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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Nebraska Hunters

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions — a promise to do good on acts of self-improvement — has been around for thousands of years on both the eastern and western hemispheres.

While many individuals vow to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking and build up their finances, it is far easier to make and fulfill New Year’s resolutions for an activity of which you are passionate, like hunting in Nebraska.

So, here are five suggested hunting-oriented New Year’s resolutions to make that are attainable and guaranteed to give you satisfaction in 2017!

(1) Introduce some new to the lifestyle of hunting. There is such enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment when veteran hunters share their wealth of knowledge and experiences with someone new. Taking a new hunter to the field is not only a rewarding venture, but it can also help a seasoned hunter learn new things. Having to break down aspects of the hunt that seem second nature can force the longtime hunter to refocus on the simple things that may have been overlooked or are missing.

For example, most hunters are familiar with that time in the field when it’s quiet and nothing seems to be moving. That quietness is a unique experience, an awe-inspiring experience, that first-time hunters seem to relish as they are encompassed by the wonders of the environment. From animal tracks to tree identification, new hunters tend to ask many questions. And, when the rural landscape comes alive with wildlife movement as sunrise nears, to a new hunter, a fox squirrel can sound like an elephant running through the woods, and even something as small as a nuthatch moving head-first down a hardwood tree nearby will get the blood pumping in the veins of a first-time hunter.

For longtime hunters, they should not limit their hunting invitations to just family or friends either. Take a co-worker or a neighbor. As with trying anything new, people who have never been hunting are sometimes not sure if they will like it, and may not take the time to find out unless invited by someone they know and trust. A person may only need an invitation from an avid hunter to spark their interest!

Remember, mentoring provides an opportunity to give back to the hunting culture and thereby conserve the hunting legacy for future generations.

Zachary Wagner, 28, of Omaha, NE, poses with his first-ever male wild turkey (jake) he harvested in southeastern Nebraska this past spring season. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

(2) Try spring wild turkey hunting in Nebraska. Anyone who has ever spent a gorgeous spring morning just after sunrise with their back leaning against the base of a hardwood tree, or sitting in a camouflaged blind, using a call and decoys to lure in a wild gobbling tom turkey to within shooting range — as he struts almost the entire way — can attest to the addiction of this lifestyle.

Nebraska offers some of the best turkey hunting opportunities in the entire country. Turkeys can be found in all 93 counties in an array of habitats. The state also has several different sub species, including the highly sought-after Merriam’s bird. Nebraska gives turkey hunters statewide, affordable and easy-to-acquire-and-carry permits, plus long seasons, good public access and reduced-price permits for youth.

Interestingly, Nebraska ranks 48th in the nation among states for the amount of woodland acres it has, which is associated with wild turkeys, but is in the top 15 states in the country when it comes to the overall harvest number of wild turkeys!

An adult male wild turkey displays to hens during a Nebraska spring wild turkey hunting season. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

(3) Thank and show appreciation to the landowners. As each hunting season comes to a close and the experiences become memories, it is time for hunters to express gratitude to private landowners who generously helped to make these experiences and memories possible. Don’t forget that access to private land is a privilege provided to us through the generosity of the landowner. There are a number of ways hunters can thank landowners.

In many cases hunters may offer a service or assistance with farm or ranch chores, if needed. Help a farmer or rancher fix fence, put up hay, separate cattle, work on buildings, split firewood, etc. A few dozen ears of sweet corn, fruit basket, box of beef steaks or even a one-year subscription to NEBRASKAland magazine are friendly gestures that many rural Nebraska landowners like.

Hunters should also consider offering to share some of their wild game meat. If a landowner is not interested in receiving wild game like venison, donate some or all of it to a worthwhile program in their name such as Hunters Helping the Hungry.

Always include a note of thanks with the gesture of appreciation.

Dozens of ears of freshly-picked Nebraska sweet corn destined for the kitchens of landowners who allow Wagner family members to hunt. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

(4) Volunteer to become a certified firearm or bowhunter education instructor. Volunteer instructors are the key to having effective outdoor education programs and furthering the lifestyle of hunting. Becoming a volunteer hunter or bowhunter education instructor is a great way to help save lives, prevent injuries, foster personal responsibility, create an understanding of wildlife management, meet people in the community, and positively influence the attitudes and actions of other resource users.

Certification as a volunteer hunter or bowhunter education instructor in Nebraska instructor is considered to be an honor and a privilege. Both as a group and as individuals, instructors represent a proud and honorable tradition of volunteer citizen involvement in providing community service, especially for youth.

Additionally, volunteering in these programs is a nice way to meet and connect with people who also enjoy hunting.

A Nebraska firearm hunter education instructor talks to students at a field day session being held at Ponca State Park’s outdoor shooting range. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

(5) Host a wild game dinner. As a hunter, wow friends, family and neighbors with a fun wild game dinner. Prepare healthy and delicious recipes for a variety of the wild game animals and birds that you or others have harvested. They’ll love the fact that free-ranging wild game meat is low in calories, cholesterol and fat, as well as free of antibiotics, steroids and hormones, and its origin can be sourced.

Delight your guests by providing tasty samples of venison, pheasant, quail, goose, duck or wild turkey. Whether the culinary style is basic or elaborate, the wild game dishes are sure to be conversation pieces and crowd pleasers.

More importantly, the guests will receive a positive message about the benefits of hunting.

Wild turkey breasts on the charcoal grill. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Have a happy and successful 2017!

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About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media sites, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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