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Published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Fall/Winter 2009

NGPC reaching out with social networking
By Scott Bonertz With the rise of Internet marketing and social networks, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is working to meet this demand. The Commission has expanded its outreach to the online outdoor community by adding Facebook and Twitter accounts and two blogs, Daryl Bauer’s Barbs and Backlashes and In the Wild with Greg Wagner. “We see this move to social media as a great way to get our message to our audience in the manner they like best. These sites will supplement the information we provide at,” said Sam Sidner, assistant director for marketing at the Commission. messages, write reviews, discuss topics and stay up-todate on Commission news and events. With Facebook having more than 400,000 users in Nebraska, 42 million in the United States, and more than 200 million worldwide, the Commission is using this exposure to aid its mission. Facebook describes itself as, “a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.” To find the fan page on Facebook, log in or join at See Social, Page 7

The Facebook fan page was created to provide fans and friends of the Commission a place to post

Turkey hunters greeted by longer season
By Doug Carroll A longer season, including the opportunity to hunt during the November firearm deer season, and the choice of using a bow or a shotgun to fill their fall permit, are the major changes greeting turkey hunters in Nebraska in 2009. That adds up to what could be a record-setting turkey season. In the past, fall turkey hunters had a fairly narrow time frame to chase turkeys in Nebraska. They also had to choose between buying an archery tag or a shotgun tag. New regulations, however, now allow turkey hunters to use either weapon and hunt from Sept. 15 – Dec. 31. This means turkeys now can be taken during the November rifle deer season. However, although turkey hunters, like rifle deer hunters, have to wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest and back during that time frame and still cannot legally use a rifle to harvest a turkey. Last fall 11,335 turkey permits were sold and 8,775 birds were harvested. Both See Turkey, Page 5


A three-day October antlerless deer hunting season is new for 2009. It is restricted to a portion of eastern Nebraska.

Another record deer season expected in ‘09
By Jerry Kane Nebraska likely will top the 2008 record harvest of antlerless white-tailed deer when hunters take to the woods in 2009. “The deer population in the state has never been higher,” said Kit Hams, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “An expanding white-tailed deer herd, especially in extreme eastern Nebraska, has caused increased complaints of crop damage.” As a result, 87,000 deer permits in 2008 had free “bonus” tags that allowed the harvest of an antlerless whitetailed deer. There are 90,000 bonus tags
Deer Exchange returns. Page 5

What’s Inside
Catch-and-release fishing, Page 2 Beyond BOW, Page 3 State park schedule, Page 3 Crow hunting, Page 4 Ice fishing, Page 8

available in 2009. One of the biggest changes in the 2009 deer hunting season is a result of a need to harvest additional deer in eastern Nebraska. A new October antlerless season has been created for a portion of eastern Nebraska along the Missouri and lower Platte rivers where too few antlerless whitetails were harvested last year. The Commission hopes this season will add 3,000 antlerless whitetails to the 2009 harvest. The October antlerless season – Oct. 9-11 – is for hunting only within the

boundaries of Season Choice Areas 18 and 21. Deer may be taken with archery equipment, muzzleloader, rifle, or crossbow. Hunters may take two antlerless deer with each permit, and there will be an unlimited number of permits available. Hunter orange is required. Record harvests of mule deer and whitetails are expected this fall as more permits are available and herd sizes remain strong in most areas. The harvest of antlerless whitetails may exceed that of whitetail bucks for the first time this fall. See Deer, Page 5

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Outdoor Nebraska

Cool, colorful fall brings hot fishing to Nebraska
By Daryl Bauer Fall is a wonderful time of the year to fish. There is a lot less activity on the water, the weather and scenery are beautiful and the fish are biting. Here are some waters where you could plan to catch fish this fall. Reservoirs Nebraska has a variety of reservoirs from one end of the state to the other. Fall fishing on these reservoirs can be a challenge as those waters typically have an abundance of baitfish such as gizzard shad or alewives in the fall and winter. Even with plenty of natural prey to make fishing more challenging, fish are feeding. Look for masses of baitfish in shallow water and bays in early fall and then on sharp drop-offs adjacent to deep water in late fall — walleyes, white bass, wipers, and other predators will not be far behind. Crankbaits, jigs, swimbaits, bladebaits, and a variety of spoons all catch fish from reservoirs in the fall. Cold-water Streams There is nothing better than exploring cold-water trout streams in autumn, when there are fewer bugs and brush to fight through. Water levels may be a bit lower, but usually the water quality is excellent and at times you can spot the trout. The fall colors will be no more spectacular than the trout that inhabit those streams. With spawning activities occurring or soon to occur, the trout will be beautiful. Fishing in Nebraska’s Streams brochure, which is available at Commission offices. Pits and Ponds Some of the best panfishing and bass fishing in Nebraska is found on pits and ponds. Many of them are privatelyowned and require permission to fish, but many of these fisheries are open for public access. State recreation areas such as Louisville, Fremont, Fort Kearny, and Bridgeport have a number of pits that are open for public access. Do not overlook the Interstate 80 lakes. Summer fishing patterns on pits and ponds gradually will transition into fall patterns. Generally, as submerged aquatic vegetation begins to die back in the fall, fish in pits and ponds will move toward deeper water and weed edges. A favorite of fall tactics for big bass in these waters is to fish a suspending jerk bait (such as Husky Jerk, Smithwick Rogue). Crank those baits down to their running depth and then slow down and occasionally pause and jerk the bait. The later in the fall and colder the water, the slower the bait needs to be fished.
Anglers spend a fall day at Long Pine Creek State Recreation Area in northcentral Nebraska.

