Barbs and Backlashes

Where I’ve Been, October 5, 2010 by whitetips
October 5, 2010, 10:21 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

This past weekend was our big Becoming an Outdoors-Woman  (BO-W) workshop at Halsey.  I am beginning to lose track, but I believe I have been out to Halsey to help with this workshop for 13 or 14 years now.

It is always a great weekend and I look forward to it.  Yes, I am very busy while I am there and by Sunday afternoon I am tired and my voice is fading, but I cannot wait until next year.  The ladies that participate in this weekend-long workshop are there because they want to learn!  It is so easy to teach folks like that and so rewarding to share knowledge and experiences with them and watch them learn an outdoor skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.  For some of the ladies you can literally see on their faces the moments when they learn something new and realize it is something they can use.  Their excitement is contagious.  I believe this workshop is a life-changing experience for many of the participants, and I cannot speak for all the instructors, but I know the BO-W workshops have been life-changing experiences for me.  I will never forget my first year, first session at BO-W; I started talking, trying to remember the things I wanted to say to get the class started, and I look up and several ladies are taking notes!  I was talking about fishing and I had students scribbling down notes as fast as they could write!  It blew me away at the time that someone would actually be that interested in what I had to say and it still blows me away every year I instruct at one of our BO-W events!

I do not know that I would say I “teach” any of the courses I present.  I say that because honestly I just share what I know; I have a plan, some organization to what I want to present, but I do not know that I am an effective “teacher”.  Fortunately, the ladies seem to learn from what I have to share and they keep asking me to come back.  The weekend from noon Friday until noon Sunday was divided into four sessions.  The sessions were 3 1/2 hours, and that seems like a long time, but it is great to have an extended period to teach; a person does not have to feel like they are rushed to cover all the material before the class session is over.  But, I always run out of time before I run out of things to share.  I start talking, the participants start asking questions, and the next thing I know our time is gone.  The first year I taught I wondered how I would fill 3 1/2 hours, and now I find that is not long enough.

So, let me tell you about the weekend by starting at the beginning . . . .

I headed up to Halsey, the workshop is held at the 4-H camp, on Thursday.  I got there Thursday afternoon and started setting up my classroom and getting all my gear and “props” ready to go.  I had most of that done by Thursday evening and then I slipped down to the pit at the entrance to the forest to do some fishing.   I have to work in a little fishing while I am out there, and I believe it is a good idea to check out the pit where the ladies will be fishing during our last session on Sunday morning.  It was a beautiful evening 0n the pit Thursday night and I managed to catch some fat 8-inch+ bluegills and finally, after dark, I got one nice channel cat.  All of those fish were caught and released, and being able to show and tell the ladies what fish are present helps to motivate them while they are fishing on Sunday morning!

It was such a beautiful night and one nice catfish encouraged me to fish well after dark, but I only got the one.

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Nebraska Smallmouth Bass Primer by whitetips
October 4, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I just got my October issue of NEBRASKAland magazine, .  My buddy Jeff Kurrus has an excellent story in there on Nebraska smallmouth bass fishing, Smallmouths the Overlooked Bass.  If I could I would post a link to the online version of that story, but sorry, no can do.  The best I can do is recommend you find a copy and purchase it, .

Oh yeah, there is an excellent story in there by Eric Fowler on Nebraska elk, Return to the Plains Elk Comeback Not Yet Finished, .

I will close this short post with pictures of a couple of Nebraska smallmouths caught this past summer!

New Wheels by whitetips
October 1, 2010, 10:56 am
Filed under: Fishing

I hesitate to tell you this for a couple of reasons, but here goes.

For the first time in my life I have a brand new vehicle to drive.  This happens to be a work vehicle here at the Game & Parks Commission and I will not be the only one who drives it, but it will be my responsibility (and in another paragraph or so you will see why I say that).  Now before I here the scoffing about government spending too much money, let me tell you that we are funded by the sale of permits and from excise taxes charged on the sale of fishing and boating equipment.  Fisheries management in Nebraska is NOT funded by any general tax money; “the user pays” and those users are anglers.  We have a fixed budget, it has been cut dramatically in the past 5 years, and we are very responsible with the funds we have.

I have worked here at the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission for over 20 years and have driven hand-me-down pickups for every one of those years.  Most of those pickups were driven by conservation officers until they cycled into brand new vehicles.  When you have a fleet of work vehicles you have to keep up with maintenance and replacement or you will fall so far behind that it becomes even more expensive to keep the fleet in operation.

So, I have a brand new Equinox and it has been “pimped out”.  I get around the state a bit and do quite a few workshops, seminars, presentations, etc.  When I am doing those things folks might as well know I am there, so why not advertise with the vehicle I drive?  So yes, this vehicle has been personalized for me, and you might think I am on some kind of ego trip, but honestly, we just want to promote the Nebraska’s outdoors, in my case especially our fish and fisheries.  That is what I do!

So here is what “Whitetips 1” looks like.  If you see it out and about be sure to honk and wave.  If I am not actively driving it, find me and say “Hi”, tell me a fish story, show me some fish pictures!

Notice the Flat Rap that walleye is about to crunch!

Now you know where to throw your rotten tomatoes!

What is a “trophy”? by whitetips
September 29, 2010, 10:06 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I love angler recognition programs and have a stack of Nebraska and In-Fisherman Master Angler awards to prove it.  Those programs establish standards by which an angler can judge his or her catch.  I like that because if a person is serious about their fishing, and Lord knows I am, that gives you a point of reference by which you can measure your success.

But I believe a “trophy” is what you make of it.

