Nebraska Mule Deer? Worth it with low expectations?

Cschlimm

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2020
Messages
19
Hi all,
This is my first ever post on a hunting forum. A few coworkers and I are looking into a Mule Deer hunt in western NE. My group has limited experience western hunting Elk in CO, Montana Mule Deer, and Idaho Mule deer.
We are looking at a cheaper trip this year being one of us has the financial joys of divorce coming his way and I’m saving for a house. Just curious if NE is worth the time with tempered expectations. We would likely do Rifle or Muzzleloader. Not looking for monsters and I’m sure that we would all be happy with a 3 pt or a tall fork. I was thinking of the Upper Platte or Pine Ridge Units. Curious of the two which is better, what the odds are, and any advice for finding a mule deer on public. We are coming from MN.

Thanks
From WI as well and hunted the pine ridge area few years back tho I was there on an archery hunt. Done a lot of research on going back with the muzzleloader just never went because you won’t find a lot of positive reviews. I was surprised to see the pressure we did for that early archery hunt but we did see mule deer on most public pieces we went too. From your description I’m assuming your picking NE because you don’t have points in other states? I feel other Western states have better options but everything seems to be getting more popular.
 

Trans Yank

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
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22
Location
Amherst,Virginia
Hello son and I rifle hunted Platte MDCA in 2019. Public walk-in land. He is Active-duty Air Force and just doesn't get to hunt with me that was our 4th hunt together in 19 years of service. I live in Virgina. We put my Wall tent up in a Campground (Nice to have warm showers)15 min. from area we hunted. We had Mule deer and whitetail tags. Did see several small Muley's didn't want to take. Did see 2 really good ones on Private land boarding where we were. Where into several whitetails every day. I took a 8pt and doe, Son took doe with in first 4 days. Then stayed out looking for Mule deer for him rest of season. Was a great hunt filled freezers worn out set of boots. Plus, him and I now share that hunt in our memory his first time using a wall tent and hunting Mule deer in the West covering a lot of land. As far as me I'd go to Colorado . With him being active military it is hard to do draw. My 2 cents
 

Ridgerunner7

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 11, 2017
Messages
253
Nebraska public has deteriorated so much unfortunately if you’re after an older age class. Pressure has increased 300% in the last 4 years.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Scottyboy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 17, 2016
Messages
830
Location
Minnesota
For context,
I grew up hunting WI private land and would hit public land occasionally during muzzleloader. WI has almost 600,000 rifle hunters every year, compared to about 150,000 in NE. Would anyone from a more populated state have any comparisons? My experience in Idaho wasn’t nearly as bad as I was warned it would be regarding pressure because people there don’t know what real pressure is. Not trying to discredit anyone’s knowledge but I know the public land game fairly well and know that “pressure” is relative. Waterfowl hunting in MN is a similar game opening week but I always manage some success. It’s a bummer to hear deer numbers aren’t what they could be. I would imagine a down year is maybe due to CWD management and doe hunts?
I’m from MN and unfortunately hunt our public land. Without knowing what part of the state you hunt it might be hard to draw a parallel. I’ve never gun hunted NE public nor would i ever. I’ve done 5 hunts in NE on private and that, IMO, is the only way to go as a NR. If you could bow hunt I think that would make for a better experience than gun season on public but there is not a lot of it.

If it were me, I’d save a few extra bucks and go with a outfitter or try to find a trespass fee (assuming that is a thing in NE)
 

Sailor_Nate

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2021
Messages
16
For context,
I grew up hunting WI private land and would hit public land occasionally during muzzleloader. WI has almost 600,000 rifle hunters every year, compared to about 150,000 in NE. Would anyone from a more populated state have any comparisons? My experience in Idaho wasn’t nearly as bad as I was warned it would be regarding pressure because people there don’t know what real pressure is. Not trying to discredit anyone’s knowledge but I know the public land game fairly well and know that “pressure” is relative. Waterfowl hunting in MN is a similar game opening week but I always manage some success. It’s a bummer to hear deer numbers aren’t what they could be. I would imagine a down year is maybe due to CWD management and doe hunts?
I went last year and had a great time. Me and a buddy put in and drew the platte unit on our first time applying. Got a nice BIG young buck 4x4 with eye guards. Compared to other states it was relatively low effort hunt as he public land is limited around there. The hunting pressure where we hunted wasn't as bad as people had me expecting. i figured it would be near WW3 levels of people shooting. LOL Being from north Carolina im use to heavy pressure and orange vest everywhere. Lots of people driving around but most didnt show up until near shooting light. Talked to the other group that parked with us before made sure our plans didn't land on top of each other and rolled out. buck on the ground by 9am opening morning. if i wasn't going to Colorado this year for antelope id go back that's for sure. look for my post from last year on here there is a picture
 

Treedagainut

Newbie
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
8
I have hunted the southwest NE for over 20yrs on and off. Before and after the new mule deer zones. Had a tag a few yrs ago, hunted another zone for whitetail and came back in the muzz and killed a great mule deer on public. With a little work it can be done.
 

UpTop

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
112
I’d say if you’re going into it with low expectations, and it’s the most affordable option, then why not? You’ll never know unless you go, and IMO it’s always a plus getting to see new country. Don’t be disappointed if it turns more into a camping trip, and have a good time getting to learn new country. If it ends up working out the that’s a bonus.
 

