Big Game Society To Auction Elk Tag, Combo Permit May 20

LINCOLN, Neb. – A bull elk tag and a multispecies combination permit will be auctioned off by the Nebraska Big Game Society on May 20 in Lincoln.

The 10th Annual NBGS Meeting and Auction will be held at Hillcrest Country Club, 9401 O St.

Residents are eligible for the bull elk tag. Residents and nonresidents are eligible for the combination permit. The elk tag auction high bidder will receive a bull elk tag valid in any elk management unit during a 2021 open bull elk season using any legal weapons for that season. The combination permit has a bag limit of one deer (mule deer or whitetail) and two turkeys.

Additional items and outdoor experiences will be auctioned at the event. All of the proceeds from the auctions will be donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for wildlife conservation, research and big game hunting opportunities in the state.

Tickets for the banquet are $75 each or $600 for a table of eight. Dinner is at 6:15 p.m., and the auction begins at 7:15 p.m.

Send requests for tickets or to register as a call-in bidder, including phone number, to nbgs11@gmail.com.

Five Ways To Get Involved In Nebraska Bird Month

LINCOLN, Neb. — This May, join fellow bird lovers in celebrating Nebraska Bird Month by getting trained, celebrating birds, and boosting research through a variety of events planned across the state.

More than a dozen events, such as the statewide Nebraska Bird Month 2021 BirdBlitz, provide opportunities for all skill levels. Here are five ways to get involved:

1. Get iNaturalist trained: Learn how to use this online-based, community science platform to document Nebraska’s birds and help collect real scientific data; this program will be integral to participating in the BirdBlitz. The free Zoom presentation is 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 29. Register at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

2. Nebraska Bird Month 2021 BirdBlitz: Join others in your community to identify as many bird species in a specific area during May. When you see a bird, take a picture or record the sound, then upload it to iNaturalist under the "Nebraska Bird Month 2021 BirdBlitz" project. Once confirmed by two others, your sighting will be considered research-grade scientists can use for research.

3. Nebraska Bird Month at Schramm: Look for birds from the Schramm Education Center birding area the entire month of May. New to birding? Rent a Birding Backpack, complete with binoculars and bird identification books, from the front desk, and then explore Schramm Park State Recreation Area to spot a few.

4. Fort Robinson State Park Birding Hike: Join the Game and Parks, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in a bird hike from 9 to 10 a.m. May 15. Hikers will learn tips and tricks for bird ID in the field. This event is open to all ages. Register by May 15 at 308-436-3777.

5. Wildcat Hills Bird Hike: Take a hike from 9 to 10 a.m. May 22 and discover the plethora of birds that call Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area home. Uncover cool adaptations, local research projects and birds common to the area. Register by May 21 by calling 308-436-3777.

Find other events to participate in at NebraskaBirdMonth.org.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and partners annually host Nebraska Bird Month. The goal is to educate, inspire, spread awareness and empower all Nebraskans to conserve and protect Nebraska’s bird populations. Nebraska is home to more than 400 bird species, commonly seen in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, woodlands — and even your backyard.

“The accessibility of birds can serve as a bridge between people and nature, inspiring everyone from children and adults to feel connected and excited about the natural world,” said Jamie Bachmann, Game and Parks wildlife educator.

For more information, contact jamie.bachmann@nebraska.gov.

51st Annual Cornhusker Trap Shoot Set For April 29-May 1

LINCOLN, Neb. – More than 2,000 students in grades 6-12 are expected to compete in the 51st Annual Cornhusker Trap Shoot April 29-May 1 on the home grounds of the Nebraska Trapshooting Association in Doniphan, Nebraska.

Joining shooters from across Nebraska also will be those from Wyoming, Iowa, Colorado and South Dakota.

COVID-19 protocols are in place to provide for the safety of everyone at the event.

Individuals attending the shoot must wear face masks when they are not able to properly create social distance.

To prevent the gathering of crowds, the NTA clubhouse will be closed to all, except the following: shoot officials, coaches and participants picking up prizes. Extra outdoor restrooms will be available on the grounds.

“We’re looking forward to returning to Doniphan for another great shoot,” Shoot Director Eric Javins said. “We are taking measures to make sure everyone enjoys remains safe while enjoying this great event.”

Competition will take place in individual and team divisions. Junior high students (grades 6-8) will shoot 100 16-yard targets on April 29. High school competitors (grades 9-12) will shoot 75 16-yard targets on April 30, then 75 handicap targets on May 1. The high school shooter with the highest combined score will earn the Cornhusker Cup. Competition begins at 8 a.m. each day.