Outdoor Nebraska
is published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Copyright 2009

Commission Offices
Headquarters 2200 N. 33rd St. P.O. Box 30370 Lincoln, NE 68503-0370 (402) 471-0641 Alliance 299 Husker Rd., Box 725 Alliance, NE 69301-0725 (308) 763-2940 Bassett 524 Panzer St., Box 508 Bassett, NE 68714-0508 (402) 684-2921 North Platte 301 E. State Farm Rd. North Platte, NE 69101-0430 (308) 535-8025 Norfolk 2201 N. 13th St. Norfolk, NE 68701-2267 (402) 370-3374 Kearney 1617 First Ave. Kearney, NE 68847-6057 (308) 865-5310 Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium 21502 W. Neb. Hwy. 31 Gretna, NE 68028 (402) 332-3901 Omaha 1212 Bob Gibson Blvd. Omaha, NE 68108-2020 (402) 595-2144


Drifting nymphs or terrestrial patterns with a fly rod will catch fall trout, as well as small spinners and crankbaits or livebaits fished with spinning tackle. For more information, read the Trout

Those are not the only waters that will be productive fishing spots in Nebraska this fall, but they will be some good ones to check. If you need more information on fishing locations, be sure to check out (Daryl Bauer is the outreach program manager for the Fisheries Division.)

Chairman: James Ziebarth, Wilcox Vice Chairman: Jerrod Burke, Curtis 2nd Vice Chairman: Mick Jensen, Blair Dr. Mark Pinkerton, Wilber Ron Stave, Waterloo Dr. Kent Forney, Lincoln Lynn Berggren, Broken Bow Mark Spurgin, Paxton Rex Fisher, Omaha Director: Rex Amack Assistant Directors: Roger Kuhn Kirk Nelson Sam Sidner

Proper handling key to survival of released fish
By Daryl Bauer Catch-and-release has become a common sportfishing practice that has enhanced and maintained the quality of fishing in many waters. However, the benefits of catch-and-release angling can be realized only if fish survive following release. A successful release begins as soon as a fish is hooked. Fish should be landed as quickly as possible, handled as little as possible and returned to the water as soon as possible. At times, ultralight lines and equipment will be necessary to get fish to bite, but anglers should try to use the heaviest equipment possible to land fish quickly. Nets can aid in landing fish. There are many available that are made specifically for catch-and-release angling. These nets do little damage to a fish’s fins and slime coat. The fish can be left in the net, in the water, while hooks are removed. If fish have to be removed from the water, never lay them directly on the bottom of a boat or on the

Catch-and-Release Basics
When practicing catch-and-release, land the fish as quickly as possible, handle it as little as possible and release it as soon as possible. Here are other tips: • Keep fish in water, if possible, while removing hook. • Keep hook-removal tools within reach at all times. • Have camera ready to take quick photo. • Hold fish firmly and horizontally; do not squeeze. • After removing hook, hold fish upright in water until it can swim away.

bank; use a wetted rubber mat or a wetted towel to reduce damage to the slime coat. Every angler should have pliers, hook-out tools and forceps for removing hooks. Jaw-spreaders are another tool that can be useful for opening the jaws of large predator fish for hook removal. Sidecutting pliers should be used to cut hooks, if necessary. Hook-removal tools should be within reach at all times so that no time is wasted removing hooks. Cameras should be at the ready for pictures of a trophy catch. Leave fish in the water while readying a camera

and planning the shot; when everything is ready, quickly lift the fish and pose for pictures. Hold fish firmly so they can be controlled, but never insert fingers into eyes or gill arches. Gripping the lower jaw is a convenient way to hold species such as bass and crappie that do not have sharp teeth. For other species, a firm grip behind the head is an option; just make sure not to squeeze the fish too hard. Some large fish may be safely handled by carefully inserting fingers just inside a gill cover. Avoid gill filaments and arches.

When out of the water, fish should be supported in a horizontal orientation as much as possible because their anatomy is not made to support their entire weight without water’s buoyancy. Never place fish that are to be released on stringers or in fish baskets. Livewells on boats can keep fish alive, but if they are to be released, that should be done quickly. Once fish are returned to the water, watch to see if they can swim. If they cannot maintain equilibrium, gently hold them upright and allow them to respire on their own. Do not swish the fish back and forth through the water. Fish gills extract oxygen from the water when it passes into the mouth, over the gills and out through the gill covers; swishing fish through the water will not help them extract oxygen and may harm gill tissues. Hold fish upright until they can swim away. (Daryl Bauer is the outreach program manager for the Fisheries Division.)

Administrator, Information and Education: Doug Bauch Editing and Design: Jerry Kane Outdoor Nebraska Vol. 18, No. 2
Under federal and/or state law, discrimination is prohibited on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, marital status, national origin, disability or political affiliation. If you think you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility or want more information, contact the Affirmative Action Officer, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, NE, 402471-0641; the Equal Opportunity Commission, Lincoln, NE, (402) 471-2024, TTY / TDD (402) 471-4693. USFWS, Division of Bird Habitat and Conservation, Civil Rights Coordinator, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MBSP 4020, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Printed on recycled paper with soy ink by Jacob North Companies, Lincoln, NE.

