting is an extremely popular sport and Nebraska provides exactly the best opportunities to pursue this. Rich habitat adds to the hunting prospects in the city. To gain an incredibly good experience, the hunters are required to abide by all the hunting norms in society.

For further details, please visit the official website of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission:


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