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Wildlife

Panhandle’s natural beauty abundant in 2017

Concealed beneath a grass blind as the sun rises. Camping beneath a star-filled sky on a rocky ridge. Trekking with snowshoes into a forest blanketed by white. Soaring above the buttes while riding shotgun in a Cessna. Stirring up dust with a four-wheel drive on winding backroads. Those are just some of the many ways I witnessed beauty of the western Nebraska with camera in hand during 2017. A look back at the nature images I post to Facebook, Instagram …

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A partridge for the holidays

Gray partridge

As the “12 Days of Christmas” nears, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the gift most often mentioned in the familiar tune of that same name. That, of course, would be the partridge that “my true love sent to me” over and over again. While traveling a dirt road in northern Sheridan County in early December, I encountered the first partridge I have ever seen in the wild. I had heard of the gray partridge (Perdix perdix) residing in …

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It’s Not Too Late (Tips For Late Season Hunting)

Unfortunately, it’s the time of year when many hunters start hanging up their gear for the season. Maybe they have already harvested game or are tired of trying to do so. Perhaps they are just not interested in being afield during bitterly cold weather, gale force winds and deep snow. Whatever the case may be, that hunting gear should not be put away! It’s time to bundle up and take advantage of little to no hunting pressure, colder weather, a completed crop harvest, concentrated and …

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The Most Secretive of Skunks

skunk

Rare Eastern spotted skunk found at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge The Decline of the Spotted Skunk Biologists surmise that populations of spotted skunks – like many other species – declined when white settlers moved into the Great Plains and began hunting and trapping them. Their numbers rebounded some in the 1930s and 1940s when the landscape was dotted with small farmsteads that provided good habitat for the species. Spotted skunks, which eat grubs, grasshoppers and small mammals, often lived …

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No Water Needed for Hunting Canada Geese

Do  you really need water, pumps, pit blinds, lots of expensive decoys and to be part of a high-priced hunting lease to successfully hunt Canada geese in Nebraska? No, not necessarily. Field hunting for Canada geese is a ton of fun and can be very effective! It’s also much cheaper, easier and quicker than trying to establish a goose hunting spread with a boat blind on a pond, lake, reservoir or river. Waterfowl hunters establish a field spread for Canada goose hunting in a harvested corn field in …

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Lake Minatare opening to birdwatchers Dec. 8

Lake Minatare Lighthouse

MINATARE, Neb. — The public will have a special opportunity for viewing birds during an event at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Friday, Dec. 8. The event marks the only opportunity for the public to access the 2,158-acre reservoir on the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge for its annual closure between Oct. 15 and Jan. 14. Birdwatchers who want to participate in the one-day event may arrive at the lighthouse on Lakeview Point any time between 8-11 a.m. Binoculars, …

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Archery hunter’s bighorn sheep likely a Nebraska record

Jason Bruce with ram

GERING, Neb. – There may be a new state record among bighorn sheep harvested in Nebraska. Archery hunter Jason Bruce of Lockeford, California, claimed success during Nebraska’s bighorn sheep season with a massive ram taken on private property in the rocky Wildcat Hills near Gering on Saturday, Dec. 2. Todd Nordeen, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologist who manages Nebraska’s bighorn sheep program, said the mature ram, estimated to be 10 years old, had a gross score of 195 …

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Three parks to host Christmas Bird Counts in December

LINCOLN, Neb. – Take part in a winter tradition and participate in the Christmas Bird Count this month at three state park areas across the state. Events will be held Dec. 14 at Ponca State Park (SP), Dec. 16 at Indian Cave SP, and Dec. 30 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area (SRA). The Christmas Bird Count is a program of the National Audubon Society, with more than 100 years of citizen science involvement. This event is a one-day bird …

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The turtle — a master of wintering

Painted turtle

Some of the most common wildlife have the most magnificent capabilities. Painted turtles basking on a log is a familiar scene at ponds throughout Nebraska and much of the United States during summer months. Where, though, do those turtles go when temperatures drop and a heavy sheet of ice surrounds that log and covers that pond from shore to shore? This article provides some interesting information about how painted turtles, snapping turtles and other species of shelled reptiles survive the …

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Take Them Hunting

It was the eve of deer rifle season, sitting by the front door were two pairs of boots, two blaze orange vests, a backpack of snacks, binoculars and one rifle.  They were ready to go!  Catching the last few minute of sleep I hear small feet walking towards the bed.  “Mom, I thought dad was getting up early to go hunting?”  Seeing that is was 5:25 am, I reassured him that dad’s alarm clock will be going off any minute.  …

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