Fall/Winter 2009

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Fall/Winter State Parks Schedule
Arbor Lodge SHP Nebraska City (402) 873-7222 Sept. 27, Oct 4, Oct. 11, and Oct. 18: living history demonstrations. Arthur Bowring Sandhills Ranch SHP Merriman, (308) 684-3428 Dec. 6: Cody Youth Group fundraiser – Christmas at the Bowring; Dec. 13: Martin Youth Group fundraiser – Christmas at the Bowring; Dec. 16: Bowring Christmas Open House and viewing of lights. Buffalo Bill Ranch SHP North Platte (308) 535-8035 Open Sept. 8-Oct. 23, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dec. 18-22: Christmas at the Cody’s, 5:30-8 p.m. Chadron SP Chadron, (308) 432-6167 Housekeeping at cabins are available through midNovember, plus a group camp/conference facility. Eugene T. Mahoney SP Ashland, (402) 944-2523 Year-round lodging and recreation. Restaurant open year-round. Holiday buffets: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day; Oct. 3-4: Autumn Harvest Art Show; Oct. 3-4: Old West Rib Fest; Oct. 2325: Holiday Craft Show and Old West Cookout. Fort Atkinson SHP Fort Calhoun (402) 468-5611 Visitor center open weekends only, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sept. 12-Oct. 18; living history demonstrations, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Oct. 3-4; Friends of Fort Atkinson fundraiser (candlelight tour), Nov. 7. Fort Hartsuff SHP Burwell, (308) 346-4715 Sept. 9-27: buildings open, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week and office and buildings open, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Fort Robinson SP Crawford, (308) 665-2900 Museums, restored buildings, modern and primitive camping, cabin and lodging facilities available through midNovember. Sept. 27-Oct. 3: Elderhostel; Nov. 2: Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. for Historical Christmas Dinner; Nov. 22: longhorn and buffalo sale; Dec. 5: Historical Christmas Dinner, celebrating 1935. Indian Cave SP Shubert, (402) 883-2575 Oct 3-4: Black powder demonstrations; Oct. 9-10, Oct. 16-17 and Oct. 24: Haunted Hollow hayrack rides and Halloween decorating contest; Oct. 10-11: NECTRA Horse Trail Ride-Competitive Horse Trail Ride. Ponca SP Ponca, (402) 755-2284 Oct. 10 and Oct. 17: Hallowfest; Jan. 1: Annual Christmas Bird Count.

Beyond BOW expands outdoor opportunities
Program lets women whet appetite for more outdoor skills
By Julia Plugge The results are in: Women are having fun outdoors. Whether it is tying flyfishing flies, hunting deer, scoring a bull’s-eye on the archery target, camping across Nebraska, kayaking, or preparing the perfect Dutch oven meal, woman are breaking the traditional barriers and becoming skilled in the outdoors. The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program educates at the entry level. It provides encouragement and hands-on instruction in a comfortable atmosphere. BOW workshops are intended primarily for novices who want a taste of one or more outdoor skills. In Nebraska, BOW had been limited to a single three-day workshop each fall at the State 4-H Camp near Halsey. As a result of the high demand, an additional BOW now is offered in the spring at Ponca State Park (SP). Beyond BOW is an extension of the BOW program. Beyond BOW is a series of single-topic workshops that allows women who participated in BOW to take the next step and pursue an activity at a higher skill level and build selfconfidence. Outdoor experts work individually with Beyond

Upcoming Beyond BOW Events
• Cooking Like a Wild Woman: Nov. 7, 2009 – TBA • Scuba Diving: Nov. 8, 2009 – Lincoln • Central Nebraska Deer Hunt: December 2009 and January 2010 – TBA • Saline County Antlerless Deer Camp: Jan. 8-10, 2010 • Fly-Fishing: April 2010 – Keller Park State Recreation Area • Harlan County Spring Turkey Camp: May 6-10, 2010 • Hiking and Backpacking: Fall 2010 – Indian Cave State Park • Middle Loup River Tank Float: TBA

BOW participants at a more in-depth and advanced level. Beyond BOW workshops typically last one or two days and are offered at various locations across the state, depending on requirements for the topic. The hands-on experience also is a chance for women to enjoy camaraderie with like-minded individuals. One such activity is a deer hunt, in which a woman, dressed in orange with a deer permit secured in a pocket, goes with her mentor to a secured hunting location. They don’t go hunting unprepared, however. Before the hunt, they learn safety, rifle handling and sighting, scouting, shot placement, and other necessary skills. The objective of these mentored hunts, and all Beyond BOW workshops, is for the participants to leave better equipped to become involved in the outdoors with their families and friends. They also may leave with their proud accomplishment of

harvesting game. Other mentored camps, such as turkey and waterfowl hunts, follow the same structure as the deer hunt. Other Beyond BOW workshops include ice fishing, kayaking, sail boating, tank floats, and Scuba diving. New Beyond BOW events are scheduled for the upcoming year. In the fall of 2009, a new program called Becoming and Outdoors-Family (BOF) was launched at Ponca SP and the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center near Gretna. The purpose is to have the entire family together enjoying the outdoors. Skills taught are related to a variety of outdoor sports, such as fishing, camping, kayaking, archery, hunting, and hiking. For more information on BOW, Beyond BOW or BOF, go to (Julia Plugge is the event coordinator in the Information and Education Division.)

