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From the pages of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

Restoring the Blowout Penstemon

On Turner Enterprises’ Spikebox Ranch “Blowouts are sort of like anchovies — you either love them or hate them,” wrote the late Nebraskaland writer Jon Farrar. Among the blowout lovers are “ranch children who for generations have slid down a blowout’s steep sandy slope [and] artifact hunters who currycomb them hoping to find an 11,000-year-old Clovis projectile point exposed by the wind.” Among the blowout haters are “Most ranchers [who] wage war on their blowouts. To some, they are seen …

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A Second Chance

A Retired Wildlife Ecologist Gives Back At first sight, a plains pocket mouse makes a lasting impression. There’s only one word for it: cute. It’s tiny and delicate-looking, with small ears and fur-lined cheek pouches. Retired wildlife ecologist Mike Schrad can identify one in seconds, as he does on this cool October morning, striding through a restored prairie near Wood River, Nebraska. He lifts one from a live trap baited with oatmeal and birdseed, and hands it me to warm …

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The Lazy European

While I’m quite fond of traditional white-tailed deer shoulder mounts, European mounts — showing just the skull and antlers — are a spectacular alternative. For my first European mount, I removed the head and as much hair as possible, boiled the “stuff” attached to the skull on the stovetop, picked the rest of the fat, sinew and meat away with a pair of pliers, then prepared to fill out my divorce papers because of the odor in the house. There …

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Ash Hollow State Historic Park presents “Pioneer Song,” a performance by The Great Bear Folk Theater

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – Join Ash Hollow State Historic Park as they present “Pioneer Song” performance by The Great Bear Folk Theater on Aug. 29 from 4 – 5 p.m. MT. The theater group, consisting of a husband, wife and daughter trio, will be presenting an hour-long production, adapted from the play “Pioneer Song.” The play recounts the perilous journey many emigrants faced while traveling the Overland Trail in the mid 1800’s. The Great Bear Folk Theater, based out of …

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Wing Commander

Commission biologist Randy Stutheit’s experience evaluating duck wings over the years has helped formulate waterfowl regulations across central U.S. Quickly studying a duck’s wing, Randy Stutheit plays a role in determining waterfowl regulations and seasons in states throughout the central portion of the country. But he’s been doing it awhile — 35 years — and that experience means a lot in the Central Flyway, which stretches from Canada to Mexico. Stutheit, a longtime wildlife biologist with the Nebraska Game and …

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Beyond BOW Hunting

Where Skills Are Learned in the Field Women are the fastest growing group of outdoor enthusiasts, and the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is a great contributor to this trend. In Nebraska, this program has taken hundreds of women into the field during its 30-year run, and, personally provided some of my most memorable hunting experiences. Many occurred during BOW’s annual training event the first full weekend in October. This event is packed with three days of learning about outdoor-related topics …

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Becoming Part of Something Bigger

The Wildlife Conservation Fund The Nebraska state income tax form isn’t known for its wildlife illustrations. Yet, tucked on the second page is a small illustration of a peregrine falcon, along with a space to donate to the Wildlife Conservation Fund. These tax-deductible donations play a vital role in conserving Nebraska’s wildlife, said Melissa Panella, Nebraska Game and Parks’ wildlife diversity program manager. They form the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which is “one of the primary means that Game and Parks …

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The Dewy Bug Guy Is Back

All the photos in this article were photographed on the morning of Sept. 15, 2019, at Lincoln Creek Prairie in Aurora. When I first started working with Nebraskaland as a college student in the mid-1990s, my nickname among at least some of the magazine staff was “the dewy bug guy.” It was completely fair. A large part of my portfolio, such as it was, consisted of insects covered in tiny water droplets. At the time, my parents had recently helped …

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The Wonderfully Named Fungi

Jelly fungi have great names. Some are delicious sounding: jelly drops, orange jelly, golden jelly cone, apricot jelly and black jelly roll. At the other extreme, some are graveyard spooky: willow brain, goblin ear, jelly tongue, Judas’ ear and, best of all, witches’ butter. Growing in forests, the appearance of these gelatinous mushrooms ranges from blobs of jelly spilled onto a decaying log, to ears sprouting from a tree trunk, to globs of brain tissue smeared on a branch. Like …

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Wood-Sorrels

A Burst of Tartness On a hot summer day, I often pop a wood-sorrel’s clover-like leaf into my mouth to experience a burst of citrusy tartness. The practice is a long tradition, as for millennia Native Americans have enjoyed them. Three species of wood-sorrel are native to our state. The yellow-flowered yellow wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta) and gray wood-sorrel (O. dillenii) are common, weedy species that bloom spring through fall in lawns, gardens, pastures and other disturbed habitats. The former is …

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