Outdoor notes: Game and Parks seeks shooting range participation
Private, club-style and for-profit Nebraska rifle shooting ranges are encouraged to participate in hunter sight-in days this fall.
Each year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission seeks ranges to open to the public for one or more days so hunters can safely sight in their rifles for the November firearm deer season.
Nebraska Game and Parks will list participating rifle ranges, times, fees, allowable calibers, other restrictions and contact information at OutdoorNebraska.gov on the Sight-In Days webpage.
Contact Hunter Nikolai at 402-471-6134 or [email protected] for more information or to participate in hunter sight-in days.
Explore parks with these Game and Parks events in August
Spend some time this summer in Nebraska’s state parks. During August, a variety of events are planned for those interested in history, nature or just having a good time outdoors. Here are several examples:
Living History Weekend at Fort Atkinson is Aug. 5-6
Step back in time Aug. 5-6 and enjoy a Living History Weekend at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park near Fort Calhoun.
Ongoing demonstrations featuring military and civilian life of the 1820s will occur throughout the park. Reenactors portray fur traders, coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, tinsmiths, weavers and other period trades. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the reenactors.
A Nebraska park entry permit is required. Admission to the Harold W. Andersen Visitor Center is $4 for those age 13 and older and $1 for children 3-12. For more information, contact the park at [email protected] or 402-468-5611.
Enjoy stargazing at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
Come to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park near Ashland on Aug. 25 and enjoy some summer stargazing.
Telescopes will be provided so visitors may get a glimpse at the night sky beginning at dusk. Meet behind the park’s golf shack. Remember to bring camp chairs or blankets.
The event is free, but a Nebraska vehicle park entry permit is required. The rain date is Aug. 26.
Mystery at the Mansion set for Aug. 26 at Arbor Lodge
Come to Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska City on Aug. 26 for an evening of fun with Mystery at the Manson: Sin City. This old-fashioned whodunit will take place at Arbor Lodge Mansion at 6 p.m.
Solve clues, look for evidence, and break the case while mingling with new friends. Participants will receive a character to portray as they arrive at Arbor Lodge Mansion.
Cost is $30, and space is limited for this adults-only event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit the event listing at Calendar.Outdoornebraska.gov to buy tickets or for information on adding dinner or lodging.
Wildcat Hills SRA to host Night Sky program Aug. 18
Bring a blanket and lay beneath the stars during a Night Sky program Aug. 18 at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. Explore constellations, mythology, the importance of dark skies and much more.
This is a great opportunity to watch the Perseids meteor shower. Telescopes will be available for this event, which begins at 9 p.m. Mountain time. Meet at the Nature Center for an introduction before carpooling to the viewing location.
A Nebraska park entry permit is required.
Plenty of fun activities in August at Ponca
Ponca State Park will be busy with activities for all ages in August.
The Aquatic Center will be open daily Aug. 1-6, then just weekends until Labor Day. The hours will be 1-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
A Guided Full Moon Hike will begin at 9:15 p.m. Aug. 1 and 8 p.m. Aug. 30 on the Corp of Discovery Trail. Meet at the trailhead on the riverfront.
Kayak the Missouri River backwaters on Aug. 5. Space is limited. Registration is required; call 402-755-2284.
A Nebraska park entry permit is required.
Catch these Game and Parks education events in August
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in August. Here are some opportunities:
Reptile Story Time is Aug. 4
Join Nebraska Game and Parks’ educators for Reptile Story Time in partnership with Elleinad Children’s Bookstore in Lincoln at 10 a.m. Aug. 4.
Families and children are welcome to listen to a reptile-themed story book, see and touch live native reptiles, and participate in a reptile activity.
This free program will take place at Elleinad Children’s Bookstore, 5930 S. 58th St., Suite S.
Yoga in Nature Aug. 11 at Schramm
See how yoga and nature are woven together as Nebraska Game and Parks offers a Yoga in Nature class Aug. 11 at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.
The free class, which begins at 10 a.m., is designed for everyone from beginners to experts; poses will coincide with the nature theme. Come to learn, play and break a sweat in a supportive environment. All bodies are welcome.
Registration is required. Some yoga mats will be available.
Nebraska Nature Nerd Trivia Night is Aug. 10 in Lincoln
Grab your fellow nature nerds and join the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as it hosts Nebraska Nature Nerd Trivia Night at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Boiler Brewing Company South in Lincoln.
Nature is cool, so there is no shortage of topics questions could cover. Get your teams of no more than five players and be ready to compete for prizes. Registration is not required.
These events are for adults only and are free to attend with a purchase from the Boiler, 5800 Hidcote Drive, No. 101.
