Nebraska Whitetail Deer Hunting
All the States that encompass the core or majority of entries in the whitetail deer record books have something unique within them that continues to present hunters opportunties to shoot record book whitetail deer. If not then these States couldn’t be consistent. Iowa whitetail deer hunting offers hunters the chance to hunt a state that receives very little pressure due to tag allotment. Pike County, Illinois deer hunting is an environment wherein the hunter can only use a shotgun or muzzleloader during firearms season thereby giving whitetails a longer lifespan to grow big antlers. I could give you example after example about why certain States continue to cough up record book whitetail entries, however Nebraska is one of the best kept secrets in the world of deer hunting.
Fact…………IMB Outfitters is located in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. Over the past 3 years IMB hunters have taken more Boone and Crockett Bucks than any other State IMB outfits. For a whitetail buck to make the Boone and Crockett Record Books it must score a minimum of 170 inches if it be typical. A non typical must score at least 190 to make the minimum requirement for the Boone and Crockett Record Books.
IMB Nebraska Boone and Crockett Harvests
In November 2008, Bob OConnell scored on a 183 inch monster during the Nebraksa Firearms Season with IMB Outfitters.. Bob hunted prior to the gun season in Nebraska with a bow and was persistent in the harvest of this monster buck. IMB Guide, Gary took to the field with OConnell to walk him to the treestand OConnell would hunt that morning but they didn’t make it that far. Manager, Perry saw the Nebraska buck a couple days in a row and instructed Gary, the guide to take OConnell into the big monster whitetail’s bed area. The hunter and guide sighted the deer as they were walking into the stand area. They patiently waited for the big buck to lay down with the does he was tending. This was the same buck OConnell had seen the day before but was too far to release an ethical shot at. In Nebraska the terrain offers both rich river bottom ground resembling the Illinois or Missouri but Nebraska deer hunting also has a very different type of terrain resembling that rough Texas briar canyon country. In fact we have sited many mountain lions in the area because of the canyon country terrain. This monster whitetail was in the canyon country. After the guide and hunter saw the deer bed down they made a 250 stalk on the deer, as if it were a muledeer. The guide and OConnel waited for him to stand up, as the hunter didn’t want to shoot the big buck while he was laying down. The waiting game took over an hour until the buck finally did stand up. OConnell delivered the powerful 300 Win Mag bullet straight into the vitals and the deer piled up on site.
November 2008, Issue of North American Whitetail Magazine inducted Bill Lilly of Charelston,, West Virginia and IMB Outfitters into the NAW Hall of Fame after Lilly traveled to Nebraska in 2007 with IMB Outfitters during the rifle season. The huge mainframe 5 X 5 sported several split tines and green scored 175 inches. The awesome buck weighed in at around 300 pounds live weight. This deer had to be over 5 years oaf age based upon his weight, and body style. Lilly took this whitetail buck in the canyon country terrain. The deer had been spotted several times during the Nebraska Archery Season but had eluded archers all season long. Lilly took this monster buck which placed the buck, Lilly, and IMB Outfitters in North American Whitetail’s Hall of Fame forever. Truly the buck of a lifetime but not the biggest deer killed in Nebraska by IMB Outfitters.
In 2007 David Register came in for the 1st Gun Season and took an incredible Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck scoring over 170 inches once again in the Canyon Country. The guide went out after seeing the big buck and moved the treestand down out of a cottonwood grove into some a willow thicket and provided Register with the 50 yard shot he needed on the Nebraska Whitetail Deer.
In November of 2006, and November of 2007 Kevin Farr of Georgia took two different monster bucks out of the same stand. The first Nebraska deer Farr took was 170 inches, while his second whitetail buck scored 164. Farr took both of his monster whitetail’s in the riverbottoms along the Republican River which borders Kansas. By the way this Farr, is one of those “horseshoe hunters” as between the two deer he took in Nebraska he scored on a 171 inch deer with IMB Outfitters in Illinois.
