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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.

Game and Parks to burn slash piles at WMAs

Slash pile burning

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees in northwestern Nebraska will begin burning slash piles from forest management projects at public properties near Crawford, Whitney, Chadron and Hay Springs in coming weeks. The piles are located at five Wildlife Management Areas — Metcalf, Chadron Creek Ranch, Ponderosa, Whitney Inlet and Peterson. Slash burning helps maintain healthy forests and prevent wildfires by safely removing potential fuel sources such as downed trees, thick vegetation, pine needles and leaves. This week’s …

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A partridge for the holidays

Gray partridge

As the “12 Days of Christmas” nears, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the gift most often mentioned in the familiar tune of that same name. That, of course, would be the partridge that “my true love sent to me” over and over again. While traveling a dirt road in northern Sheridan County in early December, I encountered the first partridge I have ever seen in the wild. I had heard of the gray partridge (Perdix perdix) residing in …

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Chadron man successful in bighorn hunt

Jack Nemeth and son, Riley with the big ram.

CRAWFORD, Neb. — Nebraska’s limited bighorn sheep season wrapped up Thursday afternoon when the second of two permit holders harvested a ram near Fort Robinson State Park’s Cheyenne Buttes. Jack Nemeth of nearby Chadron, who won the permit by lottery, said he was not looking for the “biggest, baddest ram” in the state, but rather a memorable experience with his son Riley, friend B.J. Dunn and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff. Nemeth, who placed a successful shot on the …

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Lake Minatare opening to birdwatchers Dec. 8

Lake Minatare Lighthouse

MINATARE, Neb. — The public will have a special opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Friday, Dec. 8. The event 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 in the one-day event may arrive at the lighthouse on Lakeview Point any time between 8-11 a.m. Binoculars, …

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Archery hunter’s bighorn sheep likely a Nebraska record

Jason Bruce with ram

GERING, Neb. – There may be a new state record among bighorn sheep harvested in Nebraska. Archery hunter Jason Bruce of Lockeford, California, claimed success during Nebraska’s bighorn sheep season with a massive ram taken on private property in the rocky Wildcat Hills near Gering on Saturday, Dec. 2. Todd Nordeen, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologist who manages Nebraska’s bighorn sheep program, said the mature ram, estimated to be 10 years old, had a gross score of 195 …

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The turtle — a master of wintering

Painted turtle

Some of the most common wildlife have the most magnificent capabilities. Painted turtles basking on a log is a familiar scene at ponds throughout Nebraska and much of the United States during summer months. Where, though, do those turtles go when temperatures drop and a heavy sheet of ice surrounds that log and covers that pond from shore to shore? This article provides some interesting information about how painted turtles, snapping turtles and other species of shelled reptiles survive the …

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Nebraska spring turkey hunters report high satisfaction, success

Merriam's Wild Turkey

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hunters liked what they experienced while pursuing wild turkeys in Nebraska this spring according to an annual survey by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Almost all respondents — more than 96 percent — of the 2017 turkey hunter survey said they would hunt Nebraska again based on their experiences. The survey data underscores many of the reasons Nebraska is the best turkey-hunting destination in the nation, said Jim Douglas, Commission director. Commission officials often point out …

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Fort Robinson Christmas Dinner has 1939 theme

Christmas Dinner

CRAWFORD, Neb. – World War II was beginning in Europe, “Gone with the Wind” was a hit at the box office and the soldiers at Fort Robinson enjoyed a Christmas dinner of turkey, pork loin, oyster soup and an array of sides and fixings. The 200 attendees of the 23rd annual Christmas Dinner at Fort Robinson State Park on Dec. 2 will be treated to the same menu as that one in 1939, when Fort Robinson was a quartermaster remount …

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Chadron State Park Bioblitz tops 200 species

Kids with fish

CHADRON, Neb. – Participants of the Chadron State Park Bioblitz in late September identified 203 species of plants, animals and insects, providing evidence of the biodiversity in the Pine Ridge. Amber Schiltz, Nebraska wildlife education coordinator for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, was pleased with the tally, especially considering the time of year. Species ranged from the osprey flying high above the park’s pines to the smallmouth bass swimming below the pond’s surface. “We saw 45 bird species alone, …

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Box Butte Reservoir to remain low for coming year

Aerial photo of Box Butte Reservoir

HEMINGFORD, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reports the water level at Box Butte Reservoir will remain low for at least 12 more months as construction workers repair the dam’s toe drain system. During this period, the Commission encourages watercraft users to watch for emerging obstructions in the lake and use special care launching boats. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said the reservoir will be limited to an elevation of 3,985 feet during construction, a point just below …

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