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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 Passages: Check Station Miscellany

This was my second year of being assigned to two days of deer check station duty at Rushville during the firearm season. The 12-hour shifts can seem long at times, but I really enjoy having conversations with the hunters and hearing from them what’s happening in the field. As was the case last year, I saw some nice mule deer and whitetails. The most prominent memories I carry away from the experience, however, have little to do with antler mass …

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A Dry Idea: The Sticky Business of Wader Repair

In the December issue of NEBRASKAland Magazine, I have a lighthearted article on page 44 about my failed attempt to repair my beloved waders given to me as an anniversary gift by my wife years ago. As stated in the article, patching waders can be a futile effort. If you want to just make it through the season it can often be accomplished with some success, however. As a fisheries biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Joe Rydell …

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Game and Parks Projects Get Boost by AmeriCorps

A special group of workers completed four and a half weeks of sprucing up Nebraska Game and Parks Commission properties in northwestern Nebraska this week. The seven workers of the team were enrolled in AmeriCorps, the federal National Civilian Community Corps program that provides intensive service learning opportunities for adventurous workers ages 18-24. The group joined Commission staff in completing a variety of projects to improve Walgren Lake State Recreation Area, Chadron State Park, Metcalf Wildlife Management Area and Chadron …

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Panhandle Passages: Moving the Spotlight

One day this week I set out early looking to capture photos of migrating sandhill cranes which commonly stay over in our area on their journey southward this time of year. Even though I had heard promising reports from the previous night I didn’t find where the cranes had roosted. I did, however, capture the above image which I believe is worth keeping. One of the challenges in landscape photography is recognizing the portion of a scene that makes it …

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Fort Robinson Christmas Dinner Celebrating 20 Years

The 20th annual Historical Christmas Dinner at Fort Robinson State Park is set for Saturday, Dec. 6. To mark the special anniversary, the dinner’s theme will step back 100 years with attire and the menu from the 1914 Christmas dinner at the Fort. Only 200 tickets will be sold for the dinner, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 3. Tickets will be available by cash or check at the Fort Robinson …

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Smoky Gray Photos

“Smoky gray” isn’t often a quality we photographers seek in images, but it’s a different story when it comes to turkeys. I was pleased to receive a few photos of smoky gray phase wild turkeys after requesting them in a post last week. While most of the responses I received were from northwestern Nebraska, it appears some really unique birds, ranging from all white plumage to a colorful mix, are seen on occasion throughout the state. The most eye-catching of …

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Dutch Oven Program Set at Wildcat Hills SRA

Those looking to take a traditional approach to cooking a delicious meal in the outdoors are encouraged to sign up for an upcoming program at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area of Gering. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, will present the “Lovin’ Dutch Oven” program Saturday, Nov. 1, at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. The deadline to register is Friday, Oct. 24. Filipi will demonstrate the age-old process of using Dutch ovens, cast iron pots …

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Panhandle Passages: The Great White Turkey

As I was driving through the Nebraska National Forest southeast of Chadron on Thursday, a pleasant surprise greeted me as I rounded a bend in the road. Discovering a flock of wild turkeys is certainly no cause for amazement these days but one bird predominantly covered by white feathers stood out among the group. The big bird didn’t give me much time to get a photo before it disappeared over the horizon, but you should be able to see that …

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Panhandle Passages: One for the Snakes

After visiting with a Chadron community service organization last week, I wrapped up the presentation with a slideshow of wildlife photos from western Nebraska and moved on to questions. One question kind of caught me off-guard. A friend in the audience asked why I hadn’t included any photos of snakes. I didn’t even realize that I had not given any time to reptiles, but he was right. I was certainly guilty of favoring other classes above reptiles. Mammals, birds, amphibians …

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Bird Banding Coming to Chadron State Park, Wildcat Hills

The public is invited to get up-close and personal with bird populations at two parks in the Nebraska Panhandle this fall. During the coming month, banding stations will be operating at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering and Chadron State Park near Chadron. The public is invited to join the bird-banders during two special sessions, Saturday, Aug. 30, at Chadron and Saturday, Sept. 13, at Wildcat Hills. Attendees of the informational sessions will watch as biologists retrieve birds from …

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