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Randy S

Wasted Grass in Nebraska

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Randy S

I try not to be pessimistic, but central Nebraska is looking more like Iowa every year. Was there for the prairie grouse opener. I've never seen so much grass mowed and baled in the 40 years I've been hunting NE. Could hardly find a pivot corner that wasn't baled. If the right of ways were wide enough, they were baled too. They've lost most of their CRP like all states, so their public access to private (CRP Map) has suffered greatly. An area that I've hunted for ten years and never saw a fellow hunter had three trucks working the meager cover that's left. I imagine they used to hunt elsewhere and lost their good ground as well. I don't think they saw any more birds than I did because I didn't see any hunters the second day.

 

In five hours of hunting Tuesday I moved five birds and shot three. I walked for five more hours yesterday on ground that no one else hunted and didn't move a bird. (there was no road access and had to wade through knee deep water to get to it.) Half of the CRP Map was really just pasture land with cattle in it. I've never had luck finding grouse or chickens with cattle. I don't know if it's just me or the birds avoid cattle. I'll be driving a lot and knocking on doors when I can find decent cover, but will probably end up on federal land. I fear the days of picking up a CRP Map guide and trusting it to hold birds are gone.

 

Talked to a ranch hand/bird hunter, who was even more pessimistic than I was. I told him I understand that ranchers are just trying to make a living but he disagreed. He said attitudes have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Said all the ranchers used to be concerned with was how much grain they could get off a pivot. Now it's a contest to see who can stack the most bales. Said if a blade of grass isn't in a cow's stomach, it better be wrapped up in a bale. They placed this year's hay beside last years stale bales, which are just in front of the moldy hay from three years ago. There are rotten bales from long ago but you can't see them because they've disintegrated.  In his words, "Wildlife just doesn't stand a chance around here anymore."   I hope others hunting Nebraska have something to be optimistic about. 

 

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kgb

That baling activity changes things in a hurry!  Sounds like those guys are just running their tractors at this time, but with relative drought conditions in the right places they might be able to sell it pretty quickly.  It's been a number of years, but a TX/OK drought had folks from here and Missouri trucking their hay down to save cattle in those hard-hit areas and folks may be betting on something similar soon.

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Jack L

I've seen that bale scene in Iowa quite often too. Sad.

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dogrunner

I have seen the bale scene in a bunch of states, same stuff sitting around year after year but yet they open crp to haying in the dry years and it still sits and rots. 

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mister grouse

i think you see old bales everywhere in wet years everywhere across the country.Hay baled in anticipation of a sale to out of area cattle farmers.    In dry years in the S E US the cattle guys haul hay from the plains states and pay a lot for it. It just happens that all the US has been wet for the most part (except panhandle of TX) .  Free money for the midwest farmers almost if you already own the baling equipment. 

 

Not an excuse for the damage to game birds habitat, but an explanation from farmers point of view.  

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Windrider

A rancher stopped to talk to me today while I was wrapping up and getting ready to leave the field.  Going price for meat cows is $2,500+ a head. I don’t even need snake boots in 90% of the fields around here because  the cows are keeping it mowed very close to bear ground and the ranchers are bringing in hay because they are over carrying capacity.

 

It’s been a wet fall so far in Texas, but a dry winter is predicted.

 

He looked pretty excited about the coming monetary windfall.

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