Hunt Texas December 2013

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In This Issue:  


Video Quiz: Can You ID Waterfowl on the Wing?

two white birds flying“It’s a duck. It’s a goose... No, it’s a … what IS that?” 

Sometimes, it's hard to know what you're aiming at. Waterfowl hunters face challenges in the flyway to quickly distinguish between migratory game species (geese, sandhill cranes) and nongame ibis, egrets, pelicans and the endangered whooping crane.  (Over the last two seasons, whoopers have ventured outside their traditional range, using areas near Tivoli, Bayside, Collegeport, El Campo, Louise — even Granger Lake in Central Texas.)

Take this short video quiz to be sure you are aiming at the right bird in the right season.

Know someone who needs to brush up on waterfowl ID? Take this opportunity to pass along the quiz link. If there’s any doubt about your target, don’t shoot. Everyone’s careful observation helps protect all species. 

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Youth Hunting Seasons: Where and When

in field, adult man helps boy with rifle

Licensed hunters ages 16 years and younger have unique opportunities this winter and spring to sharpen their skills and bring home some whitetail and turkey trophies. Statewide youth-only seasons are scheduled when school is out and create great opportunities for established hunters to mentor a youngster, making the event both enjoyable and educational. 

  • Whitetail - January Special Youth-Only Season: Jan. 6-19, 2014. The season is open in all counties where there is a general open season for white-tailed deer. All legal hunting means and methods are allowed, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties, where hunting is by archery equipment only and crossbows.
  • Turkey - January Special Youth-Only Season: Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19, 2014 (Rio Grande – North Zone only)All legal methods are allowed.
  • Turkey - Spring Season Youth-Only (Rio Grande turkey only): All counties with a 4-Turkey bag limit: North Zone, Saturday and Sunday, Mar. 22-23, 2014 and May 17-18, 2014, and South Zone, Saturday and Sunday, Mar. 8-9, 2014 and May 3-4, 2014

Check these pages to find the details of youth only seasons, counties and bag limits for these and other Texas game species. The required special youth-only license (Type 169 - $7) is valid for any person, resident or non-resident, under 17 years of age at the date of license purchase. Purchase licenses online or at local retailers.

Statewide youth only seasons for deer, turkey squirrel and waterfowl were established by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The goal is to allow youth opportunities with family and mentors to learn about wildlife conservation in the outdoors and to introduce them to safe and responsible hunting. 

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Winter Hunting Offers Great Opportunities

buck facing cameraThe August hunting anticipation may have calmed a bit, but there is still plenty of action afoot. Check out this hunting forecast reminder video.

Seasons are underway for the ever-popular geese, duck, whitetail and turkey. The Outdoor Annual provides the specifics of where, when and what species are in season.

Other ongoing and upcoming seasons to anticipate in some zones are:

  • Late Dove – December 20-January 5 or 20 depending on zone
  • Pheasant – December 7-January 5 in 37 counties
  • Quail – October 26-February 23
  • Turkey – Various fall and spring dates depending on county
  • Chachalaca – November 2-February 23 in 4 counties

Check the Outdoor Annual for detailed information about seasons, zones, counties and bag and possession limits.

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The Time it Rained Ducks

old photo: single hunter,gun,duck call

It’s a little known fact that duck hunting helped build the Texas coast. When seemingly endless flocks of migrating waterfowl turned the skies black, a hunting free-for-all brought people, railroads, and communities together for pleasure and economic gain. 

“The birds fell in heaps — ducks and geese, cranes and swans, shorebirds of all sizes,” writes Rob Sawyer, author of A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl Hunting. “They were shot both night and day by any means imaginable and unimaginable — targeted by sportsmen aboard trains, in boats and from behind livestock. Yes, livestock.”

Read more about this wild and matter-of-factly told tale of waterfowl and the Texas coast in Steve Lightfoot’s “Raining Ducks” in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

When species began to decline, hunters took action and began to tax themselves through the 1937 Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act to help ensure that the wildlife they enjoyed would be there for future generations, as told in this Passport to Texas radio program

Find current regulations in the Waterfowl Digest 

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Video: Hunter Education Four Ways Redux

hunter in full camo with drawn bowLooking for a way to squeeze the required hunter education course into your schedule? In this new video, Robert Ramirez, TPWD Hunter Education Manager, explains your four options, including a completely online course for hunters 17 years of age and older. Traditional classroom and advanced options are still available.

