Outdoor notes: Boyer Chute roads and trails will be closed during muzzleloader deer hunt

All refuge roads and nature trails at Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge will be closed from Dec. 9 to 17 during an antlerless muzzleloader deer hunt.

Hunters will need a Season Choice Wahoo or a state-wide muzzleloader license that can be obtained through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Hunters who come to the refuge to hunt will need to pick up a free access permit that has specific refuge regulations concerning the hunt. The permits will be available during the hunts at the main entrance gate to Boyer Chute. Prior to the hunts, permits will be available at www.fws.gov/refuge/boyer_chute/

Bird count events

Take part in a winter tradition and participate in the Christmas Bird Count this month at three state park areas across the state. Events will be held Dec. 14 at Ponca State Park, Dec. 16 at Indian Cave SP and Dec. 30 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.

The Christmas Bird Count is a program of the National Audubon Society, with more than 100 years of citizen science involvement. This event is a one-day bird census that includes thousands of volunteers across the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations. The data collected over the past century has allowed researchers and biologists to study the long-term health and status of bird populations.

Participants should dress appropriately for weather conditions. Some information for each event:

Ponca: Meet at the Resource and Education Center at 7:45 a.m. A chili lunch will be served. Call the park at 402-755-2284 for more information.

Indian Cave: Meet at the park office at 8 a.m. Loaner binoculars and bird identification books are available. Call the park at 402-883-2575 or email ngpc.indian.cave@nebraska.gov for more information.

Lake Ogallala: Details are being finalized. Contact Alison Bleich for more information at 308-284-0855 or alison.bleich@nebraska.gov.

A permit is required of each vehicle entering these park areas.

Valentine project continues

In preparation for a rotenone treatment in 2018, length limits on largemouth bass and northern pike at Pelican Lake will be rescinded Dec. 1 through Aug. 1, 2018. This action begins the second phase of the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge Aquatic Habitat Project.

Pelican Lake anglers may harvest these bass and pike by rod and reel. Bowfishing harvest is allowed during the archery game fish season of July 1 through Dec. 31. Daily bag limits will remain in effect, and fish cannot be sold or transported to other waters. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also will salvage game fish and transfer them to other public waters prior to rotenone treatments.

The goal of this aquatic habitat project is to eliminate common carp from lakes in the northwest portion of the refuge with rotenone renovations. They will start in the upper part of the watershed and proceed downstream. Of the refuge’s nine fishing lakes, Duck, Rice, West Long and Watts are free of common carp.

Over the next four years, plans are to treat the remaining lakes to eliminate carp while providing fishing opportunity. The renovation schedule is: Pelican, School and Whitewater lakes in 2018; Hackberry in 2019; Dewey in 2020; and Clear, McKeel and Willow in 2021. Several of these lakes are not open to fishing, but they contain carp and are connected to fishing lakes during high water.

The removal of common carp will allow for enhanced fisheries management options. Game and Parks staff will recommend regulation changes in 2018 that would take effect in 2019, if passed. Plans are to manage Duck, Rice, Watts, West Long, Pelican and Hackberry lakes for quality panfish fishing, with an emphasis on bluegill, black crappie and yellow perch. Pelican will be managed for trophy bluegill. Dewey, Clear and Willow lakes will be stocked with bluegill, yellow perch, black crappie, largemouth bass and northern pike.

In recent years, several improvements have been made to the refuge’s nine lakes open to public fishing. Those improvements include roads, angler and boater access, dredging of channels to improve water movement between lakes, and installation of carp barriers on water-control structures.

Calendar

Tuesday

» Learn to Hunt Predators, Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln

Friday

» Christmas at the Cody’s, Buffalo Bill Ranch SHP, North Platte. Also Dec. 15-17, 22-23

Saturday

» Nature’s Gifts: Decorations from the Great Outdoors, Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, Gering

» Reindeer and Cocoa, Lake McConaughy SRA, Ogallala

» Classic Christmas, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, Ashland

» Christmas at the Bowring, Bowring Ranch SHP, Merriman

» Start of Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge deer hunting

» Christmas in the Woods, Ponca SP, Ponca. Also Dec. 16

Dec. 10

» White-fronted goose hunting season, first segment closes

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