The Light Goose Conservation Order opened Saturday, Feb. 9. Unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are allowed for harvesting the geese. Various zone regulations and details also come into the Order. Find more information in the current Waterfowl Guide-available from Game and Parks or online at outdoornebraska.org.
The spectacular sandhill crane migration will be well underway in a few weeks, continuing into March. If you've never seen this great gathering of bird life -- it's a sunrise and sunset wonder along the Platte -- especially between Grand Island and Lexington.
During the day, thousands of cranes can be seen pecking at waste grain and invertebrates in the surrounding fields. Be respectful of private property-do not trespass, park safely on shoulders, and do not disturb the birds. Three great places to view the birds and get more information are from the Crane Trust Nature Center at the Alda exit (call 382-1820), Rowe Sanctuary southwest of Gibbon (call 468-5282), and the Fort Kearney State Recreation Area (call 865-5305). Reserve a viewing blind soon and beat the crowd.
Another spring show is put on by prairie chickens and sharptail grouse. The mating rituals of these birds is both amusing and haunting. The Bessey National Forest near Halsey and the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge are among places on public lands where you can enjoy blind time. Also, several private outfitters offer this -- sandhillsmotel.com out of Mullen and calamusoutfitters.com out of the Burwell area -- the grouse show can run anywhere from mid-March into early May. Dress warm for these outings.
Consider parting with a dollar, maybe even $5 or $10 to help out the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund. By law, dollars from hunting and fishing license sales can only go toward work pertaining to species hunted or fished. That leaves the vast majority of species, both plant and animal, dependent upon the Conservation fund for support.
Go online to learn more at outdoornebraska.org and wait for the home screen picture to appear that pertains to the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund. There are ways to donate even if you don't have a state tax refund coming. On your tax form, the fund is represented by a peregrine falcon logo -- look for it -- and keep our natural resources in mind.