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Nebraska Game and Parks - News Releases

December 30 , 2007
Press Release

Nebraska January Outdoor Calendar

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ There are a number of outdoor events and activities on tap across Nebraska this winter. Here are some dates to be aware of in January.

  • Jan. 1 ñ Close of duck season, Low Plains Late.
  • Jan. 1 ñ New Yearís Holiday Buffet ñ Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Peter Kiewit Lodge, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; call (402) 944-2523.
  • Jan. 1-15 ñ Late firearm deer season ñ Season choice permits.
  • Jan. 6 ñ Close of light goose season. Season reopens Jan. 26.
  • Jan 14 ñ Close of duck season, High Plains.
  • Jan. 15 ñ Close of Gifford Wildlife Management Area deer season.
  • Jan. 18 ñ Close of Canada and brant goose season, North Central Unit.
  • Jan. 19 ñ Close of special crow season (Buffalo, Phelps, Harlan, Franklin, Kearney, Dawson and Lincoln counties).
  • Jan. 20 ñ Open of statewide crow season.
  • Jan. 20 ñ Cowboy Poetry and Music Jam ñ Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, 2:30 p.m., bring a dish for potluck supper, call (308) 684-3428.
  • Jan. 23 ñ Close of Canada and brant goose season, East Unit.
  • Jan. 31 ñ Close of squirrel season.
  • Jan. 31 ñ Close of pheasant, quail and partridge season.

Nebraska Outdoor Notebook
By Jerry Kane

Winter a Great Time to Enjoy Outdoors

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ Winter is a great time to be outdoors. Spending the season indoors just makes the cold months go by more slowly. Nebraskaís state park areas offer a wide variety of recreational activities for everyone in the family. Best of all, Nebraskaís state park areas are open year-round.

Thereís nothing like being outdoors when the snow is falling. Layer after layer of sound-dampening snow covers everything. As the snow piles up, the landscape becomes more peaceful. So bundle up and step outside this winter.

Weekday or weekend trips to state park areas can include a number of experiences. A combination of indoor facilities and outdoor activities makes for a great trip.

Sportsmen will find a wide variety of game to pursue. Big game hunters can take advantage of the January firearm season (Jan. 1-15) to hunt deer. Small game hunters can go after squirrels through the end of January and rabbits through the end of February. Pheasant, quail and partridge hunters have until the end of January for this hunting season. Then there are furbearer and waterfowl seasons for a number of species, either in specific units or statewide.

Hunters can state on state park lands during their hunt, with many camping and lodging options available. State recreation areas, or portions thereof, are open to hunting, subject to general hunting regulations, from the first Tuesday following Labor Day through the conclusion of the spring turkey season in May, unless prohibited or restricted by signs or specific area regulations. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any public-use facility or activity area, including picnic areas, campgrounds, private cabin and concession areas, boat ramps and parking lots.

If ice fishing is your winter pastime, there are plenty of lakes to check out. Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie await fisherman at Wagon Train, Olive Creek, Summit Lake, Willow Creek and Alexandria state recreation areas (SRA). Then there are Merritt, Sherman, Swanson, Rock Creek, Red Willow, Enders and Medicine Creek reservoirs and Lake Ogallala SRA. Also try Valentine National Wildlife Refuge and other lakes in the Sandhills. You can go for trout at Fremont Lakes SRA Lake No. 5, Eugene T. Mahoney State Parkís (SP) Qwest Lake, Fort Robinson SPís Carter P. Johnson Lake, Windmill SRA Lake No. 1, and Arnold SRA. Many lakes that were stocked with trout in the fall were restocked in December.

Winter nature hikes are a great way to get outside and get some exercise. Bring children along and let them follow animal tracks in the snow or have them see how many different animals they can see.

Enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Branched Oak and Lewis and Clark Lake SRAs have excellent snowmobile trails.

Hikers might want to try winter camping at the parks. Winter rates are offered and electricity is available year-round. Cabins and lodge rooms also are available, with 30-percent winter discounts on cabins Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays. Year-round cabins are available at Mahoney, Platte River and Niobrara SP and Lewis and Clark Lake SRA.

