Outdoor notes: Michigan hunter bags trophy mule deer

Outdoor notes: Michigan hunter bags trophy mule deer
Michael Dickerson of Davison, Michigan, harvested a Nebraska record archery typical mule deer Sept. 10, 2018, on private land in Sioux County. The deer scored 197 4/8 and is the second-largest typical mule deer taken in Nebraska by any method. (Photo Courtesy: Michael Dickerson)

LINCOLN, Neb. – Michael Dickerson had come up empty in past hunts, but he finally got his Nebraska trophy this past September.

Dickerson of Davison, Michigan, now holds the Nebraska record typical mule deer taken by archery. He stalked and shot the deer, which scored 197 4/8, Sept. 10, 2018, on private land in the badlands of northern Sioux County.

“It truly was a privilege to have an opportunity at such a great animal,” said Dickerson, 40.

Randy Stutheit, Nebraska big game trophy records coordinator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said Dickerson’s deer is the second largest typical mule deer entered into the Nebraska records regardless of method of take. The top Nebraska mule deer of 200 3/8 was taken with a muzzleloader by Miles Lemley of Lyman, Nebraska, in Scotts Bluff County in 2007. The previous archery record was 187 2/8.

The Pope and Young Club said Dickerson’s trophy, with its current score, would rank in the top 25 nationally in the typical mule deer archery records maintained by the club. Scoring a trophy is a combination of measurements of antler tine length and mass.

“It is quite an accomplishment to harvest a mule deer of this size using bow and arrow,” Stutheit said. “The details of Dickerson’s hunt illustrate the patience and skill necessary to achieve this level of success.”

The morning of the hunt, Dickerson and a friend located and watched the deer for several hours, anticipating where it would bed so he could stalk within 65 yards. Eventually, he noticed it bedding with three other bucks and the stalk began.

“Over the next three hours we played a game of chess, checking each drainage for other animals while quietly sneaking into position,” Dickerson said.

The bucks began feeding their way up a valley and into a bowl, which put a small hill between them and the hunters.

Dickerson crept up behind the hill. The trophy deer was feeding broadside when Dickerson’s range finder read 57 yards. “I drew my compound bow and stood up for the shot, which caused him to lift his head and look my direction. I thought to myself, ‘This is the opportunity you have been waiting for your whole life. Take a deep breath and aim small.’ ”

Dickerson’s shot hit directly behind the front shoulders. The buck kicked his back legs and ran to higher ground, stopping shortly after and turning back toward Dickerson. “He looked back at me almost as if he didn’t know what had happened. Shortly after he fell over and it was over.”

The hunter said he felt several emotions after the deer fell. “I had just shot the biggest mule deer of my life and felt as though all those failed stalks and hours on stand had all paid off.”

Dickerson, a board member of the Flint, Michigan, chapter of Safari Club International, said he appreciates the opportunity to hunt in Nebraska.

“I have hunted Nebraska in previous years and understood the game-rich environment,” he said. “The opportunity to harvest such great animals in a spot-and-stalk situation is what drew me to the area.”

For more information on the Nebraska Big Game Records Program, and to browse the record database, visit outdoornebraska.gov/biggametrophyrecords.

Fishing ponds being drained at Fort Robinson State Park

CRAWFORD, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has begun draining Grabel Ponds and Cherry Creek Pond at Fort Robinson State Park.

The draining is making way for the first phase of an Aquatic Habitat Program project to improve conditions for fish and anglers at the two ponds, along with the Cherry Creek diversion pond and the lower Ice House Pond.

Some areas will be closed to the public as construction begins later this spring. The project will deepen the ponds, create aquatic habitat features for fish, reshape embankments, install new outlet structures and develop improved access for anglers. Plans call for refilling the ponds by early fall 2019, at which time fish will be stocked.
During construction, Fort Robinson visitors may fish at Carter P. Johnson Lake, Soldier Creek or the White River.

Funding for the project is being provided by the state Aquatic Habitat Stamp and the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program.

More information about the Aquatic Habitat Program may be found at outdoornebraska.org, and questions about this project may be directed to fisheries staff at the Commission’s district office in Alliance.

State Habitat Meeting set for Feb. 9 in Kearney

LINCOLN, Neb. – The annual Nebraska State Habitat Meeting, hosted by Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, will be held Feb. 9 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will include presentations on wildlife, wildlife habitat and education.

For more information or to register, visit NebraskaPF.com or call 308-850-8395.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation, with more than 149,000 members and 725 chapters across the United States and Canada.

Commission approves fees for new Schramm Education Center

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission established user fees for the new Schramm Education Center during its meeting Jan. 18 at its Lincoln headquarters.