The Cornhusker Trap Shoot is open nationwide to all shooters in grades 6-12 who have completed a hunter education course.

The NTA home grounds are 3 miles south of Interstate 80 exit 312 on U.S. 281. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the NTA are hosts.

Visit Cornhusker-trap.com for more information.

Game And Parks To Offer Project WILD Educator Workshop

LINCOLN, Neb. – Sign up for the virtual Project WILD educator workshop to learn more about environmental education in Nebraska.

Project WILD will help teach lessons about life cycles, habitats, wildlife populations, biodiversity and much more. Learn new skills and ways to implement activities into the classroom. The updated curriculum builds upon changing wildlife conservations, needs and advances in instructional methodology in Pre-K through 12th grade education. There is new content in every activity, including outdoor learning opportunities, STEM extensions and career connections.

This free workshop will be held May 4 and May 11 at 6 p.m. Central time. Participants must attend both days to receive resources. Registration can be completed by visiting the calendar entry for the event at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

For more information, contact Jamie Bachmann at jamie.bachmann@nebraska.gov.

Morel Mushroom Season Has Begun In Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – There is good news for foragers. The morel mushroom picking season is just beginning.

Some morels now are being found along eastern Nebraska’s river bottoms. In a few weeks, they will emerge in hilly wooded areas above rivers.

“Look for morels near dead and decaying trees like cottonwoods,” said longtime morel hunter Greg Wagner, public information officer with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Walk slowly and scan the ground carefully. Where you find one, you should find more.”

Wagner said it is important for morel mushroom hunters in Nebraska to know they must get permission from the landowner to go onto private property, whether the land is posted or not. “Trespassers risk a misdemeanor citation and their mushrooms confiscated,” he said. “Know and respect property boundary fences, as well. Find out what those fences look like ahead of time.”

State parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas owned and controlled by Game and Parks are open to the public for non-commercial mushroom hunting. Vehicle park permits are required on state parks and recreation areas.

Morel mushroom hunters are reminded that it is illegal to park at bridges along public roadways. Those kayaking or air boating are reminded that river sandbars and woodlands are nearly all privately-owned and permission must be obtained to go on to those areas to look for morels.

Wagner has the following tips for morel hunting:

• Use insect repellent.

• Carry a mesh bag to keep the morels fresh while picking.

• Avoid touching poison ivy or stinging nettles.

• Do not disturb bird nests or animal dens.

• Take along a pocket knife to cut morels or pinch them with your fingers.

• The morel mushroom gathering period happens amid Nebraska’s spring wild turkey hunting seasons, so wear blaze orange clothing and steer clear of hunters and their blinds.

• Watch out for false morels; you don’t want to eat them. False morels are red, have a brain-like lobe, and are solid on the inside.

• Pack out your trash and recyclables.

After the morel hunt, Wagner likes to cut the morels in half length-wise and wash them thoroughly in cold water with a kitchen spray nozzle. Then a quick salt-water soak may be in order if the morels are dry. He prefers to sauté them in a skillet with butter and a little garlic.

For more information and recipes on morel mushrooms, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/morel/.

Webinar Series Will Celebrate American Wetlands Month In May

LINCOLN, Neb. – Celebrate American Wetlands Month this May with a series of virtual webinars.

In a state full of diverse aquatic habitats, these webinars will be a great chance to get to know Nebraska’s wetlands. A variety of topics will be covered, from types of wetlands to the species that rely on them for survival.

Registration is required and can be completed by visiting the event entries at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov or Facebook.com/NGPCWildlifeEducation.

The series schedule is:

• May 4 – Native and Invasive Nebraska Wetland Plants

• May 11 – Common Wetland Birds of Nebraska

• May 13 – Nebraska Wetlands and the Journey of the Cranes

• May 18 – Wetland Storytelling: A Look Behind the Scenes of the Wetland Outreach and Education Project

• May 20 – Nebraska’s Saline Wetlands and the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle

• May 25 – Wetland Wildlife in Nebraska

Each webinar will be recorded and posted to the Nebraska Game and Parks Education YouTube Channel.

For more information, contact grace.gaard@nebraska.gov.

Open Fields And Waters Program Seeking New Enrollments

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is looking to provide additional hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands through its Open Fields and Waters Program.

