Photo by Gregory Wright
There is no better spring welcome than to see and hear the courtship displays of Nebraska’s prairie grouse against a sandhill sunrise. The Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands near Halsey offers free use of viewing blinds to allow visitors opportunities to see up-close sharp-tailed grouse during courtship rituals.
Use of the viewing blinds are free to the public and no reservations are needed. Guests are directed to contact the Bessey Ranger District Office to obtain a map with directions to viewing blinds.
Each of the two blinds can seat up to four persons and will remain open from April 1 to mid-May.
The best viewing activity can be expected daily at sunrise in mid-April.
Wildlife Biologist Gregory Wright recommends visitors to be in the blind at least 45 minutes before sunrise to reduce lek disturbance.
Viewing usually lasts 2-3 hours. Things visitors may want to bring are warm clothing, a chair, binoculars, camera, snacks, a flashlight and a viewing blind map.
Wright said one of the blinds is located approximately 300 yards from a two-wheel drive accessible road, while the other is accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles or a 0.7 mile walk.
For more information, and for maps, call the Bessey District Ranger Office at 308-533-2257.