Early last week, a group of us spent a couple days enjoying the Nebraska Sandhills at Calamus Outfitters, a working ranch that also offers a number of outdoor recreation opportunities. Here are a few photos from those days.
A steep textured sandy bank on the Calamus River, a beautiful river that flows out of the Nebraska Sandhills.
Sharp-tailed grouse feathers on a hilltop often used as a lek (courtship area) in the spring. Calamus Outfitters provides viewing opportunities for both sharpies and greater prairie chickens.
It’s great to see entrepreneurs like Calamus Outfitters provide people a chance to explore the Nebraska Sandhills – one of the great grasslands of the world. Since the majority of the Sandhills is privately owned, it can be difficult to find places to hike, hunt, birdwatch, photograph, etc. I don’t think hosting numerous outsiders on their land is an idea many ranchers find attractive ( most of those I know list solitude as a big reason they enjoy ranching) but I applaud Calamus Outfitters for doing so. The most important role they play might be to put a face to ranching so that visitors from cities or out of state can see ranchers as thoughtful, caring land stewards. It doesn’t take much talking to Bruce, Sue Ann, Sarah, and Adam for that to become clear.
A jeep trail ride across the Sandhills was one of the high points of the trip. Even in November, the landscape was beautiful.
I just got back from a trip through the Nebraska Sandhills. The trip included a brief stop at the beautiful Switzer Ranch – home of Calamus Outfitters, a ranch family-owned business providing opportunities for bird watching, hunting, river floating, photography, and other activities.
Small mammal tracks across the rippled sand of a sandhills blowout. Switzer Ranch, Nebraska.
It was late afternoon at the ranch, and light from the dropping sun was angling sharply across the prairie, including a large blowout full of the tracks of several animals. (A blowout is a bowl-shaped area of actively moving sand.) Though it was February, temperatures had been above 50 degrees F for a couple days, and it was clear that the warm weather had stimulated numerous creatures to emerge from dens to explore and search for food.
They’d better make good use of their time – the weekend forecast calls for a return to snow and cold temperatures.