September 24, 2012
The Nebraska Sandhills: Bird-Hunting Heaven
By Chad Love
If you've never visited the Nebraska sandhills, you owe it to yourself to visit this undeniably beautiful bird-hunting destination at least once. It's definitely bucket-list worthy. Greater prairie chickens and sharptails are the main upland targets here, with sharptails being the predominant bird in the northern portions of the region and prairie chickens dominating the south. But what is common throughout this ecosystem is the beauty of the area.
Undulating grass-covered sand hills, some rising as high as 300 feet, cover some 23,000 square miles of west-central Nebraska, with numerous spring-fed lakes dotting this unbroken, pristine and sparsely populated region. Being a lifelong prairie rat, it's also an area that has always intrigued me, so when hardcore bird hunter, central Nebraska native and sandhills lover Ted Gartner invited me to spend a day or two exploring the region while testing out Garmin's new Alpha track and train combination GPS/E-collar system, I jumped at the chance.
Gartner, Garmin International's director of corporate communications, has hunted the Nebraska sandhills all his life. The area holds a special place in his heart, and after having spent a couple days running dogs and simply driving around marveling at their stark, silent beauty, I now understand why he and many other serious bird hunters hold the sandhills region in such high esteem. Unlike most areas of the great plains, the sandhills remain largely untouched by the plow. Watching your dogs run across a landscape that has remained largely unchanged since the Sioux roamed and hunted bison across these same hills in centuries past is a special treat.
Anyone else ever hunted the Nebraska sandhills region? What did you think of it?