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Sandhills Serenity

Some tried to make this region home many years ago...it was difficult
Some tried to make this region home many years ago…it was difficult

We just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Sandhills of western Nebraska and what an incredible four days!  Four days of camping, hunting, eating like kings, more hunting and taking in some of the greatest scenery our state has to offer!

The Nebraska Sandhills is a special region of our state characterized by the largest region of stabilized sand dunes in the Country.  These dunes are covered by mixed grass prairie and represent the heart of ecological diversity in the state as well as the bread basket of cattle ranching.  We saw prairie chickens, sharp tail grouse, waterfowl, whitetail and mule deer, pronghorn (one of the largest bucks I have ever laid eyes on) and a continuous flight of sandhill cranes that would rival anything found in the spring.

At one point, I was actually able to call a flock of around 100 cranes to fly right over the tops of our heads!  What a magnificent sight to behold as these majestic birds buzzed atop of us as they continued their migration!

The hunting for sharp tails and chickens was pretty good too.  We saw  several covey of 15 or more birds and were able to have several for camp as well as a meal or two in the next few weeks.  Trust me when I say you have not lived until you have experienced a large covey of sharp tail grouse exploding at your feet as they take wings, soaring over the majestic sandhills.

For those of you that follow our blog, you know what we had for grub…diced and sliced potatoes and sweet onions on the skillet with wild game birds breaded in a zesty seasoning and pan-fried.   We ate like kings!  Just for giggles, you can throw eggs into the mix and man what a meal (by now you know I plan my hunts around food).

We like to camp (and by camp I mean pop-up camper) about three miles from the road under a large cottonwood grove that was planted many  years ago.  In the fall, the leaves rustle in the wind and sing all night long!  The grass under this grove looks as if manicured by a park superintendent just for camping.  At night, the stars are incredible and so is the camp fire!

We ended the weekend with a few birds, more stories and a strengthened appreciation for this region of the state and the outstanding people who call it home.  It is truly Nebraska’s wilderness and if you simply take the time to explore it you will learn just how awesome and complex our Sandhills region really is.  The drought has been tough on this region but it will continue to come back…as will I.

Get Em’ Out There

Jeff

This images shows the differences between a sharptail grouse and the prairie chicken.  Prairie chicken is on left  with a sharptail grouse on right.  Notice difference in breast feathers?
This image shows the differences between a sharptail grouse and the prairie chicken. Prairie chicken is on left with a sharptail grouse on right. Notice difference in breast feathers and feet?
Prairie Chicken on left and sharptail on right
Prairie Chicken on left and sharptail on right
Old Buster did alright...not much of a pointer but a retrieving fool....until its time to eat!
Even a short fat kid does alright once in a while…
Dave's dog Lady really likes chickens!
I wonder what Dave’s dog “Lady” is thinking?
Camp Chicken under the few trees found on the prairie...comfy
Camp “Chicken” under the few trees found on the prairie…comfy
A picture taken on a previous hunt although we did see pronghorn this year too!
A picture taken on a previous hunt although we did see pronghorn this year too!

About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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