Outdoor notes: Big game permits; Mushroom hunting

New process in place for awarding big game draw permits

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hunters should be aware of a new process for awarding big game draw permits starting this year, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Applicants for deer, antelope and elk draw permits who supply valid email addresses will be notified when the draw is complete. Applicants not providing valid email addresses will be responsible for monitoring their status online at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Awarded but unpaid permits will result in applicants losing preference points and forfeiting the permit. Any forfeited draw permits will be sold over the counter on a first-come basis beginning Aug. 5.

Permit application and purchase periods in 2019 are:

May 20-June 7 – Application period for landowner elk permits.

June 10-28 – Application period for general elk, pronghorn and deer draw units.

July 5 – Results of the draw will be available on or before July 5, 2019.

July 19 – Successful applicants will have until July 19, 2019, to complete the purchase of their awarded permits. Awarded but unpaid permits will result in applicants losing preference or bonus points and forfeiting the permit. Any forfeited draw permits will be sold over the counter on a first-come basis.

Aug. 5 through the close of hunting seasons – Remaining permits will go on sale online or at Game and Parks permitting offices Aug. 5.

Only a nonrefundable application fee is due at the time of application. The application and purchase periods begin at 1 p.m. Central Time (CT). Paper applications must be received by Game and Parks by 5 p.m. CT; online applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. One application is allowed per person per species.

Applications may be made at OutdoorNebraska.org, via application form, or in person at a Game and Parks permitting office.

Details regarding drawings and permits may be found in the 2019 Big Game Guide which will be published in May 2019.

Mushroom hunting class to teach the basics

LINCOLN, Neb. – Discover a new outdoor activity to enjoy this spring by attending a mushroom hunting class April 13 at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center.

Instructed by local mushroom expert Tersh Kepler, this beginner’s class covers the basics of mushroom hunting, identification and the common mushrooms of Nebraska. Seats are limited and fill quickly.

The Outdoor Education Center is located at 4703 N. 44th Street in Lincoln. To learn more and sign up, look for this event on the Nebraska Game and Parks calendar at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Papillion’s Lake Halleck among waters stocked with trout

LINCOLN, Neb. – Rainbow trout continue to be stocked in Nebraska’s urban waters to enhance spring fishing opportunities.

The Grove Trout Rearing Station earlier this week stocked 1,200 trout in Papillion’s Lake Halleck and 1,200 in Nebraska City’s Steinhart Park East Pond. The Calamus State Fish Hatchery stocked 750 trout in Ord’s Auble Pond. Each of those lakes also received some additional trout from a surplus created when the Two Rivers State Recreation Area Trout Lake was not stocked for the spring.

Some of those surplus trout also were stocked this week at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s CenturyLink Lake and Weeping Water Pond in Cass County. Each had been stocked once earlier this spring.

Visit OutdoorNebraska.org to find out more about Nebraska fishing or to purchase a permit.

Eugene T. Mahoney SP Activity Center to close temporarily

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Activity Center at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (SP), which houses the park’s indoor playground, will be closed April 22-26 as new carpet is installed. The playground will reopen April 27.

The adjacent rock climbing facility, Venture Climb, will remain open.

During this time, park guests may use the outdoor playground at Schramm Park State Recreation Area. A park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering a state park.

New challenge encourages Nebraskans to take someone fishing and win prizes

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is excited to announce a new summer-long, statewide challenge in which anglers can win great prizes just by sharing their love of fishing.

The Take ‘Em Fishing Challenge encourages experienced anglers to take a pledge to go fishing with someone who either has never fished before or who hasn’t fished in several years. Anglers who take a photo of themselves taking someone fishing can enter an online drawing for dozens of prizes, including a $500 Scheels gift card, fishing kayak, CampChef outdoor cooking equipment a stay in a Nebraska state park, and the grand prize – a new fishing boat.

“Every angler learned to fish from someone,” said Nebraska Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas. “We hope this challenge will inspire our experienced fishermen and fisherwomen to remember those early trips that helped grow their love of fishing, and to pass on the tradition to someone new.”

Douglas, who learned to fish from his parents, remembers catching his first sunfish when he was 4 or 5 years old on vacation with his family in Missouri. When he thinks back to that first catch, he remembers the sense of anticipation he felt then and still feels whenever he goes fishing, as well as the joy that the activity brings him.

