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justin haag

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a public information officer for the Commission, also 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 enjoy introducing their two children to the many outdoor recreational opportunities of the Pine Ridge region.

Panhandle Passages: Roundup at the Fort

Visitors to Fort Robinson State Park often enjoy catching a view of the animals that roam most of the park’s 22,000 acres. In addition to the wildlife, the bison, longhorn cattle and horses that graze the park’s scenic pastures instantly conjure up images of the region “when the West was wild,” as they say. I was fortunate this week to be on site when park superintendent Mike Morava and a crew of experienced ranch hands rounded up the bison and …

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Panhandle Passages: Hunting for Words

I figure it’s time to put words to some of my hunting experiences this fall. Time certainly does fly when the birds are flying. Turkey Time We’ll start off with an event in my “backyard.” In early October, about three dozen hunters came to Chadron to be paired with landowners for the Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt. The annual hunt, which began in the mid-1990s, has forged many relationships while celebrating turkey hunting in the region that led the state’s …

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Panhandle Passages: Stopping to Smell ‘Em

I’ll admit, I’ve never figured myself to be much of a flower guy. Prior to this year, my nature photography has gravitated toward wildlife. I’m guilty of zooming past countless beautiful plants and flowers to fill the frame with whatever bird, mammal, reptile or other critter catches my eye. I’ve rarely stopped to shoot, let alone smell and identify, the roses. That’s changed. As nature photography, in a more broad sense, has become a big part of my job description, …

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Panhandle Passages: Lessons from Star Party Country

I’d never heard of the Niobrara River, let alone canoed it. It was the early ‘80s in southwestern Nebraska and Dad had caught wind of people enjoying canoe trips down the scenic Niobrara. So, he borrowed a canoe from someone in McCook, strapped it to the top of his old Pontiac and drove us up Highway 83 for an adventure. My sister and I, still in elementary school, surely had a lot of questions along the way. I remember wondering …

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Panhandle Passages: Closer to Home

My job with the Game and Parks commission and NEBRASKAland has taken me to some incredible places throughout the Panhandle and beyond in the first six months. With more than 40 Commission properties within 160 miles of my home, there is a lot to see and photograph in this spacious region. That being said, it seems some unbeatable travel opportunities await me right before my nose. While I join others in the desire to set up camp at a location …

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Panhandle Passages: Recording Our Assets

One of Nebraska’s great assets is the variety of animals that can be found when traveling from one end of the state to the other. Just as the landscape changes as one heads westward, so do the set of creatures one is likely to see. Within a short drive from Chadron I have a fair chance of seeing pronghorn, mule deer, elk and the occasional swift fox or golden eagle. And, of course, one of the state’s most prominent media …

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Panhandle Passages: What’s Up at Whitney?

One thing I like is the sight of a fish coming over the side of a boat. That’s just one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed a boat ride Thursday with Al Hanson and Joe Rydell, fisheries biologists for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s northwestern district. Hanson, district supervisor, and Rydell were collecting data from the frame nets they had set in Whitney Lake the previous day, a process they use to keep tabs on fish populations at bodies …

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Panhandle Passages: Home of the Eagles

If you’re like me, you probably saw numerous bald eagles in Nebraska this winter and early spring — if not on the wing then in photographs circulating the Internet. The bald eagle’s resurgence is a true conservation success story. Today, though, I find it appropriate to give a little publicity to the bald eagles’ lesser mentioned cousin, the golden eagle. When I told NEBRASKAland associate editor Jeff Kurrus that I planned to photograph golden eagles at a nest in a …

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Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag — It’s a Dream Event

It’s been a day or two, so I certainly don’t remember everything about elementary school. However, one thing I remember, much to my teachers’ chagrin, is that it involved a lot of daydreaming. What about? This time of year, the thoughts surely focused on getting out of the classroom to do some fishing and camping. Of course, those activities usually took a back seat until school dismissed for summer, so forgive me if I harbored some feelings of jealousy as …

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Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag — Grand Slam? We’ll Settle for an At-bat

After reading numerous wild turkey hunting success stories on the Internet, I figure some might find comfort in hearing from someone who hasn’t been able to bag a tom this season. Two weekends in a row my 10-year-old son and I have failed to be within range to fire a shot at a tom. The two of us are far from being the most accomplished turkey hunters in the woods, but it seems the gobblers just aren’t as responsive in …

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