The season for gratitude and reflection is upon us.
Thanksgiving week is when we remind our families and friends how much they mean to us and express our sincere appreciation for what positive things we have been given in life.
While you are considering what you are thankful for, don’t forget nature.
During the nine days of the recent firearm deer hunting season here in Cornhusker State, I selected fourteen elements to be extremely grateful for while I was in the field. As you look and read through these, I want you to think about specific items or aspects in the natural world of which you are extremely grateful.
(1) I am extremely grateful for Nebraska views and skies that always seem to be endless and spectacular.
(2) I am extremely grateful for water, as it flows in this spring-fed creek, for without water there is no life.
(3) I am extremely grateful for trees — large, old native bur oaks like this one. (I always say: If only they could speak and tell me what they have seen over the years).
(4) I am extremely grateful for woodlands where many species of wildlife roam and call home.
(5) I am extremely grateful for nongame wildlife species such as this dark-eyed junco, all wildlife matters and all things are connected in nature.
(6) I am extremely grateful for the successful reintroduction of various wildlife species such as the wild turkey (I never tire of watching wild turkeys, especially up close).
(7) I am extremely grateful for the sights and sounds of wildlife visitors such as these migratory Canada geese (I go to bed at night still hearing those geese overhead).
(8) I am extremely grateful for the beauty and pure solitude that nature offers in Nebraska. (I view time spent in nature as a mind-cleansing, soul-invigorating experience.)
(9) I am extremely grateful for my hunting partners such as cousin, Mark Hintz of Gretna, NE. These are the folks who are safe, selfless, tolerant, relaxed, flexible, lighthearted, expressive, honest, caring, generous, and like me, intense and passionate about hunting and conservation.
(10) I am extremely grateful to share my outdoor knowledge with younger family members like University of Nebraska-Omaha junior and second cousin, Trystan Whitted of Gretna, NE.
(11) I am extremely grateful for nature’s precious bounty and being able to be a direct participant in the conservation and management of wildlife.
(12) I am extremely grateful for past generations who homesteaded lands that I hunt today.
(13) I am extremely grateful for grasslands, most notably for programs that encourage and enhance grassland habitat.
(14) I am extremely grateful for important plants like the common milkweed that thrive on family farm today and provide superb pollinator habitat as well as critical habitat for the monarch butterfly.
How about you, what are you extremely grateful for in nature?