Hunters and landowners are encouraged to offer their feedback on big game issues during the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s public information meetings this winter.

These meetings, which are scheduled in each Game and Parks district, begin at 6:30 p.m. local time and will last 2½ hours.

The first half hour will be an open house with time to talk with wildlife biologists, conservation officers and staff. Biologists will make a presentation at 7 p.m. and discuss big game harvest results and season structure. Then they will take questions on topics such as big game management, depredation, permits, antlerless harvest, trophy management and diseases.

The schedule is:

Dec. 6 – Ord, Trotter Event Center, 127 Trotter Ave.

Dec. 12 – Crete, College Heights Country Club – Lower Room, 1225 East 4th St.

Dec. 14 – Ponca, Ponca State Park, 88090 Spur 26 E

Dec. 18 – Crawford, Crawford Community Center, 1005 1st St.

Dec. 20 – Gering, Wildcat Hills Nature Center, 210615 Highway 71

Jan. 2 – Lincoln, Turpin Outdoor Education Center, 4703 N. 44th St.

Jan. 8 – Holdrege, Cobblestone Inn & Suites, 814 Burlington St.

Jan. 9 – McCook, Red Willow County Fair Building, 1412 W 5th St. McCook

People who cannot attend a meeting can watch an online big game informational session via Zoom at 7 p.m. Central time Dec. 17 or Jan. 4. Visit the calendar event entries at to register for the Zoom meetings.

Explore the parks with these Game and Parks events in December

Spend some time in Nebraska’s state parks this fall and winter by attending a variety of events throughout December.

Don’t forget a vehicle park entry permit is required at Nebraska state parks. Get one at or at state park entrances.

Ponca, Indian Cave hosting Christmas Bird Count events

Take part in an annual community science project and participate in the Christmas Bird Count in December. Events will take place Dec. 14 at Ponca State Park and Dec. 28 at Indian Cave State Park.

The Christmas Bird Count is the National Audubon Society’s 124-year-old event that takes place every year around Christmas, where bird lovers of all ages and skills count all the birds they can see in a 24-hour period.

Indian Cave’s event will be from 9 a.m. to noon while Ponca’s will be from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A soup lunch will be provided for participants at both parks.

For more information, contact Indian Cave at 402-883-2575 or Ponca at 402-755-2284.

Have fun with Ponca State Park Creative Snow Building Contest

Get artistic when the snow falls this winter by participating in the Ponca State Park Creative Snow Building Contest.

From Nov. 25 through March 19, build something fun out of snow at the park, then take a photo of it. Enter it in the contest by emailing it to [email protected]. Prizes will be awarded for the top three places. First place is a free night’s stay in a Ponca State Park four-bedroom mini-lodge.

The snow creation could resemble a person, animal or object or any size. Photos will be displayed on the Ponca State Park NE Facebook page, and winners will be announced March 22.

Contestants must supply their own accessories, which will stay with the snow creation. Contestants should be respectful of others’ creations and possessions.

For more information, call the park at 402-755-2284.

Enjoy Christmas at the Cody’s at Buffalo Bill Ranch SHP

Come to North Platte for Christmas at the Cody’s this holiday season at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, tour the mansion’s 18 rooms, filled with holiday decorations. Walk the grounds and see holiday lights and decorations. Carolers and instrumentals will perform in the Lady’s parlor nightly. Hot apple cider, cookies and roasted chestnuts will be served. There will be nightly tractor-drawn hayrack rides. Experience the historic barn, decorated festively with help from North Platte’s first responders.

Entry is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 4 to 12. Dec. 15 is Military and First Responders appreciation night, with free entry to those who qualify.

Mahoney SP to host Classic Christmas on Dec. 9

Classic Christmas is a fun holiday event for the entire family from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s Crete Carrier Riverview Lodge.

Families can participate with their children decorating a sugar cookie, making a holiday ornament, and creating a greeting card for a senior living facility.