Brentreese

Newbie
Joined
Mar 22, 2022
Messages
8
Pine Ridge was my first muley hunt. The obvious places get hit pretty hard (big sections of public). Look for smaller pieces out of the way, property lines, etc. OnX or similar is a must. And don't let the Nebraska part fool you. Western NE muley country can be some nasty nasty terrain. Not huge, but very broken. We took a low 130s 4x4 that was a trophy to us.
 

peaks2prairies

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2022
Messages
18
Having lived and hunted in Nebraska for most of the last two decades, in line with the rest for the posts, Nebraska is best thought of as a backup plan to your other western states if you are looking for a rifle hunt or if you are looking for something north of 160. For folks looking to put a tag in your pocket and take advantage of the best opportunity buck that they encounter, Nebraska is great.

If you are an Archery or blackpowder guy, the hunting pressure is 10% of the rifle season and the weather generally isn't too brutal outside of a few odd years. I would not recommend coming to Nebraska for a rifle hunt unless you have access to private ground through a lease, trespass fee, family/friends, or with one of the outfitters as both residents and nonresidents alike will smother accessible land with little regard for personal space or personal safety. 20 trucks on a 900 acre walk-in property in November and nobody fired a shot because the deer were all sprinting for the fencelines.

The national forest/grassland areas get a lot of pressure along the roads and from guys who buy the ATV permits to drive the 4WD trails. Not a lot of "roadless" areas but if you wander off into the hills and dunes far enough, you can get away from people. I'd recommend taking a set of 15s to cover the ground from a high point as you will be oftentimes spotting them from a mile or more away.

If you don't need a buck, don't overlook the Antlerless Only Season Choice permits. They are first come, first served but offer a lot of flexibility and opportunity if you know you're going to stay in one spot.
 

Trap

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 18, 2021
Messages
203
For context,
I grew up hunting WI private land and would hit public land occasionally during muzzleloader. WI has almost 600,000 rifle hunters every year, compared to about 150,000 in NE. Would anyone from a more populated state have any comparisons? My experience in Idaho wasn’t nearly as bad as I was warned it would be regarding pressure because people there don’t know what real pressure is. Not trying to discredit anyone’s knowledge but I know the public land game fairly well and know that “pressure” is relative. Waterfowl hunting in MN is a similar game opening week but I always manage some success. It’s a bummer to hear deer numbers aren’t what they could be. I would imagine a down year is maybe due to CWD management and doe hunts?
If you felt there wasn’t a lot of pressure in Idaho 39. You will feel like your all alone in Nebraska 😂 39 is most heavily hunted unit in Idaho it’s all relative. Go to Nebraska people need to start thinking outside the box with mule deer. I live in Idaho and am exploring opportunities outside your traditional western hunt that every hunter in the nation is trying to cram into. Had a good freind in Nebraska and spent a lot of time there but full disclosure did not hunt, he did well and I saw plenty of mule deer. It’s not so over run with nr hunters I think getting private access will be much easier than Montana or Idaho
 

cayres67

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
24
My advice. . . Don't. . .

I live in Nebraska, I've hunted the NW, and North Central part of the state but I live in the south central/south western part.

Public land is a pumpkin patch, it's highly pressured from archery season on. If you're going to do it I'd go muzzle loader mainly to avoid the pressure.

If you treat it like a camping trip/vacation with an opportunity to maybe shoot a deer of small to average size you'll not be disappointed but probably won't be "happy" with the trip either.

I'd save another year and go somewhere else. Or come out and spend a week knocking on doors and see if you can get permission for the following year. Private land would make a huge difference! But as stated above, our deer numbers are down and beyond that our state doesn't care! Likely they prefer lower deer numbers.
is the archery season much better?
 

cayres67

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
24
Pine Ridge was my first muley hunt. The obvious places get hit pretty hard (big sections of public). Look for smaller pieces out of the way, property lines, etc. OnX or similar is a must. And don't let the Nebraska part fool you. Western NE muley country can be some nasty nasty terrain. Not huge, but very broken. We took a low 130s 4x4 that was a trophy to us.
Archery?
 

Laramie

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
1,754
Nebraska has the third lowest % of public land out of all 50 states. If you are trying to mule deer hunt on public, expect a lot of company with low success rates for all seasons, including archery. If you want to whitetail hunt, it isn't a bad public hunt. Trying to get permission on private is very challenging.

Not trying to chase anyone away- i don't care. I live here and won't walk into that mess with a free tag.
 

cayres67

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
24
Nebraska has the third lowest % of public land out of all 50 states. If you are trying to mule deer hunt on public, expect a lot of company with low success rates for all seasons, including archery. If you want to whitetail hunt, it isn't a bad public hunt. Trying to get permission on private is very challenging.

Not trying to chase anyone away- i don't care. I live here and won't walk into that mess with a free tag.
thanks for the response
 

Rich M

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
2,699
Location
Orlando
Tens of thousands get the same idea every season.






Yet.....you never see a "check out our awesome NE hunt" thread.


Vacation time is terrible thing to waste.
Really can’t beat this post.

Maybe you just want to go somehere diff and this fits the bill? Or do you really want to shoot something?

I did wy and co. Both trips were nice. Back to wy next year. Never been to ne. Might be nice.
 

String&stick

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
817
Nebraska: If you think our hunting is bad, wait until you see our football team.

Between Muleys and the Huskers... yes. Low expectations.
My initial reaction is to refute this post. . . But sadly the last 7ish years of on the field performance leave nothing defensible!
 

KHNC

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
2,459
Location
NC
NE public mule deer are the CO Otc public elk of the west. Ill give you a bit to ration that all out.
 
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