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Clear Creek WMA Provides Outdoor Opportunities

Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) offers a great public area to hunt – located near Lewellen the WMA is a short travel distance for those in central and southwest Nebraska and a go-to destination for others.

The area is owned by Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and encompasses more than 6,200 acres of land and water depending on lake elevation. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) leases this area for wildlife management and public use access.

Managed by the Game and Parks Wildlife Division, Clear Creek WMA is supported by funds from the sale of Nebraska hunting and fishing permits, habitat stamps, plus federal funds from the excise tax on outdoor equipment. The funding helps to provide blinds for hunters to use during the waterfowl season free of charge along with habitat enhancement in various places on the WMA.

The WMA includes four different designated areas that may be used by the public; each has specific locations in the WMA and regulations throughout the year. Non-toxic shot is required on the entire Clear Creek WMA for all shotgun ammunition no matter the species. High power rifles and muzzleloaders are allowed during the deer seasons.

Wildlife Management Area

The eastern portion of the Clear Creek WMA is called the Wildlife Management Area and is a traditional wildlife management area that is open to all hunting, trapping and fishing within the appropriate seasons. This area encompasses more than 3,200 acres of riparian woodlands, wetlands, river channel, lake bed and upland grasslands. The WMA offers excellent deer, turkey, pheasant and dove hunting as well as fishing and mushroom hunting during specific season.

Habitat plantings are done on roughly 60 acres of the WMA – the wildlife food plots consist of alfalfa, rye, milo and corn. NGPC wildlife staff also sprays undesirable weeds and grasses along with implementing prescribed burns and grazing to maintain suitable habitat.

Special Hunting Area (SHA)

This area consists of about 300 acres and 11 pit blinds for waterfowl hunting. The SHA is open to hunting waterfowl and other game species until the check station opens on the Monday before Thanksgiving to Feb. 1 or as otherwise posted. During the time when the check station is open, hunters must check in at the check station office and can only hunt within the provided blinds with an eighteen-shell limit per person.

Accessing a blind is done each morning through a drawing – the drawing determines the order of blind selection for each hunting party. Up to five blinds at the SHA are available by reservation. Hunters may apply for reservation dates during Aug. and Sept., and a drawing is held the first Wed. in Oct. Reservation applications are available at the Clear Creek WMA field office or at the District IV Office in North Platte. If any advance reservation dates remain after the drawing, hunters may call the District IV Office in North Platte at 308-535-8025 to reserve one. No more than two advance reservations are allowed per individual.

Many days there are not five blinds held by reservations, leaving plenty of blinds for other hunting parties.

All remaining blinds are allocated by a drawing. Hunters must check in at the check station 45 minutes before legal shooting hours to be eligible to draw for a blind. The Clear Creek check station is open 1 ½ hours before the daily drawing of blinds. Blinds not filled in the drawing and those vacated during the day will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Some of the blinds are walk-in making it easy for hunters and dogs to get in and out, with one blind that is handicapped accessible. Each blind has 2 dozen goose decoys available for use.

Many hunters pack in additional decoys, heaters, waders and food for the day. Waders or hip boots should be taken in to blinds six through eleven as there are wetland areas around them. Hunters are also encouraged to use hunting dogs to retrieve downed birds from wetland areas and the river.

Downed birds may be retrieved from the Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge, which sits just west of the SHA, hunters may walk onto the refuge or send a dog to retrieve downed birds from the refuge, but no firearms are allowed on the refuge, which is designated by boundary signs.

Hunters may hunt only with the group they registered with for the drawing. Resident hunters age 16 and older and all nonresidents must have a valid Nebraska Hunting Permit, Habitat Stamp, Nebraska Waterfowl Stamp, Federal Migratory Waterfowl Stamp, and HIP registration. Permits and stamps are not sold on the area, so purchase these required permits and stamps in advance. Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number (HIP) is required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regulations. HIP registration is free and is available 24 hours a day by calling toll-free 1-888-403-2473 or online.

A running harvest total is available online for hunters wanting to keep track of which blinds harvested birds and how many were taken each day.

Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge

This portion of the Clear Creek WMA consists of 2,500 acres west of the Special Hunting Area on both the north and south sides of the North Platte River. This area does not include the Garden County Refuge which has different regulations. The Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge is closed to waterfowl hunting at all times except for an area on the eastern boundary where posted as open to waterfowl hunting. All waterfowl blinds must be removed at the end of the day (day use only). The Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge is open to hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor access except from the Monday before Thanksgiving until February 15th or as authorized. This area provides good pheasant and deer hunting opportunities until the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Garden County Refuge portion of Clear Creek WMA

This area is designated as the portion on the North Platte River and land within 110 yards of the river banks or as posted with “State of Nebraska Game Bird Sanctuary signs”, in Garden County. The Garden County Refuge is closed to all bird hunting. Deer hunting is allowed during all legal seasons until the refuge closes on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Clear Creek WMA is popular with hikers, mushroom hunters, and bird watchers. Birders enjoy some excellent viewing opportunities of waterfowl and shore birds found in the Central Flyway and many grassland species as well as cranes from mid-February to mid-April. Click here for a map of the WMA.

About julie geiser

Julie Geiser is a Public Information Officer and NEBRASKAland Regional Editor based out of North Platte, where she was born and still happily resides. Geiser worked for the commission previously for over 10 years as an outdoor education instructor – teaching people of all ages about Nebraska’s outdoor offerings. She also coordinates the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). Geiser went on to work in marketing and writing an outdoor column for the North Platte Telegraph before returning to NGPC in her current position. She loves spending time outdoors with her family and getting others involved in her passions of hunting, fishing, camping, boating, hiking and enjoying Nebraska’s great outdoors.

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