Cowboy Trail now complete from Norfolk to Valentine
By Jerry Kane It has been decades since trains carried passengers from Norfolk to Valentine. Those trains are gone now, but the route remains – as a recreational trail. The Cowboy Trail now connects the two towns, giving users 195 continuous miles of trail to enjoy. The final section of the trail was completed in the late summer of 2009. Trail users, including bicyclists, horseback riders, walkers, and cross country skiers, can enjoy the scenic path along the Elkhorn River Valley in northeast Nebraska to the Sandhills in the north-central part of the state. View the wildlife and watch as land use changes from the eastern end of the trail to the west. The trail, made of crushed stone, except for concrete sections within towns, is the country’s longest rail-totrail conversion and Nebraska’s first state recreational trail. The right-of-way was accepted as a donation from the Rails to Trails Conservancy in 1994. The historic Chicago and Northwestern Railroad right-of-way, now the Cowboy Trail, is the route the railroad took from northeast Nebraska to South Dakota’s Black Hills, where gold was discovered in 1874. The trail passes through many towns, linking users with a series of services and amenities, from groceries, to bike repair, to camping and lodging. Many of the towns have museums, as well as annual events. A web page with a list of amenities in towns along the trail is located at (Jerry Kane is a public information officer in the Information and Education Division.)

Nebraska Game & Parks

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Outdoor Nebraska

Outsmarting crows no simple task
Hunters will use all their skills to tangle with these natives
By Scott Bonertz A crow will test the skills of any Nebraska wingshooter. An argument could be made that no other type of varmint hunting requires such a diverse set of skills. Hunters must use camouflage, blinds, calling, decoy placement, and wingshooting for a successful crow hunt. Crows are native to Nebraska, but they flourished after the landscape shifted to more cropland. Crows were attacked for many years by hunters and farmers because, when gathered in large flocks, they were seen as a potential health hazard and caused extensive crop damage. They were hunted, poisoned and trapped in great numbers, with a bounty placed on crows in some areas. This changed in 1972 when the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was amended to protect crows. Today, except under special circumstances, federal laws restrict crow hunting seasons to no more than 124 days, and no hunting may occur during the peak crow nesting season.

Crow Hunting Seasons
Regular Season: Oct. 1-Nov. 15 and Jan. 20-April 6, 2010 Hunting area: statewide Public Health Hazard Season: Nov. 16-Jan. 19, 2010 Hunting area: Buffalo, Phelps, Harlan, Franklin, Kearney, and Dawson counties Bag Limit: none Possession Limit: none Permits: All hunters, except residents under age 16, must have a Nebraska hunting permit. Habitat stamp is not required.

used to simulate a fight because of the special hatred that crows have toward the owl. There are two ways to call crows: hand and electronic. Crows respond well to hand calls, but they are a little more work than electronic calls. The electronic call can be efficient and have become smaller and more affordable. An electronic call also allows you to do things that you cannot do with a hand call. Many hunters use them in tandem to trick these wary birds. Keep in mind that an electronic caller used at too high of a volume may spook up-close birds. Conditions Crows may be hunted in almost any type of weather a hunter can tolerate. Be careful on extremely sunny days as crows have great eyesight, so camouflage is important. Blinds may be built from surrounding vegetation, hay bales or other types of materials. Commercial blinds work well. You cannot be too camouflaged when hunting crows. Locations The great thing about crows is they are easily seen and heard. Do some scouting to determine where crows roost and where they feed.

Equipment Most hunters already have the equipment needed to be successful crow hunters. A 12-gauge shotgun is the most effective and widely used weapon, but a 20 gauge will work. A quality load of Nos. 7½ or 8 will be sufficient to take a crow, especially if decoying. Some hunters choose to use a rifle and scope in case the birds will not come in close. Hunters serious about crow hunting will want to use decoys, including several crow decoys and an owl decoy. The owl decoy will be

Techniques Once you have located a murder of crows, there are two strategies typically used to hunt them: the fly-way and the hit-and-run. The fly-way technique is setting up a call stand on either side of the crows’ flyway between feeding areas and the roost. This can be done either in the morning on the way out to feed or in the evening on the way back to the roost. Hunters should look for staging areas where crows will rest along the route. These areas often offer the best shooting. Decoys and camouflage are needed for these setups. The hit-and-run technique may be used when hunting unfamiliar territory. Hunters may travel through an area looking for feeding or calling crows and attempt to place a stand in that area. This type of hunting usually involves using fighting or distress calling to entice the crows to respond. This is the most flexible technique, but many times the clever crows will learn and leave the area resulting in only a few birds being taken. It is OK to skip the decoys in this setup, but full camouflage is needed. (Scott Bonertz is the public information manager in the Information and Education Division.)

First pheasant hunt may harvest memories to last lifetime
By Aaron Hershberger From the dog’s tail, you could tell the bird wasn’t far away. The grip on the worn 20-gauge pump gun tightened a bit. Everything was still, except for the determined movement of the dog and the heartbeat of the hunter. Then it all exploded. There were wings, feathers and the blur of a bird ascending from the grass. Many upland hunters remember their first encounter with a ring-necked rooster or covey of bobwhite quail. Those hunters likely had a hunting partner that was a bit more experienced, giving helpful advice and guidance. The fellow hunter probably was a family member or friend whose friendship grew as their time in the field together increased. Experienced hunters can do the same thing this fall for novices they know. Nebraska has a youth-only pheasant, quail and partridge hunting season Oct. 24-25. The season, open to hunters age 15 and younger, is held the