Mahoney SP is a terrific winter Nebraska destination, with varied activities for adults and children. Maybe the parents would like to get away for the weekend to the parkís cozy cabins. Light a fire in the fireplace and relax away from the noise. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant and take in a melodrama at the theater. A dinner theater option also is available.

Mahoneyís Activity Center ñ with its large indoor playground and rock climbing simulator ñ can keep the childrenís attention indoors, then they can go out to the ice skating rink to get some fresh air. If Mother Nature doesnít supply the snow but gives us colder temperatures, the park makes snow for the sledding and toboggan run. Bring your own sled, since the park no longer rents them.

A park entry permit is required for visits to Nebraskaís state park areas. Donít forget to buy a 2008 permit soon so youíll be set for the entire year. Permits may be purchased at the Nebraska Game and Parkís Commissionís Web site, www.OutdoorNebraska.org, and at Commission permitting offices at Ak-Sar- Ben Aquarium, Alliance, Bassett, Chadron State Park, Fort Robinson State Park, Kearney, Niobrara State Park, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, Lincoln, and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.

Go to the Web site for details on state park lands, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather, get permission if hunting on private land, be wary of ice thickness when fishing, and safely enjoy a winter trip to Nebraskaís state park lands.

Nebraska Outdoor Notebook
by Tom Keith

The Late Season is the Best Time for Cottontail Hunting

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ Traditionally, the period of December through February in Nebraska has been known for freezing temperatures, frequent snowfalls of various severities, frozen lakes and ponds, and the best cottontail hunting of the year.

By the time December rolls around, the weather and landscape across the state have changed to benefit the rabbit hunter. For instance, all the crops have been harvested, which makes it easier to get permission to hunt private land; most of the dead vegetation has been beaten down, which makes it just a freckle easier to see rabbits feeding on waste grain in the fields; and the rabbits are easier to find because they tend to concentrate in the areas of remaining suitable habitat.

This is the time when hunters should carefully work the edges of weed patches, overgrown fencerows, windbreaks, grass waterways, thickets or other thorny tangles.

Back in the 1950s, when I was in high school, my cousin, Tyler, taught me the finer points of hunting. He was several years older than me and had grown up on a farm and hunted or fished nearly every day of his life. He was a consummate outdoorsman, a dead-on shot with both rifle and shotgun and a sixth sense born of on-the-ground experience that told him where to find the game he was hunting.

Tyler gave me the best rabbit hunting advice Iíve ever heard, ìNever pass a brush pile or pile of tree limbs and branches without kicking, stomping, shaking or otherwise disturbing it. You can pretty much bet there is a rabbit hiding someplace in there. Rattle the brush pile and be ready to shoot.î

Tyler taught me to walk very slowly and stop for several seconds after every third or fourth step. He said when a hunter charges noisily through cover, a hiding rabbit can track the hunterís movement and will often sit tight and let the stalker walk past. But, when the hunter zigzags, moves slowly and stops every so often, it confuses the already nervous rabbit and its survival instinct compels it to run.

When pursued, the rabbit takes off down a weedy fenceline like a running back sprinting down the sideline, then darts into thicker weeds at the first opportunity. Once in the denser cover, the rabbit may stop and hide until the danger passes, or continue to sneak through the weeds until it comes to a spot where it can sprint to better cover.

An exciting and enjoyable way to hunt cottontails is with a brace of beagles. Beagles are known for their hunting desire and physical stamina, and once the feisty little dogs locate a fresh rabbit scent they pursue it tirelessly until the rabbit either goes down a hole or is picked off by a hunter. More often than not, when the dogs cut a scent they will push the rabbit ahead of them, constantly baying and letting the hunters know where they are. The rabbit races away when the dogs get close, then slow, hide and rest until the dogs get close again. The rabbit usually runs in a large circle and the hunter who waits near the spot the rabbit was first jumped will get a shot at it when it returns to the same area.

