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Afield and Afloat

Panhandle’s natural beauty abundant in 2017

Concealed beneath a grass blind as the sun rises. Camping beneath a star-filled sky on a rocky ridge. Trekking with snowshoes into a forest blanketed by white. Soaring above the buttes while riding shotgun in a Cessna. Stirring up dust with a four-wheel drive on winding backroads. Those are just some of the many ways I witnessed beauty of the western Nebraska with camera in hand during 2017. A look back at the nature images I post to Facebook, Instagram …

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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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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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A Small Dose of Darkness at Bighorn

I will not count it among easiest photo assignments I have had. Mother Nature says, “Hey, I’m going to give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with challenging lighting situations and because you’re a nature photographer everyone is going to expect you to get great images. You can have from a few seconds to 2½ minutes to get your shot, depending on the spot you choose within this narrow strip through the middle of Nebraska. I may or may not send clouds. …

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Convergence on Sacred Ground

If the hills and bluffs at Ash Hollow State Historical Park could talk they would have been buzzing about the Convergence on Sacred Ground event last weekend. Perhaps they were pleased to have the Lakota’s with their teepees, dances and sacred dialog being echoed about. Wagons once again rolled along the Oregon/California trail. The sounds of horses and cattle filled the air as cowboys roped and branded cattle on the meadows of the park. And the aromas from Dutch ovens …

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Racin’ and ‘Reckin’ at the Regatta

Alpine and Rick Hickstein

With Chadron’s Fur Trade Days celebration nearing, a photo on the shelf caught my eye last week. It was a black and white image from my first entry in the Fur Trade Regatta, an annual canoe race at Chadron State Park. That year, I teamed up with Bart Hughes, a coworker at the Chadron Record. It blew my mind to think that photo was taken 20 years ago. The Fur Trade Days Regatta at Chadron State Park might not be …

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Plan in Advance to Complete Hunter Education

We officially welcomed summer on June 21st, so instead of rifles, shotguns, bows, and wild game, most folks are probably thinking about baseball, swimming, barbeques and mowing the lawn.  But “now” is the time to start thinking about the various options available for completing hunter education so you’ll be ready for hunting season this coming fall. Hunter education has come a long way since 1974, when it became mandatory in the state of Nebraska. Today’s hunter education for both firearm …

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Fisheries work by horse and mule

Packhorse along Soldier Creek

Sometimes, if you want to get where the fish are, you have to go where other people are not. Such was the case for fisheries biologists in the Pine Ridge last week, as they recruited the help of a Game and Parks Commissioner, a Wyoming outfitter, and six four-legged friends to study one of Nebraska’s most remote public fishing areas. With the help of horses and mules owned by Commissioner Rick Brandt of Roca and outfitter Casey Cary of Powell, …

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This one’s for the birds

Black-crowned night heron

I probably owe my job to birds as much as anything. Prior to my NEBRASKAland days, just after getting my student loans paid off, I bought a 100-500mm telephoto zoom lens and set out on the back roads of the Pine Ridge region in search of animals to photograph. Loving both the outdoors and camerawork, wildlife photography just seemed natural, so to speak. As I launched my new pastime, I was excited to get images of the charismatic mammals of …

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Dancing on the prairies

It has been another great year of viewing prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse as they performed their mating rituals on the prairie. The displays usually occur from mid-April through the first week of May. If you have never experienced the mating rituals of these two species of birds I suggest you put this on your to do list for next spring.  I cannot express how exciting the mating displays are as these birds gather on their leks to claim territories …

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