Preliminary results from the 2023 Nebraska November firearm deer season show statewide harvest was down 18% from 2022 and down 29% from the 2018-2022 average.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission expected these results for the Nov. 11-19 season based on several factors that indicated a decline in harvest was coming. Lower harvest and deer populations were recorded in 2022 and lead to Game and Parks reducing the number of permits available for 2023. 

Other factors indicating the decline included:

  • Permits and harvest had increased in 2019 and 2020 because of depredation complaints across much of the state. 
  • Severe drought affected nearly all of Nebraska in recent years, leading to an increase in epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
  • Severe winter conditions, which reduced available food sources and increased stress, affected deer populations in northern Nebraska.

In Game and Parks’ northwest district, the 2023 harvest was down 26% from 2022 and 35% from the five-year average. In the southwest district, harvest was down 21% from 2022 and down 37% from the five-year average. The northeast district was down 16% from 2022 and down 30% from the five-year average, and the southeast district was down 11% from 2022 and down 9% from the five-year average.

Final harvest results will be available following the close of all deer seasons. 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 invited to learn more about the 2023 season, big game research and management and more at the big game public informational meetings scheduled in person and online beginning Dec. 6. Visit to find a meeting near you.

Hunters wishing to donate venison can use the Deer Exchange or Hunters Helping the Hungry programs. Visit for more details.

Prescribed burns set for Cedar and Knox county OFW sites

Two prescribed burns are set to take place on Open Fields and Waters sites in Knox and Cedar counties this fall or winter to improve habitat.

Burn dates will be determined by favorable weather conditions, available burn crews and resources. Each burn is expected to be completed within one day, with active burning taking several hours.

On the day of each burn, bright orange “Prescribed Burn Ahead” signs will be placed at the OFW field entrances to alert potential hunters.

The burn in Knox County is in preparation for seeding that will increase the habitat quality on the Conservation Reserve Program acres there. In Cedar County, the fire will be contained to a small portion of the OFW site and is aimed at controlling regrowth of woody species on this and a neighboring property after the land was mechanically cleared of red cedar. This burn will encourage the growth of native plants and improve rangeland quality.

Both fires will be conducted with the assistance of the Northeast Nebraska Prescribed Burn Association. The NNPBA is a landowner-led, neighbor-helping-neighbor association covering Dixon, Cedar, Wayne, and Knox counties that is supported by Pheasants Forever. The association gives landowners access to equipment, planning expertise, training and manpower to use fire safely and effectively.

Prescribed fire is a management tool that benefits wildlife habitat and rangeland health. Burned acres often become more attractive to wildlife, and for some species, the effect is immediate. Used in conjunction with grazing, prescribed burning also can set back smooth brome and Kentucky bluegrass, increase diversity in grasslands and improve habitat for wildlife.

If conditions do not allow for the burns to be conducted this fall or winter, the OFW sites will be prioritized for burning next spring instead.

To learn more about prescribed fire in northeast Nebraska, call the Game and Parks Commission’s Norfolk office at 402-370-3374.