Because I prefer hunting with traditional equipment, I like shooting cottontails with my black-powder shotgun or my .36 cal. flintlock rifle. However, thatís just my preference. Rabbits may be taken with shotgun, rifle, pistol, bow and arrow, crossbow or by trapping.

Nebraskaís cottontail season is open now and will continue through Feb. 29. The daily bag limit is seven ëtails, the possession limit is 28. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

There must be hundreds of delicious recipes calling for cottontail rabbit, and one of my favorites, ìRabbit Stroganoff,î was submitted by Ron Melbye of Waverly for inclusion in the NEBRASKAland Magazine Wild Game Cookbook. Hereís Ronís recipe: 6 or 7 slices bacon, fried and crumbled 2 rabbits, cut into pieces 3/4 cup flour 2 ? tsp dry mustard 1 ? tsp thyme ? tsp pepper 1 ? tsp salt 3/4 cup chicken broth 1 onion, chopped 1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced 3 tsp butter 2 ? cups sour cream 1/4 cup sherry

Roll the rabbit pieces in flour mixed with mustard, thyme, pepper and salt using all the mixture if possible. Brown pieces over medium heat. Add chicken broth, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until pieces are tender.

While the rabbit is simmering, saute onion and mushrooms in butter and set aside. When rabbit pieces are done, stir in sour cream, onion and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes without allowing the mixture to boil.

Stir in sherry, bacon and rabbit pieces. Simmer to reheat rabbit.

We like it served over hot buttered noodles or rice.

Intended to be used in the kitchen and at the campsite, the Wild Game Cookbook has recipes for dozens of fish and game species, along with valuable tips from NEBRASKAland experts on field care, aging game, enhancing the flavors and selecting the right cookware.

The cookbook originally sold for $12.95, but is available from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission while supplies last for only $5 plus shipping and sales tax at the subscriberís address. To order, go to the Commissionís Web site at www.OutdoorNebraska.com, then click on NEBRASKAland, then on Gift Catalog; or call the NEBRASKAland toll-free hotline at 1-800-742-0056, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ There are a number of outdoor events and activities on tap across Nebraska this winter. Here are some dates to be aware of in January.

  • Jan. 1 ñ Close of duck season, Low Plains Late.
  • Jan. 1 ñ New Yearís Holiday Buffet ñ Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Peter Kiewit Lodge, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; call (402) 944-2523.
  • Jan. 1-15 ñ Late firearm deer season ñ Season choice permits.
  • Jan. 6 ñ Close of light goose season. Season reopens Jan. 26.
  • Jan 14 ñ Close of duck season, High Plains.
  • Jan. 15 ñ Close of Gifford Wildlife Management Area deer season.
  • Jan. 18 ñ Close of Canada and brant goose season, North Central Unit.
  • Jan. 19 ñ Close of special crow season (Buffalo, Phelps, Harlan, Franklin, Kearney, Dawson and Lincoln counties).
  • Jan. 20 ñ Open of statewide crow season.
  • Jan. 20 ñ Cowboy Poetry and Music Jam ñ Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, 2:30 p.m., bring a dish for potluck supper, call (308) 684-3428.
  • Jan. 23 ñ Close of Canada and brant goose season, East Unit.
  • Jan. 31 ñ Close of squirrel season.
  • Jan. 31 ñ Close of pheasant, quail and partridge season.

Nebraska Outdoor Notebook
By Jerry Kane

Winter a Great Time to Enjoy Outdoors

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ Winter is a great time to be outdoors. Spending the season indoors just makes the cold months go by more slowly. Nebraskaís state park areas offer a wide variety of recreational activities for everyone in the family. Best of all, Nebraskaís state park areas are open year-round.

Thereís nothing like being outdoors when the snow is falling. Layer after layer of sound-dampening snow covers everything. As the snow piles up, the landscape becomes more peaceful. So bundle up and step outside this winter.

Weekday or weekend trips to state park areas can include a number of experiences. A combination of indoor facilities and outdoor activities makes for a great trip.

