Deer Season Means Collaboration for Hunters, Landowners, Biologists, and Conservation Officers
Good weather on the opening weekend of the deer firearm season made for a successful harvest. The season produced record numbers of deer harvested and a possible new state record taken near the Butler/Saunders county line (view some here). Hunters harvested 63,000 deer in Nebraska. A target number of 90,000 is the projected total deer harvest at the close of all seasons. A successful and productive hunting season includes an orchestration of efforts behind the scenes that helps complete the conservation story in Nebraska.
Wildlife division staff worked at deer check stations across the state. Bovine tuberculosis (TB) surveillance was conducted in the wild deer population of the Missouri Unit. This was a combined effort of USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services, USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Industry, and Game and Parks personnel during the opening and closing weekends of the season. A total of 487 deer heads were collected. Results of this operation will be available in late December and will provide valuable information about the health of the deer in Nebraska. Game and Parks biologists manning check stations also collected approximately 1,200 lymph nodes to be examined for the presence of TB in wild deer in northeast Nebraska.
Conservation officers across the state also play a critical role with investigations of illegal hunting. Violations include shooting from the road, hunting without permission, taking deer in closed season, hunting with aid of artificial light, failure to check deer, and taking deer without permits. During November, officers received information on an illegal deer dumping site and were able able to trace information back to the four individuals involved. Many reports were taken from concerned individuals of deer being shot and left in the fields during the weeks before the opening of season. Officers staked out one mule buck that had been shot and left in a field. Three parties returned in the middle of the night to cut off the horns and drove away, leaving the rest of the deer to waste. The suspects were apprehended and prosecuted. Several cases of baiting before the season and opening day of deer season also were investigated and prosecuted.
A case in the Panhandle involved hunters who trespassed and killed a deer. It was discovered that the landowner had installed a surveillance camera on his property. The entire illegal activity had been recorded, including detailed footage of the vehicle entering the property, the license number of the vehicle and footage of the suspects loading the deer in their pickup. The landowner’s diligence demonstrates the importance of collaboration between landowners and officers in being able to monitor unscrupulous individuals during hunting season.
The Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium Outdoor Education Center hosted a workshop called ‘Nebraska Raptors’ in late October. Approximately 75 people attended this free two hour program, which was presented by Raptor Recovery, the non-profit organization that rehabilitates injured raptors. Live owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles were brought in for the public to view up close, while they learned all about these birds. Near the end of the workshop an immature bald eagle was released back into the wild for the participants to see. To learn more information about upcoming events at Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium call (402) 332-3901.
To help promote the outdoor pursuits, Game and Parks partners with organizations and volunteer instructors each summer to provide camps that allow participants the opportunity to further explore and learn the skills needed to become successful outdoor enthusiasts. Though the actual camps are still several months away, now is the time that planning must commence to ensure a quality offering and productive marketing campaign for current offerings and to allow for the expansion of these events as well.
Each year these camps reach 200-300 youth, usually in the 11-15 year range, and with the addition of new partners, we hope to see this number climb.
Nebraska 4-H Camps – Outdoor Skills & Shooting Skills Camps
State 4-H Camp Outdoor Skills Camp June 13-17, 2011
Eastern 4-H Camp Outdoor Skills Camp July 11-15, 2011
Nebraska 4-H has been our traditional partner for Outdoor Skills Camps. These camps provide activities that include the shooting sports (shotgun, rifle, muzzleloader and archery), fishing, hunting skills, backpacking/hiking, conservation, Project WILD activities, GPS/Compass, and much more. Traditionally, Game and Parks staff and volunteers lead the activities for the first three days of camp, and the 4-H Camp Staff rounds out the week with other outdoor skill activities. Camp size ranges from 50 – 120 students. New in 2011 may be the option for campers to earn their hunter education certification while at camp.
South Central 4-H Camp Shooting Skills Camp June 20-24, 2011
Game and Parks and the Nebraska 4-H South Central Camp are holding a Shooting Skills Camp. This camp is focused largely on the shooting sports of archery, shotgun, rifle, and muzzleloader, as well as hunting skills and the opportunities of getting involved with a 4-H Shooting Sports Club. This camp has been very successful, and we may look to expand the offering as best as we can. Last year, participants were given the chance to complete their hunter education certification while at camp – which proved to be a popular option.
Hunting and Bow Hunting at Church Camp
Last year the Game and Parks partnered with Camp Oasis, a new church camp located in Gage County south of Firth, for two hunting camps – one centered on firearms and another on archery. Campers took part in activities that helped build the skills needed to become a successful hunter with the designated equipment, including: live-fire ranges, blood trailing, predator-prey games, tree stand exercises, dog handling, game calling, etc. Participants were also given the opportunity to become certified in either hunter education or bow hunter education, depending on the theme of the camp. This summer will see these two camps held again at Camp Oasis.
Camp Oasis Bow Hunting Camp June 24-29, 2011
Due to the success of these camps and last fall’s Family Camp at Camp Kateri, a Church Camp south of York, other churches are interested in holding similar youth and family offerings at their facilities as well.
