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From the pages of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

2019 Photo Contest

With more than 2,000 entries, the 2019 Nebraskaland Magazine Photo Contest drew a record number of stunning images from your fellow Nebraska photographers in the categories of Wildlife, Flora, Scenic, and Recreation. The Nebraskaland Magazine staff found it difficult to pare down the excellent images – especially the Best of Show winner, which went to Eric Wellman and his image, “Perseverance.” We thank everyone who participated and made this exciting feature possible in our magazine. We look forward to seeing …

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Survival On the Missouri

A Warm Day It was Nov. 30, 1998. Three of my childhood friends were coming back to duck hunt – a tradition we had done since the mid-1980s. I’ve known one since kindergarten, the rest of them fifth and sixth grade, more than 50 years. We grew up hunting together with BB guns, so we spent a lot of time in the field getting to know one another. This probably had a lot to do with the fact we’re still …

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The Unseen

Camera traps capture wildlife at Indian Cave State Park When I placed a camera trap along a game trail in the wooded bluffs at Indian Cave State Park in 2017, I was hoping to capture a photograph of a mountain lion that had been spotted in the area. I figured it was a long shot, at best. And I never imagined the camera would capture nearly every mammal larger than a mouse that lives in those woods. To succeed on …

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The Soul of the Prairie

What does a scarcity of bison mean for Nebraska’s grasslands? The plains bison has earned its standing as an iconic large animal of the American prairie. That status was reinforced a few years ago when the bison was named the national mammal of the United States. Bison capture the imagination of people like few other grassland animals, but there are not many places where you can still find them within big prairie landscapes. Before European Settlement Everyone has heard stories …

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Advancing Groundhogs

Look Out Nebraska! Groundhogs, whistle pigs or woodchucks are all synonymous with a large squirrel commonly active during the day and seen frequently on the edges of woodlots, rivers, streams, fields and even in backyards across eastern parts of the United States. Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania is likely the most famous woodchuck of all, and along with other individuals from the Eastern United States, supposedly predicts the length of winter based on seeing its shadow (or not) on Groundhog Day, …

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Marshes: A Winter Refuge for Pheasants

Nothing beats hunting a frozen-over, snow-covered marsh for wily rooster pheasants in the dead of winter. At this time, pheasants are concentrated in the marshes’ thick cover, and tracking birds in fresh snow is almost a guarantee for success. Wetlands occupy about 1.9 million acres in Nebraska, or about 4 percent of the state’s area. Major complexes include the Rainwater Basin wetlands in south-central Nebraska, the expansive wet meadows and marshes of the Sandhills, the salt marshes around Lincoln and …

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The Clearwater Elk – A Follow-up

It was a bit quieter in farm country southwest of Clearwater this fall. Missing was the occasional bugle of a bull elk that showed up in Antelope County during the summer of 2006 when he was about 2 1/2 years old and stayed. “The Elk,” as he was known, spent the rest of his life in this neighborhood, leaving only when he headed 13 miles south to winter on the edge of the Sandhills in northeastern Wheeler County. The elk …

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Citizen Science

Making their own discoveries. Jessica Gieseke is a bumble bee-catching machine. She picks her way through a clump of goldenrod buzzing with flies and soldier beetles and spots her target. In one swift, graceful movement, Gieseke slides a vial along a stem, tips a bumble bee inside and caps the vial. The vial joins 25 others in her cooler packed with ice cubes. The ice chills the bees, rendering them sleepy and nearly immobile – a perfect photography subject. One …

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Ol’ Rough-legs

The rough-legged hawk may not stand out among raptors in looks, but it lives an interesting life. Perhaps you have seen this species along the road lately, but given its somewhat unassuming appearance, have not given it much thought. The rough-legged hawk, with its mottled brown plumage, blends in well with our landscape during the winter months. The rough-legged hawk is one of those species that logs many miles a couple of times annually. Those fence posts and utility poles …

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Turtles: Slowing Down for Winter

Some of Nebraska’s most common wildlife have the most magnificent survival abilities. A blast of below-zero temperatures got me thinking about a species I often catch sight of while casting a fishing rod over the soft water, but is nowhere to be seen around my holes in the ice. Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) basking on a partially submerged log is a familiar scene at ponds throughout Nebraska, and much of the United States for that matter, during summer months. It …

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