“I don’t worry about other things when I’m fishing,” he said.

The benefits of fishing are numerous. Anglers report feeling more satisfied with the mental health, more inspired at work and closer to their families than non-anglers, according to the Recreational boating and Fishing Foundation.

Fishing is a unique sport in that it allows groups of friends or family to spend time together while engaged in the same activity, no matter the fitness or skill levels of the various participants. Fishing requires only basic, inexpensive equipment that can be found at any sporting goods store. Nebraska Game and Parks stocks ponds and lakes across the state with sportfish, which means that just about everyone can find a good fishing spot close by.

Fishing is also crucial to the conservation of our natural resources. Money generated through the sale of fishing permits and aquatic habitat stamps is used to maintain healthy fisheries in Nebraska water bodies, and to improve access for anglers. But many anglers are getting older, and we need a new generation of anglers to take their place to ensure the health and vitality of Nebraska’s aquatic resources for generations to come.

The Take ‘Em Fishing Giveaway will run from April 15 to Sept. 15, 2019. Anglers can take the pledge at OutdoorNebraska.org/fishingpledge. Taking the pledge is not required for contest entry. For more information about Take ‘Em Fishing Giveaway, including prizes, official rules and how to enter, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmFishing. For questions on getting started in fishing or public places to fish, visit our website or contact your nearest Game and Parks office.

Prescribed burns scheduled on public areas across state

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will conduct prescribed burns on wildlife management areas (WMA), state recreation areas (SRA) and state parks (SP) when conditions are favorable through May 15, according to Pat Molini, Wildlife Division assistant administrator.

The areas scheduled for prescribed burns in each district are:

Southeast District
Fillmore County—Redhead WMA, Sora WMA; Gage County—Diamond Lake WMA, Arrowhead WMA; Jefferson County—Alexandria SW WMA, Flathead WMA, Rose Creek WMA, Rock Glenn WMA; Johnson County—Osage WMA; Lancaster County—Bluestem WMA, Branched Oak WMA/SRA, Helmuth WMA, Olive Creek WMA, Pawnee Lake WMA/SRA, Conestoga WMA, Yankee Hill WMA, Wagon Train WMA; Nemaha County—Brownville Bend WMA; Otoe County—Wilson Creek WMA; Pawnee County—Burchard WMA, Pawnee Prairie WMA, Prairie Knoll WMA, Lores Branch WMA, Taylor’s Branch WMA, Table Rock WMA; Richardson County—Four-Mile Creek WMA, Kinter’s Ford WMA; Saline County—Swan Creek WMA, Divoky WMA; Saunders County—Jack Sinn WMA, Larkspur WMA; Seward County—Burr Oak WMA, Oak Glen WMA, Straightwater WMA, Twin Lakes WMA; Thayer County—Little Blue WMA, Little Blue East WMA, Meridian WMA.

Southwest District
Buffalo County—Bassway Strip WMA; Chase County—Enders WMA/SRA, Wanamaker WMA; Custer County—Arcadia Diversion Dam WMA, Pressey WMA; Dawson County—Cozad WMA, Dogwood WMA; Frontier County—Medicine Creek WMA/SRA, Red Willow WMA/SRA; Hall County—Cornhusker WMA; Hamilton County—Pintail WMA; Hayes County—Hayes Center WMA; Hitchcock County—Swanson WMA/SRA; Howard County—Leonard A. Koziol WMA, Harold W. Andersen WMA; Keith County—Clear Creek WMA; Phelps County—West Sacramento WMA; Red Willow County—Red Willow WMA/SRA; Sherman County—Sherman Reservoir WMA/SRA.

Northeast District
Knox County—Bohemia Prairie WMA; Madison County—Oak Valley WMA.

Northwest District
Dawes County—Bordeaux WMA, Ponderosa WMA; Scotts Bluff County—Kiowa WMA, Nine Mile Creek WMA; Sioux County—Peterson WMA; Sheridan County—Smith Lake WMA.

Controlled burning is used to enhance vegetation for wildlife nesting, loafing and brood rearing cover. It also helps reduce woody invasion into the habitat.