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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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Eastern Redcedar Threatens Bird Habitats

Eastern redcedar invasion is the single largest threat to native grasslands across the Midwest, including the biologically unique Sandhills of Nebraska. This hardy, fast-growing species has long been appreciated for its use as an effective shelterbelt or natural snowfence; wildlife management agencies, including the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, have planted eastern redcedar to provide habitat and winter cover for wildlife. In retrospect, that wasn’t such a good idea. Eastern redcedar grows quickly and is extremely adaptable to a wide …

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Firearm Deer Season: Enjoying the Experience

Nebraska’s most popular hunt is the 9-day firearm deer season (Nov. 14 through Nov. 22). This is one of the absolute best times of year to be outside and participate in it with the deer rut happening. My lovely wife of more than 33 years, Polly Wagner, says that everything comes to a grinding halt in the Wagner family with the opening of “rifle deer season.” It’s a wonderful event, though. For many of us in the hunting lifestyle, the …

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Obviously an Ice-Fisherman!

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My thoughts are turning more and more towards ice-fishing, and if your thoughts are the same, you will love this. . . . I found this TV news report on the interwebs. . . . How did that guy end up in Oklahoma?  OKLAHOMA????  Of all places!  I would tell you he has to have been from someplace north of Oklahoma originally, but he has the Oklahoma accent!  At the least, he needed to travel “up nort” during the ice-fishing …

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Find Does, Find Bucks

“I wish more deer hunters would forget about all the stuff they have read or heard over the years and focus their deer hunting on the does in order to be more successful in the field,” says Jeff Rawlinson, longtime deer hunter and outdoor educator at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. And he’s right! Far too many of us who hunt bucks get wrapped in a rub and scrape lines, grunt calls, rattling antlers, decoys and a multitude of …

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How to Clean a Pike (and Recipe)

Pike Almondine I stumbled across this recipe while surfing and fishing North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A woman selling freshly caught fish out of her home recommended the black-bellied rosefish her son had caught that morning. Having never heard of the fish before, I asked her how she would cook it. She rattled off a list of ingredients, but being in a remote area with no grocery store we told her we didn’t have much to work with. Without a thought …

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