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Afield and Afloat

Sowbelly on the Rise

Sowbelly Creek

My NEBRASKAland magazine duties are a little different than other types of journalism I’ve experienced during my career. With the bulk of the content for our magazine’s print edition being created a year in advance and stories going to press far ahead of each edition’s designated month, it doesn’t leave much room for “last-minute” changes. We all know conditions in Nebraska are susceptible to the whims of Mother Nature. For instance, a photo spread I produced titled “A Short Fall,” …

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The Fall Before the Ice

Sawyer Haag with largemouth bass.

My ice-scraper went to work this week for the first time in months. Some may lament this annual milestone and the coming of winter, but each scrape gets me more excited for ice-fishing and the soon-to-come season of fun on the hardwater – even if I am just a few days removed from a more summer-like scene of comparable enjoyment. With abundant sunshine and near perfect temperatures Sunday, Smith Lake Wildlife Management Area in Sheridan County reeled in my son …

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Growing perfect pumpkins a year-long task for patch owners

Pumpkin patch goers and Goldilocks have one thing in common: everything has to be just right. Because of this, choosing the right pumpkin can be quite a task. Story and photos by Sarah Kocher Imagine, then, trying to grow enough perfect pumpkins for hundreds of patch guests. As a strictly October squash, commercial pumpkins are 10 months of work for two months of payoff. As soon as one Halloween is over, the next is already on the radar. According to …

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Hunting for Business

It’s long been known by businesses that hunting can be a stimulator for the economy. When the big summer tourism season winds down, motel owners, restaurants and retailers look forward to the influx of people dressed in camouflage and orange to keep those dollars flowing. A study by Southwick Associates estimates the annual economic impact of hunting to be $848 million in Nebraska, with $562 million in retail sales and 8,856 jobs supported. Those are big numbers and, considering what …

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Crossing the Goal Line with Online Hunter Education

Anyone who has kids knows things can get a little hectic in the fall. My son Sawyer was eligible for hunter education last year, but the limited offerings in the Chadron area didn’t fit into his schedule. Right or wrong, his obligation to his youth football team took precedence to devoting two Saturdays to hunter education – yes, at least in our Nebraska family, the football schedule is on a short list of things that can trump hunting and fishing. …

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Wesleyan biology students get squirrely

Professors lead squirrel studies with broader applicability.  By Sarah Kocher You could say Wesleyan biology professors Cody Arenz and Gary Gerald have gone a little nuts. Nevertheless, the pair has been radio-tracking campus squirrels since a revamped entry-level biology course debuted in the spring semester of 2015.  The goal: field biology in an urban setting. “Being at Nebraska Wesleyan… it’s a challenge to just dart outside, watch some mountain lions and dart back inside in a three-hour lab period,” Arenz …

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Behind the scenes: invasives testing

Story and Photos by Sarah Kocher Simply put, JoLeisa Cramer’s job has one focus: how things spread. Cramer is a technician for the Nebraska Invasive Species Program, and half of her job is about spreading awareness of the destruction invasive species almost always leave in their wake. The other half involves testing lakes for aquatic invasive species to prevent their introduction or growth. She spreads one to stop the other. “Prevention is the best tool we have for invasive species,” …

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The Queen Hunt

By Sarah Kocher I don’t know if you could really call it a treasure hunt, but the prize glistens in the sun nonetheless. I’m out with amateur beekeeper Scott Flynn on a search for his queen bee; she’s been MIA for days now, and hives without queens are like zombies: scary, with little direction and less staying power. Needless to say, she’s a queen for a reason. I’m out with my uncle researching beekeeping, and I have conveniently forgotten that …

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Becoming an Outdoors Woman Empowers Women

The Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program in Nebraska continues to grow and empower women. Nebraska was the second state to embrace this outdoor program started by Dr. Christine Thomas from Wisconsin in 1991. Thomas had a mission to give women the knowledge to be active in the outdoors and through the BOW program women gain the confidence needed to engage in all types of outdoor activities. The BOW program has grown not only in Nebraska and Wisconsin but is …

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Panhandle Passages: Getting a Handle on the Outdoors

One way to get excited about being outdoors is to see the look in kids’ eyes when they catch a fish. If you really want to get excited, watch them catch a big fish with their bare hands. A kid pulling a big carp from a water tank is a scene I’ve witnessed the past three Aprils at the annual Outdoor Discovery Program hosted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at the Scottsbluff Trails West YMCA Camp. More than …

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