In November of 2006, Professional Baseball Player, Brad Hawpe took his first good whitetail buck with a bow. This buck scored nearly 170 inches and was actually taken on camera with the Outdoor Channel. Hawpe chose the canyon country where the guide had seen the buck several times before. The first time into this particular treestand, Hawpe pushed an arrow through a cedar tree in the canyon country and arrowed the free ranging deer of a lifetime. It would be a year later Hawpe would enjoy his first World Series Appearance, but I wonder if you ask which was more exciting,……...his heart shot Booner or the World Series, he might have a difficult time replying.
Stories like these surround the presence of IMB Outfitters in Nebraska. In fact I could go on all day long with story after story surrounding our Nebraska Division.
Why Nebraska Deer Hunting is Producing Boone and Crockett Whitetail Bucks
As aforementioned every state that consistently coughs up opportunities for hunters to kill big whitetail deer has a reason why. Nebraska has several reasons why it continues to produce monster whitetails.
I can remember the first time a big landowner phoned me from Nebraska and ask if I would like to lease ground and begin a Nebraska Division of IMB Outfitters. I silently thought to myself, “Nebraska Deer Hunting, Nebraska wouldn’t be one of my top five choices to hunt whitetail deer from. Wonder if I could succeed as a Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter?” I began to quiz the Nebraska landowner about his Nebraska whitetail deer hunting.. He began to tell me of many big bucks he had on his property and that he was certain our hunters would be successful in whitetail deer hunting in Nebraska. I was skeptical but traveled to the State of Nebraska to look at the ground. At first glance it was deceptive as I wanted to see those rich, plush, river bottom properties like we have in Pike County, Illinois full of hundreds of deer and broad deep whitetail deer trails leading to and from food sources. The first tract of ground I walked out in Nebraska looked like Texas. The ground actually had cactus and wild marijuana growing everywhere. Heck I was wishing I had brought snake boots and remember looking around for rattlesnakes, however none were present. In this rough canyon country deer sign was scarce and I was skeptical. The next piece of ground the landowner took me to was plush river bottom ground about a mile away where I did find the kind of deer sign I am used to seeing at home. The hunting lease presentation was that I would have to lease all the tracts or none of the tracts. If I would have had my way I would have discarded the hill country ground and only took the river bottom ground, but that was not an option. I reminded myself we were only a mile from the Kansas State Line and signed up the hunting lease, and then authorized my Nebraska Land Manager to sign up several thousand more acres. From there I made arrangements for lodging at a nice hotel with meal tickets to a very nice restaurant. This is not common place for IMB Outfitters as in all our other hunt sites we have fancy lodges with chefs and servants for the hunters. I thought to myself, “This is not the way I normally conduct business but I just felt God knowing at my gut to move forward.”
The first year we were a Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter we did swell but were limited regarding income as non residents could not firearm hunt. Our archers took down some great deer but it was frustrating not being able to run gun hunts in Nebraska. Little did I know that this would be the very key to open the door to success. The following year Nebraska opened up the Firearms Season to non residents. Suddenly it hit me. If Nebraska had not previously allowed non resident firearm hunting then certain parts of the State had to be holding some really big whitetail deer because no pressure had been put on the deer like States that allow non resident whitetail firearms hunting. I was correct with my assumption. The first gun season or year one of firearm hunting for our hunters produced a 139% success rate at getting the hunter a shot at a record book buck. Quite simply we had more chances to kill record book whitetails than hunters in camp, and the bucks that were being harvested were monsters. I recall that year two we had 14 hunters. 9 of them were tagged out the first day and ran a success rate year two of 151%. That means the hunters ran a 151% chance at getting a shot at a record book buck. Then in 2007 or year three our Nebraska whitetail hunters ran a 137% shot success rate at record book whitetails.
Thus the basic reason Nebraska is producing monster sized whitetail bucks because the State prevented non residents from pressuring it up until 3 years ago. This allowed many bucks to hide up and be presented with longer life spans for whitetail deer than other states. In short, the bucks got big because only the locals were hunting them and most local hunters don’t hunt with a professional mentality by encompassing trail cameras, aerial photographs, intense scouting, etc. The average local Nebraska whitetail hunter we have found in our area is the hunter than sits till 8 AM and shoots the first thing he sees. Then its off to the café and into the trucks, as they scour the roadways hoping to pop a buck from the confines of the vehicle. While I respect Nebraska Game and Parks Department we have never seen a game warden in our area and we have tried to report poaching incidents that were never dealt with. The local hunters will drive you nuts. The hunter that is willing to go deep into the bush with IMB Outfitters many hundreds of yards of the nearest roadway in dense cover will normally get the chance to harvest a deer of a lifetime in Nebraska.
