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Wildlife

Despite conservation woes, Blanding’s turtle keeps smiling

Among Nebraska’s eight species of native turtles, the happy-looking one gets special attention. The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is listed as a “tier 1” species in the Natural Legacy Project, Nebraska’s wildlife action plan. That makes it the only turtle species among the state’s animals and plants determined to have the greatest need for conservation efforts. Amanda Filipi, an outdoor education specialist at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering, said the turtle’s dark shell …

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What is that mushroom? Is it edible?

*BLOGGER’S NOTE: I have been inundated with inquiries and questions about the dryad’s saddle or pheasant’s back mushroom this spring. So I wanted to bring back and repurpose a blog I wrote a little more than one-year ago about this edible, wild woodland fungi. I hope you find it helpful and informative. Enjoy your time in the woods! GW. Along with finding and picking morel mushrooms, there is another edible wild fungi growing in your moist woodlands that you should …

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Late Season Turkey Tips: Gettin’ That Gobbler

We are in the late season for spring wild turkey hunting in Nebraska. Using a baseball analogy, it is the bottom of the 9th inning, your team is behind, the bases are loaded, there are two outs and you are up to bat! I don’t think there is any doubt about it, spring turkey hunting late in the season is challenging. However, there are still plenty of gobbles to be heard and birds to be worked plus amazing experiences to …

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Nebraska boasts wild turkey variety

Tom wild turkeys

One reason Nebraska claims to have the nation’s best turkey hunting is its variety of subspecies of the big bird. Bryce Gerlach, a forester for the National Wild Turkey Federation and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission who is an avid hunter, said the Cornhusker State is special because three of the four subspecies of the federation’s popular Grand Slam reside within Nebraska’s borders. Once extirpated from Nebraska, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a conservation success story here and throughout …

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The Great Jake Debate Continues

*BLOGGER’S NOTE: The National Wild Turkey Federation calls it: The Great Jake Debate. And, it  has surfaced again. It is the continual debate regarding whether or not to shoot a jake (a juvenile or nearly one-year old  male wild turkey) during a spring wild turkey hunting season, if legal. In Nebraska, it is allowable to shoot jakes during the spring turkey season. But let me tell you there is much misinformation floating around hunting circles about this ongoing discussion. In …

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Get involved in the 2020 Nebraska Bird Month Challenge

LINCOLN, Nebraska – In honor of the role birds play in Nebraska’s economy and ecosystems, Gov. Pete Ricketts has proclaimed May as Nebraska Bird Month. The monthlong celebration, typically celebrated with bird-related events across the state, has taken on a new form this year in the interest of public health due to the novel coronavirus. Rather than attend an event, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission invites Nebraskans to get outside, look for birds and join a national citizen science program …

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Prairie grouse use variety of vegetation

Sharp-tailed grouse

Gathering with others is not encouraged during this pandemic, but one segment of western Nebraska’s population has been going at it in full swing. Don’t worry — I’m just talking about the grassland-loving prairie grouse and their annual spring mating ritual on grounds known as leks. Those who have seen and heard the spectacular booming of prairie chickens and dancing of sharp-tailed grouse know the birds like to perform on a site with short to no vegetation. Despite that, they …

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Restoring Antlers

Have you ever left a deer mount outside for too long and now the antlers are chalky and bleached? All you need to restore them is dish soap, a paintbrush, wood stain and fine steel wool. If the antlers are chalky and porous you will also need two-part molding compound and fine sandpaper. Start by cleaning the antlers with soap and water and allow them to dry. Wrap the skull in paper to protect it during restoration. When the skull …

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The Gobble

It is the primary reason I hunt wild turkeys in the spring. It invokes such strong feelings of excitement that it escapes words. It is a crazy sound in nature, really, perhaps even a bit comical. The sound, made by a wild bird and denoting spring, is actually a loud, shrill, descending, gurgling, throaty jumble of chords that lasts about 1-2 seconds. This is the gobble of a male wild turkey. Gil-obble-obble-obble. For those of us who enjoy being outdoors …

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While at Home, Watch Birds

You’re staying at home, hardly going anywhere except for essentials. There’s not a lot to do. Or, is there? Have you ever taken the time to watch or listen to the birds around your yard, acreage, farmstead, ranch house or lake house? After all, it is spring and that means courtship, breeding and nesting. But spring is also means migration. Our overall diversity of birds peaks in early May, so new species arrive every day or week. I have to …

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