For more information and or questions, email [email protected].
Webinar will look at Nature at Healer
Join the free virtual webinar Nature as Healer at 12:30 p.m. Central time Aug. 9.
The natural world always has offered many opportunities for resources, recreation and relaxation. During this webinar, discover how the natural world can play an important role in mental health.
This webinar is part of the Conservation Education Lunch and Learn Series, which dives into the science behind educational efforts and practices by learning from experts on a variety of science and educational topics. Direct questions to [email protected].
Visit the event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov to register and get more information.
Little Saplings program presents Bees on Aug. 2
Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.
The 2023 series continues Aug. 2 with the theme Bees at 9 and 10 a.m. It is designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult caregiver. The cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program and includes admission to the Education Center after the program.
See the calendar event entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for more information.
Homeschool Hike set for Aug. 16-17 at Schramm Park SRA
Homeschool families are invited to join an outdoor educator on a guided hike to learn about geology at Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna during the Homeschool Hikes program at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 and 2 p.m. Aug. 17.
Homeschool Hikes is a monthly nature exploration program hosted by the Schramm Education Center geared toward homeschool families.
Participants are encouraged to RSVP in advance through the event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov. Cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program. This includes admission to the Schramm Education Center after the program. Schramm Family Pass members participate free.
This program is recommended for ages 5 and up.
Participants should dress in season-appropriate layers and wear closed-toed shoes that can get dirty. Hats and water bottles are recommended.
Mud Pie Mornings set for Schramm
Prepare to get dirty for Mud Pie Mornings at Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna on Aug. 10.
Meet at 9 a.m. by the Schramm Education Center side entrance, then go on an ingredient-seeking hike. Next, naturalists and participants will squish through a mud-pie recipe, all while learning about soil composition.
Duck hunters select from two bag limits when registering for HIP
Duck hunters again must choose between two daily bag limits when they register for their Harvest Information Program number this year.
Nebraska and South Dakota are entering the third year of a “two-tier” program for the regular duck season.
Tier I is a traditional six-duck bag limit with species and sex restrictions. Tier II is a three-duck bag limit with no species or sex restrictions.
HIP registration begins Aug. 1. During the registration process, hunters will be asked if they plan to hunt ducks. If they do, they will be prompted to select a tier. Hunters will be bound to that bag limit for the entire season.
The regulations will not apply to goose limits or during the early teal season, which have their own bag limits.
All hunters age 16 and older, including residents, nonresidents, lifetime permit holders, veterans and senior permit holders, are required to register for HIP if they plan to hunt migratory game birds in Nebraska between Sept. 1, 2023, and July 31, 2024.
Residents under the age of 16 are exempt from the HIP requirement only if they choose the Tier I bag limit. All hunters must register for HIP if selecting Tier II. All nonresidents, regardless of age, must register for HIP for either tier.
Hunters who choose the Tier II option will be provided a journal, where they will record information on hunting activity and harvest. The journal will be submitted to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at the end of the hunting season.
In addition, postage-paid envelopes will be provided to most Tier II hunters with the expectation that a wing from each duck harvested be sent. This process is crucial for federal collection efforts when estimating harvest. Duck harvest and species composition then will be compared to hunters using the Tier I option. If enough wings are not received to evaluate the harvest by Tier II hunters, the program will be unlikely to continue past the experimental phase.
HIP, which is required by federal regulation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helps wildlife managers estimate the number of migratory game birds harvested each year. Migratory birds include doves, ducks, geese, snipe, rail, coots and woodcock.
The two-tier program will continue for the next two seasons, and then be reexamined to determine whether it affected waterfowl hunter numbers and duck populations.
Wildwood WMA east entrance, ramp to close temporarily for boat access project
Wildwood Wildlife Management Area’s boat ramp and east parking area will close temporarily for a boat launch improvement project beginning July 31.
This closure, east access road off NW 84th Street, leading to the boat ramp and parking lot at the WMA south of Valparaiso, is expected to last 6 to 8 weeks. All other access roads and parking lots at Wildwood WMA will remain open.
This project will address issues of heaved and cracked concrete on the boat ramp. Other aspects of the project include:
- Shoreline riprap will be added near the boat ramp to protect it.
- Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking and sidewalk access to the boat ramp and fishing pier will be upgraded to meet current standards.
- The layout of the parking lot will be modified to improve visibility and traffic flow, with wooden posts (bollards) and cable railing being used to guide the parking of trucks and trailers.
- A rock shore launch for paddle craft will be built to reduce congestion at the boat ramp. Near that launch, a semi-circle loading/unloading zone will be added.