Youth Pheasant Season
Dates: Oct. 24-25 Open to: ages 15 and younger Hunter Education: proof of completion required for ages 12-15 for this season Hunting Permit and Habitat Stamp: required for nonresidents only Daily Bag Limit: 2 rooster pheasants, 2 quail and 2 partridge Possession Limit: 4 of each More Information:

weekend before the opener of the regular pheasant, quail and partridge season. With reduced competition from other hunters, more time to spend outdoors and an increase in upland bird numbers in most of the state, there is no better time to take advantage of the opportunity. Here are some tips to make the best of the youth season: Definition of Success – Success is more than just birds in the bag. Have fun, be safe and your trip will be successful. Start Early – The fun can

start well before the actual hunt. Involve a young hunter in all aspects of the hunt, including preparation. Spend time at the range burning powder and breaking some

blue rock. Exercise the dog while working on basic commands. Do some scouting to find the best spots and plan your hunt. Hunter’s Pace – Remember this hunt is for the younger hunter. Depending on abilities, this may mean short trips are best. Short legs and thick grass can be tough; take a break when your hunter tires. Concentrate on feeding areas where cover isn’t very thick. Remember to bring plenty of food and drink. Be sure to not set expectations too high for the young hunter. Be a Mentor – The difference between a guide and mentor is the outcome

and the bond created. A mentor should instill the ethics, responsibility, safety, and skills needed to become a successful hunter. Mentors do not have to be great hunters, just willing to be a good role model and teacher. The best teachers encourage as they instruct. Don’t Forget the Camera – Regardless of the birds in the bag, the memories you will harvest will be limitless. Take a camera along to record the excitement. (Aaron Hershberger is an outdoor education specialist in the Information and Education Division.)

Fall/Winter 2009

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Deer Exchange returns in ‘09 to help hungry Nebraskans
By Jerry Kane Hunters embraced the concept of sharing venison with other Nebraskans last year in the first year of the Deer Exchange program. The program is back in 2009. The Deer Exchange is a program of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that brings together hunters (venison donors) who have deer or deer meat they are willing to give away, and citizens (venison recipients) who want to receive it. “We would like to increase the number of deer donated in 2009, as we had many people who wished to receive deer in 2008 that did not get one,” said Kit Hams, big game program manager with the Commission. Hunters have not only an ample deer population available but more hunting opportunities in 2009. “A record deer harvest of more than 80,000 deer is expected this year,” Hams said. “We will issue nearly 90,000 bonus antlerless tags in an effort to thin the whitetail population, especially in eastern Nebraska.” The Deer Exchange is designed to accommodate the additional harvest of deer. Hunters who have filled their freezers may still bag a deer and have somewhere to take it. The Deer Exchange is available Sept. 1, 2009, through March 1, 2010. Donors and recipients register for free at ngpc.state. deerexchange/. They search a database for participants in their area, then make contact by telephone to set up the transfer of deer meat. Deer meat may not be sold. The recipient may accept field dressed deer, skinned and boned deer, or wrapped and frozen deer meat. The donor is responsible for properly field dressing and checking the deer at a check station before transfer The Commission is not responsible for the quality of the meat. (Jerry Kane is a public information officer in the Information and Education Division.)

2009 Nebraska Hunting Seasons
Dark Goose East Platte River Niobrara North Central Panhandle Light Goose Regular Season: Conservation Action: Oct. 24 - Jan. 27 Oct. 24 - Feb. 5 Oct. 24 - Feb. 5 Oct. 10 - Jan. 22 Nov. 7 - Feb. 5 Oct. 10 - Jan. 8, Jan. 23 - Feb. 5 Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Feb. 6 - April 18 Feb. 6 - April 1 Feb. 6 - April 18 Oct. 10 - Dec. 20

Other Big Game Notes
Antelope • Permit quotas are increased. • The age structure of bucks continues to improve, with 91 percent of harvested bucks in 2008 age 2 years or older. • There are 510 firearm and muzzleloader permits authorized, an increase of 65 from 2008. • A new Eastern Sandhills unit is created. Elk • Nebraska’s elk population is growing and was expected to reach 2,000 in 2009. • In 2008, 91 percent of harvested bulls had at least six points on one antler, and the average beam length of those antlers was 47 inches. • The Ash Creek, Hat Creek, Bordeaux Creek, and North Platte River units are expanded. • There are 85 bull and 147 antlerless elk permits authorized, an increase of 12 bull and six antlerless permits.

Continued from Page 1 The average age of whitetail bucks is expected to increase for the fourth straight year. Concern about the age of bucks in some central Nebraska hunting units led the Commission to reduce the number of either-sex permits in some of those firearm deer units. This is aimed at increasing the average age of mule deer and whitetail bucks. In an effort to improve the age structure and population of mule deer bucks in three units in south-central and southwest Nebraska, statewide buck permits will not be valid for mule deer bucks south of Interstate 80. This is expected to reduce the harvest of mule deer bucks by about 250. Other deer regulation changes for 2009 are: • The number of either-sex hunting permits decreased by 1,200. • The number of season choice antlerless hunting permits increased by 1,800. • The number of bonus tags for antlerless whitetail hunting permits increased by 3,300. (Jerry Kane is a public information officer in the Information and Education Division.)