Sportsmen will find a wide variety of game to pursue. Big game hunters can take advantage of the January firearm season (Jan. 1-15) to hunt deer. Small game hunters can go after squirrels through the end of January and rabbits through the end of February. Pheasant, quail and partridge hunters have until the end of January for this hunting season. Then there are furbearer and waterfowl seasons for a number of species, either in specific units or statewide.

Hunters can state on state park lands during their hunt, with many camping and lodging options available. State recreation areas, or portions thereof, are open to hunting, subject to general hunting regulations, from the first Tuesday following Labor Day through the conclusion of the spring turkey season in May, unless prohibited or restricted by signs or specific area regulations. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any public-use facility or activity area, including picnic areas, campgrounds, private cabin and concession areas, boat ramps and parking lots.

If ice fishing is your winter pastime, there are plenty of lakes to check out. Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie await fisherman at Wagon Train, Olive Creek, Summit Lake, Willow Creek and Alexandria state recreation areas (SRA). Then there are Merritt, Sherman, Swanson, Rock Creek, Red Willow, Enders and Medicine Creek reservoirs and Lake Ogallala SRA. Also try Valentine National Wildlife Refuge and other lakes in the Sandhills. You can go for trout at Fremont Lakes SRA Lake No. 5, Eugene T. Mahoney State Parkís (SP) Qwest Lake, Fort Robinson SPís Carter P. Johnson Lake, Windmill SRA Lake No. 1, and Arnold SRA. Many lakes that were stocked with trout in the fall were restocked in December.

Winter nature hikes are a great way to get outside and get some exercise. Bring children along and let them follow animal tracks in the snow or have them see how many different animals they can see.

Enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Branched Oak and Lewis and Clark Lake SRAs have excellent snowmobile trails.

Hikers might want to try winter camping at the parks. Winter rates are offered and electricity is available year-round. Cabins and lodge rooms also are available, with 30-percent winter discounts on cabins Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays. Year-round cabins are available at Mahoney, Platte River and Niobrara SP and Lewis and Clark Lake SRA.

Mahoney SP is a terrific winter Nebraska destination, with varied activities for adults and children. Maybe the parents would like to get away for the weekend to the parkís cozy cabins. Light a fire in the fireplace and relax away from the noise. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant and take in a melodrama at the theater. A dinner theater option also is available.

Mahoneyís Activity Center ñ with its large indoor playground and rock climbing simulator ñ can keep the childrenís attention indoors, then they can go out to the ice skating rink to get some fresh air. If Mother Nature doesnít supply the snow but gives us colder temperatures, the park makes snow for the sledding and toboggan run. Bring your own sled, since the park no longer rents them.

A park entry permit is required for visits to Nebraskaís state park areas. Donít forget to buy a 2008 permit soon so youíll be set for the entire year. Permits may be purchased at the Nebraska Game and Parkís Commissionís Web site, www.OutdoorNebraska.org, and at Commission permitting offices at Ak-Sar- Ben Aquarium, Alliance, Bassett, Chadron State Park, Fort Robinson State Park, Kearney, Niobrara State Park, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, Lincoln, and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.

Go to the Web site for details on state park lands, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather, get permission if hunting on private land, be wary of ice thickness when fishing, and safely enjoy a winter trip to Nebraskaís state park lands.

Nebraska Outdoor Notebook
by Tom Keith

The Late Season is the Best Time for Cottontail Hunting

LINCOLN, Neb. ñ Traditionally, the period of December through February in Nebraska has been known for freezing temperatures, frequent snowfalls of various severities, frozen lakes and ponds, and the best cottontail hunting of the year.

By the time December rolls around, the weather and landscape across the state have changed to benefit the rabbit hunter. For instance, all the crops have been harvested, which makes it easier to get permission to hunt private land; most of the dead vegetation has been beaten down, which makes it just a freckle easier to see rabbits feeding on waste grain in the fields; and the rabbits are easier to find because they tend to concentrate in the areas of remaining suitable habitat.

