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Research

Keep up with the latest research and projects from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff.

WMA Habitat Fuels Songbird Migration

By Stephen Brenner and Joel Jorgensen, Nongame Bird Program managers Migration is a critically important event in the lives of many avian species. This period accounts for over a quarter of the annual cycle for some birds and is extremely risky as individual birds travel long distances through unfamiliar areas. Consequently, many species experience higher rates of mortality compared to the breeding or wintering periods. Some of the smallest migratory species in North America also can travel the longest distances, …

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Targeted Conservation for Pheasants

Targeted conservation for ring-necked pheasants in agriculturally dominated landscapes By John Laux, NGPC Upland Game and Access Program Manager Similar to many surrounding states, Nebraska’s ring-necked pheasant populations have experienced long-term declines – a trend driven largely by continued habitat loss. Over time, changes in agricultural land-use (i.e. grassland conversion to cropland, “cleaner” farming techniques, less diverse crop rotations, etc.) have drastically reduced the amount of suitable pheasant habitat on much of Nebraska’s landscape. In recent decades, pheasants have responded …

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Tales and Tips From the Hardwater

Many of us hunt and fish because of the people we get to hunt and fish with. Some of the best conversations I’ve had on the ice, in a duck blind or while walking through tallgrass prairie have featured topics like family, politics and religion. While stories of greenheads and big bucks fill the air, they often are replaced by more serious topics. This is when true hunting and fishing partnerships — friendships —are formed. When reminiscing through a set …

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A Puppy for the Holidays

Who doesn’t want a puppy for Christmas? A hunting companion for the next several years sounds really enticing to most hunters. But finding that right puppy is not only challenging, it’s also downright confusing. The first Lab I ever owned cost me $50 and came as a referral from a friend who offered to help me train her. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was certain that this was the dog for me. Call it …

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Rose Creek Mausoleum

Tucked away in a sandstone outcropping in Jefferson County is an oddity that will amaze anyone who visits: a rock-cut tomb carved by hand a century ago. Nelson McDowell was reportedly a colorful character. And if you visit the “mausoleum” he carved out of a sandstone cliff overlooking Rose Creek in Jefferson County, and later learn that it may have simply been a hobby to keep him busy and in good health rather than a place he intended to be …

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How the Republican River Got Its Name

Have you ever wondered how the Republican River got its name? Gov. Frank Morrison, a Democrat, used to tease his Republican friends by asking, “Is it because it’s so shallow or so crooked?” Jokes aside, the connection to the party seems obvious, doesn’t it? With few exceptions, Nebraska has been majority Republican since the Civil War. But look at the center of this 1839 map detail from Mitchell’s School and Family Geography. The Republican Fork had its name long before …

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Gaelic Venison Steak

Queen Elizabeth II is close to what I would consider a “hero,” and Gaelic steak is one of her favorite dishes. Although Her Royal Highness might enjoy this recipe prepared with beef tenderloin at Buckingham Palace, venison loin is the protein of choice when the Royal Family retreats at Balmoral, which is located in the Highlands of Scotland. Servings: 2 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes Ingredients: • 1 pound of venison loin • Kosher salt, to taste …

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Honoring a Conservation Legend

After 47 years of service, including nine years serving as director of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Jim Douglas is retiring. He has celebrated a lifetime of conservation accomplishments. “Ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in and leave for your kids,” said Director Jim Douglas, a statement that says so much about what he has accomplished during his 47 years in conservation. For the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, he has served in a variety …

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Public Grouse: An Adventure Story

The hunting world can be small, and it seems even smaller on the internet. I credit social media for several friendships over the years — connections with like-minded hunters whom I would’ve never met otherwise. Through sharing photos, advice and recipes on Instagram and Facebook, we celebrate and commiserate in each other’s successes and failures every season. And sometimes, these online connections lead to hunting opportunities — real “FaceTime” and new adventures — down the road. A few years ago, …

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One Trail

Many species use a well-worn path between two waters If you’ve ever “blazed a trail” through the woods, or gone “bushwhacking” as some might say, you know it can often be an unpleasant experience pushing your way through branches, brush and tall grass. Life is much easier on a trail. And wildlife agree. That’s why a hike through any woodland or prairie will reveal a series of what we often call game trails. These trails, to put it simply, are …

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