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Private landowners may enroll in Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters

 

                                          

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists will be actively enrolling private landowners in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program in June. Through the OFW program, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting or fishing access on their properties. With roughly 97 percent of Nebraska’s land-base in private ownership, finding places to recreate continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing hunters and anglers. OFW helps ensure Nebraska’s rich outdoor heritage is carried forward by expanding public hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands throughout the state. In 2016, Game and Parks biologists enrolled more than 230,000 acres in the program.

Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual, per-acre payments for allowing walk-in hunting and/or fishing access on their properties. Payment rates vary from 50 cents to $15 per acre, depending on habitat type and location. Game and Parks biologists post boundary signs and enrolled property locations are published annually in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at http://outdoornebraska.gov/publicaccessatlas/. Participating landowners also receive protection from liability under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act.

Increasing public hunting access is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Parks’ five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. New enrollments in OWF will be targeted within the eight priority areas identified in the plan. The plan may be viewed at http://outdoornebraska.gov/pheasantplan/.

Private lands providing hunting opportunities for upland gamebirds are preferred, including undisturbed grasslands and draws, tall stubble fields, and lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Additional financial incentives are also available to improve habitat on OFW properties.

Private landowners interested in enrolling their land in OWF should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-0641), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940), or North Platte (308-535-8025).

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Pheasant hunters expect a good season By Larry myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Pheasant hunting prospects look bright for the three-state area. Roadside counts are in and there have been no really significant problems for pheasant numbers.

Although South Dakota numbers show a 20 percent decline, you have to remember that this is South Dakota. It is likely hunters will experience about the same success as last year.

Iowa numbers look about the same as last year, and last year was the best in five years, so expectations look good for another successful season. As a side note, quail numbers are at a 27-year high.

Nebraska pheasant hunters are looking at another good year. Pheasant numbers match the five-year average in most parts of the state. Most areas can expect hunting much like last year’s or, perhaps, a little poorer. Two exceptions are the Sandhill and Central regions, where pheasant numbers jumped 62 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

In Iowa, population patterns tracked the weather. Parts of northwest Iowa had declines due to heavy snowfall, which likely reduced pheasant survival. Parts of southwest Iowa had declines due to heavy spring rains, likely reducing nesting success. Other regions had more favorable weather and saw similar or slightly higher numbers.

“To put it in perspective, our population is similar to 2007 when we harvested 630,000 roosters,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Last year we harvested 270,000 roosters. The difference is, we had twice the hunters in 07. If we had 100,000 hunters last year we would have doubled the harvest. The birds are here; we need hunters to return.”

Iowa’s quail population index has been increasing recently and is now at its highest since 1989 after experiencing increases again across south central and southwest Iowa this year. [Read more…]

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One Small Mistake Can Ruin Your Turkey Population

The wild turkey is an amazing bird. Although their numbers across the U.S. are really good, most any hunter or sportsman wouldn’t mind seeing a few more where they hunt or manage land. A simple mistake we see made every year that can have a negative impact on your turkey numbers is the good old bush hog. After being on your property during the spring, you begin to see a lot of things you would like to mow and keep cut back.

Remember that those hens have nests hidden all over the place and many times they are in those grown up areas we are dying to get the tractor to and mow them down. Even routine maintenance on clover fields in the spring leads to a lot of turkey nest being destroyed. If you have chores to do on your property this spring, take the time to walk the areas out thoroughly and scout for any hidden turkey nests. The main picture here is of a nest found in a Clover Plus field at the BioLogic Proving Grounds last spring, we were really wanting to get in there and get the field sprayed, but we took the time to do some walking around before driving in there with the tractor and look what we found.

We were able to spray and avoid disturbing the nest. Although food plots are usually not the preferred place a hen will lay her eggs, it is not uncommon for them to use a spring food plot that has some good cover height to it. [Read more…]

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GameKeeper Life Hacks Make Life Easier with our Spring/Summer “To Do” List

By this time of the year, most everyone’s hunting season is over or starting to wind down and not many guys are thinking about growing plots or feeding their deer. With some cold and nasty weather still possible for the next few weeks, it’s a great time to sit down and start planning for the upcoming growing season. There may be some things you thought of while sitting in your deer stand this fall that you would like to accomplish on the property you manage…

Check Your Soil
One of the first things I like to do in February and March if the weather allows is to pull soil samples on my plots and get them sent in to see if I need to add any lime and see what fertilizer will be needed for my warm season annuals that will be planted in late April/early May. If you had soil samples taken this fall you will already have an idea of where your plots are in needing lime or nutrients. Have an up to date sample of the areas you plant to plant this spring and if the ph is low, have lime spread in the late winter/early spring. This will give the ag lime time to start working on the soil for your spring/summer plots and also those fields that are left fallow through the summer and are typically only planted in the fall. Depending on the size of the screen that the lime is run through at the quarry, the granular consistency of ag lime can take several months to break down and begin to neutralize the acidity in your soil. [Read more…]

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The Easiest Way to Create More Food & Cover for Whitetails

“Browse.” When compared to food plot crops and most of the whitetails’ other foods, it’s terrible nutrition and difficult to digest, BUT WHITETAILS MUST HAVE IT! Browse consists of the leaves, buds, stems and twigs of woody deciduous trees and shrubs, but they may also choose conifers such as cedar or white pine. It’s very intriguing because even if they have ample quality foods available, for some reason they still need this low-value, hard to absorb food. The good thing is providing it for your herd is easy if you have a chainsaw. Winter is the perfect time to add extra browse to your property by hinge-cutting (also known as half-cutting) select trees, or simply felling trees you need to take down.

