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Outdoors notes: Nebraska's deer numbers down slightly

Outdoors notes: Nebraska's deer numbers down slightly

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Preliminary Nebraska deer check-in numbers indicate statewide harvest is down 3% compared to 2019 for the November firearm season. During the nine-day season, 42,024 deer were harvested, compared to 43,418 in 2019.

While the statewide trend was comparable to previous years, regions of the state varied. Deer harvest in southeast Nebraska was up 7% from 2019, while southwest Nebraska was down 10%. The northwest and northeast districts were down slightly at 2% to 3% each.

Mule deer buck harvest decreased 17%, with 5,990 taken, compared to 7,201 in 2019. Whitetail buck harvest was down slightly, with 23,814 taken compared to 24,301 in 2019. Antlerless mule deer harvest was down 15%, while antlerless whitetail deer harvest increased 5% compared to 2019.

“Many factors can be related to the variations in numbers of checked deer,” said Luke Meduna, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Considering the increases in antlerless harvest in the southwest due to depredation complaints over the past few years, it’s not surprising harvest numbers would start trending downward at some point. In contrast, deer numbers in southeast Nebraska have been inching upward in recent years, and we’re seeing that in our harvest.”

One major change for the 2020 November firearm season was the use of Telecheck for all deer harvested. (Archery, muzzleloader and late firearm hunters have used Telecheck for nearly 10 years.) Because of COVID-19-related concerns, Game and Parks did not operate in-person check stations this year.

“Our hunters adapted quickly and did a great job at utilizing the Telecheck system,” Meduna said. Game and Parks plans to go back to in-person check stations for the 2021 November firearm season.

Archery season closes Dec. 31, while muzzleloader season is Dec. 1-31. The late antlerless season will run Jan. 1-15.

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