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Saddling Up Out West

For exploring the rugged and spacious public lands of the Panhandle, it is tough to beat a mode of transportation that has been around a while. The Panhandle of western Nebraska’s rugged buttes, sweeping grasslands, rolling hills and ponderosa pine forests spur an urge of exploration for countless visitors each year. For many a seasoned cowpoke on down to the greenest of greenhorns, their most memorable experiences while visiting this region have been atop a mode of transportation that has …

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Morels Aren’t the Only Edible Fungus in Spring

Along with finding and picking morel mushrooms, there is another edible wild fungus growing in your moist woodlands that you should know and consider harvesting and making for dinner — the dryad’s saddle. Dryad’s saddle? Say, what? The dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) , a.k.a., pheasant back’s mushroom, or hawks wing, is a widespread edible wild fungi that is easy to spot beginning in late April and continuing into May. Found east of the Rockies and potentially throughout Nebraska, it is a common basidiomycete bracket fungus …

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About Morel Mushrooms This Spring

There is no doubt that your morel mushroom hunting grounds along river bottoms and their tributaries in eastern and central Nebraska were greatly impacted by recent catastrophic flooding. This is the most widespread damage the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has experienced due to a natural disaster. In my 40 years with the agency and growing up near the Platte River, I have never witnessed any natural catastrophe to this magnitude. So, as an outdoor enthusiast, maybe you’ve been thinking: …

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Theft of Black Walnut Trees

I am shaking my head. It is so hard to believe. This scenario has been among the most surprising and shocking in my career as a conservation professional. More on that in a bit. All of us realize that wildlife-related crimes know no boundaries. Just like poaching game and fish, there are unethical, unscrupulous people, motivated purely by greed, who seek to profit without regard for natural resources, private or public property and ecosystem health. But now, valuable woodland habitat is …

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Winter Activities Abound

It’s December. Snow has fallen. It’s winter for all practical purposes. There is a no need to be a couch potato this time of year staying cozy by the fire for hours or binge watching a preferred TV show. Not when there are fun things to do outside, that is! There is actually host of activities that can be done in Nebraska throughout the winter months. So, gather your winter garb, here are some ideas for you: Cross-Country Skiing/Snowshoeing When the snow flies …

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Five Favorite Wild Plant Foods of Fall

It’s autumn. Much precipitation has fallen already. It’s heavy sweatshirt weather. It’s the season for football and pumpkin-spiced everything. And, it’s time to pick pumpkins and harvest the last of the tender crops from your vegetable garden. But, did you know that that beyond that pumpkins, the squash and the tomatoes, fall marks the time of year for gathering and preparing tasty edible wild plants (or parts thereof) from wild places? Sure does. The landscape that surrounds us in Nebraska is actually more lush with wild …

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Horseback Ride to Support 4-H

Fundraising trail ride in Nebraska National Forest at Halsey celebrates 20th anniversary. Head, Heart, Hands and Health – since 1958, the Nebraska 4-H Foundation has been supporting youth through hands-on projects that encourage them to stay active and engaged in their communities, and prepare them for the future. With programs ranging from animal science to business to the arts to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the foundation’s mission is to help provide the financial backing and manpower needed to …

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Fighting the Fear Factor of Foraging for Fall Fungi

Tell someone you hunt mushrooms in the fall, and they’ll utter phrases like: “Are you crazy, do you really know what you’re picking?” “Why do you want to do that, aren’t you scared that you might pick and eat a poisonous one?” “You don’t eat those (fall mushrooms) surely, do you?” Statistics related to the frequency of mushroom poisonings are hard to come by, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. While the federal agency says the poisoning …

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Cool Cliff Swallows (Of The Big Papio And Beyond)

You can’t miss them. You really can’t. Around bridges over rivers or creeks this time of year, they immediately snatch your attention. Maybe it’s their sheer numbers (hundreds, if not thousands of them) and their extreme aerial acrobatics that catch your eye. Or, maybe it’s them coming in and out of their clusters of gourd-like mud nests clinging to the walls beneath bridge overhangs that capture your awareness. Or, perhaps it is the throng of bird activity along the muddy bank of a stream or mud hole …

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Roasting The Perfect Marshmallow At Your Campsite

Roasting marshmallows over a campfire is one of the highlights of a camping trip or an outdoor gathering, especially to a state park area. No question. You would think roasting a marshmallow over the coals and embers in that furnished fire ring may seem like the easiest thing to do, right? Not necessarily. How many times have you seen someone pull their stick from the fire to reveal a perfectly roasted marshmallow? That’s right, not very often. What you normally see is somebody quickly removing their …

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