Commissioner Forney and Family Host Mentored Youth Deer Hunt
Eleven recent Hunter Education Graduates, ages 11-15 years-old from Chadron, Gordon and Lincoln, took part in a mentored deer hunt on the Forney Ranch south of Gordon Jan. 7-9. While the levels of experience ran the gamut from limited hunting experience to no previous hunting experience, all of the youth involved in the hunt harvested a deer, 18 in all.
Making an effort like this possible depends on the adults that served as mentors, hunting coaches and base camp helpers during the weekend. Many traveled several hours to be a part of the hunt including several members of Game and Parks Commissioner Kent Forney’s family, Dean, Joann, Bruce and Beth, Glenn and Nancy, and Austin & Lynn; as well as family friends Wes Baxter, Jason Peck and Andy Bantam. Commissioner Forney had organized the hunt with Conservation Officer Heath Packett and Outdoor Education Specialist Aaron Hershberger.
Commissioner Forney and his wife Shelley provided all the meals for the weekend event. Each meal consisted of venison, including the last meal of the weekend, back-strap steaks prepared from the youth’s weekend harvest of deer.
“I guess you might say the kids were full, warm and busy. The kids from back east and west got to know and enjoy each other along with the great outdoors,“ stated Commissioner Forney. “Deer camp goes well beyond just harvesting deer. Several participants had never gone hunting before taking part in this event. These individuals got to see what it was all about: the fun of being with friends, the challenges of the hunt, the excitement of success and good food. That was some of the best dang deer-camp chili I have ever eaten.” Hershberger said.
For more information on the mentoring programs offered through Game and Parks , visit http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting/programs/education/youth.asp.
- 11 Youth Participated
- 7 from Lincoln Area
- 3 from Gordon Area
- 1 from Chadron
- 5 (or more) harvested their first ever deer.
- Many hunting for their first time ever.
- 18 Deer Harvested (all anterless)
- 13 Mule Dee
- 5 White-tailed Deer
- Mentors from:
- North Platte
“It was an amazing once-in-lifetime experience made possible by the Forney Family Ranch. The family rolled out the “red (deer camp) carpet” for the entire event and all participants felt like part of the family. The youngsters did well harvesting deer but more importantly they harvested “more-than-a-limit” of
experiences that will last them for some time. Many of the first time hunters,and their parents, are already looking for other ways to get out hunting.” Hershberger said.
The end of Nov. through the first part of Dec. was a flurry of activity at Fort Robinson. A detailed checklist of preparations for the park’s 1910 Historical Christmas event filled the agenda’s of all involved in planning the Dec. 4, dinner.
All but two tickets got sold within the first 15 minutes of the doors being opened. Buildings were elaborately decorated, lights were hung on the trees, aromatic pine boughs for swags and wreaths were gathered and the Buffalo Barracks were diligently transformed back to the early 1900s for the Fort Robinson Christmas Dinner.
Authentic era recipes and food preparation started the kitchen bustling the Monday before the nostalgic undertaking and the culinary delights included oxtail soup, turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, potatoes lyonaise, asparagus with cream sauce, squash, sweet potatoes, rolls, three different pies, chocolate cake and jelly rolls.
The dining room tables were decorated with the same attention to detail as the menu; set with the same precision that the Army adhered to in decades past at Fort Robinson. Christmas Carolers in era appropriate costumes harmonized outside; their carols lifting the silence of the cool, crisp winter night to greet guests as they arrived for the dinner. Like the final bow placed on wrapped present, the caroler’s historical renditions helped set the tone for the evening as the guests entered the dining hall.
The dinner is a cooperative effort between Fort Robinson State Park, the Nebraska State Historical Society and the local community. Depending on the year and the specific menu plan it can take more than 1,200 staff and volunteer hours to produce the dinner. More than 600 of those hours are generously supported by a legion of volunteers who particpate each year.
New Website Launched to Support Focus on Pheasant Initiative
The Southwest Focus on Pheasant Initiative started in July 2010. The kick off of the initiative was during a habitat tour of the Southwest focus area. The Southwest Focus area is part of the larger state wide Focus on Pheasants program that started in 2002.
In response to continued declines in statewide pheasant numbers, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Board of Commissioners directed staff to assess and develop projects and activities to address this problem. The activities and projects identified were designed to serve the specific goal of delivering tangible benefits to the greatest possible number of pheasant hunters over the next ten years, while maximizing educational opportunities for landowners and other stakeholders regarding the habitat needs of pheasants. The website is focused to provide a conduit for all facets of the initiative and provide resources to the public in their efforts to assist with best practices to encourage habitat for a robust pheasant population. The group has now signed 17 contracts for various incentives through FOP, 1,663 acres of wheat stubble, 989 acres of milo stubble, 154 acres of grazing deferement on native rangeland, 154 acres of planned prescribed fire, leaving a total of 2,806 acres are enrolled.
