The season for gratitude and reflection is upon us.
Thanksgiving week is when we remind our families, friends and close associates how much they mean to us and express our sincere appreciation for what positive things we have been given in life.
While you are considering what you are thankful for, don’t forget about Nebraska’s outdoor scene.
During the nine days of the recent firearm deer hunting season here in Cornhusker State, I selected a dozen key elements to be extremely grateful for while I was in the field. As you read through these and look at the photos, I want you to think about specific items or aspects in the natural world of which you are so grateful.
(1) I am extremely grateful for the time around rural Nebraska sunrises and sunsets that always seem to be spectacular.
(2) I am extremely grateful for water, as it flows in this spring-fed creek, for without water there is no life.
(3) I am extremely grateful for native trees — most notably the unmistakable bark of the hackberry below. (I always say: If only the bark of older native trees could speak to me and tell me what they have seen over the years).
(4) I am extremely grateful for open, mature woodlands where many species of wildlife roam and call home.
(5) I am extremely grateful for nongame wildlife species such as this white-breasted nuthatch, all wildlife matters and all things are connected in nature.
(6) I am extremely grateful for the successful reintroduction of various wildlife species such as the wild turkey (I never tire of watching wild turkeys, especially up close).
(7) I am extremely grateful for the sights and sounds of wildlife visitors such as these migratory Canada geese (I go to bed at night still hearing those geese overhead).
(8) I am extremely grateful for the beauty and pure solitude that nature offers in Nebraska. (I view time spent in nature as a mind-cleansing, soul-invigorating experience.)
(9) I am extremely grateful for this special deer hunting blind. (It was built for me by my brother, Steve Wagner, and nephew, Seth Wagner, and installed in the woods (from R to L) by Steve, Mark Hintz, Seth and Micah Wagner. A knee injury prevented me from climbing a treestand. The blind allowed me to safely and comfortably deer hunt and watch wildlife).
(10) I am extremely grateful for nature’s precious bounty and being able to be a direct participant in the conservation and management of wildlife.
(11) I am extremely grateful for past generations who homesteaded lands where I hunt and enjoy nature today, and for landowners who allow me to hunt on their property.
(12) I am extremely grateful for grasslands, most notably for programs that encourage and enhance grassland habitat.
(13) I am extremely grateful for important plants like the common milkweed that thrive on my aunt’s farm today and provide superb pollinator habitat as well as critical habitat for the monarch butterfly.
How about you, what are you extremely grateful for in nature?