Nebraska Elk Hunt ( The Long Wait) Part #1

Cornhusker

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Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
69
Location
Nebraska
Nebraska started the state's modern day elk hunt in 1986 and I applied with high hope of drawing a tag. I was young and just starting a career and family and didn't have the money or time to hunt out of state. I knew the draw odds were steep but I had the optimism of youth and felt it was just a matter of time until I drew. In 2014 the state modified the draw to a modified point system. It's the type of point system where maximum points doesn't automatically draw but you just have an additional chance of drawing for each point you have. After 35 years applying every year I drew Bordeaux my elk tag with 6 max. points. I had a 1 in 19 chance for one of the 16 bull draw tags in the Bordeaux Unit.
In 2020 Nebraska offered 94 bull tags in the entire state for residents only, with landowners taking up additional tags. Nebraska is divided into 7 units from the center part of the state all the way to the Colorado and Wyoming borders. The Big Game Guide of Nebraska warns, " Most elk in Nebraska live on private land and elk hunters should be prepared to gain access to private land to hunt elk. Land owners permission is always required to hunt on private land." This advice is very justified as less than 3% of the land in Nebraska is public, and a small percentage of that holds elk.
For the first 25 years I applied for the Hat Creek Unit, the farthest northwest in the state. I did my due diligence making landowner contacts throughout the unit and establishing what the trespass fee would be when I drew. Since it is a once in a lifetime tag it's one that you want to get right. After applying in Hat Creek Unit for that many years, I made a change and began applying in the Bordeaux Unit east of the Hat Creek Unit. I had a friend that had drawn and hunted the Bordeaux Unit with an outfitter that had a huge amount of land leased and he had a great hunt and shot a good bull. I called the outfitter and introduced myself and told him I'd be applying in that unit and wanted to hunt with him when I drew. Every year for the next 10 years I contacted him before applying and let him know I was applying and then confirmed with him that I didn't draw. In 2021 I contacted him that I was applying. On June 29th at 4:49 the text of success came from Nebraska Game and Parks, I had drawn Bordeaux Bull Elk. I punched the contact number on my phone to book with this outfitter at 4:50- no answer. I then sent a text to make sure I got in. As the evening wore on with no contact, I got more nervous and then sent an email to send me the contract. The next morning I got a text from the outfitter that he was booked. I asked through text if he knew of anybody else that allowed hunters for a trespass fee. He said he didn't think there were any at least that he knew of. To be fair, Nebraska did have a backdoor system to know if you drew. If a hunter drew, their points went to 0 before you were contacted, kind of like the old backdoor system in Colorado. I was not aware of that, and he had been booked by hunters that were aware of it by 10:30 the previous morning.
The Bordeaux Unit only gives out 16 bull tags and 10 landowner bull tags, but much of the land doesn't have adequate cover to hold elk. I called the game commission and got a list of 8 landowners that had elk depredation problems. I called all 8 of them at least 3 times. I finally got one landowner to answer my call and he had only 300 acres of land, not the kind of hunt I was looking for. I then got very lucky. I contacted Jordan Budd of Running Water LLC. I asked her about the family ranch located south of Rushville on the Niobrara River and Deer Creek. She was going to be busy the first week of rifle elk season. I asked how many elk they had taken off the ranch. Her response was that mine would be the first. The elk in Nebraska have been migrating from the northwest and had found their way onto the Budd Ranch about 15 years ago. Jordan had recently moved to Boise as it was an easier location to operate her hunting media business from.
Why would anybody book a hunt with an outfitter that hadn't ever killed an elk on their ranch? I booked with her for 2 reasons. First, I had few other options and the 2nd reason was she was just so honest about how tough it might be, but she thought we could find a shooter bull. I didn't know much about Jordan but my gut feeling was she was the real deal and she would work as hard as I would. She sent me a video of a bachelor group of bulls in velvet that had a real smoker bull in the group. On the southern border of their ranch there are 19 pivots of corn that the owner does not allow hunting but hold a lot of bulls that we'd have to call out of the corn. This is a little like show and tell at school if you read part 2 I'll tell you about the hunt and show you the bull.


Rick Peterson (Cornhusker)
 

NebraskaFlatLander

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
20
Location
Nebraska
I'll be looking for part 2!! I too hope to draw a Nebraska Elk tag someday too.... Can't imagine what an empty, just punched in the gut feeling that was to hear back from the outfitter that he was booked!
 

The_Jim

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
36
Location
Nebraska
I am waiting to someday draw my Nebraska elk tag too. I am not looking forward to finding an outfitter. Sounds like its a real rat race.

Can't wait to hear the rest!
 

CB4

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
233
Location
Iowa
If this is the guy she posted the picture of in the photo thread you got a great bull!
 
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