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Happy Mother’s Day 2014

Sunday is Mother’s Day.  I have some pictures from my time in this spring’s turkey “woods” that I think mothers and others will appreciate.  Let me share some of them.

There have been lots of early morning sunrises, some of them dewy.

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A person can follow a progression of wildflowers in Nebraska through the year.  This spring I have noticed as several small flowers finally peeked out.  I found this one high on a cedar ridge.

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I believe that is called mountain lily, at least that is what I think it was after consulting my Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains by Jon Farrar.  It is also called star lily or sand lily which may be more appropriate for the location where I found it.  “Star of Bethlehem” is another name for it.

A little farther up the same ridge were a bunch of these:

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I had a couple of plants classes in graduate school, but I learned just enough to be dangerous.  I have checked several keys, in fact I will mention a couple more of them I found on the internet, Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses, and Wildflower Search.  As near as I can tell, that is some species of milkvetch, maybe ground plum milkvetch.  I am not sure.  Notice there was one plant with white flowers in addition to all those with purple flowers.

There were a bunch of those plants up the ridge.  My kids and I frequent that ridge every spring, have watched and listened to a lot of turkeys there.  I am thinking we should call it milkvetch ridge.

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Who pays attention to yellow flowers first thing in spring, are not they all just dandelions?  Then I got to looking closer at these, they also were scattered along a high ridge.

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There was something different about that plant and flower, it was different than the dandelions growing lower on the hillside.  What I found is that is a “false” dandelion or prairie dandelion.  It is actually a native species while the dandelions that we are all familiar with, the ones covering my yard, are actually an exotic, invasive species.  So why would a native dandelion be called “false”?  I think I will remember it as prairie dandelion.

There are several bushes starting to bloom.  The wild plums add a nice fragrance to a spring turkey hunt.

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And what picture of Nebraska, at least some of my favorite parts of Nebraska, would be complete without a soapweed?  I snapped this one because of the flowering bush growing beside it.

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The bush with the yellow flowers is a currant, buffalo currant.

Where I come from, homesteader stock, they have always been “soapweeds”.  If you call them “yuccas”, I know you are from “back east” somewhere.  Jon Farrar’s book that I linked to earlier notes that they were called soapweeds because the American Indians crushed the roots and used them as shampoo.  I am sure the early explorers in the Great Plains and then the settlers learned about this and naturally called them “soapweeds”.  In fact Jon notes that for a time the soapweed extract was sold as a shampoo.

I have one picture of a cute, fluffy, young bird to show you.

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OK, maybe not so cute and fluffy.  Maybe it would rip your face off.

My son and nephew found this owl nest on an earlier turkey hunt.  From their description of the nest location and the owlet, I figured they had discovered a barn owl nest.

Looks like a great horned owl to me.

I did not know great horned owls would use a cavity in the side of a clay cliff as a nest site.  I saw one of the parents going to and from the nest.  The stinking crows were incessantly mobbing it.  The adult owl I saw was very light-colored, more of a light tan color than the gray that I think of great horned owls.  I heard a turkey gobble and was in the area so I checked the nest and found the owlet at the entrance.  So, I readied my camera and then took a stroll by the nest acting like I did not know it was there.  The owlet did not run back inside, it just crouched and stared at me.  I snapped a couple quick photos and then went on my way.

I know some think I am an old dinosaur that cares only about the game taken or the fish caught.  The “hero shots” with fish and game fill my blog.  I do intend to be successful when I am in the field or on the water, and am confident that it is only a matter of time until I am, but it is about a lot more than the catch or the harvest.  It is about the process, the experience.  It is about time spent with family and friends.  It is about dewy mornings, wildflowers, and young owls.  It is about spring, it is about life.  I do not get that experience, that connection, by strolling through a park, zoo or botanical garden.  No, the only way I get that is by following my hunter instincts and spending time in the field and on the water, by being part of the spring “woods”, by playing my part in it.  The more I do that, the more I experience, the more I appreciate it all.  I have tried to share some of that here with you knowing that you really will not understand unless you were there.  You have to be out there yourself.  The more you do that, the more you will experience and appreciate, and the more successful you will be.

In many ways.

 

About Daryl Bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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