The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has a strict set of laws and rules regarding what constitutes legal hunting. In this article, we’re going to cover some common game violations as well as some uncommon game violations, what you must do if you’re contacted by a Game and Parks Officer or a Game Warden, and common penalties and fines you will face if you’re found in violation of Nebraska Game and Parks rules.
Understanding When these Regulations Apply
First and foremost, the analysis of these hunting violations is very specific to Nebraska. The laws in the area of hunting vary greatly from state to state. So, if you’re in another state, these laws may not apply to you. In addition to that, the easiest way to make sure you don’t run awry of rules and regulations set forth by the Game and Parks Commission is to get the guidebook. It is free and available at Walmart or wherever you buy your hunting license. This will be the best way to keep you up to date on the ever-changing hunting laws. Some simple things like bag limits that have been in place since you were 5 years old may not be the same in 2019. So, just take 20 minutes to check those rules and regulations and you can save yourself a headache in the future.
Permits and Habitat Stamps
One of the common headaches that people run into is not having all the necessary required permits and habitat stamps. For example, a duck hunter in Nebraska needs a small game hunting permit, a Nebraska habitat stamp, a waterfowl habitat stamp, and a harvest information program registration number. The federal government also gets their cut as you are required to have a Federal Duck Stamp. If you don’t have all five and you run into a game warden, you’re could be given a citation.
Another simple mistake that people can make is not checking shooting hours between species. So, if you are deer hunting, you get 30 minutes prior to sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. If you apply that to turkey hunting, you will not be acting legally shooting hours for turkeys end at sunset. Also, a lot of people probably rely on their cell phones and weather apps to tell them when the sun is rising and setting. However, you have to check in the back of your hunting guide and follow the times given on that specific day. Your phone and the hunting guide handbook could have different times, and a few minutes is enough time for a Game and Parks Officer to give you a ticket.
Spotlighting and Acceptable Sights
Nebraska Game and Parks regulations state that you cannot use a spotlight or a laser light that projects light or a beam of light towards your target. You can, however, use a red dot sight or a scope with an illuminated reticle. The difference here is whether the scope projects forward onto the target or not.
Detachable Box Magazine
Another thing that many people aren’t aware of with the growing popularity of the AR platform among hunters are detachable box magazines on rifles. So, let’s say you could only have six rounds of ammunition. Your firearm can only be capable of firing six rounds of ammunition. If you have a 10-round magazine from your AR 10 and only put six rounds of ammunition in it, are you good? Not entirely. Since it’s capable of holding ten rounds, you will be violating the Game and Park’s regulations. In those situations, you have to make sure you have a 5-round magazine. You want to make sure that you don’t unintentionally break the rules.
When hunting upland game birds like quail or pheasants it can be difficult, if not impossible, to locate all your down birds. If you shoot a bird and you’re unable to retrieve it, that still counts against your daily bag limit.
Firearm for Self-Protection
One of the most puzzling Game and Parks regulation is the inability for an archer to carry a firearm for self-protection. If you are out archery hunting, you cannot carry a firearm for self-protection.
Drone Use Regulations
You can’t use your drone to harass wildlife or cause game birds or animals to depart from a game reserve or game sanctuary. You cannot communicate the location of any game animal to another person after using a drone. Also, you cannot use a drone at a state park, state historical park, state recreation area, or state wildlife management area. Long story short, just leave the drone at home when you’re going out during hunting season.
Interesting Rules and Regulations
There are also some more interesting Game and Parks rules. If you’re feeling like going back to primitive hunting methods, you cannot use poison or stupefying arrows. If you’re going to use a spirit, it must be hand thrown.
What to Do When You’re Contacted by a Game Warden
If you come into contact with a game warden in the field, there are certain obligations you have. You are required to provide them some information, such as your driver’s license or ID card and your hunting permits/stamps. They can also inspect your hunting equipment and ensure you’re using the right gear. On top of that, they can look at any animals you have to make sure you’re not exceeding the bag limits and are not hunting animals out of season.
What if they start asking questions beyond that? That’s where you have a right to remain silent and not answer any further questions. In this situation, you can assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. It’s appropriate at that point to say, “I’ve answered the questions that I have to answer. I’ve provided the information required. I’m not answering any further questions.”
One interesting note is that officers they don’t have to tell you you’re the subject of an investigation. A lot of times what we’ll see at Berry Law is they have a report that you may have broken a law. So, they’ll ask you to come into their vehicle. In their vehicle is recording equipment designed to catch you while you make an admission. They don’t have to tell you that you’re being recorded, and they don’t have to tell you you’re under investigation
Game Wardens Utilizing Social Media
Another thing that we see commonly are game wardens using social media. It’s a powerful tool considering the amount of information that people put out there. So, if you’re sharing pictures of yourself hunting on Facebook and/or Instagram, make sure you are following the rules and regulations before posting.
Penalties for Game and Parks Violations
As we wrap things up, it is important to cover some of the penalties for Game and Parks violations. Many game violations are punishable by misdemeanors and include the possibility of jail time. What people don’t realize is how expensive the civil penalties can be. For example, the civil penalty for the unlawful harvesting of a mountain sheep is $25,000 dollars. Elk, whitetail deer, and mule deer can be up to 10,000 dollars depending on the size of the deer. Illegally hunting antelope or killing a bald eagle are punishable by a fine of $5,000 dollars each. These are just civil penalties, so the standard to collect is a lot lower than a criminal charge. So, even if you can avoid conviction, they just have to have a preponderance of the evidence that you broke this law.
Another thing that you can run into is a charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Of course, felons are unable to carry firearms or ammunition. Also, persons that are subject to a valid protection order that’s been served on them can also be prohibited from carrying firearms or ammunition. They can unwittingly walk themselves into a felony by possessing a firearm or ammunition. Also, going back to that drone issue. If you violate game laws with respect to drones, those can fall under Federal jurisdiction. Generally, the punishment for a Federal conviction is more severe than at the State level.
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How Berry Law Can Help
If you or a loved one has been charged with the Game and Parks violation, our team of skilled Game and Wildlife attorneys can help. Contact our team today at 402-466-8444 to schedule a confidential consultation and begin fighting your charges.