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NEBRASKAland Magazine

Published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission since 1926, NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to an engaging mix of outstanding photography and informative writing, highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parks, wildlife, history and people.

Survival On the Missouri

A Warm Day It was Nov. 30, 1998. Three of my childhood friends were coming back to duck hunt – a tradition we had done since the mid-1980s. I’ve known one since kindergarten, the rest of them fifth and sixth grade, more than 50 years. We grew up hunting together with BB guns, so we spent a lot of time in the field getting to know one another. This probably had a lot to do with the fact we’re still …

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Advancing Groundhogs

Look Out Nebraska! Groundhogs, whistle pigs or woodchucks are all synonymous with a large squirrel commonly active during the day and seen frequently on the edges of woodlots, rivers, streams, fields and even in backyards across eastern parts of the United States. Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania is likely the most famous woodchuck of all, and along with other individuals from the Eastern United States, supposedly predicts the length of winter based on seeing its shadow (or not) on Groundhog Day, …

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How to Clean a Pike (and Recipe)

Pike Almondine I stumbled across this recipe while surfing and fishing North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A woman selling freshly caught fish out of her home recommended the black-bellied rosefish her son had caught that morning. Having never heard of the fish before, I asked her how she would cook it. She rattled off a list of ingredients, but being in a remote area with no grocery store we told her we didn’t have much to work with. Without a thought …

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Walk This Way

Just like the shape of its bill, a bird’s feet can tell us a lot about its ecology and the habitat in which it lives. Birds do a lot with their feet – they can perch, walk, preen, feed, carry/hold objects and even swim. These animals are considered digitigrade, meaning they generally walk on their toes, not their entire foot like people do. Most birds have four toes, or digits, while some species only have three. These digits are arranged …

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Thoughts on Waterfowl

It’s just my humble opinion, but I believe those of us involved in fish and wildlife conservation on a professional level are “wired” a bit differently than the rest of society. There’s some innate draw or attraction to wild and natural things and places that is difficult to explain, let alone understand. That attraction has led us down a path of life that isn’t just a job or a career, but a vocation that is inexplicably intertwined with our lives, …

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BB Gun Beginning

Henry Matulka of Gretna went on his first hunting trip when he was 5 years old. Without a driver’s license to operate a vehicle, or his own money to purchase gear, he was reliant upon someone taking him. That person was his dad, Tim. With BB gun in hand, Henry continued to accompany his dad on dove, waterfowl, deer, and turkey hunting trips, waiting for the day he could pull the trigger on something besides his Red Ryder lever action. …

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Finding History in the Sandhills

Long ago on grassy hills, a hunter stalks a deer. Wearing skins of the same animal, he loads a thin-shafted spear onto a wooden spear thrower. Rising from cover, he whips the spear into a silent, shallow arch. The stone spear point strikes a mortal wound, but the still-mobile deer bounds away never to be found. Frustrated about the loss of good meat and his prized speckled brown point, the dejected hunter heads home, belly growling. Two thousand years later, …

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A Thank You to Landowners

Dear Landowner, I’m reaching out to say thank you. But before I do, I’d like to explain myself. I think a lot of hunters who share my passion would agree. I love to hunt. Like many of us, my garage is full of decoys, blinds, generators, camouflage and tools. Whatever doesn’t fit in the garage stays in the storage unit. But sometimes it’s hard to find a place to put all that gear to use. I don’t own any land. …

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150 Nebraska State Fairs

Nebraskans will celebrate the 150th Nebraska State Fair Aug. 23-Sept. 2. Can you name the fair’s five host cities, and the two years the fair was canceled? Nebraska City hosted a three-day territorial fair in 1859, and the first two state fairs were there in 1868 and 1869. Brownville hosted for a few years, then Omaha and Lincoln switched back and forth until Lincoln became the fair’s longtime home from 1901 to 2009. Grand Island has been the host city …

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When the Carnival Came to Town

Years ago, the peak of Nebraska summer entertainment came with the Walter Savidge Amusement Company as it pulled into the depot aboard its 20-car, red-and-yellow Pullman train. The Wayne-based traveling show and carnival toured Nebraska and surrounding states from 1906 to 1941. Walter Savidge was born in Holt County in 1886. He began dreaming of show business at age 12 after attending a Ringling Brothers circus in Humphrey. He practiced tightrope walking on a rope tied between his family’s barn …

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