This winter, I’ve plans to do some predator calling and ice fishing, but looking forward to and counting the days until spring arrives.
These cold dreary days are hard to take, especially with the wind that comes up in Nebraska and South Dakota.
There are times that I enjoy the winter months, but I’m hoping that the Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil was correct when he didn’t see his shadow and they predicted that it’s going to be an early spring.
There are numerous reasons, besides the warmer weather why the approach of spring is enjoyable to those of us who love the outdoors
As January makes the turn into February, we’ll have an opportunity to attend, Gun, Sport, Boat & Travel and Art shows throughout the area, to look for something new to hang in our man and women caves, to look at a new boat and even plan an upcoming trip this spring or summer.
For those gun enthusiast, there’s the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors Gun Shows, like the one recently held in Yankton, they have other shows scheduled in Sioux Falls Feb. 9-10, Pierre Feb. 16-17, Mitchell March 9-10 and Watertown March 16-17 and the 39th Annual Artist of the Plains Art Show on in Sioux Falls Feb. 15-17.
In Nebraska, there are Gun Shows scheduled in Fremont Feb. 15-16, Atkinson Feb. 23-24, Norfolk March 9-10 and Wisner March 10-11, with the Omaha Boat, Sports & Travel show, scheduled Feb. 21-24.
These events have or offer about anything an outdoorsmen or women would want, need or is looking for and if you have never attending one, you’ll be surprised at all these events have to offer.
Conservation and education is a huge part of our outdoor heritage and in the next several months, several of these conservation organizations will be holding their annual banquet fundraisers.
The Southeast Chapter of the National Wild turkey Federation in Yankton has their banquet scheduled for Feb. 23. The big one, Northeast Nebraska Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited holding their banquet/fundraiser in Wausa on March 16, with many events such as this selling out early, so it’s a great idea to contact them ahead of time to make sure there’s seats left at their banquet.
These conservation organizations keep much of the funds raised at these banquets right here in our area: promoting the outdoors, hunting, family involvement in the sport, mentoring youth, habitat, Hunter’s Safety, and supporting youth groups as well as a number of other events.
If you aren’t a member, or even a hunter, it’s still a good idea to support them, as some of the funds raised, assist youth groups with some of their activities.
With the warmth of the sun, as the ice starts to disappear, things start to green up with Mother Nature painting the beautiful landscape once again.
Once the river, lakes and ponds open up, we’ll have an opportunity to get out on the water with our boats and do some serious fishing, as the water temperatures warm with the fish becoming more active, requiring more food, the bite will pick up.
Fishing may be slow at first, especially if you’re fishing the river as things change on the river during the winter, the increase or decrease in the amount of water coming down stream can change the contour of the bottom, with old holes filled in, new ones opening up while others now are part of an exposed sandbar.
A little time spent on the river this time of the year is a good idea, when keeping a close eye on your locators/GPS can really pay off, as some of those old hot spots may be just that, an “old spot.” A hole or current where the fish once were, moved, because of a depth change or that their food source, the aquatic life moved to a different part of the river but by keeping at it, your time on the water watching your electronics closely will pay off.
It won’t be long before the continuous higher-pitched whistle of the young birds and the nasally one syllable honk of the mature birds calls of the White/Light geese will echo across the landscape.
As I mentioned in previous articles, the Light goose season is or will be opening up with thousands of these birds making their way north as they head back to their breeding grounds in the tundra.
As the sun begins to have more power, melting the snow, those of us, who couldn’t get back to their deer hunting areas because of the drifting snow, will now have the opportunity to get there. We’ll want to check things over, seeing how much damage the deer and turkey that hung out there this winter did to the food plots and mineral licks.
While there, it’s a great opportunity to check out the deer trails, getting an idea as to their main travel routes and to look for deer sheds.
To get to the sheds before the critters do, I’d suggest that as soon as you can get into the site, to do it, as this is about the time deer shed their antlers and we aren’t the only ones looking for sheds.
Rodents and other critters, squirrels, opossums, mice, fox, coyote, beaver, otter, bear and even other deer love to chew on them and ones chewed up make for as great conversation piece, but don’t add to the way your man or mom cave looks, like one that’s pristine and not missing a part of a point or two.
People asked me several times why critters big and small chew up a deer shed, they do it because they are searching for some needed nutrients. These nutrients found in deer sheds are calcium and phosphorus, minerals that’s needed by these critters to develop strong bones and teeth, with these nutrients also helping to develop muscle and their functions, improve milk production, nerve functions as well as helping with the clotting of blood.
As it continues to warm up, things, the ground, grass, and trees start to green up. When the crab apple trees and the lilac bushes start to blossom you know it’s time to head for the river, creek or the hills, locations where the Morel mushrooms will start to poke their heads out of the ground.
You’ll find them appearing in those sandier areas as they warm up first. Near dead or dying trees is also a good place to start your search as these fungi grow from decaying wood and vegetation.
Don’t forget to make sure you applied for you 2019 permits as hunting permit applications open up in both states this time of the year, so you best check your states Game, Fish & Parks web site to make sure that you have your permit and got your application in on time.
My favorite hunting season, the spring turkey seasons opens up in South Dakota for archers April 6, their shotgun season opening April 13 with the season’s final day May 31.
In the Cornhusker state, you can apply for your Archery paddlefish licenses March 1-14, followed by the spring turkey season for bow hunters, March 25; youth shotgun April 6 with the regular shotgun season opening up April 13, with all seasons closing May 31.
For those of us who think that winter hangs around too long, that it’s a season when there is little to do. Where you spend the majority of winter waiting for spring, remember there are numerous outdoor related events going on and there are upcoming seasons you need to prepare for.
Don’t forget about those permit application dates, and seasons that you want to be ready for, as time slips by quickly with spring arriving before we know it.
If you missed some of the events, or forget some of the above-mentioned things, not ready for spring, we’ll spend time in the house or shop getting ready, while others are out there catching fish, hunting mushrooms and call spring turkey, while you’re scrambling to get ready and missing some of the early action!
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska, is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide. Howey is an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster and inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.