Overall, renovation of the boat launch facility will greatly improve functionality and benefit users for many years that this popular fishing area.
This is a joint project between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.
This project is made possible through a Sport Fish Restoration grant, the Nebraska Game and Parks Aquatic Habitat Stamp – which accompanies the permit anglers purchase – and funding from the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.
Questions can be directed to [email protected].
Gifford Point WMA access permit applications accepted Aug. 1-15
People interested in hunting deer at Gifford Point Wildlife Management Area this fall may apply for access permits Aug. 1-15. Two hundred of these permits will be issued to allow hunters access to the area.
Applicants will need to purchase a valid deer permit and then provide their deer permit type and associated number on their application.
The use of rimfire and centerfire rifles or handguns is prohibited at Gifford. Muzzleloaders are not allowed during the November firearm deer season.
The Gifford permit allows access to take deer with archery equipment from Sept. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024, and with a muzzleloader from Dec. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024, as specified by the deer permit. Successful applicants will be issued a combination for the lock to access the gate to the WMA. Only persons with a valid access authorization will be allowed on the area.
Deer hunters may apply as "buddies," which ensures that both or neither will draw an access permit. Only two persons may apply as buddies and both apply on the same application. A buddy permit does not allow party hunting. Individuals must harvest his or her own animal.
Vehicle access will be limited to the rock road directly adjacent to the 8-foot-high deer fence on Educational Service Unit property. Only foot access to the interior of the area will be allowed.
Applications will be accepted at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offices in Lincoln, Omaha and the Schramm Education Center near Gretna. Application forms also are available online at OutdoorNebraska.gov; search “Big game permits and applications.” If applications exceed 200, a drawing will be held.
Applicants will be notified of draw status via email, if provided, following the draw. Applicable permits are: Muzzleloader, Statewide Archery, Statewide Youth, or Antlerless Only Season Choice Wahoo.
Curtis Self makes difference for new hunter in Take ’em Hunting challenge
Patrick Grindey had expressed an interest in hunting. Curtis Self stepped in when the loss of a mutual friend and mentor would have prevented him from being shown the ropes.
Instead, Self, 45, got Grindey, 21, started on the path to hunting, and by the 2022 waterfowl season, they were hunting blue-winged teal in the Take ’em Hunting challenge.
On July 20, Self, of Omaha, accepted the Take ’em Hunting grand prize John Deere Gator utility vehicle, donated by AKRS Equipment and the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, in a ceremony at the AKRS store in Elkhorn.
Self, an athletic trainer for the Creighton University baseball team, was drawn randomly from nearly 400 participants in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s challenge to take a beginner hunting and submit a photo online. It was the fourth year for the seven-month challenge designed to encourage people to invite others to try the sport.
His journey to teach Grindey, a student manager on the baseball team, began with lessons on firearm safety, followed by time on the range shooting clay targets. Grindey completed a hunter safety course and eventually bought a shotgun and waders before the two picked a date to go hunting blue-winged teal in Burt County. They shot eight teal. After the hunt, Self showed Grindey how to clean a duck.
“It was amazing,” Self said. “This was his first time waterfowl hunting, and he knocked two birds down from the first flock he shot at. It was great, and I think Patrick is hooked for life. I look forward to many more days with Patrick in the blind.”
Said Grindey, a native of Chandler, Arizona: “I am so grateful Curtis took me under his wing and showed me the ways of the outdoors. It has ignited a passion in my heart for hunting and all the outdoors has to offer!”
Self also is a fan of mentoring.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We have a responsibility as hunters to get people involved. I was fortunate that my dad got me involved in hunting when I was very young. There’s a lot of youth out there that don’t have that opportunity.”
That’s why AKRS Equipment loves to support the program.
“Take ’em Hunting encourages people to create memories, build community and pass on our outdoor traditions,” said Kent Kirchhoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AKRS Equipment. “We are proud to have been a partner in this effort to encourage the love of the outdoors and grow the sport of hunting.”
In addition to AKRS Equipment, Take ’em Hunting sponsors included the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Heartland DSC, all which provided prizes and incentives. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to participants drawn randomly.
“Each year, Take ’em Hunting draws new people to the outdoors in ways that support the state’s conservation efforts,” said Tim McCoy, Nebraska Game and Parks director. “We encourage you to keep taking ’em hunting and giving beginners the opportunities they need to become lifelong outdoors enthusiasts.
“We’d also like to give a special thank you to AKRS Equipment, each of our partners and to all the participants in this year’s challenge.”
To learn more about the Take ’em Hunting program, or to see participant stories, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov.