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Nebraska Waterfowl Hunting Laws and Regulations

Nontoxic Shot Loads and Shooting Guidelines

Large Geese at Long Range (Giant, Western, Atlantic, and Interior Canadas)

  • Shooting Range: 50-65 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel BBB to T
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 50-55 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Modified at 50-70 yards, HEVI-Shot 2 to B at 50-70 yards, Improved Modified, Full at 50-70 yards

Large Geese Over Decoys

  • Shooting Range: 35-50 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel BB to BBB
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 50-55 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder, Modified at 50-55 yards, HEVI-Shot 2 to B at 50-55 yards, Improved Cylinder, Modified at 50-55 yards

Medium/Small Geese at Long Range (Snow, White-fronted, Lesser Canadas)

  • Shooting Range: 50-65 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel BB to BBB
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 60-65 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Modified at 60-65 yards, HEVI-Shot 2 at 60-65 yards, Improved Modified, Full at 60-65 yards

Medium/Small Geese Over Decoys

  • Shooting Range: 35-50 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 2 to BB
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/8 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 60-65 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Light Modified, Modified at 60-65 yards, HEVI-Shot 4 to 2 at 60-65 yards, Improved Cylinder, Modified at 60-65 yards

Large Ducks at Long Range (Mallard, Black, Pintail, Goldeneye, Gadwall)

  • Shooting Range: 45-65 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 2 to 1
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/8 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 85-90 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Modified, Full at 85-90 yards, HEVI-Shot 4 at 85-90 yards

Large Ducks Over Decoys

  • Shooting Range: 20-45 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 6 to 2
  • Minimal Load Weight: 3/4 - 1 ounce
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 85-90 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder (20-35), Modified (35-45) at 85-90 yards, HEVI-Shot 6 to 4 at 85-90 yards

Medium Ducks Over Decoys (Wigeon, Scaup, Shoveler)

  • Shooting Range: 20-45 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 6 to 3
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1 ounce
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 115-120 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder (20-35), Modified (35-45) at 115-120 yards, HEVI-Shot 6 to 4 at 115-120 yards

Small Ducks Over Decoys (Teal, Ruddy, Bufflehead)

  • Shooting Range: 20-45 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 6 to 4
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1 ounce
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 135-145 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Modified (20-35), Full (35-45) at 135-145 yards, HEVI-Shot 6 at 135-145 yards

Ring-necked Pheasants

  • Shooting Range: 20-50 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 3 to 2
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1 ounce
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 2-3
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 90-95 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder (20-30), Modified (30-50) at 90-95 yards, HEVI-Shot 6 to 4 at 90-95 yards

Turkeys (Head and neck shots)

  • Shooting Range: 20-40 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 4
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1-1/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 3-4
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 210-230 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Full or Extra Full at 210-230 yards

Mourning Doves

  • Shooting Range: 20-45 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 8 to 7
  • Minimal Load Weight: 5/8-3/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 200-210 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder 8s/ Light Modified 7s (20-30), Modified (more than 30) at 200-210 yards, HEVI-Shot 7 1/2 at 200-210 yards

Northern Bobwhite Quail

  • Shooting Range: 20-30 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 7
  • Minimal Load Weight: 5/8-3/4 ounces
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1-2
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 200-210 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Cylinder, Light Modified at 200-210 yards

Swatter Loads for Wounded Birds

  • Shooting Range: 20-30 yards
  • Effective Shot Sizes: Steel 7 to 6
  • Minimal Load Weight: 1 ounce
  • Minimal Pellet Hits for Clean Kills: 1
  • Minimum Pattern Count for Clean Kills: 175 pellets in a 30-in circle
  • Most Effective Chokes at Distance: Improved Modified, Full at 175 yards

Hunter Regulations and Safety Guidelines

HUNTER ORANGE

  • Not Mandatory but Encouraged: Wearing hunter orange is not obligatory for upland game hunting or trapping, but it is strongly recommended, particularly during the November firearm deer and January late deer seasons.

  • Camouflage Patterns Allowed: Camouflage hunter orange patterns are permissible, provided the hunter displays a minimum of 400 square inches of hunter orange material on their head, chest, and back.

HUNTER EDUCATION

Firearm Hunter Education

  • Age Requirement: Mandatory for all hunters aged 12 through 29.

  • Game Species: Required for those hunting any game species with a firearm or air gun.

  • Proof of Completion: Hunters must carry proof of successful completion while actively hunting.

Bowhunter Education

  • Age Requirement: Mandatory for hunters aged 12 through 29.

  • Game Species: Required for those hunting deer, elk, antelope, or mountain (bighorn) sheep with a bow and arrow or crossbow.

