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Afield and Afloat

Northwestern Exposure: Finding a Strut after Ulmer


Big blizzard. Historical flooding. Just a lot of general muckiness. March 2019 will be a month Nebraskans will surely want to forget, but I shot a few photos, anyway. This white-tailed deer struggling to travel the Pine Ridge in the wake of Winter Storm Ulmer on March 15 gives you an idea of how much snow we got. Most of that snow has since melted, as has another little dose we got last week. While not the catastrophe our friends …

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Dance Party

Prairie grouse dancing begins in mid-March and will last into May at a prairie near you. Read on for viewing locations. There are some things you just have to see to believe, and others you have to hear. Few provide a treat to both of those senses like watching prairie grouse perform their courtship dances in the spring. Sitting in a blind before first light, you will hear the birds fly into the lek before you can see them. When …

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Turkey Trifecta

Ryan Sparks devised his own turkey hunting challenge: to fill Nebraska’s three-bird limit with a bow, muzzleloading shotgun and conventional shotgun. Dedicated turkey hunters dream of completing a “grand slam,” or killing a bird from each of the four subspecies of the North American turkey. To complete a grand slam, a hunter might travel from Alabama to Texas to South Dakota to Florida. As a teenager, while enjoying the developing turkey hunting in Nebraska, I dreamed about this turkey hunting …

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Walleye Trolling 101

Trolling crankbaits for walleye is the ultimate team sport. Jake Jadlowski shares his tips. Like most of us, I’ve fished for all kinds of fish in a whole bunch of different places. But regardless of species and location, most of the fishing I’ve done has been centered around my rod, my lure and me. Whether I’m flipping jigs for largemouth bass or bottom bouncing for walleye, most of my success or my failure is mine alone. Like golf, there is …

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Fort Robinson Fishing Upgrades

Anglers visiting Fort Robinson State Park in coming months may be disappointed to find some of their favorite ponds without water, but are sure to enjoy the same places in coming years. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission drained Grabel Ponds and Cherry Creek Pond to make way for the first phase of an Aquatic Habitat Program project to improve conditions for fish and anglers at the two ponds, along with the Cherry Creek diversion pond and the lower Ice …

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Nebraska Airmail in the 1920s

Early airmail pilots flew open-cockpit biplanes, navigated by landmarks and simple maps, and landed in grassy airfields. By 1930 their facilities and technology had changed dramatically. What seems quaint in hindsight was in fact a time of rapid change. Airmail service began in 1918. The first route was between Washington, D.C., and New York City. Regular coast-to-coast airmail flights began in 1920. Nebraska’s first airfields along the coast-to-coast route were in North Platte and Omaha. Airmail pilots used Omaha’s Ak-Sar-Ben …

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Northwestern Exposure: Oh, deer. More frost.

Frosty pines

All ears: Ear size is a distinguishing characteristic between mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) – so much so that it helped mule deer get their name. I have read that the large ears enhances mule deer hearing, but have not found any scientific research to back that up. It would make sense, however, that an adaptation to hear over long distances would serve mule deer well considering they are known to inhabit the open plain while …

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Northwestern Exposure, March 1, 2019: Freezing at the Falls

Icy Smith Falls

It’s interesting to watch our parks and wildlands change appearances with each season. Our weather extremes can sometimes make us groan, but they provide a lot of material for a nature photographer. Cherry County’s Niobrara Valley of Feb. 26 certainly had a different appearance than the last time I was there – a camping trip with my kids in August. With the temperature at -3 F, I pulled in to the park at daybreak under an overcast sky. On such …

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Crane Moves

Sandhill Cranes Arriving Earlier, Shifting East on Platte Thousands of sandhill cranes will have arrived on the Platte River in central Nebraska by the time you read this. In the weeks to come, there may be 600,000 or more on the river on a given night, with some yet to arrive from their wintering grounds to the south and others having already continued their northward migration. This gathering of more than 80 percent of the mid-continent population of cranes is …

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The Value of Controlled Hunts

Controlled shooting areas are a mystery to many hunters. Defined as a private location leased or owned by an individual or group to hunt upland birds like ring-necked pheasants, quail, chukars, Hungarian partridge, and even mallards, during an extended season – they are often viewed as hunting spots for the inexperienced. When I started at Nebraskaland in 2006, I didn’t see what a controlled shooting area offered to an experienced, able-bodied hunter like myself. After visiting some – and talking …

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