White-fronted Goose Duck, Coot, Pintail, and Canvasback Low Plains Early Oct. 10 - Dec. 20, Dec. 26-27 Low Plains Late Oct. 17-18, Oct. 24 - Jan. 3 High Plains Oct. 10 - Jan. 13 Early Canada Goose Sept. 5-13 Early Teal High Plains Sept. 5-13 Low Plains Sept. 5-20 Youth Waterfowl Sept. 26-27 Falconry Extended Season: Low Plains Sept. 1-30 High Plains Sept. 5-13 Regular Season: Low Plains Early Oct. 10-Dec. 20, Dec. 26-27 Low Plains Late Oct. 17-18, Oct. 24 - Jan. 3 High Plains Oct. 10 - Jan. 13

Big Game
Antelope – archery Aug. 20 - Nov. 13, Nov. 23 - Dec. 31 Antelope – muzzleloader Sept. 19 - Oct. 4 Antelope – firearm Oct. 10-25 Deer – archery Sept. 15 - Nov. 13, Nov. 23 - Dec. 31 Deer – firearm Nov. 14-22 Deer – muzzleloader Dec. 1-31 Deer – landowner Sept. 15 - Jan. 15 Deer – youth Sept. 15 - Jan. 15 Deer – season choice Sept. 15 - Jan. 15 Deer – October antlerless Oct. 9-11 Deer – late antlerless Jan. 1-15 Elk – Boyd Unit Aug. 15 - Nov. 13, Nov. 23 - Dec. 31 Elk – bull Sept. 26 - Oct. 25 Elk – antlerless Sept. 26 - Oct. 25, Dec. 1-21 Bighorn sheep Dec. 1-22 Turkey Sept. 15 - Dec. 31

Small Game
Squirrel Aug. 1 - Jan. 31 Cottontail Sept. 1 - Feb. 28 Jackrabbit Sept. 1 - Feb. 28 Dove Sept. 1 - Oct. 30 Snipe Sept. 1 - Dec. 16 Virginia and Sora Rail Sept. 1 - Nov. 9 Grouse Sept. 12 - Dec. 31 Woodcock Sept. 19 - Nov. 2 Youth Pheasant Oct. 24-25 Youth Quail, Youth Partridge Oct. 24-25 Pheasant Oct. 31 - Jan. 31 Quail Oct. 31 - Jan. 31 Partridge Oct. 31 - Jan. 31 Crow Oct. 1 - Nov. 15, Jan. 20 - April 6 Crow – public health hazard Nov. 16 - Jan. 19

Continued from Page 1 numbers are expected to increase dramatically this year due to the large population of birds and the liberalized season. “Fall turkey population numbers should be outstanding,” according to Kit Hams, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “We have a record adult population and good spring weather resulted in big increases in the Summer Rural Mail Carrier Survey,” he said. “The summer survey results were up 40 percent from 2008 and up 230 percent from 2002. The Panhandle and central Nebraska regions increased the most, but all regions showed an increase in turkey numbers. In general, the number of birds should be the best we’ve ever seen in most areas.” Fall turkey permits allow the harvest of two birds of either sex and are valid statewide. Nebraska turkey permits costs $24 for

Raccoon, Opossum Muskrat and Beaver Raccoon, Opossum, Long-tailed Weasel, Mink, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Badger Bobcat Striped Skunk Sept. 1 - Oct. 31 Hunt Only Nov. 1 - March 31 Trap Only Nov. 1 - Feb. 28 Hunt and Trap Dec. 1 - Feb. 28 Year-round Hunt and Trap Hunt and Trap

The daily bag limit during the fall hunting season is two turkeys per permit.

residents, $91 for nonresidents, and up to two fall permits per hunter can be purchased online or at any Commission office. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. For more information about turkey hunting regulations in Nebraska, go to or pick up a copy of the 2009 Spring and Fall Turkey Hunting Seasons brochure, available at Commission offices and permit vendors across the state. (Doug Carroll is the editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine.)

Deer may be checked electronically
Many Nebraska hunters will have the option of checking their harvested deer electronically this fall. A new, free service will allow hunters to check their deer from the field or at home, by telephone or Internet. Electronic checking will be available during all deer seasons except the November firearm season. Check stations remain available for all deer seasons, as in the past. To check deer electronically, hunters may either go to NEdeercheck. com or call toll-free (800) 405-7700 at any time.

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Outdoor Nebraska

Coyotes can be found in open grasslands in central and western Nebraska, as well as the heavily wooded Missouri River Valley in eastern Nebraska.

Safety while on water crucial for waterfowl hunters
By Scott Bonertz Hunting waterfowl during the migration may be the best time of year to hunt, but it also is when colder water and tougher boating conditions can turn a routine waterfowl hunt into an emergency. Hunters and anglers make up onethird of all boating fatalities. Herb Angell, boating law administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, attributes this to waterfowl hunters thinking of themselves as “hunters,” not “boaters.” “Many hunters believe that life jackets are uncomfortable and too bulky, so they don’t wear them,” Angell said. “Many of these fatalities might have been avoided by simply wearing a life jacket.” Angell says there is no excuse for any waterfowl hunter to not wear a life jacket while on board a boat near, in or floating on bodies of water. Today’s manufacturers make life jackets in camouflage patterns and design them for functionality and safety. If a hunter is concerned about a life jacket restricting movement at the most inopportune time, he may want to consider wearing a “float coat.” A float coat is a life jacket designed for waterfowl hunters and can replace a regular hunting coat. Hunters also may opt for inflatable suspender-style vests or inflatable belt packs. Angell encourages waterfowl hunters to follow these other boating safety tips: • Hunters must follow all boating rules, which include having required safety equipment and life jackets aboard at all times. • Check the capacity plate of the boat and make sure to properly load the boat. Pay particular attention to the weight of the occupants, as well as the weight of hunting dogs, decoys and other gear. Make sure the boat is properly balanced. • To set out decoys, simply toss them overboard. Recovering decoys is best done using a long pole with a hook that will deter persons from leaning over the side of a boat and possibly causing it to capsize. • Firearms should be properly secured and kept unloaded while being transported in a boat. • Never stand in an unsecured boat to shoot. • Hunters should be dressed for the water temperatures, not air temperatures, to avoid the risks of hypothermia if they fall into the water. • Tell a person of responsibility your hunting and float plans, including the names of all persons in your hunting party, the type of boat and its registration number, the location and time of the hunt, and when you expect to return. This information will aid rescue personnel if things go wrong. • Be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip to prevent you from being stranded. • Be ready to handle emergencies, including obtaining help when needed and rendering assistance to others who may need it. (Scott Bonertz is the public information manager in the Information and Education Division.)

