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Wildlife

The Soul of the Prairie

What does a scarcity of bison mean for Nebraska’s grasslands? The plains bison has earned its standing as an iconic large animal of the American prairie. That status was reinforced a few years ago when the bison was named the national mammal of the United States. Bison capture the imagination of people like few other grassland animals, but there are not many places where you can still find them within big prairie landscapes. Before European Settlement Everyone has heard stories …

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Advancing Groundhogs

Look Out Nebraska! Groundhogs, whistle pigs or woodchucks are all synonymous with a large squirrel commonly active during the day and seen frequently on the edges of woodlots, rivers, streams, fields and even in backyards across eastern parts of the United States. Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania is likely the most famous woodchuck of all, and along with other individuals from the Eastern United States, supposedly predicts the length of winter based on seeing its shadow (or not) on Groundhog Day, …

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Late-Season Deer Hunting Tips

Sadly, it’s the time of year when many deer hunters start hanging up their gear for the season. Perhaps they have already harvested deer, or are tired of trying to do so with their bow, crossbow or muzzleloader, or are just not interested in taking a doe during the deep-freeze weather of the late season. Whatever the case may be, that deer hunting gear should not be put away! Hunters should not let the word ‘late’ make them feel pressured or …

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8 New Year’s Resolutions for Hunters

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions — a promise to do good on acts of self-improvement — has been around for thousands of years on both the eastern and western hemispheres. While many individuals vow to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking and build up their finances, it is far easier to make and fulfill New Year’s resolutions for an activity of which you are passionate, like hunting in Nebraska. So, here are eight suggested hunting-oriented New Year’s resolutions …

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How To Hunt Nebraska’s Wild Turkeys in Winter

I truly love wild turkeys and it’s no secret that I am a hardcore wild turkey hunter. I hunt wild turkeys in spring, fall and yes, in winter. I believe hunting the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in the various seasons makes you a better, more knowledgeable, well-rounded turkey hunter because you gain intimate knowledge of the bird’s behavior. I know what you’re thinking. What kind of crazed hunter sets up for wild turkeys in the frigid, snow-covered landscape of a Nebraska December …

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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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