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greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

Foraging for Wild Fruits and Berries in Nebraska

I always get rather impatient this time of year. Is it because of the weather being so hot, humid and hazy? No. Is it that the hunting seasons are just around the bend? No. Then, why? Well, I am a gatherer, a prairie wanderer – if you will, and I am anxiously waiting to harvest elderberries during these dog days of summer. Here I am checking out wild elderberries for ripeness on a Saunders County, NE farm in mid August. …

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Trout Stream Gem in Northeast Nebraska

A classic case of misrepresentation keeps occurring. Folks continue to express their disbelief  to me that a crystal clear, cold, spring-fed trout fishing stream exists in northeast Nebraska. “No way,” they’ll say. “Impossible in farm country,” they’ll say. “You’re drinking, can’t be,” they’ll say.  “I’ve driven through there and never seen it,” they’ll say. These are just some of the phrases people have uttered to me about the East Branch of the Verdigre (actual name is Verdigris) Creek flowing through …

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Go with the flow and float Nebraska’s water trails

Eager to get on the water? Yeah, me, too. This is a perfect time to float Nebraska’s water trails. There are many reasons to take a float trip on continuously flowing water. You can do it for the openness and space that it offers and the adventure of going somewhere you have never been. You can do it to make connections and memories with people and nature, re-trace history, see a variety of wildlife species, get some fresh air and …

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Freshwater Drum: Not a Trash Fish

I watched closely as the guy excitedly reeled in the fish he had hooked from a local sandpit lake in eastern Nebraska. Upon landing it, I heard him dismally say: “Oh man, it’s a damn drum, that’s a trash fish, I gotta throw this back.” At this point, I walked over to the man and casually said: “Hey, that’s a nice freshwater drum you’ve caught. Did you know those are good eating if you prepare them right?” “Are you kidding …

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Bluegill Provide the Fireworks of Fishing in Summer

It’s hot. It’s humid. Whew! Yeah, it’s summer alright. Hey, has your fishing success slowed with the conditions? Well, one fish leads the way with lots of action for anglers in the good, old summertime — bluegill. A male bluegill stands guard on its nest in a southern Nebraska pond. Underwater photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Maybe it’s the kid in me, I don’t know. But, at 58 years of age (approaching 59), I still enjoy …

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No Excuse for not Wearing a Life Jacket

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 42 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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A Thorough Guide for Tubing on Nebraska Rivers

Ahhh … Leisurely floating on one of Nebraska’s many scenic rivers or streams in an inflated inner tube is a cool, refreshing, relaxing, way to enjoy a hot summer day with family and friends, isn’t it? A small group of tubers take a rest break on their float trip amid the beautiful scenery of the Calamus River near Burwell in the Nebraska Sandhills. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Oh, yeah! Summer river or stream tubing is …

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Why Wear Rubber Gloves When Handling Fish?

I continue to be called bad names for wearing them. Most recently, I was called a “super wimp” for having them on my hands. I have been labeled an “inadequate angler” since I have donned on them. I have been told that my “bravado” and “edge” have been lost when it comes to fishing because I am handling fish while wearing rubber gloves. Ah yes, THOSE GLOVES. People have also had their curiosity piqued by those of us who wear rubber …

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How to Avoid the Crowds When Going Camping

My neighbors told me the other day that they were heading out on a Friday night to camp at a popular state recreation area in order to “get away from it all” on a nice weekend. Hmmm … I wanted to tell them that most likely, they were heading an area to where it all will be happening with quite a few people there. But how do you steer clear of crowds when you’re trying to plan a summer camping …

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Out-of-the-(Tackle) Box Tips for Catching Channel Catfish

“Dang, I thought I had a big bass! Hey, it’s a big channel cat.” The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), Nebraska’s official state fish, sometimes gets misunderstood, particularly it seems, by those who exclusively fish for bass and walleye. Catfish, especially the channel cats, have a reputation as bottom feeders that just lazily swim around sucking up stinky, dead stuff from the bottom. And that is not entirely true! I asked Chris Pokorny of Elkhorn, NE, who’s among Nebraska’s most avid …

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