Calling all coyote hunters
Fooling wary predator part of thrill of hunt
By Jeff Rawlinson Predator calling can be one of the most exciting hunts in Nebraska. The thrill of not knowing when, where or if a predator will appear brings many hunters to the field each year. Such hunting offers nearly year-round enjoyment. The Approach More important than learning to call is learning about the predator you are pursuing. The best caller in an area void of predators will become frustrated quickly. Coyotes, for example, can be found in open grasslands in central and western Nebraska, as well as the heavily wooded Missouri River Valley in eastern Nebraska, where their habitat overlaps with other predators, such as bobcats. Coyotes are territorial, but their ranges overlap. Scouting for sign, such as scat, tracks and howls, will give the caller much more confidence in an area. Areas with brush piles, wood piles and cover for prey species to hide in will be inhabited by coyotes and other predators. To fool a coyote you must fool its nose and eyes. Camouflage clothing and sitting still will fool the eyes, but the nose is a bit more difficult. A coyote’s sense of smell is roughly 100 times greater than that of a human. The only way to fool the nose is to hunt downwind or facing a crosswind. The crosswind is important because coyotes often will circle around the caller on their approach to pick up the scent. Stuff a handful of cattail seed into a film canister and use this to check the wind. The fluff will tell you wind direction and is more reliable than powders. Skunk scent works well as a cover scent when placed in film canisters with cotton balls. The Call Calling predators can be as easy as sounding like something in distress. Common prey animals include rabbits, squirrels and birds, but anything giving a distress cry will get their attention. During breeding season – in February and March – using receptive female howls or dominant male howls will attract coyotes. Hand calls give you a lot of flexibility, are portable, create unique sounds and are fun to use. The open reed call is a favorite, but the closed reed call is much easier for beginners to use. Electronic calls can be devastating, but in heavily called areas, predators hear some of the same sounds over and over. Using electronic calls by changing sounds or using multiple sounds can improve success. A typical calling sequence starts with a 20-second howl or harsh cry of the prey species you are imitating. Wait one minute, then mix screams and cries for 30-45 seconds. Wait again, then repeat. A little practice will result in the ability to call with little movement and effectively mimic prey animals in distress. Once you defeat their nose, eyes and ears, the rest is up to you. Close-range work is the realm of the 12-gauge shotgun using 3-3½ inch BB or T shot in tightly-choked barrels. Long range work is best left to rifles in the 22-caliber range. Archery is the greatest challenge, using the same setup you would for deer. Predators are a healthy part of any ecosystem. Removing them generally does not result in significant increases in game animal populations. However, like many species, a healthy balance is good and generally their numbers provide a surplus for the hunter to harvest each year. They do offer a challenging sport for many and their furs offer a fantastic prize for your efforts. (Jeff Rawlinson is an assistant administrator in the Information and Education Division.)

Fall/Winter 2009

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All-electronic permitting set for 2010 permits
By Jerry Kane The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will begin selling its permits electronically Nov. 1, 2009, the date 2010 permits may be sold. Hunting and fishing permits and state conservation stamps no longer will be sold from permit books. The exceptions will continue to be the annual park and duplicate annual park permits: and, on a limited basis, the daily park permits. Adhesive-backed park permits still will be provided at the time of sale or mailed, if purchased online. Other limited exceptions to electronic permitting include special permits that require review, such as fur buyer, taxidermist and commercial fishing. Some permits have been sold electronically for nearly a decade, while others were hand-written permits issued from a permit book. Electronic permitting means customers may go to to buy and print out a permit at any time. By only as needed. • Multiple online purchases can be made for multiple individuals with a single transaction. The Commission has been selling some deer and turkey permits electronically since 2001. Hunting and fishing permits, as well as habitat and aquatic habitat stamps, were sold electronically the following year. In 2008, 63 percent of all hunting and fishing permits were processed electronically. Electronic permitting not only eliminates the need for permit books to be reviewed manually to confirm quantities sold, it also captures data for analysis of permit buyers to assist in improving opportunities. E-mail addresses of permit buyers are collected, as a customer option, and used for Commission surveys, notifications and deliveries. (Jerry Kane is a public information officer in the Information and Education Division.)