  • Proof of Completion: Similar to firearm hunter education, proof of successful completion must be carried while hunting.

Certification Options

For hunters ages 11-15:

  1. Online course followed by participation in a two-hour Hunt Safe Session – Fee paid to online vendor.
  2. Traditional 10-hour classroom course – No cost.

For hunters ages 16 and older:

  1. Online course with no other requirements – Fee paid to online vendor.
  2. Traditional 10-hour classroom course – No cost.

For additional information or to find courses, visit HuntSafeNebraska.org. Individuals who haven't completed a hunter education course can obtain an Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption Certificate.

APPRENTICE HUNTER EDUCATION EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE

  • Purpose: This $5 certificate allows novice hunters aged 12 and older to try hunting under the guidance of an experienced hunter before completing Hunter Education.

  • Accompaniment Requirement: The hunter using this certificate must be accompanied at all times. Accompanied means being in the presence of a licensed, experienced hunter aged 19 or older. No more than two hunters can use the certificate, and the experienced hunter must maintain unaided visual and verbal communication with individuals under age 12 and/or apprentice hunters aged 12 through 29.

  • Renewal: The certificate expires on Dec. 31 and may be renewed once for a consecutive year. It can be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.

FIREARM RESTRICTIONS

  • November Firearm Deer Season: During this season, it is illegal to hunt wildlife other than deer with a centerfire rifle or centerfire handgun.

  • Exceptions:

    • Holders of valid unfilled firearm deer permits are exempt.
    • Bona fide farmers or ranchers hunting on their land or immediate family members are exempt.
  • Loaded Shotgun Restrictions: It is unlawful to have or carry a loaded shotgun in or on any vehicle on any highway or roadway. A shotgun is considered loaded if there are shells in the chamber, receiver, or magazine.

Hunting Methods and Regulations

METHODS OF TAKE

Upland Game and Migratory Game Birds:

  • Shotgun:
    • Only 10 gauge or smaller shotguns may be used for all game birds.
    • For waterfowl and migratory game birds, including doves, shotguns must be plugged to limit shell capacity to three shells in the chamber and magazine combined. No plug is required for upland game birds. There's no plug or gauge restriction for cottontail rabbits and squirrels.
  • Rifle or Pistol:
    • Illegal for all game birds.
  • Archery:
    • Legal for migratory game birds, rabbits, squirrels, and upland game birds.
  • Crossbow:
    • Legal for rabbits, squirrels, and upland game birds. NOT legal for migratory game birds.
  • Trapping:
    • Legal for furbearers, cottontails, jackrabbits, and squirrels during open seasons.
  • Electronic Call:
    • Prohibited for waterfowl hunting during the fall seasons but may be used for crows.

NONTOXIC SHOT

  • Requirement:

    • Nontoxic shot is mandatory for all shotgun hunting on specific areas, including waterfowl production areas, national wildlife refuges, state wildlife management areas, as posted, and other lands listed in the Public Access Atlas.
  • Unlawful Practice:

    • It is unlawful to use or possess shotgun shells loaded with or containing shot other than nontoxic shot while hunting, taking, or attempting to take waterfowl.
  • Legal Nontoxic Shot:

    • Bismuth-tin
    • Tungsten-matrix
    • Iron (steel)
    • Tungsten-polymer
    • Iron-tungsten
    • Tungsten-tin-iron
    • Iron-tungsten-nickel
    • Tungsten-tin-bismuth
    • Tungsten-bronze
    • Tungsten-tin-iron-nickel
    • Tungsten-iron-copper-nickel
    • Tungsten-iron-polymer

WATERFOWL BLINDS

  • Blind Removal:
    • All blinds must be removed daily from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission state recreation areas and wildlife management areas.
    • Seasonal blinds may be built on specific WMA portions and must be removed at the end of the waterfowl season.
    • Use of these blinds is on a first-come, first-served basis.

LEG BANDS

  • Reporting Leg Bands:
    • Hunters are required to report U.S. Geological Survey leg bands recovered from migratory game birds at ReportBand.gov.

DEPREDATION

  • Farmers and Ranchers:
    • Farmers or ranchers may destroy specified wildlife preying on livestock or poultry without a permit from the Commission.
    • No hunt or fur harvest permit is required for depredation control. Furbearers harvested for this purpose may be sold or possessed only by individuals with a fur harvest permit, and the take must occur during the harvest season.

TRANSPORTING AND POSSESSING GAME

  • Identification Requirements:
    • Pheasants and prairie grouse must have the head or one leg attached for identification purposes while in the field or during transport.
    • For migratory game birds (except doves), one fully feathered wing or head plumage must be attached during transport.
  • En Route Tags:
    • No tags are required en route if the licensee accompanies the game.
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.