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Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag – Still Awaiting Cure for Spring Fever

Sawyer Haag with turkey box call
Sawyer uses a box call to trigger a gobble from tom turkeys in the distance.

If there’s one thing I can do that will improve the chances of snowfall, it seems to be any notion of betting against it. As soon as I published the headline “Old Man Winter’s Parting Shot?” for my last blog post, the weatherman answered my question and was calling for another shot from him. As I write this post with snow falling outside my window over a blanket of white, Old Man Winter has proven, indeed, that he had a few more shots in him.

Count me among the chorus of folks singing the praises of the much-needed moisture. It’s surely been a blessing to this land still gripped by drought. April snow, however, serves as a poor antidote for a bad case of spring fever.

Two nights in a row last week, as the snow was falling, I came home to find my 10-year-old son Sawyer sprawled out on the living room floor sorting through the contents of one of my old tackle boxes. Later in the week, he and his sister Kiera, 6, had reached their fill of winter and trudged through the snow and slush for a fishing excursion to nearby Briggs Pond.

So, it was no surprise that Sawyer was more than ready to climb aboard my truck Sunday morning when I proposed that we try to bag a turkey or two. We nearly got stuck on the sloppy roads of the Pine Ridge more than once, and got rained out after we failed in convincing a few henned-up toms to make their way toward our blind. Regardless, we had a great time “talking turkey” with those gobblers and consider it time well spent.

Getting children outdoors can be a challenge, but I find that it’s always well worth the effort. Even when the weather is “right,” the competition for time from other activities is plenty long. We have practices and events for an array of sports, piano and dance. Not to mention, there is homework, school activities and friends’ birthday parties. And don’t forget what may be the most formidable competitors of all – mobile devices, video games and television.

With all that to contend with, I was glad to see my son put down the electronics and spend time at the tackle box in great anticipation of wetting lines aboard our kayaks soon. Many of the lures in that box came from the collection of my late grandfather. It’s fun to think about my son catching fish with the same tools that Grandpa used in a time that was surely simpler in some ways.

Until that day comes, we’ll keep cheering on the moisture – regardless of whether or not it comes as a parting shot.

Justin Haag of Chadron is a public information officer for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and regional editor for NEBRASKAland magazine. He can be reached at justin.haag@nebraska.gov or 308-430-8515.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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