Schramm Education Center, built on the site of the former Aksarben Aquarium within Schramm Park State Recreation Area in Sarpy County, will be an interactive, state-of-the-art nature center with live animal displays featuring river, pond and lake systems, as well as riparian environments. The facility will offer educator-led programs and activities and hands-on experiences. It will open in the spring of 2019.

The daily general admission fee will be $10 for ages 13 and up, $7 for ages 60 and up, $7 for ages 4-12 and free for children less than 4. An annual membership, which will include up to two adults and three children or grandchildren, will be $100. A discounted educational rate will be offered for qualifying groups or organizations. There also will be fees for guided tours, animal encounters, interpretive programs/activities and rental of the new classroom area.

The education center is part of the Venture Parks project, an innovative public-private partnership providing more interactive, nature-based learning opportunities for current and future generations of park visitors.

In other business, the Commission:

— approved the following grant awards for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program:

– – Wausa, $350,000 to renovate the Wausa Aquatic Center;

– – Fullerton, $252,908.67 to renovate the Fullerton Public Pool;

– – Osceola, $83,795 to renovate and develop Osceola City Park;

– – Emerson, $62,000 to renovate and develop Aaron’s Park Tennis Court Complex;

– – Central City, $83,450 to develop Dark Island Playground;

– – Potter, $47,836.50 to revitalize and develop Railroad Park;

– – Gering, $225,000 to renovate and develop Quad Fields Baseball and Softball Complex.

— approved the following outdoor trail projects for federal funding through the Recreational Trails Program:

– – Wisner, $250,000 to build a 1.3-mile loop trail through Central and River parks for walking, hiking and biking;

– – Norfolk, $250,000 to build a 10-foot-wide by 7,500-foot-long concrete trail between existing city trails and Northeast Community College;

– – Cowboy Trail West, $250,000 to surface with crushed limestone 4.8 miles of the Cowboy Nature and Recreation Trail and deck 13 bridges from Rushville to Hay Springs;

– – Lexington, $250,000 to build 4,240 feet of 10-foot-wide concrete trail to an existing trail system in the city’s recreation complex;

– – Nebraska National Forest, $208,539 to add 4 inches of aggregate to 7 miles of access roads for Bessey Ranger District at Halsey;

— approved a permanent easement request from the Nebraska Department of Transportation for a road-widening and culvert-placing project at Narrows Wildlife Management Area in Webster County.

— approved a permanent easement request from the Richardson County Rural Water District No. 2 to install a water line and metering valve pit on Indian Cave State Park property in Nemaha County.

A public hearing was held for input regarding the listing and delisting of state threatened and endangered species in the Commission’s District 8, which is Lancaster County. Staff had a presentation on the flathead chub, which is proposed as threatened in Nebraska.

In addition:

— Dr. Bob Zink, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, gave an update on his ongoing research on pheasant genetics. He said it has been determined that Nebraska pheasants, both captive raised and wild pheasants, come from two distinct lineages in eastern China and north-central Asia.

— Wildlife staff updated the commissioners on chronic wasting disease (CWD) monitoring. In the fall, 128 deer tested positive for CWD, as well as one elk. Staff also reported on the eight big game informational meetings held during the winter.

— A presentation was given regarding the fisheries, wildlife resources and state recreation areas within the Commission’s District 8, which is Lancaster County.

— An environmental report featured the status of wind power in Nebraska.

— A presentation was given on Cope’s gray tree frog, which visitors will be able to see at the new Schramm Education Center.

— The commissioners elected their officers for the year as follows: Chairman, Robert Allen, Eustis; Vice Chairman, Dan Kreitman, Wahoo; and 2nd Vice Chairman, Pat Berggren, Broken Bow.

Outdoor Education Center offers family fun for all ages

LINCOLN, Neb. – Families that want to have fun and spend time together can find what they are looking for at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center.

Located at 44th and Superior streets in Lincoln, the state-of-the-art archery and firearm range, offers a safe and comfortable environment for recreation and family fun. Whether you are bringing out your own equipment for some recreational shooting or looking to try the shooting sports for the first time, the Outdoor Education Center is for you. With guidance from the center’s expert instructors, kids, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends – anyone age six and up –– can enjoy archery with just a bit of instruction.

“Our instructors can get folks who have never even touched a bow hitting targets in 15 minutes,” said Rachel Carlson, an outdoor education specialist at the Center.

In addition, shooters can hone their skills on the firearm range, take shooting classes or compete in friendly competitions. The Center also hosts a number of summer camps and outdoor education programs throughout the year.

The heated and air-conditioned ranges are open for walk-in visitors six days a week; no reservations required. All equipment is available on-site. For visitors interested in expanding their skills, the Outdoor Education Center also offers a wide range of classes for multiple sports and experience levels.

The Outdoor Education Center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. To learn more, visit OutdoorEdCenter.org.