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Afield and Afloat

Techniques for July Bass

Story and photos by Jeff Kurrus July is the perfect time to fish for largemouth bass. Because of the heat, boat traffic on non-ski lakes is often minimal and your chance to fish your favorite spots, especially in the middle of the day, increases as the temperatures do. Whether new to dog-day fishing or a sweaty, seasoned veteran, try a few of these techniques to increase your summertime success. Tip 1: Night “The night is where it’s at,” a longtime …

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Those Fiery Redheads

Beauty or beast, this woodpecker has an eye-catching appearance Aerial proficiency to swoop and snatch prey from the sky. Symmetrically arranged talons for clinging to vertical surfaces and a chiseled beak that hammers hardwood surfaces at 1,000 times the force of gravity. A long barbed tongue, three times as long as that self-sharpening dagger-like bill, for retrieving victims from deep within a crevice. All that, and a fiery red head. If readers were to consider that description alone, they might …

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The life of a baby bass

This time of year is great for exploring and discovering nature’s wonders that can go unnoticed when we don’t take time to slow down. On a recent afternoon walk around a pond, I noticed a huge school of baby bass swimming along the shoreline, hiding in the aquatic vegetation and, off in deeper water was a large, adult male bass working hard to ward off possible predators of this swarm of babies. After watching for several minutes, I had to …

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Instant Pot Walleye Stew

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Ingredients: • ½ to 1 pound of boneless, skinless walleye fillets • 1 pound of live mussels • Half a medium onion • 1 small fennel bulb, with decent fronds (leaves) intact • 1 shallot • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus extra • 4 cloves of garlic, minced • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste • ½ cup of Chardonnay white wine • Dash of red pepper flakes • 16 …

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Sandhills Trumpeters

The marsh had a lot more cattails and bulrushes than most Sandhills lakes, concealing the trumpeter swans we were after. The swans themselves were doing their best to hide by swimming in a different direction than the large and loud airboat zigzagging through the marsh. So, when we burst through a wall of vegetation, and there were four swans right in front of us – two adults and two young, known as cygnets – we were not sure who was …

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Preserving the Pine Ridge

Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged more than half of northwestern Nebraska’s pine forests. Land managers are making strides toward a more sustainable future. On this sunny day, Bryce Gerlach is visiting a timber-thinning project at Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area in the northwest corner of the state. Gerlach, who is a forester funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, likes what he sees. “This is the project that is going to save Gilbert-Baker someday,” he …

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Saving Saltwort

Returning salt to salt marshes. The state endangered plant saltwort grows in salt marshes in Lancaster County and nowhere else in our state. Unfortunately, decline of the marshes during the past 150 years has left this species hanging on by a thread. I held little hope of saltwort surviving in Nebraska until I recently learned of a creative new restoration method for returning salt to the damaged marshes. A Uniquely Adapted Plant Within salt marshes, saltwort (Salicornia rubra) grows mainly …

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Make a Lure

Most people have “stuff” lying around the house – a screw left over from self-installed window blinds, a rubber band from a pile of bills in the mailbox, or the frayed ends of a dusty rope in the corner of the garage. By themselves, they are little more than objects whose lives will probably end in a landfill. Yet with a little bit of imagination, these items could be fashioned into fishing lures – a chance at a story that …

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Time to Train

Preparing a dog for hunting season can be a good way to keep yourself engaged during the long off-season, but it can also be time consuming. With the overall shutdown we are experiencing due to COVID-19, it seems most of us have a lot more time on our hands. So now may be the perfect time to start getting your dog prepared for when game day hits in the fall or to help condition him or her to the rigors …

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Despite conservation woes, Blanding’s turtle keeps smiling

Among Nebraska’s eight species of native turtles, the happy-looking one gets special attention. The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is listed as a “tier 1” species in the Natural Legacy Project, Nebraska’s wildlife action plan. That makes it the only turtle species among the state’s animals and plants determined to have the greatest need for conservation efforts. Amanda Filipi, an outdoor education specialist at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering, said the turtle’s dark shell …

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