Outdoor notes: Squirrel hunting; Health alert at Willow Creek, Rockford Lake

Outdoor notes: Squirrel hunting; Health alert at Willow Creek, Rockford Lake

LINCOLN, Neb. – Small game, particularly squirrel, is a great way to introduce youth or novices to hunting. Skills, equipment and licensing are more basic than other types of hunting.

“A hand-me-down .22 rifle or smaller gauge shotgun and almost any hardwood stand of trees can offer a successful endeavor for a new hunter,” Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis said.

Squirrel season – Aug. 1 through Jan. 31, 2019 – is the first of Nebraska’s fall hunting seasons. This leaves the hunting woods available to novices and their mentors.

“The skills that can be learned in pursuit of these tree-dwellers can quickly have you advancing to larger game species, such as turkey and deer, once your confidence and experience grows,” Ellis said.

Nebraska residents younger than age 16 can harvest squirrels without a hunt (small game) permit or Nebraska Habitat Stamp. Residents 16 and above and all nonresidents require the permit and stamp. A Hunter Education certificate is required for anyone age 12 through 29 who hunts with a firearm.

Squirrels may be hunted statewide, but no hunting is allowed on state refuges and sanctuaries. The daily bag limit is seven squirrels, and the possession limit is 28.

Before a hunt, scout locations for trees that bear mast, as it could pay off when it is time to hunt. Squirrels prefer to eat the nuts of oaks, hickories and walnuts. They will eat other types of nuts and fruit when preferred food types are not available.

Experienced and inexperienced hunters alike always should follow the basic rules of firearm safety:

— Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

— Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

— Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

— Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

“Taking a new hunter along on a squirrel hunt in the woods also develops a novice’s sense of stewardship of natural resources and appreciation for conservation,” Ellis said.

Hunt permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org. Read the 2018-2019 Small Game Guide at Outdoornebraska.gov/guides for more hunting information.


Willow Creek, Rockford lakes on health alert

LINCOLN, Neb. – A health alert has been issued for Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County and Rockford Lake in Gage County.

Rockford Lake remains on health alert for the second straight week.

During water testing earlier this week, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality detected elevated toxin levels produced by blue-green algal blooms in both lakes. Visitors to Willow Creek and Rockford Lake state recreation areas (SRA) should avoid full body contact activities such as swimming, wading, skiing, jet skiing, etc. Non-contact activities such as boating, fishing and camping are OK. Dog owners are urged to keep pets out of the water and not allow them to ingest lake water.

Lakes with beaches and those that allow power boating are tested weekly through the summer months. Health alerts are lifted when algal toxin levels are below advisory concentration for two consecutive weeks.

A park permit is required of each vehicle entering Willow Creek and Rockford SRAs.

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