Far be it from me to digress into an English lesson here, but I did open up the well-used Webster’s dictionary that sits just to my right and looked up the word “trophy”.  There is well over an inch of column space in the dictionary devoted to the word “trophy”.  Apparently the term originates from ancient battlefields where victory memorials were erected.  I like the last line of the definition for “trophy” the best–anything serving as a reminder, as of a triumph.  A “trophy” is what you make of it!

Yes, there are angler recognition programs that establish standards for trophy fish, but those are not the only trophy fish that folks catch!  A child’s first fish is a trophy.  The biggest or prettiest fish caught on a long-awaited trip could be a trophy.  Any catch that becomes a special memory is a trophy.  Those special memories often have more to do with surroundings, atmosphere, companions, or events more than the actual size of the catch.

How about some examples?

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Frog Migration by whitetips
September 27, 2010, 10:21 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , , , ,

I am sure you know that there are many species of birds that migrate through Nebraska; we also have butterflies that migrate, bats, fish, etc.  But you may never have realized that we have amphibian migrations as well, and if you like to catch fish in the fall, you need to be aware of the fall leopard frog migration.

I am not a herpetologist, so I am no expert when it comes to Nebraska’s amphibians and reptiles.  Most of what I know comes from this website, , and the recently published Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska, .  I have noticed more leopard frogs around the state this year and I believe that might be due to the increased precipitation and higher water levels we have had the past couple of years.  Nebraska actually has two species of leopard frog; the northern leopard frog,

and the plains leopard frog.

Obviously there are subtle differences between the two species, and if you are interested in distinguishing characteristics be sure to get the field guide that I recommended earlier.  From what I have read, the two species can hybridize as well which makes specific identification even more of a challenge.

The fish do not care.

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Go Big Red, and Blue by whitetips
September 24, 2010, 10:05 am
Filed under: Fishing, Hunting | Tags:

OK, so you probably already know that I am a huge Husker fan.

I look forward to every football game every fall.  Last Saturday we followed what we could of the game while on our pronghorn hunt (; did some whooping, hollering and hi-fiving while the Huskers put it to Washington.  This week offers an unique match-up, one in which I can cheer for both teams, both my alma mater (what is the plural of “alma mater”?  neither of my alma mater schools taught me that, Ha).

The fish & wildlife management field is not a huge one; there are jobs but you will not find as many as there are in other disciplines.  But, if you are persistent, and if it is your passion, there are jobs to be found.  Your odds of finding employment in natural resource management are greatly improved by obtaining at least some college education.  In my case I received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska.  My major there was natural resource management with the fish and wildlife management option (and I concentrated on the fish, of course).  Immediately after completing my Bachelor’s degree I started graduate school up at South Dakota State University in Brookings.  Believe it or not, in between hunting, fishing and trapping I was able to get a Master’s degree from SDSU in Fisheries Science.

Of course I am very biased, but if you are interested in a college education in natural resources, I can think of no better schools than the University of Nebraska and South Dakota State.  Check out this video on the program at the University of Nebraska . . . .

And here is some information on the fisheries and wildlife program at South Dakota State . . . .



Where I’ve Been, September 22, 2010 by whitetips
September 22, 2010, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Fishing, Hunting | Tags: , ,

It was tough coming back to work again, but here I am.  I left a few hints about the “adventure” I would be on for a few days and now it is time to give you a full report.

My son drew a muzzleloader pronghorn tag this year.  Now let me digress and tell you how we ended up hunting antelope in the Nebraska sandhills this past weekend.  I have had a couple of rifle antelope tags in years gone by.  I never managed to punch either one of those tags.  The last of those I took my young son out of school for a couple of days and hauled him with my dad and I to the Nebraska panhandle.  Now please do not take what I am going to say as an indictment of all hunters during the rifle antelope season, but on that occasion opening day was a circus.  The only hunters we saw on foot that entire day were my son, my dad, and I.  Everyone else was driving around chasing and shooting at antelope.  By noon on opening day every pronghorn had dropped into a hole in the ground somewhere and our hunt was pretty much toast.  At that time I made the decision to invest in a muzzleloader so we could hunt during seasons when there was less competition and more emphasis on the actual HUNT.

And that brings us to September 18, 2010, the opening day of muzzleloader antelope season.  My son and I have tried to stagger our applications for muzzleloader antelope tags so we did not both have a tag in the same year.  Daniel is no longer my “young son” and finally he drew a tag for the prairie unit this year.  I have a cousin who lives in north-central Nebraska and absolutely loves to hunt antelope out in the Nebraska sandhills.  Robin did not draw a muzzleloader tag this year and when he found out that Daniel had, I do not know who was more excited–my cousin or my son.  We were really blessed to have my cousin do all the hard work of scouting and obtaining permission to hunt.  THANK YOU ROBIN!

Saturday dawned gloomy, cloudy, cold and wet.  It was drizzling and the visibility was not very good (it was even worse after our binoculars had a chance to get wet and foggy).  We started out someplace WAY in the middle of the Nebraska sandhills where my cousin had scouted a couple of big pronghorn bucks.  We hiked up into a range of hills where we could see for quite a distance and by some miracle I managed to spot one of those big bucks, through the fog and drizzle, about a half mile away.  We started towards the buck and as it happened the buck was also moving towards us.  Somehow we passed each other by a couple hundred yards and ended up with a big pronghorn buck standing on a hillside we had just passed.  He was watching us and that was the end of that.  He never spooked bad and eventually eased off to the west of us, but with the lack of visibility we were never able to find him again.

From there we covered some ground looking for more pronghorns.  We found a couple of small bucks but decided to let them walk.  We drove through some rough country and saw some sights.

Did I mention it was cold and wet? This 'hopper was not moving.

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