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Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

Panhandle Afield: Outdoor education also altered

GERING — Amanda Filipi, who leads western Nebraska’s outdoor education efforts for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission from the Wildcat Hills Nature Center, is usually busy this time of year. Filipi is usually hosting a surge of field trips, leading children on hikes and presenting classroom programs. Similar to other educators she is sad to be sidelined from her normal routine. “This is usually my favorite time of year. We have roughly 2,000 students that come through in the …

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The Pine Ridge Special

Step away from ordinary equipment to fly-fish Nebraska’s trout streams. Let’s get this out of the way early. When looking for fly-fishing advice, you might want to go elsewhere. Mind you, I have fly-fished many times, but when it comes to getting serious about catching fish, a spinnerbait or can of nightcrawlers is usually involved. My fly-fishing dates back to the 1990s when I was gifted a rod-and-reel combo package. As with all fishing, it was fun. Too often, though, …

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Fort Robinson Mare Barn Complex getting new life

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Visitors who camp with their horses at Fort Robinson State Park are expected to enjoy upgrades and repairs to the Mare Barn Complex. Park superintendent Jim Miller said the wooden Mare Barn, which stands at the west side of the park’s main campus with a narrow 20,000-square-foot 300-yard-long C-shaped footprint, has been getting an upgrade from the ground up this winter. Constructed during Fort Robinson’s period of developing and supplying horses for the U.S. Cavalry in the …

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Those Alluring Orbs

When photographing Nebraska’s great places, the moon and the sun are always welcome to the scene. Whether it be the fast-beating wings of a zigzagging teal or the earth-hammering legs of a sprinting pronghorn, a quick “trigger finger” is often necessary for capturing imagery of the region’s natural resources. Perhaps no photo subjects, though, get me in hot pursuit more than two that are the farthest from the camera. One is about 239,000 miles away. The other, almost 93 million …

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Road damage prompts temporary closure of Hudson Lake

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hudson Lake in Cherry County is temporarily closed because of deteriorating road conditions. Warmer temperatures in recent days have prompted melting snow with runoff causing damage to the access road. Hudson Lake, which is about 24 miles southwest of Valentine, is available for public recreation through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Open Fields and Waters Program. Conditions will be assessed on a weekly basis to determine the lake’s reopening.

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Game and Parks Commission reports results of chronic wasting disease testing

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has tallied the results of its sampling efforts for chronic wasting disease in deer during the November 2019 firearm season, and the results show the presence of chronic wasting disease in Howard County of central Nebraska for the first time. Game and Parks conducted chronic wasting disease sampling at deer check stations in northwestern and northeastern Nebraska during the firearm deer season by removing lymph nodes for testing. Deer that tested …

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Nebraska bighorn sheep hunters successful

MORRILL, Neb. – Nebraska’s bighorn sheep hunting season wrapped up Wednesday afternoon as the second of the state’s two permit holders found success at Montz Point Wildlife Management Area in Scotts Bluff County. Trevor Premer of McCook, who won his permit by a lottery open to Nebraska residents, harvested a 7 1/2-year-old ram to conclude a hunt that began Monday in the Pine Ridge but concluded in the Wildcat Hills. The other hunter, Frank Tritz of LeMars, Iowa, won his …

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Ol’ Rough-legs

The rough-legged hawk may not stand out among raptors in looks, but it lives an interesting life. Perhaps you have seen this species along the road lately, but given its somewhat unassuming appearance, have not given it much thought. The rough-legged hawk, with its mottled brown plumage, blends in well with our landscape during the winter months. The rough-legged hawk is one of those species that logs many miles a couple of times annually. Those fence posts and utility poles …

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Turtles: Slowing Down for Winter

Some of Nebraska’s most common wildlife have the most magnificent survival abilities. A blast of below-zero temperatures got me thinking about a species I often catch sight of while casting a fishing rod over the soft water, but is nowhere to be seen around my holes in the ice. Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) basking on a partially submerged log is a familiar scene at ponds throughout Nebraska, and much of the United States for that matter, during summer months. It …

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Lake Minatare opening to birdwatchers Dec. 7

MINATARE, Neb. — The public will have a special opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Saturday, Dec. 7. The day marks the only opportunity for the public to access the 2,158-acre reservoir on the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge for its annual closure between Oct. 15 and Jan. 14. Birdwatchers who want to participate may arrive at Scout’s Rest Cabin at the lake’s northwest corner any time from 10 a.m. to noon …

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