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Nebraska’s Turtle Man

There are a bunch of “reality” shows on TV now that feature outdoors-folks doing a variety of wild and crazy things.  Some of those shows are, well, a little too much for me and I question their authenticity (I know it is TV, it is not necessarily “reality”).  Others have what seem to me to be plain ole folks, just like most Nebraskans I know, and I like them a lot better.  Although I will always tell you to get your butt off the couch and get outside, I have to admit I regularly view some of those shows.

One of those shows on Animal Planet, Call of the Wildman, http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/call-of-the-wildman , features Kentucky’s “Turtle Man”, http://turtlemanliveaction.com/ .  I will save my opinion of that particular show right now.  What I want to do here is tell folks that Kentucky ain’t got nothing on Nebraska.  We have our own turtle men too, have had for a long time!

Ben Rutten still works for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.  The last time I ran into him he still had all of his fingers.

Snapping turtles can be very good on the table.  Admittedly, they take some effort, and tools, to clean, but they are good eating.  We do have some regulations that govern the taking of snapping turtles and you can find those in any copy of the Fishing Guide, http://www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/guides/fishguide/pdf/FishGuide.pdf ,

Snapping Turtles
Season– year-round
Bag Limit – 5
Possession Limit – 10
Method of Take – Snapping turtles may be taken only by hand, hand net, hook-and-line,bow-and-arrow, gaff hook or legal trap. (Traps allowed only on private waters.)
By the way, let me drop a little worthless, pointy-headed biologist trivia on ya’.  You will see algae growing on the backs of many freshwater turtles, snapping turtles especially.  If I remember my freshwater algae class correctly, there is one genus of algae that grows on the backs of turtles–Basicladia.  See if you can impress your friends with that information!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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