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Beaver Valley Bird Trip

Dave Schliep and his Labrador, Lizzy

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

magician-photo

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

A bull elk rests in the upper elevations of Rocky Mountain National Park. (Photo by Cricket Haag)

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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Fishing the Sticks

Kayaking in trees

The high country of the Nebraska Panhandle is about as far as one can get from what’s considered to be swampland. It is, however, a place you can find a little taste of most outdoor experiences if you look for them. Among my favorite fishing excursions each spring and early summer is taking the kayaks into the flooded timber of Box Butte Reservoir State Recreation Area, one of the Panhandle’s irrigation lakes that have much higher water levels in spring …

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Taming Tigers

Justin Powell's Grand Slam

It’s been fun witnessing the excitement about one of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s latest fisheries projects – tiger trout stockings. I’ve noticed an increased number of Nebraskans posting photos of the beautiful species on social media, and have even had a photo or two arrive via text message from excited anglers who have caught the species for the first time. The species is bringing out the child in a lot of us. During his visit to Chadron last …

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Carp Bring Big-time Fishermen to Sandhills

Loading carp into boat

Carp aren’t at the top of the list of fish species that get me excited, but they did just that as I was lured to the Sandhills to watch the region’s newest effort to combat an old problem. A crew of six commercial fishermen from Minnesota, led by Jeff Riedemann and Tim Adams, brought their operation to Clear Lake on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge in late March. Outdoor Channel junkies may recognize those names as stars of Bottom Feeders, …

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