Take a free trolley ride through the park (weather permitting) or get a portrait with Santa taken by a Nebraskaland Magazine photographer.

Lewis and Clark hosting Holiday Tree Decorating Contest

Put your tree-decorating skills to the test for a chance to win a two-night cabin stay at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area near Crofton.

The contest is open Nov. 23 to Jan. 2 with judging to occur Jan. 3-4; one winner will claim the prize.

Contestants, limited to household units, and one entry per household, may decorate one tree along the park’s entrance driveway. Contests are encouraged to use environmentally friendly decorations, such as popcorn garland, solar powered lights, bird seed pinecones and more. Take a photo of the decorated tree and send it to [email protected].

All decorations that are not wildlife friendly must be removed by Jan. 14.

For more information, call the park at 402-388-4169.

Yule Log Festival is Dec. 16 at Platte River SP

Come to Platte River State Park with family and friends Dec. 16 and enjoy the Yule Log Festival.

This event, from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Walter Scott Jr. Lodge, will include bird feeder making, kids’ crafts, holiday cookie decorating contest, marshmallow roasting, camp games, photos with Santa, kindling hunt, bonfire, hayrack rides, and food.

The Yule Log Quest is limited to 20 teams, which can register by calling the office at 402-234-2217.

Visit the calendar event entry at for a schedule of the day’s activities.

Ponca SP to host Winterfest on Dec. 30

Close out the year in style at Ponca State Park with the 12th Annual Winterfest on Dec. 30.

Highlights of the day include the National Championship Fruitcake Fling at noon, outdoor education programs and lighted hayrack rides.

In the fruitcake fling, contestants throw wildlife-friendly fruitcakes for distance. Prizes are awarded in four age groups.

For more information, call Ponca SP, which also is a Nebraska Holiday Passport stop, at 402-755-2284.

Begin purchasing 2024 Game and Parks permits now

During the busy holiday season, don’t forget to purchase Nebraska Game and Parks Commission permits for the upcoming year. The 2024 annual hunt (small game), fishing, fur harvest and state park entry permits are now available online, at district offices and parks near you.

While buying a permit for yourself, consider buying one as a gift for a friend or family member. These permits are valid Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2024.

A Nebraska vehicle park entry permit is an affordable way for families and friends to have fun outdoors. It is an incredible value, providing everyone in the vehicle access to more than 75 state park, recreation areas and state historical parks for the year. Get one to explore miles of trails, watch wildlife and get in touch with nature — or to attend one of many special park events hosted year-round.

Those interested in fishing or hunting also can buy a permit valid statewide. Catch fish all year, on public waters, local ponds, well-known reservoirs or even cold-water streams. Or snag your hunt permit to continue upland, squirrel, rabbit or some waterfowl hunting early in the new year. (Be sure to verify season dates at

Remember: Spending time in the outdoors is good for your physical and mental well-being, and it’s an investment in Nebraska’s natural resources for the future.

Age and residency restrictions apply to some permits. Stamps also may be required. For more information on permits, including how to purchase them, visit or a Game and Parks office.

PATH has mentored hunting opportunities for youth over holidays

Plenty of holiday break mentored hunting opportunities exist for youth under age 18 through the Passing Along the Heritage Program.

Lake Wanahoo, in Saunders County, has seven separate units totaling 1,067 acres available for mentored youth hunting. They are available during the Thanksgiving and Christmas school breaks.

To locate and reserve a site, and obtain a permission slip, visit and search for “Passing Along the Heritage Program.” A mentor must possess a permission slip at all times of the youth hunt. Individual youth hunters may hunt PATH sites up to five times annually.

PATH provides Nebraska youth and their mentors access to hunt on private lands and selected public lands. Only youth under the age of 18 may hunt on these sites. The mentor is there to help the youth and ensure a safe hunting experience.

The program is made possible by a partnership between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation and Nebraska landowners. The Lower Platte North Natural Resources District manages the habitat in cooperation with Game and Parks and Pheasants Forever.