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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.

Commission Invites Landowners to Discuss Pheasant Opportunities

Rooster pheasant

ALLIANCE — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is inviting landowners in the northern Panhandle to discuss their roles and opportunities for pheasant management. The public meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at Newberry’s, 104 West Fourth Street, in Alliance. The Commission will share information about the Berggren Plan, a five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. Attendees also will learn about a variety of conservation programs and incentives available to landowners within the …

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Wildcat Hills Offers Muzzleloader, Archery Classes

Archer at Wildcat Hills SRA

GERING — The Wildcat Hills Shooting Sports Complex at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area is seeking enrollees for its first series of classes which consist of six sessions about muzzleloaders and archery. Both topics have a course set for each of the coming months – February, March and April. The courses are offered in three two-hour sessions over consecutive weeks. Cat Vinton, the facility’s superintendent, expects the courses to be popular. With advancements in equipment, long seasons and distinctive challenges, …

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Wildcat Hills Staff Moves into Renovated Facility

GERING – The New Year brings a move to new offices for staff of the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. Staff members began operating from their newly renovated offices after returning from the New Year’s holiday, bringing business operations such as selling hunting, fishing and park entry permits back to that location. Gary Shoemaker, park superintendent, said the building’s exhibits and the other public spaces of the facility won’t be ready for a few months, …

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Photographing the Panhandle: A Top 10 for No. 3

Photographing the Panhandle: A Top 10 for No. 3 I live in a pretty special place. A recent National Geographic article by Robert Reid ranks all of America’s 10 panhandles from 1 to 10 in terms of travel appeal. Nebraska came in at No. 3 on the list, topped only by Alaska and Florida. Travelers who have seen Nebraska only during a drive along Interstate 80 might be surprised our panhandle ranked so high, but it certainly comes as no …

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Reward Offered in Whitney Lake Vandalism Case

CHADRON — A reward is available for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for vandalism at Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area in Dawes County. The vandalism occurred at the lake’s boat launch facilities, which have been undergoing improvements thanks to a partnership between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Whitney Lake Fishing Club. The most recent act of destruction involved using the upgraded restroom facility as target practice with of a high-powered rifle. …

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Holdrege Man Successful on Bighorn Sheep Hunt

Brett Roberg

Nebraska’s only bighorn sheep hunting permit holder for 2016, Brett Roberg of Holdrege, ended his hunt successfully at Fort Robinson State Park on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 5, by harvesting a trophy-class ram. The Rocky Mountain bighorn ram, estimated to be 10 years old, unofficially scored 166 using the Boone and Crockett Club’s system. The score is derived from measurements of the horns’ length, their spread and four points of circumference for each. Roberg obtained the permit through a …

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Public Big Game Meetings Set in Panhandle

Mule Deer

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will kick off its series of public informational meetings about big game animal management at two sites in the Panhandle this month. Discussion about deer, elk and pronghorn is on the agenda. The two meetings, conducted by biologists of the Commission’s northwest district, will be Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Knight Museum in Alliance and Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Eagles Club in Oshkosh. Each begins at 7 p.m. The annual series of meetings …

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Beaver Valley Bird Trip

There’s not much reason these days for me to visit my childhood home of Beaver Valley, the stretch of mostly dry creek dotted by the villages of Danbury, Lebanon and Wilsonville along the Kansas border in southwestern Nebraska. Most of my immediate family no longer lives there, a great majority of the businesses have closed shop and the schools have consolidated to larger communities to the north. Shifts in rural America’s agriculture dynamics have forced populations to be a fraction …

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Lake Minatare Opening to Birdwatchers Dec. 10

Mallard

The public will have a unique opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Saturday, Dec. 10. 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, spotting scopes and …

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Reward Doubled in Poached Elk Case

Dead bull elk.

CHADRON — The reward for information leading to the prosecution of the person or people responsible for illegally killing a mature bull elk and leaving it to waste in northwestern Nebraska has been doubled. The Panhandle Conservation Club of Scottsbluff has pledged $1,000 to match the $1,000 being offered by the Nebraska Wildlife Crimestoppers program. Doyal Lund, president of the eight-member club, said the group donated the money because of its mission to support the region’s conservation officers and natural …

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