Preliminary Nebraska deer check-in numbers indicate statewide harvest is down 12 percent compared to 2020 for the November firearm season. During the nine-day season, 37,053 deer were harvested, compared to 42,078 in 2020.
While the overall statewide trend was down compared to previous years, regions of the state varied. Deer harvest in southeastern Nebraska was even with 2020, while southwestern Nebraska was down 19%. The northwestern district was down 8%, and the northeastern district was down 15% from 2020.
Mule deer buck harvest decreased 10%, with 5,385 taken, compared to 5,994 in 2020. Whitetail buck harvest was down 13%, with 20,783 taken compared to 23,835 in 2020. Antlerless mule deer harvest was down 12%, while antlerless white-tailed deer harvest decreased 16% compared to 2020.
Several factors contributed to the decline in deer harvest.
“Considering the increases in antlerless harvest in the southwest due to depredation management, it’s not surprising harvest numbers would trend downward as those deer populations decline,” said Luke Meduna, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Epizootic hemorrhagic disease reports also were up this fall, particularly in northern Nebraska, and that likely had an impact on whitetail populations.”
In-person check stations were back in operation this year after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We were happy to see our hunters at check stations this year,” Meduna said. “They give us a lot of input, and they also allow us to collect age and disease data. We missed them in 2020.”
Archery season closes Dec. 31, while muzzleloader season is Dec. 1-31. The late antlerless season will run Jan. 1-15, while the River Antlerless late season will run Jan. 1-31.
Hunters are reminded that mule deer does are protected in many management units and public lands across the state. Refer to the 2021 Big Game Guide for details or view it at OutdoorNebraska/org/guides.
Hunters wishing to donate venison can use the Deer Exchange program or the Hunters Helping the Hungry program. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org for more details.