Landowners willing to allow public, walk-in access for hunting or fishing can receive annual, per-acre payments through the program. Participating landowners are afforded liability protection through the Nebraska Recreational Liability Act. Additional financial incentives often are available for habitat improvements, such as Conservation Reserve Program enrollment or management upgrades.

Game and Parks primarily is seeking to add the following types of enrollments, but all properties offering high-quality hunting or fishing opportunities will be considered:

Conservation Reserve Program – CRP fields provide excellent hunting opportunities for upland game birds and acres in any part of the state will be considered. Landowners can receive up to $10 per acre for CRP, depending upon location and habitat quality.

Wetland Reserve Program easements – Landowners who have Wetland Reserve Program easements can earn up to $15 per acre for accessible portions of WRP easements with suitable habitats.

Grasslands – High-quality grassland habitat that provides mixed-bag hunting opportunities for upland game birds and big game species are being sought statewide. Properties in the Sandhills supporting prairie grouse, mule deer and/or antelope are a priority, along with sites in south-central and southeastern Nebraska that offer quail and/or white-tailed deer hunting opportunities.

Woodlands – Heavily timbered areas along riparian corridors and those with canyon-like topography are being pursued in many areas. Rates for high-quality woodlands range from $5 to $15 per acre, depending on habitat quality and location.

Fishing access – Ponds, lakes, warm-water streams or rivers and cool-water streams with trout are potential targets. Payment rates are per surface acre on lakes and ponds and per stream mile on streams or rivers.

For more information about Open Fields and Waters, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/OFW. Interested landowners should contact a biologist at their nearest Game and Parks district office or service center (OutdoorNebraska.org/Locations).

Since 2016, more than 138,000 acres have been added to Open Fields and Waters and current statewide enrollment is at an all-time high. More than 850 private landowners participated in the program in 2020-21, and provided walk-in hunting and fishing opportunities across 372,000-plus land acres, more than 500 acres of ponds and lakes and more than 45 stream miles.

In 2020, Game and Parks received a three-year, Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Improvement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This grant provides $1 million per year and will allow for the continued expansion of this program over the next few years. In addition, Game and Parks uses funds from habitat stamp and hunting license sales, Pittman-Robertson funds (Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Act) and contributions from partners to fund the program and increase opportunities for hunting, trapping and fishing on Nebraska’s private lands.

Commission Approves 2021 Deer, Antelope And Elk Hunting Recommendations

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved recommendations for 2021 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons at its meeting April 20 in Kearney.

Commissioners approved staff recommendations to increase deer permits and bonus antlerless-only whitetail tags in several management units to stabilize populations.

For antelope management units, an additional 39 either-sex permits and 390 doe/fawn permits were approved.

An additional 78 bull elk and 267 antlerless elk permits were approved to reduce elk populations in many elk management units.

“We have listened to hunters and landowners and are issuing more big game permits,” said Alicia Hardin, wildlife administrator for Game and Parks. “We are continuing to address depredation complaints in a variety of ways, including the addition of wildlife staff and other resources.”

The approved 2021 big game season dates are:

Deer: Archery – Sept. 1-Dec. 31; November Firearm – Nov. 13-21; Muzzleloader – Dec. 1-31; Late Antlerless – Jan. 1-16, 2022; October River Antlerless – Oct. 1-15; Late River Antlerless – Jan. 1-31, 2022; Antlerless Only Season Choice – Sept. 1-Jan. 16, 2022; Youth – Sept. 1-Jan. 16, 2022; Limited Landowner – Sept. 1-Jan. 16, 2022; Special Landowner – Nov. 6-8

Antelope: Archery – Aug. 20-Dec. 31; Muzzleloader – Sept. 18-Oct. 3; Firearm – Oct. 9-24; Late doe/fawn – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2022

Elk: Archery bull – Sept. 1-Oct. 31; Firearm bull – Sept. 21-Oct. 31; Antlerless – Aug. 1-Jan. 31, 2022; Antlerless, Private Land Only – Aug. 1-Sept. 20; Early Antlerless – Aug. 1-Oct. 31; Late Antlerless – Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2022

In other business, Game and Parks Conservation Officer Doug Pollard received the Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award for 2020.

The commissioners approved a staff recommendation to approve a resolution of support for Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area to apply to be recognized as an International Dark Sky designation.

In addition, the commissioners heard a staff update on the status of whooping cranes in Nebraska, and updates on shooting range development across the state, fisheries research at Harlan County Reservoir, water policy, and the National Archery in the Schools Program.

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