Hunting season is in full swing and Beyond BOW Hunt Camps are still available. Beyond BOW Hunt Camps are designed for adult women who want to learn more about hunting while experiencing the excitement of a hunt camp with other like-minded women. The camps are for women of all experience levels, with participants being paired up for the actual hunt based on their level of experience – providing for informal mentoring. Hunt camps are kept small to allow for a better bonding experience between the participants.
Beyond BOW Deer Camp – Baxter Family Farm in January
Coming back for the third straight winter is the antlerless deer hunt at the Bill Baxter family farm in Saline County. Though the weather may be frigid, the heated tower stands are anything but. The hunt will be held Jan. 8 – 10, 2011.
Beyond BOW Deer Camp – Morse Bluff in January (tentative)
This hunt is pending.
Beyond BOW Turkey Camp – Harlan County Lake in April
Plans are also being made for this spring’s turkey camp on the shores of beautiful Harlan County Lake. Thanks to NWTF volunteers and local landowners in the area this program has been quite popular. This year’s camp will take place on the last weekend of April.
For more information on Skills Camps and/or Beyond BOW Hunt Camps, contact Aaron Hershberger at (402) 471-6144.
Indian Cave State Park burned approximately 700 acres of woodlands and native plantings. Burning helps reduce the noxious weeds such as sericea lespedeza, garlic mustard, dogwoods, red cedar, and numerous other trees and shrubs that are encroaching on our native oak woodlands. Numerous employees from the parks and wildlife divisions took part in this year’s burn.
The Wildlife division has scheduled fall burns on the following Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs): South Fork, Branched Oak, Meridian, Rose Creek, Little Blue East, Oak Valley, Wood Duck, Clear Creek, Basswood Ridge. Fall burning is an excellent time to remove invading trees from grasslands. It also more closely mimics historic wild fires that did not just occur in the spring. Fall burning allows managers to accomplish more habitat management because of the short time frame for burning in the spring.
Herb Angell, Game and Parks Boating Law Administrator (BLA), has been elected President of the Northern Association of Boating Law Administrators (NABA). Herb will provide leadership to 21 states in one of three regions under the National Association of Boating Law Administrators. Angellserved in the same role with NABA in 2003.
Angell also received congressional appointment from the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to serve as one of only 21 members of the National Boating Safety Advisory Council in 2009. Angell serves on the Executive Board of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
Angell has been the Nebraska BLA since August 1997 and a “badge and gun” guy since 1973. He was a police officer in a medium size city for 18 years and before that a Deputy Sheriff in Knox County, NE. He believes he has the best job in state government because Nebraska is a small enough boating state he can ‘saddle up’ and patrol the state’s waters as well as investigate boat accidents and teach boating safety classes.
Game and Parks appreciates Angell’s efforts and passion for boating safety and congratulate him on being recognized and elected to serve in this national role.
Commission Hosts First Ever Conservation Education
The Commission recently hosted the first conservation training academy as part of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Conservation Education Strategy. The academy brought several years worth of conservation education skills and training to fish and wildlife educators representing 38 states. The AFWA Conservation Education Strategy began in 2004 after the first Conservation Education Summit where a grant from AFWA was provided to states to collectively work on an education strategy that would elevate the importance of conservation education in state fish and wildlife agencies as their impacts are so important to agency missions.
Jeff Rawlinson chairs the Outdoor Skills Committee for the AFWA Strategy Committee and helped develop the Academy. “It was so rewarding to see so many new educators from various states come to the training,” said Rawlinson.
The training will help educators implement the AFWA Conservation Education Strategy in their own states. For Nebraska, the plan is to finalize development of a set of core concepts that all conservation education programs will align with, reflecting the national core concepts developed by AFWA. The next step will be to train existing education staff on the strategy along with partners and implement the strategy statewide in Nebraska.
Waterfowl hunting has increased with migration of ducks and geese picking up. Officers conducted waterfowl checks along the Platte River, using the air boat, making for easier contact of the many duck blinds along the lower portion of the river. Officers were busy with waterfowl hunters on the Missouri River in Knox County. This area receives a tremendous amount of waterfowl hunting pressure from nonresident hunters each year and remains busy the entire hunting season. To get more information on waterfowl hunting and other useful hints and tips, regulations and guides visit the Game and Parks web page.
It’s been just over a year since Lake Ogallala was renovated to eliminate a fish community dominated by rough fish. Rainbow trout stocked last December have grown well and are in terrific body condition. Fishing should be outstanding in 2011.
Nebraska Fish and Game Association Holds Ceremony for 100th Installation of Fishing Line Recycling Bin
The Nebraska Fish and Game Association (NFGA) held a ceremony at Two Rivers State Recreation Area (SRA) for the installation of their 100th fishing line recycling bin. The event was sponsored by Canfield’s and held in the park in an area designated as Lake No. 1.
In 2008, Two Rivers was the first park to receive one of the fishing line recycling units. The recycling unit is made of PVC and works as a receptical for fishing line. The fishing line is collected from the unit and sent to the Berkley Conservation Institute where the line is recycled into fish habitat.