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More Habitat = More Wildlife Gary Howey

  The latest pheasant outlook for South Dakota just came out and I do not want to say it is a Doom and Gloom report, but they are indicating that the states pheasant numbers are down significantly.

  To some, especially those who do not live in the upper Midwest, those that travel a long ways to hunt the state bird may think twice about making the trip.

  Well, let me tell you, if I were those individuals, I would not let the report alter your plans as even if the numbers are down, which they could be, there are still more pheasants in South Dakota than in any two or three other states in the U.S.

   In South Dakota and other upper Midwestern states, there has been a huge acreage allocation of Conservation Reserve Plantings (CRP)  land and because of this new habitat, wildlife will not only survive, but also should eventually increase in numbers.

  In my neck of the woods, we are seeing a few more birds and the reason for that is because of the low commodity crop prices and the new CRP bill, which allows good quality land to be pulled out of production and planted to native grasses.  These fields that once produced row crops are now in the CRP program where trees and bushes are planted as well as native plants and grasses. These native grasses; Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Sedgegrass, Little Bluestem or Side Oats Grama which grow best in the heat of the summer will take longer to establish. The first year CRP plantings may look as if there are few grasses and wild flowers with a lot of weeds, but once these grasses start to grow, they will eliminate many of the weeds found in the field the first year. These grasses provide excellent wildlife habitat, giving not only pheasants, but also all wildlife a place to live.

  Some plantings are not huge, maybe just the irrigation pivot corners, while others could be a hundred acres or so, no matter what the size, every little bit helps. [Read more…]

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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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That Time of the Year Being Thankful By Gary Howey

  The holiday season and especially Christmas is a time to reflect back and truly appreciate all we have, our families, friends, the many opportunities available to us because we live where we do, and for those that have given up so much for us as they serve in our military.

  We should be thankful for so many things, especially our families, our husbands and wives, children, and grandchildren and for those who have been around longer than I have your great-grand kids. Our families, who may have sometimes wondered about us, have been there and who have supported us throughout life, through thick and thin.

  We should be especially thankful for their support over the year and for me, especially the support of a wife, “who has kept the home fires burning” while I was away.

  On my journey, I’ve traveled many miles, yes I was fishing and hunting, but as my good friend Tony Dean once said, “It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.” 

  For those friends, old, new, some we have lost and those friends we may not yet have meet, those we think of from time-to-time.

Those, whom we may have spent time with in the blinds, peering in the air for the waterfowl flights that may not appear, in the fields walking those many miles in search of pheasants, quail and prairie chicken, on the water waiting for that next bite, those who helped us to create our own outdoor adventures.

  We should be thankful for time spent with friends and family who have passed, remembering those good times we had with them.

  I’m also thankful for the wildlife we have on earth, those animals, birds and fish that have fed and clothed early Americans and for those in the wild today.  These wildlife species aren’t there just for hunters to enjoy, but also hikers, bird watchers, wildlife photographers and nature lovers. Many of these species increase in numbers because of the efforts of hunters and the dollars aid by them in excise taxes on their equipment and their permits.

  Then there’s our Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members who keep us advised on the outdoors in their areas and furnish their time and equipment to put us on the fish and game when things get hot.

  To those who have spent long hours with us, supervising our journey, helping us to get to where we are today, we all should be thankful for.  

  For me, it would be the newspaper editors who’ve had to work with me, the videographers, editors and radio co-hosts who made sense of what I did, wrote and say.

  Then there are the opportunities given in life, the direction our lives have went, where we live and the decisions we’ve made in life.

  We should be thankful for the opportunities we’ve received, in putting our lives together, our occupations, our families,  the people we’ve met and where we’ve ended up in life. [Read more…]