This is the time when hunters should carefully work the edges of weed patches, overgrown fencerows, windbreaks, grass waterways, thickets or other thorny tangles.

Back in the 1950s, when I was in high school, my cousin, Tyler, taught me the finer points of hunting. He was several years older than me and had grown up on a farm and hunted or fished nearly every day of his life. He was a consummate outdoorsman, a dead-on shot with both rifle and shotgun and a sixth sense born of on-the-ground experience that told him where to find the game he was hunting.

Tyler gave me the best rabbit hunting advice Iíve ever heard, ìNever pass a brush pile or pile of tree limbs and branches without kicking, stomping, shaking or otherwise disturbing it. You can pretty much bet there is a rabbit hiding someplace in there. Rattle the brush pile and be ready to shoot.î

Tyler taught me to walk very slowly and stop for several seconds after every third or fourth step. He said when a hunter charges noisily through cover, a hiding rabbit can track the hunterís movement and will often sit tight and let the stalker walk past. But, when the hunter zigzags, moves slowly and stops every so often, it confuses the already nervous rabbit and its survival instinct compels it to run.

When pursued, the rabbit takes off down a weedy fenceline like a running back sprinting down the sideline, then darts into thicker weeds at the first opportunity. Once in the denser cover, the rabbit may stop and hide until the danger passes, or continue to sneak through the weeds until it comes to a spot where it can sprint to better cover.

An exciting and enjoyable way to hunt cottontails is with a brace of beagles. Beagles are known for their hunting desire and physical stamina, and once the feisty little dogs locate a fresh rabbit scent they pursue it tirelessly until the rabbit either goes down a hole or is picked off by a hunter. More often than not, when the dogs cut a scent they will push the rabbit ahead of them, constantly baying and letting the hunters know where they are. The rabbit races away when the dogs get close, then slow, hide and rest until the dogs get close again. The rabbit usually runs in a large circle and the hunter who waits near the spot the rabbit was first jumped will get a shot at it when it returns to the same area.

Because I prefer hunting with traditional equipment, I like shooting cottontails with my black-powder shotgun or my .36 cal. flintlock rifle. However, thatís just my preference. Rabbits may be taken with shotgun, rifle, pistol, bow and arrow, crossbow or by trapping.

Nebraskaís cottontail season is open now and will continue through Feb. 29. The daily bag limit is seven ëtails, the possession limit is 28. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

There must be hundreds of delicious recipes calling for cottontail rabbit, and one of my favorites, ìRabbit Stroganoff,î was submitted by Ron Melbye of Waverly for inclusion in the NEBRASKAland Magazine Wild Game Cookbook. Hereís Ronís recipe: 6 or 7 slices bacon, fried and crumbled 2 rabbits, cut into pieces 3/4 cup flour 2 ? tsp dry mustard 1 ? tsp thyme ? tsp pepper 1 ? tsp salt 3/4 cup chicken broth 1 onion, chopped 1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced 3 tsp butter 2 ? cups sour cream 1/4 cup sherry

Roll the rabbit pieces in flour mixed with mustard, thyme, pepper and salt using all the mixture if possible. Brown pieces over medium heat. Add chicken broth, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until pieces are tender.

While the rabbit is simmering, saute onion and mushrooms in butter and set aside. When rabbit pieces are done, stir in sour cream, onion and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes without allowing the mixture to boil.

Stir in sherry, bacon and rabbit pieces. Simmer to reheat rabbit.

We like it served over hot buttered noodles or rice.

Intended to be used in the kitchen and at the campsite, the Wild Game Cookbook has recipes for dozens of fish and game species, along with valuable tips from NEBRASKAland experts on field care, aging game, enhancing the flavors and selecting the right cookware.

The cookbook originally sold for $12.95, but is available from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission while supplies last for only $5 plus shipping and sales tax at the subscriberís address. To order, go to the Commissionís Web site at www.OutdoorNebraska.com, then click on NEBRASKAland, then on Gift Catalog; or call the NEBRASKAland toll-free hotline at 1-800-742-0056, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

 


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