Remember Nebraska Deer Hunting is not like other states. Nebraska deer have evolved differently and avoid roadways and know where to hide each year to elude local hunting strategies that have been passed down from generation to generation. As a Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter we have figured out what we need to do to benefit from this illegal hunt pressure from local hunters. The strategy is called, “Go Deep”. Again this means being partially transported by all terrain vehicles deep into sections of dense cover that locals can’t shoot from the roads. Also we have learned as a Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter that we need to hunt funnels and routes where local deer drives will push monster bucks past our whitetail hunters.
Nebraska bow hunting is unlike Nebraska firearm hunting as the locals don’t bowhunt much as all. Thus our Nebraska bow hunters are not effected by the local hunting pressure. IMB Outfitters has offered unbelievable success rates during Nebraska archery season. Anytime the whitetail hunter has a trophy buck over 130 inches at less than 30 yards and has a shot opportunity we count it as one trophy opportunity. Then we total the opportunities at trophy bucks versus the number of hunters to arrive at a success rate. For example if we have 10 hunters in camp and between 10 hunters they have 9 opportunities to harvest trophy deer we are running 90% shot success. Look at the following success rates of Nebraska Bowhunting with IMB Outfitters:
In fact for two years in a row our Nebraska Whitetail Hunting success rates have exceeded 100% in ALL OR EVERY category we collect statistics for, which include Nonrut Bow, Rut Bow, 1st Gun, 2nd Gun, and Late Muzzleloader.
On 12-27-08 I interviewed Bob OConnell via telephone and ask him what he attributed his success to in the harvest of his 183 inch Nebraska Whitetail Deer harvested in 2008. He said he hunted all day. In fact he stated, “I was amazed that no sooner than the guides had put their hunters out and went to town for breakfast that hunters were leaving their stands heading to Subway for a snack. Then I watched the bulk of the hunters wait until afternoon to return to treestand locations. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to increase my odds of success and thoghht I would sit as many hours as I could. I sat all day, every day knowing my odds would increase each second I sat in the stand. I saw several deer over 150 inches. Some over 160. Most of these deer were moving around 11:00 AM when hunters were already back into town. Hunters need to sit all day as you can’t kill a big buck from a chair at a café or a couch at a hotel or lodge.” OConnell’s comments may seem a bit harsh but are 100% true. Each orientation I do with hunters attending camp I urge them to sit all day if they are hunting the rut or during gun season. I tell them they shouldn’t come out but rather let us send them in with a sack lunch. One reason is because the more time you sit in the woods the more your odds for harvesting a big buck increase. The other reason is during gun season other hunters are leaving the woods around 10 AM or doing deer drives. During midday during gun season other hunters push big bucks to you. Patience is the key to taking monster Nebraska Whitetail Deer.
Another reason Nebraska Whitetail Deer Hunting continues to produce monster whitetail bucks is because its overlooked. Hunters are focused on Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Iowa. Meanwhile States like Nebraska and Missouri are where the really big bucks are coming from due to a lack of pressure. I can’t even think of another Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter in our area. Take advantage of the sleeper States like Nebraska and Missouri and you’ll forget all about the more frequently spoken about States to hunt trophy whitetail deer in.
Nebraska allows non resident hunters to take two bucks per year. One with bow and one with a gun. Bow season runs from 9-15 to 1-15. Firearms season varies a day or two each year as the calendar changes but for 2009 it will run with 1st Gun as 11-14 to 11-17 and 11-19 to 11-22. Muzzleloader only hunting in Nebraska takes place the entire month of December, however Nebraska Muzzleloader Hunting can be difficult. As a general rule when hunting in Nebraska stay with the rut bow dates and gun seasons presented in November. It’s during that time frame that the really big bucks are up and traveling in search of does and tending to does. No other Nebraska Whitetail Outfitter can provide a better hunt for you on higher quality ground than IMB Outfitters.