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NEBRASKAland Articles

Photographing wildlife … from millions of years ago

Saber-toothed cats, by Jan Vriesen

When out and about capturing photos and stories for NEBRASKAland and other Commission materials, my mind frequently wanders to what the region we now know as Nebraska’s Panhandle looked like long ago. While at Fort Robinson State Park, I cannot help but think about how it must have appeared as an active military post in the 1800s — lively with U.S. Cavalry soldiers instead of today’s tourists. A drive through the ghost town of Orella on the serene and scenic …

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Nebraska’s Other Pheasant Capital

As I wrote a while back, I have roots in a region long considered one of the nation’s premier pheasant-hunting destinations – southwestern Nebraska. Not only did my first hunting experiences involve pursuits of Rowdy Rooster, one of my first jobs was a part-time position at a McCook motel where I witnessed the influence the pheasant season can have on a local economy. Each November, it seemed every bird hunter and his dog from outside the area converged on that …

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Photographing the Panhandle: A Top 10 for No. 3

Photographing the Panhandle: A Top 10 for No. 3 I live in a pretty special place. A recent National Geographic article by Robert Reid ranks all of America’s 10 panhandles from 1 to 10 in terms of travel appeal. Nebraska came in at No. 3 on the list, topped only by Alaska and Florida. Travelers who have seen Nebraska only during a drive along Interstate 80 might be surprised our panhandle ranked so high, but it certainly comes as no …

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Beaver Valley Bird Trip

There’s not much reason these days for me to visit my childhood home of Beaver Valley, the stretch of mostly dry creek dotted by the villages of Danbury, Lebanon and Wilsonville along the Kansas border in southwestern Nebraska. Most of my immediate family no longer lives there, a great majority of the businesses have closed shop and the schools have consolidated to larger communities to the north. Shifts in rural America’s agriculture dynamics have forced populations to be a fraction …

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Winning the Race

Sunrise at Toadstool Park

The alarm rang late and the automatic setting on the coffee pot malfunctioned. Once the coffee was finally brewed, a good portion of it spilled across the counter – this time because of user error. With such a rough beginning, my hopes for my morning afield for photography weren’t high. I still had aspirations to salvage the effort and make the drive to the Oglala National Grassland before sunrise, however. As I rushed out the door, a quick look at …

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More to ‘The Hull Story’

Kent Cartridge's Bio-Wad and Velocity shotgun shells

Readers who received the November issue of NEBRASKAland may have seen “The Hull Story,” my article about eco-friendly components in shotgun shells. The story was inspired by a February visit to a public hunting area dotted with a considerable number of wads and hulls. As an update, above is a photo of one of the Bio-Wads that Kent Cartridge sent to me. As you can see, its fiber composition is looking pretty rough after soaking in a bowl of water …

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The Magician

Editor’s Note: With summer not-so-far behind us, Jessica Franke Carr’s essay, “The Magician,” is a reminder of the bonds that can be forged anytime a family encounters nature together, regardless of how small the scale. By Jessica Franke Carr Henry always wears lime green Crocs, but he can get away with it because he’s only three years old. A grown man or woman would attract disapproving stares or outright censure if caught frolicking in such fluorescent hues. The shoes’ garishness …

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Old-school Decoys Still Worthy of Space

Homemade dove deocys

Each September, I get a subtle first-hand reminder of the influence of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s communications efforts. About 15 or 20 years ago, a how-to story inspired me to construct dove decoys out of plywood, metal hooks and a little paint. I’m not sure who wrote or delivered the narrative, but I’m certain it came from the Commission – NEBRASKAland Magazine or something else. Nobody is going to mistake my work for a Michelangelo or Rembrandt, but …

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A Birthday Tribute

Let me apologize for leading this post with a photo captured outside Nebraska. As much as I’d like to claim that image, the credit instead goes to my wife Cricket who was riding shotgun while I was behind the wheel. It tops any elk photo I’ve ever shot and I might be a tad jealous. She did a great job composing the scene, but dare I suggest that a few others deserve credit for that image? We must also step …

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Here’s Your Sign

American dagger moth caterpillar

Sometimes nature is pretty obvious with its signs about what a person shouldn’t touch. Cacti, yucca plants, porcupines and rattlesnakes, for instance, have signals akin to a flashing billboard. Then there are more devious dangers such as poky thorns on beautiful rose bushes and rash-inducing urushiol on unassuming poison ivy plants. I’m not sure where the subject of the following story fits into that spectrum, but I’ve become convinced I should have been paying a little closer attention to some …

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