This image is a screenshot for the Commission’s online permitting page. It may be found at

visiting any Commission permitting office or participating permit vendor, customers can accomplish the same thing. A paper permit still will be provided, and the transaction details will be automatically recorded electronically. The number of participating permit vendors likely will change, so people who have purchased permits from the same vendor for years are encouraged to contact their nearest vendor to

ensure they still are participating and converted to the new system. Some benefits of the system are: • A single purchase of a stamp ensures the stamp will be displayed on any other permits purchased the remainder of the calendar year. • Lost or damaged permits can be replaced at any time from anywhere. • Landowners need to enter legal descriptions only once and update

Ponca offers energy-efficient cabins
By Jerry Kane Visitors to Ponca State Park (SP) can experience a feature unique to Nebraska’s state park system – environment-friendly cabins. Two energy-efficient “green” cabins were completed in 2009. They are designed to highlight various environment-friendly construction options now available to builders. The units, each equipped with two bedrooms, modern kitchen and bath, living room, and dining area, are rented for overnight stays at the park. Now park visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty of the park that overlooks the Missouri River, take advantage of a range of outdoor activities and learn concepts of sustainable living (a lifestyle that seeks to reduce a person’s use of natural resources), recycling and energy efficiency. green elements in the cabins include recycled building materials, geothermal heating/ cooling, lighting, and waste water treatment. The green cabins complement other environment-friendly practices at Ponca SP, including recycling, wetland wastewater treatment system, composting, native plant landscaping practices, habitat restoration, and diverse conservation education programs. A four-bedroom green cabin will be built. The green cabins are the latest addition to Ponca’s expanded lodging. Two mini-lodges, which are open year-round, were completed in 2008. The park has many other cabins. (Jerry Kane is a public information officer in the Information and Education Division.)


Look for the screenshots above to find the blogs of Daryl Bauer, top, and Greg Wagner at

Continued from Page 1 and search for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates, known as “tweets.” Tweets are textbased posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends. The Commission uses Twitter to enhance the customer’s outdoor experiences, make them more relevant and more valuable by providing fishing and hunting reports, organizational news and blog updates. To follow the Commission on Twitter, go to NEGameandParks/ or follow @NEGameandParks. To further engage the outdoor community, the

Commission created the blogs. Fisheries Outreach Program Manager Daryl Bauer and Public Information Officer Greg Wagner are sharing answers, solving problems and building relationships one blog post at a time. Daryl Bauer’s Barbs and Backlashes blog takes readers on a regular joy ride through the fishing mind of the man known and respected throughout the state. Daryl uses this outlet to share his fishing knowledge with the public. Check it out, and let Daryl know what you think at http://barbsandbacklashes. You also can tag along with Greg Wagner’s outdoor adventures at In the Wild with Greg Wagner. “Wags” shares his knowledge of the outdoors and encourages readers to get out into the wild and enjoy what Nebraska has to offer. Check it out at http:// inthewildwithwags.wordpress. com. (Scott Bonertz is the public information manager in the Information and Education Division.)

The above sign is an example of signage around the cabins that explains energy-efficient practices used.

Through their stays in the cabins, visitors may adopt sustainable-living practices in their homes and support conservation of energy and natural resources. Interpretive signs in each cabin highlight green building practices and sustainable-living concepts. The most unique feature of these cabins is the walls. They were built with prairie hay bales, which produce a high insulation R-value. Other

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Outdoor Nebraska

Ice Fishing Essentials
A guide to equipment, clothing and helpful tips for fun on ice
(4) (8) (7) (10) (11) (3)



(6) (5) (1) (9)


By Daryl Bauer

Ice fishing can be a great way to beat cabin fever and it can be one of the best times of the year to catch fish. However, to take advantage of ice fishing opportunities some gear is essential to make the experience comfortable and productive.

• Remove layers during periods of activity to avoid sweating and add layers back on during periods of inactivity.

one set of sharp blades on every trip. • Once a person is ready to make a greater investment in ice fishing equipment, gaspowered augers make the job even easier. • An (9) ice skimmer is essential for scooping ice chunks from holes.

• The best tool for checking ice thickness is an ice chisel or (4) spud bar that can be used to strike the ice and evaluate ice conditions. • Commercial or homemade (5) ice picks should be worn around your neck in case the worst happens and you need something to grip the ice and pull yourself out of the water. • Try (6) ice creepers or ice cleats. They are great for keeping you on your feet. • Wearing a (7) life jacket is a good idea until you are sure the ice is safe.

• There are a number of (1) pac boots available that have removable liners and are rated for temperatures well below zero. Spend as much money as you can afford on a good pair of boots because you will be standing on the ice. • There are a variety of hats that will keep your head and ears warm; consider a (2) fur hat — nothing beats fur for warmth and style.

Rods and Reels, Hooks and Bait

• Beginners can use their open-water fishing rods and reels.Specialized, shorter, (10) ice fishing rods that allow anglers to sit closer to their ice holes while they are fishing. • There are a variety of ice fishing rods on the market, or anglers can manufacture their own using broken open-water rods. • Think small and light for most ice fishing tackle. Fish metabolism rates are slower during the winter so light lines with relatively small (11) hooks, jigs or spoons tipped with wax worms or maggots are the best ice fishing tools for most species of fish. • Borrow a child’s (12) sled to haul your equipment onto the ice. • Use heavier lines and larger baits for pike and other large predator fish.

Any nice largemouth bass caught through the ice is sure to bring a smile.

• The key to staying warm is layering. Begin with a base layer of silk or synthetic underwear and add layers. • Wool garments provide excellent insulation and will maintain warmth even when damp. • Outer layers can include sweat shirts and jackets covered by heavy parkas, bibs or coveralls. • Carry at least a couple pairs of gloves or (3) mittens.

• All ice anglers should have a long piece of rope in case of emergency.

Ice Holes
• A spud bar can be used to make holes in the ice, but (8) ice augers make the job easier. Hand augers are relatively inexpensive and would be the best investment for beginning ice anglers. The most important thing about ice augers is to keep the blades sharp. Purchase an extra set of blades to ensure you have at least

Bauer’s Blog
Read more about Nebraska fishing in Daryl Bauer’s Barbs and Backlashes blog at http://