Contributors to this thread:
First Time In Nebraska
I am considering archery hunting in Nebraska this coming fall for whitetails. I'm looking for some help in finding general areas which hold good (P&Y) whitetails. I would like to keep the areas in the mid to south part of the state. As I look at the state map I see a lot of pieces of property that have just strips of timber, I'm not used to such small tracts of timber and question if these tracts hold deer. Any help with understanding / finding areas would be great. I am from Michigan so my scouting will be very minimal.
lots of deer in Nebraska you should have no trouble finding a decent buck. Public lands are good and if you manage to access some private should be better.
Thanks whipranger we are going over the booklets the DNR sent us, plus aerial photos,etc. We just have narrow our search down.
Nebraska is a very friendly NR state. OTC + low cost tags, good hunting opportunities and great people. You should enjoy your hunt.
You want small public or big public. The medium areas are too small as it attracts all kinds of recreationers, but not large enough to where you can get away from them. You want small, so hikers and mountain bikers stay away (and hunters) or big areas where you can get away from others.
Small strips of public = less competition.Also closer to private where big deer reside. Hunt the rut and they will cross onto public.
NE has lots of deer everywhere. Be sure to buy a Season Choice anterless tag for only $60ish and get some freezer meat.
Lastly, hunt during the week and you will very few others.
NE is a terrific state with lots of deer. Just make sure your definition of big is appropriate. The gun season is during the rut, so many of the bucks don't make it to PY status. NE is more managed as an opportunity state, not a big buck state. If you want big deer, you should look at the NorthCentral units that are managed for bigger antlers.
We are still checking out state pieces of land. Looking near Kearney as a starting point.
If you are looking around Kearney, I would suggest you pony up and pay for a lease if you plan to hunt the Platte River. Public land (specifically the state land) on the Platte around Kearney becomes a sea of orange come deer season- I live around there so I should know. Very frustrating if you don't have a connection to private land. Chance of even seeing a P&Y buck on public land in this area is about 1%. If you have private land, chances go way up. Good luck to you.
Thanks mrhunter, We are looking for some nice deer (p&Y) so that would eliminate state land in that area. Are all state ground like that in NE? We are now looking towards the Thayer and Jefferson counties.
Ive never personally hunted in Thayer or Jefferson for deer but you are far enough away from the heavily populated areas that it could be worth your time. There is a lot of land open all along the Missouri (Corps of Engineers land) and if you can find the ones less traveled, that might be another spot to find a P&Y deer. Also, I've never tried the open fields and waters lands for deer (private land open to public) so check that out to on the state website.
Your changes of taking a P&Y buck on public land in Nebraska are slim to none. Your chances are better on private land however your chances are still slim. Nebraska does not manage for trophy deer; 80-90% of the bucks never make it past 2 years. Believe me, I've been hunting in this state for over 40 years and I have yet to take a P&Y deer. I've taken many deer but the biggest only went 110. Last year I saw 12 bucks, lots of does but no P&Y's and I was hunting on decent private land. This is typical for most archery hunters in Nebraska. It is sad; Nebraska could be just as good as Kansas or Iowa if only the Game Commission would take the gun season out of the rut and place restrictions on antler size. But they do nothing to help increase trophy potential in this state.
Windwalker, I have to disagree with you on this one. 40 yrs and you haven't shot a P&Y? You need to find some new hunting ground. And don't count out the public areas, especially before the rifle season. I can point you to lots of public grounds with the potential for P&Y class bucks.
Granted, Kansas and Iowa have some big deer. But I wouldn't sell NE short.
A few years back the average Nebraska buck was pretty decent. The G&P stats showed that the majority of bucks taken were 2 1/2 yrs old. These of course weren't all P&Y.
But EHD really hit the herd hard and so the state is still recovering from that. I suspect that the number of 2 1/2 yo bucks taken now is lower. And since they are trying to keep the population lower than it was it may never be as good as it was back then.
There are certainly P&Y bucks around but they aren't behind every tree. It will take serious hunting time and effort and even then you may not see one.
Last year on the public ground I hunt, I saw probably 20 bucks during my 5 day hunt. 2 of them might have pushed close to P&Y, 3or 4 more were decent basket racks, then the majority were clearly year and half deer. I ended up shooting a little 3x3. There are definitely some decent deer here and there, but alot of young bucks. Sure makes for some fun hunting though
Sat in a small SWA this year and saw a booner one night and a P&Y buck the next day. It can happen, you just need to do your part.
I would have to totally disagree with Windwalker. I hunt on the NE border in Kansas about 15 miles away. I bring my deer into NE to have processed. I have also spent time there scouting so this year I can hunt both states. I have seen several P&Y bucks in NE and also have seen some very big ones taken there. Last year the folks staying next too me at my motel each shot a nice buck on public. 3 guys from PA and they took bucks between 130 and 156"s. Shawn
Scooby-doo; just because you have seen a few decent bucks does not mean they are common all over the state. Sure there are a few but nothing like Iowa or Kansas. NE could be just like these states if deer were managed for trophy quality as opposed to just killing as many as possible. I have several good friends that are excellent bowhunters and they tell me just what I've communicated on this thread. My motive is only to give non-resident hunters a realistic outlook for taking trophy deer in NE. Of course they are welcome to come here; the state needs the money.
Nebraska is a nonresident friendly state in my opinion. I would send you to Grove Lake WMA it usually has little pressure. The guys are right about the average buck being 2 1/2 when killed . If killing a big buck was easy in Nebraska it would be even more crowded with hunter. Have fun and enjoy the hunt.
Just stating the facts, if you do your homework and hunt hard there are very good bucks too be had. Shawn
Bohunts is pointing you in the right direction...that's all I'm gonna say
We hunted last year Thayer and Jefferson on state land. We never saw a buck for six days. What we did encounter was alot and I mean alot of dove hunters. Shooting was like non stop. We pack up with one day left and went to the sand hills. We just walked some to see what it was like. In that last day we saw 3 whitetails and 3 mulies. One whitetail was decent and so was one of the mulies. We are thinking of heading this year to the sand hills. Has anyone hunted this in early September as that is when we will be going and where are some decent spots in that vast region? What are the best tactics for hunting out their?
Nebraska's public lands are like a sorority girls with daddy issues.
They get pounded all year long, but its even worse on the weekends.
But hey, its one less day driving, and unlimited tags. So you got that going for you, which is nice.
(unlimited tags, and small public parcels with easy access,..... that math can be done in your head)
Buy a NE gazzetteer and you'll be amazed at the amount of public land! The people of NE are EXCELLENT, if you do what they tell you, closing gates or not to drive here or what ever! As far as a P&Y buck, they have them! But ya got a hunt for them. Niobrara/Keya Paha river area in the northern part of the state has some decent bucks along with the southern part of the state along the Kansas border! Also the Halsey National forest! Like everything else ya find them! Good Luck! Haven't missed a year in NE since 1980!