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There is no excuse for not wearing a life jacket on the water!

It bothers me to no end that people have such cavalier excuses regarding why they don’t want to wear life jackets on the water in a boat. In my 41 years at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, I have seen my share of boating tragedies. I have seen the victims of boating fatalities who were not wearing their life jackets. You never, ever forget them. Often the victims died right in front of close family members and good friends …

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Nebraska’s water trails offer more than just a float trip

Eager to get on the water? Yeah, me, too. This is a perfect time to float Nebraska’s water trails. During the current pandemic, you can easily go with the folks in your household, (socially) distance yourselves from others, and keep your hands washed floating the state’s pristine rivers and streams. There are dozens of other reasons to take a float trip, to boot. You can do it for the openness and space that it offers and the adventure of going …

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Plan ahead and stay safe when having fun on the water

The Nebraska state park system offers some fantastic beaches for swimming and wading, and they’re open now! More than two dozen state recreation areas offer a chance for everyone to catch some rays, play in the sand and cool off in the water of lakes and reservoirs during hot days, as long as COVID-19 health guidelines and measures are followed. Beach swimming is blast! My family and I really enjoy it. However, drowning in dark water is a real danger. Even …

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Preserving the Pine Ridge

Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged more than half of northwestern Nebraska’s pine forests. Land managers are making strides toward a more sustainable future. On this sunny day, Bryce Gerlach is visiting a timber-thinning project at Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area in the northwest corner of the state. Gerlach, who is a forester funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, likes what he sees. “This is the project that is going to save Gilbert-Baker someday,” he …

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Platte River State Park

I never feel overwhelmed at Platte River State Park. Whether there are thousands of kids attending an Outdoor Discovery day or just a few vehicles, I can always take a deep, relaxing breath whenever I pull into the park. Located three miles from Louisville – between Omaha and Lincoln – the park is a welcomed break from city life. It offers both family-friendly attractions and solace in its 450 acres, even on the busiest of weekends. I love playing with …

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Kearney Water Trail

At 2.3 miles, the Kearney Water Trail is undoubtedly one of the shortest in Nebraska. Despite that fact, it might also be one of the busiest. On any given day from April through October, you’re apt to see kayakers paddling down the trail, which utilizes the Kearney Canal and Turkey Creek on the southwestern corner of this central Nebraska city of 38,000. Its location certainly plays into its popularity. The trail opened in 2016, a joint effort between the city, …

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Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Goes Beyond the Hunt in These Times

As avid spring wild turkey hunters, we possess a major advantage over other outdoor enthusiasts: We know what it feels like to be completely isolated, and to be alone, most notably in a turkey hunting blind for hours. As Henry David Thoreau once said: “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” For us hunters, we are used to sitting alone in different blinds quietly for long periods of time with our thoughts, waiting for a moment …

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A 50-inch Minimum

Merritt Reservoir has long been one of Nebraska’s top fishing destinations. Merritt is an irrigation reservoir, but unlike some others, it fills every year because of the ample flow of the Snake River. It consistently has great water quality and abundant prey fish. And with this year’s adoption of a 50-inch minimum for what many consider to be Nebraska’s greatest fish, the muskellunge, Merritt has entered rarefied air as a trophy fishery. “Merritt has alewives, white suckers and various panfish,” …

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Platte River Water Trail

I’ve paddled many of the state’s rivers, mostly during the past 20 years creating stories on the state’s water trails in this magazine. But until 2018, I hadn’t floated the Platte, despite living a mere 30 miles from its course. By then, my wife, Theresa, and I had owned kayaks for five years, but we mostly paddled lakes around our home in Lincoln. On this day, it wasn’t long before we asked ourselves why we’d waited so long to float …

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Nature is the Respite for Coronavirus Concerns in Nebraska

Though we are in uncharted territory with COVID-19 regarding advisories and mandates, truly there is no better place to gain easy personal solitude or social distancing from the virus than in nature! All state park area grounds are open! They are not closed! They remain open to you for all sorts of outdoor pursuits – Sightseeing, picnicking, running, hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, mushroom hunting, etc. The Cowboy Trail is also open for use. Enjoying time in our state …

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