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Afield and Afloat

Common Scents

A No-nonsense Approach to Scent Control Besides Nebraska farmers, no group in the state frets over the weather more than deer hunters. They study barometric pressure, moon phase, temperature and daylight hours, trying to figure out when deer will move and where. Of all these factors, they pay the most attention to the wind, and for good reason. While we experience the world through our eyes, deer live in a world of smell, and the wind is what delivers that …

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In Pursuit of the Blue Dart

As a youngster, I cut my teeth duck hunting on small marshes in northwestern Iowa. Before the days of fancy decoys, acrylic calls, robo ducks and all the rest of modern-day technology, I would not sleep just so I could get to my favorite duck “hole.” It was there that I experienced my first encounter with this majestic bird that I would later term the “blue dart.” Although it’s been over 40 years since I harvested, or at least tried …

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Dove Banding

A nationwide mourning dove banding program has been helping biologists monitor population trends of the species while also providing interesting stories of the movement and longevity of this migratory game bird. The banding program began in 2003. The information it provides, combined with more obtained from the examination of wings of harvested doves, is used to estimate the number of doves in the nation and the age structure and productivity of the population. That information, as well as hunter and …

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Large Milkweed Bugs

If you pay attention to milkweed plants during the summer, you’ll notice a wide variety of insect species feeding on the nectar produced by milkweed flowers. That nectar is sweet, nutritious and free of the toxic latex found throughout most of the rest of the plant. A much smaller group of insects can be found feeding on the leaves, stems or seeds of those milkweed plants, both dealing with and taking advantage of the toxicity. Those insects include monarch caterpillars, …

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Squirrel Hunting Questions

Ask yourself these questions before squirrel hunting this season. What’s Cutting? This is a squirrel hunter’s most effective knowledge base. If a hunter knows what a squirrel is eating and at what time, then their success increases exponentially. In Nebraska, squirrels eat a variety of nuts, including acorns and walnuts. A quick midday scout through the woods will reveal what nuts squirrels are cutting at a particular time, as remnants will be scattered on the ground. Partner or Alone? There’s …

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Cicada killer wasps

Cicada killer wasps will start emerging from the ground anytime, but these docile wasps only have one thing on their minds: Seeking out cicadas. Found across the U.S., these native wasps start to appear in mid-to-late July through August in Nebraska. Cicada killer wasps are approximately 2 inches long with black and yellow on their abdomens and amber-colored wings. When you hear male cicadas begin singing to attract their mates, the adult cicada killer wasps will start to emerge from …

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Poison ivy: Three leaves of dread

Hike for any length of time on Nebraska’s wild places and you will surely encounter the three-leaved nemesis known as poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Shelley Steffl, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission private lands wildlife biologist of Chadron, often encounters poison ivy while consulting landowners on habitat projects. “Normally it’s found around more wooded areas and in places that have a little more sunshine present,” Steffl said. “Uplands, woodlands, maybe a little moister soil. It can be found in any kind …

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Techniques for July Bass

Story and photos by Jeff Kurrus July is the perfect time to fish for largemouth bass. Because of the heat, boat traffic on non-ski lakes is often minimal and your chance to fish your favorite spots, especially in the middle of the day, increases as the temperatures do. Whether new to dog-day fishing or a sweaty, seasoned veteran, try a few of these techniques to increase your summertime success. Tip 1: Night “The night is where it’s at,” a longtime …

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Those Fiery Redheads

Beauty or beast, this woodpecker has an eye-catching appearance Aerial proficiency to swoop and snatch prey from the sky. Symmetrically arranged talons for clinging to vertical surfaces and a chiseled beak that hammers hardwood surfaces at 1,000 times the force of gravity. A long barbed tongue, three times as long as that self-sharpening dagger-like bill, for retrieving victims from deep within a crevice. All that, and a fiery red head. If readers were to consider that description alone, they might …

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The life of a baby bass

This time of year is great for exploring and discovering nature’s wonders that can go unnoticed when we don’t take time to slow down. On a recent afternoon walk around a pond, I noticed a huge school of baby bass swimming along the shoreline, hiding in the aquatic vegetation and, off in deeper water was a large, adult male bass working hard to ward off possible predators of this swarm of babies. After watching for several minutes, I had to …

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