Outdoor activities are better with friends – including hunting. Noah Luedtke introduced his friend, Preston Cuddy, to turkey hunting last fall through the Take ’em Hunting challenge and gave him the start he needed. Now, Cuddy is keeping active in the field.

On July 13, Luedtke, of Martell, accepted the Take ’em Hunting grand prize John Deere Gator utility vehicle, donated by AKRS Equipment, in a ceremony at the AKRS Crete store.

Luedtke, 24, was selected randomly from more than 1,100 participants in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s challenge to take a beginner hunting and submit a photo online. It was the third year for the seven-month challenge designed to encourage people to invite others to try the sport. Since the program began, it has introduced hunting to an estimated 5,400 Nebraskans of all ages.

Luedtke, whose father introduced him to hunting, took Cuddy on his first ever hunt; they hunted turkeys in southwest Nebraska.

“He grew up always wanting to learn how to hunt, but never had the opportunity to do so with his family,” Luedtke said. “He told me he wanted to experience hunting but did not know where to start.

“Preston's passion for hunting grows more with each trip,” Luedtke added. “I am thankful to have been the person to kindle his ever-growing love for hunting.”

Said Cuddy, a 24-year-old from Bellevue, who has gone hunting with Luedtke at least six times since their first hunt: “It was an awesome experience. I’m grateful for everything he and his family has done for me. They didn’t have to do that. It was just something they were willing to do in trying to get a little fire burnt in me to keep doing that.”

Participation in outdoor activities such as hunting fund the conservation of the state’s fish and wildlife and is a great way for people to spend time outdoors getting in touch with nature.

“Hunting, spending time outdoors and recreation bring people and communities together,” said Kent Kirchhoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AKRS Equipment. “We are proud to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks and other partners to encourage people to spend time outdoors and take up the sport of hunting.”

Nebraska Game and Parks and partners ask hunters to bring someone new because not everyone had the opportunity growing up. It’s also a sport that takes support to get started.

“It is great to see hunters like Noah introducing friends to hunting,” Game and Parks Director Tim McCoy said. “The best hunting experiences are with friends, and we hope our hunters keep inviting people along. Thank you to AKRS Equipment, our partners and all the participants in the challenge. I encourage you to keep taking ’em hunting to help give beginners the confidence they need to pick up hunting.”

In addition to AKRS Equipment, Take ’em Hunting sponsors included the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Heartland DSC, all which provided prizes, such as gift cards or outdoor gear. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to participants drawn randomly.

To learn more about the Take ’em Hunting program, or to see participant stories, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmHunting.

Southwest state parks temporarily banning campfires

Some state recreation areas in southwest Nebraska are temporarily banning campfires as drought conditions have triggered extreme fire danger.

The following Nebraska Game and Parks Commission areas will have campfire bans until further notice:

  • Enders State Recreation Area
  • Gallagher Canyon SRA
  • Medicine Creek SRA
  • Red Willow State Recreation Area
  • Rock Creek Lake SRA
  • Swanson SRA

Additional parks may be added if drought conditions persist. Because of regularly changing conditions, guests also should call park areas prior to arrival to determine whether a fire ban is in effect. Parks will make determinations by working with local emergency managers and fire departments.

Those recreating in areas where campfires are allowed should use extreme caution and take precautions, including keeping fires small, contained in provided fire rings, attended at all times, and having a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of spread. Campfires should be properly extinguished with water until all coals have completely cooled.

For more information about the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.

Gifford Point WMA access permit applications accepted Aug. 1-15

People interested in hunting deer at Gifford Point Wildlife Management Area this fall may apply for access permits Aug. 1-15. Two hundred of these permits will be issued to allow hunters access to the area.

The use of rimfire and centerfire rifles or handguns is prohibited at Gifford. Muzzleloaders are not allowed during the November firearm deer season.

The Gifford permit allows access to take deer with archery equipment from Sept. 1, 2022, through Jan. 15, 2023, and with a muzzleloader from Dec. 1, 2022, through Jan. 15, 2023, as specified by the deer permit. Successful applicants will be issued a combination for the lock to access the gate to the WMA. Only persons with a valid access authorization will be allowed on the area for scouting and hanging tree stands from Aug. 16 through the end of the deer seasons.

Deer hunters may apply as "buddies," which ensures that both or neither will draw an access permit. Only two persons may apply as buddies and both will apply on the same application. A buddy permit does not allow party hunting. Each individual must harvest his or her own animal.

Vehicle access will be limited to the rock road directly adjacent to the 8-foot-high deer fence on Educational Service Unit property. Only foot access to the interior of the area will be allowed.

Application forms are available at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offices at Omaha, Lincoln, Schramm Education Center, Schilling WMA, or can be downloaded at outdoornebraska.gov/huntingseasons. If applications exceed 200, a drawing shall be held Aug. 4.

Applicants shall be notified of draw status via email if provided; otherwise via standard mail. Successful applicants shall be issued the access permit once they provide Game and Parks with their applicable 2022 deer permit information. Applicable permits are: Muzzleloader, Statewide Archery, Statewide Youth, or Antlerless Only Season Choice Wahoo.