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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.

Commission Takes Flight Again for Mule Deer Data

Mule Deer

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has completed the third year of a five-year aerial survey of mule deer in the Pine Ridge of northwestern Nebraska. The survey, which covers eight subunits with the most suitable mule deer habitat within the Pine Ridge deer management unit, indicated a decrease in the overall mule deer population, but an increase in the number of the species’ fawns. Commission employees counted 636 mule deer compared to 758 in 2015 and 862 in 2014. …

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Bureau seeking comment for possible dam repairs at Box Butte Reservoir

Box Butte Dam Outlet

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comment regarding an environmental assessment document for the dam at Box Butte State Recreation Area north of Hemingford. Engineers have identified problems with sedimentation through the dam’s toe drain – a perforated pipe that runs along the base of the earthen dam to collect water from the reservoir’s seepage and move it to the downstream side of the embankment. The bureau prepared the draft to evaluate environmental consequences of undertaking corrective actions to the …

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Montana Receives Nebraska Turkeys

Wild turkeys from Nebraska received a one-way trip to Montana last week, courtesy of the states’ wildlife management officials. Montana wildlife officials were in Crawford on Friday to retrieve 125 wild turkeys that were captured in Nebraska’s Pine Ridge. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees caught the birds Thursday in netted enclosures on private property near Whiteclay. Unlike the birds’ new home, the turkey population in the area of the capture is especially high and landowners were contented to part …

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Burning Planned at Chadron State Park, WMAs

With snow providing favorable conditions for prescribed burning, people in northwestern Nebraska may notice more plumes of smoke rising from forest areas in coming weeks. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is planning to incinerate tree piles at Chadron State Park and several wildlife management areas. Although an exact date for the park hasn’t been set, Superintendent Gregg Galbraith expects the burning to get underway sometime this week. Greg Schenbeck, an area manager for the Commission, said efforts to burn …

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Counting Down ‘Pics of the Year’

Each day in western Nebraska brings beauty for those who seek it. To go along with the many countdowns this time of year, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most popular images from 2015 from my “Pic of the Day” postings on social media. Of course, they were judged by my friends and followers — most who happen to be clicking the like button from my home region of northwestern Nebraska. Not sure if their regional bias has …

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Group Hikes Scheduled for New Year’s Day

Winter scene at Chadron State Park

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is inviting the public to ring in the New Year by enjoying a guided hike through one of the state’s scenic state park lands. First Day Hikes are scheduled at six Nebraska parks on New Year’s Day, part of a larger effort of the America’s State Parks alliance. Bob Hanover, assistant parks division administrator, said the hikes are a great way to get outside, enjoy nature, exercise and enjoy time with friends and family. …

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Nebraska’s 20th Bighorn Likely a Record-setter

Terry Bogle with ram

Not only will a bighorn sheep harvested near Crawford in Nebraska’s Pine Ridge region on Wednesday have the special distinction of being the state’s 20th but also will likely go down as the state’s largest on record. Terry Bogle of Lincoln harvested the big ram at about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday on private property in the shadow of a steep cliff near a pair of northwestern Nebraska’s most prominent landmarks, Crow Butte and Little Crow Butte. The sheep unofficially scored 189 …

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Wildcat Hills Hunt Helps New Yorker, Commission Meet Goals

The Sackmans with ram

One more for the books. Barbara Sackman of Long Island, New York, added to a long string of hunting accomplishments with a trip to the Nebraska Panhandle this week. As one of just two bighorn sheep permit holders in the state, she harvested a big ram Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area in the Wildcat Hills seven miles southwest of Gering. The ram, which was among a group of about 20 sheep at the base of …

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Bighorn Sheep Hunter Finds Success in Wildcat Hills

Barbara Sackman with ram

Nebraska’s first bighorn sheep hunt of the 2015 season ended successfully in the Wildcat Hills near Gering this week. Barbara Sackman of Long Island, New York, harvested a big ram at Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area seven miles southwest of Gering on Wednesday, Dec. 2, marking the first time a bighorn sheep tag has been filled from the Wildcat Hills region instead of the Pine Ridge. Wild sheep were reintroduced to Cedar Canyon in 2001. The 9-year-old ram unofficially scored …

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Event Provides Birders Access to Lake Minatare

The public will have a unique opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Saturday, Dec. 12. Birders of all ages and skill levels who want to participate in the one-day event may arrive at the lighthouse on Lakeview Point any time between 8-11 a.m. Binoculars, spotting scopes and blinds will be provided. Employees of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will lead the program. Dan Thornton, lake …

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