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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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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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Floating on the Breeze

A hot air balloon ride is a superb way to enjoy the scenery As Nebraskaland photographers, we do our best to attain the ultimate vantage of a given subject. In an effort to capture the attractive landscapes of western Nebraska, I have taken photos from atop many high buttes and from the cockpit of airplanes and helicopters. My new favorite, though, is the oldest of human-carrying flight technology: hot air balloon. I was not sure what to expect when my …

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The Book of Names

Plain and unremarkable, the black binder usually sits on a small coffee table in Fort Atkinson State Historical Park’s visitor center. But inside, it contains a remarkable picture of Fort Atkinson: Its pages list the names of everyone known to have lived at the fort, along with details about them that can reveal personalities, backgrounds and their futures. Susan Juza, Fort Atkinson’s long-time curator and a passionate lover of history, began the project as a relatively new employee at the …

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Rock Creek Lake State Recreation Area

Serenity in southwestern Nebraska At the very southwestern corner of Nebraska in Dundy County lies a truly serene area that is sure to surprise those that venture there. Rock Creek Lake State Recreation Area is a small 54-acre area, with a 50-acre lake fed by the cold spring waters of Rock Creek. Located 4 miles north and a mile east of Parks, Nebraska, this quaint SRA has primitive camping only at roughly 43 non-pad sites, one vault toilet and five …

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