The board recently approved a revised Focus on Pheasants plan. The revised plan seeks to create new focus areas, incentives, habitat improvements and biologists collaboration to maximize effectiveness of the habitat program within those targeted areas. The plan includes ongoing research into the amount of habitat needed to establish and maintain a huntable pheasant population and efforts will be made to secure more pheasant habitat through U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs.
Watch a video on Pheasant Banding on the Game and Parks YouTube channel
Hunters, homemakers and deer meat aficionados signed up for the AkSarBen Aquarium Outdoor Education Center’s popular venison sausage workshop Jan. 12. The workshop provides demonstrations, recipes and tips on how to make sausage and brats from deer venison. Mike Pullen of Hobart’s Sales in Omaha, presented the three – hour class to 80 adults in the aquarium’s auditorium.
For more information on upcoming workshops contact Tony Korth firstname.lastname@example.org- Aquarium Director AkSarBen Aquarium. Phone: 402-332-3901
Game and Parks Fisheries Water Specialist Tapped for Editor of NAJFM
Rick Eades, water resources specialist with Game and Parks, was promoted from associate editor to editor of the North American Journal of Fisheries Management (NAJFM). Eades replaced Mike Hansen (UWSP) on the editorial board. The promotion is a significant event for Eades as well as the agency in that he will be the first editor from Nebraska and only the second state agency biologist to ever serve as a Journal editor. In the previous 25 years, all the editors have been university professors or federal agency employees.
Published since 1981, NAJFM is intended to promote communication among managers. The journal addresses the maintenance, enhancement, and allocation of fisheries resources. The Journal is available in print and electronic formats.
More information on the journal can be found at this link: http://afsjournals.org/page/fima/information.html
Field Blinds Serving Goose Hunters Well
Goose hunters using field blinds are having excellent success on geese. Still, some hunters aren’t following the rules. Officers have received numerous complaints of shooting after legal hours in regard to goose hunters and spend a good portion of their patrol time trying to detect violations. Officers worked a special waterfowl detail in Garden county during the weekend of Dec. 11-12. This project was in conjunction with the annual North Platte Valley Sportsmen Club’s goose hunting contest held in Osh Kosh. The event has been held for the last 25 years to raise money to help support the club. More than 15 teams particpated. A team was comprised of three hunters and a guide. Each team brought an item for the auction, the proceeds of which were donated to the North Platte Valley Sportsmen’s Club. All the blinds for the event were also donated. Due to the increased activity in the area conservation officers stepped up their details to monitor the increased amount of hunting associated with the contest. Although there were no major problems, the officers did issue five citations for various violations. �
Colorado Man Fined for Downing Two Trumpter Swans
A Colorado hunter was fined $1,648 for shooting two trumpeter swans that flew over the “firing line” run of blinds in the Clear Creek wildlife area. The man heard hunters in the blind next to him calling birds and then observed a flock flying over. He shot up at the shadows of birds without carefully determining that they were in fact geese. This type of careless hunting was also responsible for another trumpeter fatality 10 days earlier at the same location. Trumpeter Swans are a Tier I, at-risk, species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan and are a protected species”.
Public Forum Meetings Provide Opportunity for One-on-One Communication
Game and Parks conservation officers attended a public meeting in Chadron that focused on mountain lions and the agency response protocol and management strategy. This meeting was attended by 120 citizens, primarily ranchers, and the overwhelming sentiment was to legalize the harvest of mountain lions in the near future. These meetings provided an excellent opportunity for officers to answer legal questions for the public and establish a one-on-one line of communication with hunters and landowners. There have now been a total of 115 confirmed mountain lion reports in the state (view map). The majority of these reports have come from the Pine ridge with more than 80 reports. Reports have also been logged from Wildcat Hills, central Nebraska, Niobrara Valley, and eastern Nebraska. A scat study is underway to examine the DNA of the mountain lions for population studies and research. Read an article by Michael Forsberg on mountain lions
Bobcat Harvest Looks to be Exceptional
As trapping season continues, conservation officers are getting calls for tagging bobcats. It appears this year that there will be an exceptional harvest on bobcats. Raccoon numbers are high and harvest is very good on them as well. Listen to an Outdoor Nebraska Radio interview with Sam Wilson on bobcats (audio file).
To learn more about bobcats visit the bobcat page on the NGPC website.