Archive for the ‘ Waterfowl ’ Category

Grouse Nirvana

After  a long week hosting the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Conservation Ed Training Academy I took the weekend to head out west with my father-in-law to chase grouse.  We had a blast!  I think grouse hunting is just plain awesome and truly enjoy chasing these psychotic sandhill chickens.  You will walk a ton (like I need that kind of impact to my cholesterol level) but in some of the best scenery in the state.  Grouse can pop up at any time and give you little warning but when their numbers are large it is a blast (yes pun intended). 

Grouse can be a challenge for some and generally we have luck when the weather gets a bit cold and they tend to huddle up on the protected side of hills from the wind.  On warmer days, the shady side of hills is best.  They are not like pheasant and do not care for thick cover grass but rather favor more choppy sand hills with mixed grasses that have been thinned a bit by grazing.  Give it a trip or two and you’ll get the hang of it. 

We also enjoyed a bit of waterfowl in the sandhill potholes and of course had no intention of going through an entire pheasant opener without chasing them too!  Life is good!

Get Em’ Out There


Last night of camp with a tired old dog (the lab was tired too)!

Did I mention I like a BIG fire?

Finally a critter he was familiar with

Every morning was a gift!

Not a lot of trees in them there hills...


Missouri River Outdoor Expo

Folks if you have made the short drive to Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska for the Fall Expo you really owe it to yourself and family to get up there.  The largest Expo in Nebraska (and maybe the midwest) Ponca has something for everyone…from shooting rifle, shotgun,  muzzleloaders, archery, big game rifles, kayaking, Missouri River boat rides, fishing, bow fishing, camping, tree stand safety, outdoor villages, crafts, games, wildlife activities…you just can’t go wrong this weekend at Ponca. 

Jeff Fields and the team at Ponca have done an outstanding job, along with all the volunteers that make this huge program such a success.  And of course, just visiting Ponca State Park in the fall is a treat in itself.  The attitude amongst all the staff and volunteers just seems to foster a fun and exciting time for all who are fortunate enough to participate in this grand event.  Don’t miss out!  The Expo will run Saturday through Sunday this weekend only.  We’ll see you out there!

Get Em’ Out There


Shooting is a big part of the Ponca Expo and is a lot of fun for anyone!

Teal for Two

…what an amazing weekend to be outdoors!…my family’s 3-day weekend actually got underway Friday evening as we tracked down the final ingredients for a Saturday morning teal hunt…it was a short night but the sound of air slipping through flight feathers of the little blue-winged speedsters in the pre-dawn made it worthwhile…with good water conditions and favorable teal numbers the hunt was over almost too quickly – Leslie had four teal sitting on her end of the canoe just after sunrise, even though our first shot wasn’t taken until we had good-shooting light (some 10-15 minutes after legal time began) –  a short wait on me extended the hunt but a few minutes…that our young children were able to be there in the canoe was the best part…we could have stayed longer just taking in all the sights and sounds of a September wetland – ducks, white-faced ibis, frogs, grebes – but we loaded up, headed home, switched vehicles and made it to the Big Indian Archery 3D shoot near Wymore…

…Monday, dark and early, found us back on the teal waters with good friend Rich to help in the fun…though the action wasn’t as fast as the previous hunt we had the entire public area to ourselves and enjoyed good numbers of birds willing to give our small spread a buzz…it may have taken a few more shells on this day but we couldn’t have been happier with the results…saw a good number of “big ducks”, too…I cannot wait to get back out for more teal hunting!…

…there is still plenty of time left in the teal season – the Hi-Plains area is open until the 12th & the Lo-Plains until the 19th…with the possibility of fronts moving through the state the best may be yet to come…find the food in quiet places and there is a good chance you will find the teal!…make sure to mark your downed birds well as the thick, early season vegetation on most public areas can hide the small birds really well…

…now just need to fire up the grill – teal are darn tasty!…


Teal Tips

…teal season is almost here and it appears decent numbers of these small webbed-footed birds are making use of our Nebraska waters…teal hunts can provide some fast-paced action that takes place in some of the most “alive” habitats – even when the shooting is slow there is often still plenty to see and hear…teal season may be just days away but there is still time to get out and join the fun…for the newer teal-chaser here are some thoughts to help you on your way…

* Find the Food:  Teal feed on wetland plants & these (non-diving) ducks are small so they need shallow water areas to feed in…focus your scouting & hunting on the small water and don’t over look a good nearby mud-flat either…

Avoid the Sunny Side:  Looking into the sun is never fun when trying to connect on a twisting teal…worse yet it can make identification of your target extremely difficult & id is critical during this special hunt  (only blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal may be harvested)…so keep the sun to your back whenever setting up…

* Late can be Great!:  Evening hunts during teal season can be very productive as the birds shuffle around the wetland one last time before the end of shooting hours at sunset…

Brown it Down:  Most teal (as well as other ducks, too) are still in their eclipse plumage at this time of year, which means they are brown…to help replicate this use mostly hen decoys in your spread…include hen mallards for size as they can be easier to see in areas with lots of vegetation…

* Make Some Motion:  Early season wetlands can be very calm thanks to the still living vegetation found in them – this won’t help your spread of fakes…add some motion with use of  a jerk string, spinning wing decoy or simply kicking your feet in the water…

* Eat & Drink!:  What waterfowl hunt does get even better when you add food?…teal season can mean some warm weather, too – especially when you jump into your neoprene waders…so be sure to have something to cold to drink…  

* Scout Some More:  The length & timing of  the teal season means a good chance that new flights of teal will make their way into your hunting areas – so be sure to scout around for the best locations and new birds…keep an eye on even the smallest of weather fronts coming from the north…


Nebraska Outdoors Radio – Aug 19

The Show:   Nebraska Outdoors Radio
The Station: 1240 AM KFOR (Lincoln)
Listen Online:
The Day: Every Thursday
The Time: 6 to 7 p.m.
The #: 402-489-1240

It’s Wing-shooting Week & the Doctor is in!

Dr. Mark Vrtiska, Waterfowl Program Manager, stops by to give his thoughts and ideas on the upcoming migratory bird seasons – from dove to duck to goose.  With some seasons just weeks away you will want to tune in to hear the Doctor’s prescription for success.  Don’t miss this week’s Hunting, Fishing & Camping Weekend Forecast & the NGPC Outdoor Calendar.  Join the conversation by calling 402-489-1240.