Hinge-cutting a tree is simply felling the tree, yet leaving it connected to the root system. Many choose to make the cut at chest height to as low as around your knees. The idea is to cut through the trunk until the tree is able to fall or be pushed over, leaving as much of the root system attached to the top as possible. The top of the tree is now an immediate browse source for your herd, but the following spring suckers (new growth around the stump) will begin sprouting around the stump area (depending upon the species) and the top (that you left connected to the roots) will also continue to grow. [Read more…]

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Hunters should find more pheasants this year By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

The pheasant hunting outlook in our three-state region looks very bright.

Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota all report increased number of birds. Favorable weather during the winter and through the pheasant breeding season contributed most to increasing numbers. Habitat loss was reported by wildlife managers in both Iowa and Nebraska.

When Iowa’s pheasant hunters take to the field on the Oct. 31 opener, they will find more birds again this year. Roadside counts showed the second straight year of increasing pheasant numbers. The statewide index of 24 birds per route represented a 37 percent increase over last year and a 260 percent increase over the all-time low set in 2013. The highest concentration of birds occurred in the northwest. [Read more…]

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The Edge When it comes to Hunting By Gary Howey

I have hunted for as long as I can remember, cherishing every trip and the memories they created!

My first hunting trips were with my Dad, Cal near Watertown, South Dakota where the pheasant population was +unbelievable. It was more of a long walk than a hunt for us kids, because Dad had only one shotgun, his old Model 97.

When we were young, Dad would take us along hunting which we loved, as we would always stop at Tinker Town west of town for an early lunch That was where we got our first store bought hamburger and a pop. We were not really hunting, just sharing the experience, as my brother and I were Dad’s bird dogs, flushing, running down and retrieving the birds.

Even though I never had the opportunity to shoot a bird, I could not wait until opening day to spend some quality time with my Dad in the outdoors.

Back then, I noticed certain areas always held more birds, so if I wanted to be where the action was, I needed to be with the group of hunters walking through those areas. At times, there would not be a whole lot of difference from one spot or another, but these subtle changes seemed attract and hold the birds.

As I grew older and started to hunt more, I would always hunt these types of areas as something drew both the birds and me to these spots.

These areas were not always the best habitat in the field, with the most cover, sometimes they would be the worst cover in the fields, but they held birds.

I noticed the same thing when I did a lot of depredation trapping; some areas just had more sign than others did, so the furbearers were relating to these areas just as the pheasants had. [Read more…]

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Duck numbers remain high, Drier conditions on the prairies demonstrate importance of Boreal Forest habitat

Reprinted from Ducks Unlimited
Memphis, Tenn. – July 2, 2015 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today released its report on 2015 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Overall duck numbers in the survey area are statistically similar to last year and remain strong. Total populations were estimated at 49.5 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is 43 percent above the 1955-2014 long-term average and the highest count on record. Last year’s estimate was 49.2 million birds.

View all the data and get a species-by-species breakdown at www.ducks.org/DuckNumbers.com.

“We are fortunate to see continued high overall duck populations in North America’s breeding areas this year,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “Though conditions were dry in some important habitats, we had large numbers of birds returning this spring and good conditions in the Boreal Forest and other areas of Canada. It looks like some typical prairie nesters skipped over the U.S. prairies and took advantage of good conditions farther north. This is an important reminder about the critical need for maintaining abundant and high-quality habitat across the continent. The Boreal Forest, especially, can provide important habitat when the prairies are dry. But the Boreal is under increasing threats from resource extraction.” [Read more…]

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PF Announces 2014 South Dakota Habitat Accomplishments & Awards

Dedicated chapters, opening of regional headquarters highlight 2014 endeavors

Brookings, S.D. – March 17, 2015 – Pheasants Forever improved habitat for pheasants and other upland wildlife on more than 43,000 acres in South Dakota in 2014. This includes 1,319 wildlife habitat projects completed by the state’s 34 chapters that improved 20,156 acres for wildlife, as well as 23,314 acres impacted by Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill biologist program.

“The success and longevity of Pheasants Forever in South Dakota can be attributed to the incredible work of our South Dakota volunteer chapters and their mission to conserve wildlife habitat,” stated Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative for South Dakota. “With the opening of our new regional headquarters, the dedicated chapters throughout the state and the addition of Farm Bill biologists, Pheasants Forever in South Dakota is set to do great things in 2015.”

Complementing the efforts of South Dakota chapters and volunteers, 2014 marked a historic moment for “The Habitat Organization” with the opening of Pheasants Forever’s first regional headquarters in Brookings. Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s long-time Vice President of Government Affairs, permanently moved to South Dakota and was appointed as director for the new office. The move came amidst organizational efforts to address substantial habitat losses and land use changes in South Dakota, which have resulted in a dramatic decline in pheasant numbers.

Pheasants Forever in South Dakota 2014 Chapter Habitat Accomplishments

Type of Project
2014 Projects:
2014 Acres
Historical Project Totals
Total Acres Benefited
Food Plots
1,180
16,512
21,730
263,834

Land Acquisitions
2*
207*
62*
12,040*

Nesting Cover
73
2,784
2,113
77,172

[Read more…]

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Half a Tree Can Be Worth More Than a Whole

Winter months offer a great time to do woods-work on your property. One of the techniques that pay off during this time of the year is hinge-cutting (Video) maples, poplar and other softwood species. Hinge-cutting refers to cutting partially through a tree and felling it or pushing it over so that it remains connected to the stump and root system. This becomes an immediate browse source for your herd, but because you leave it connected to the root system it will continue to produce browse and cover for years to come. Other species can also be hinge-cut, it’s just the soft wood species offer some of the best browse available. [Read more…]