There are four ways to become certified in Texas Hunter Education:

  1. Basic Hunter Education Course – 6 hours of classroom instruction by a TPWD certified instructor.
  2. Enhanced Hunter Education Course – completion of an online course plus a one day 4 hour class with a TPWD certified instructor.
  3. Advanced Hunter Education Course – more than 6 hours of instruction by a TPWD certified instructor.
  4. Online Course for Complete Certification  – completion of an approved online course. You must be 17 years of age or older to register.

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Shooting Sports Keep Kids on Target

Shooting instructor Charlie Wilson with studentIt takes a special personality to translate firearms and target practice into a popular lifetime sport for kids, teaching safety, agility and teamwork along the way. 

Meet Charlie Wilson, Texas Parks and Wildlife Shooting Sports Specialist. His laid-back-style and all-across-Texas programming earned him the 2013 TPWD Employee Award for “Partnership”. The Mobile Sporting Clays Range is on the road to events statewide. Watch Charlie at work in this video and see why kids love him and so do adults who work with him in schools and community partnerships across Texas. A bonus: Competitive shooting participation leads to college scholarships for some students. 

Shooting Sports opportunities:

Call (512) 389-4361 for more information about the sporting clays mobile range.

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Big Time Texas Hunt 2013 Winners Announced

young man with trophy buck

Fifteen lucky folks bought winning tickets to Big Time Texas Hunts annual drawings. Kelly Lee Hill of Spring won this year’s Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate guided hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals: desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.

Here is the full list of 2013 winners:

  • Texas Grand Slam — Kelly Lee Hill, Spring, TX 
  • Premium Buck Hunt — Michael Brown, Magnolia, TX 
  • Exotic Safari — Kepha Hawkins, Clyde, TX; Julius Zapalac, Ledbetter, TX 
  • Whitetail Bonanza — James Marsh, Bluemont, VA; Cody Stewart, San Antonio, TX; Lloyd Dunn, San Antonio, TX; James Watkins, Bullard, TX; Pat Green, New Home, TX; Danny Clark, Navasota, TX; Timothy Motes, Humble, TX 
  • Big Time Bird Hunt — Jeffrey Hilsberg, Austin, TX 
  • Gator Hunt —  Robert Pulley, Lucas, TX 
  • Texas Waterfowl Hunt — Robert Holmes, Cypress, TX 
  • Wild Hog Adventure — Mike Davis, San Angelo, TX

All told, hunters bought 71,658 Big Time Texas Hunt entries during this year’s sales period through the Oct. 15 deadline. This generated $676,504 in gross revenue to support wildlife research, habitat management and public hunting. Entries for next year's program will be available starting May 15.

Pictured: 2013 Whitetail Bonanza hunter Cole Marsh, son and hunting companion of winner James Marsh

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Game Wardens Field Notes and More

warden helps infant and mother from boat

The game warden force of Texas Parks and Wildlife has enhanced its important role in maintaining the state’s maritime security by become only the fourth state conservation law enforcement agency to be accredited by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program. Read more in this news story

“For over 100 years, the TPWD game wardens have patrolled the land and waterways of our great state, protecting public safety and preserving our natural resources,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “They have set the gold standard for maritime operations, and this accreditation affirms their role as one of the nation’s elite law enforcement and emergency response operations.”

It's all in a day's work. In this video news story they rescue a mom and baby near Austin after the October 31 flood. Read Game Wardens Field Notes October and November issues to keep up with their work protecting people and wildlife in the Texas outdoors.

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Camp Fire Warms Twice with Dutch Oven Meals

stew cooking in Dutch ovenUse that hunting camp fire to try some Dutch oven cooking while you’re sitting out at the camp. A little planning before you go and you will impress family and friends with a hot meal. You need at least one open fire Dutch oven (check with your pioneer ancestors). Whether you try a one-pot meal or a triple-decker stack with cobbler on top, you’ll find inspiration in this set of video cooking lessons.

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