Life's Better Outside - February 2014

Banish the wintry weather mindset! Make plans now for springtime in the outdoors
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In This Issue:



Four Places to Take Your Binoculars

man, binoculars showing a bird reflection

March madness − for those who enjoy looking at wildlife and especially birds − happens every spring as millions of birds head north through Texas to their summer breeding grounds.

And remember, with or without binoculars, springtime is a great time for wildlife watching.

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Battleship Texas Turns 100

Battleship Texas, dock, vintage photo

The Battleship Texas, veteran of two World Wars and the only remaining dreadnought battleship, turns 100 in 2014! Join her Centennial Celebration, Saturday March 15 featuring Robert Earl Keen and friends Reckless Kelly, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, and Charlie Robison for “A Texas Uprising.” The full-day festival for the entire family will also feature educational exhibits, a World War I and II historical zone, Texas Parks and Wildlife Family Zone, concessions, and a fireworks display.

Learn more about the Battleship Texas, find event details, and buy tickets online for this day to honor surviving crew members and to help fund the big-gun battleship’s restoration and preservation.

Commissioned in 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world, the Battleship Texas is credited with the introduction and innovation in gunnery, aviation, and radar. Her achievements include: 

  • 12,429 days of commissioned service through two World Wars
  • 725,415 miles traveled
  • 4,200 troops carried home
  • 32 years active service
  • 5 World War II battle stars

The Battleship Texas State Historic Site is open 7 days a week, and the ship has her own exhibit at Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin through April 13.

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ADV Battleship Texas Celebration


Reel in Your License for Spring Fishing Fun

couple fishing on lake pier

As the weather heats up, so does the fishing! Don’t forget to bring your license along for the trip. If you don’t have one yet, remember that you have options: freshwater, saltwater, combo, annual, year-to-date, single-day and more. Check out all your fishing license choices online. Some of the most popular options this time of year include:

  • Texas residents may purchase a year-from-purchase All Water license that is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. (It costs just $7 more than the standard resident All-Water package which always expires August 31.)
  • Senior packages: Texas residents age 65 and older can purchase licenses at discounted rates: Freshwater ($12), Saltwater ($17) or All Water ($22) package. 
  • Resident active-duty military and disabled veterans are eligible for a free "Super Combo" Hunting and All Water fishing package.

A valid fishing license with a freshwater or saltwater stamp endorsement is required to take fish, mussels, clams, crayfish or other aquatic life in the public waters of Texas.

Buying a license is easy! You can find them online or in sporting goods stores, gun shops, discount stores, bait and tackle shops, and department stores throughout the state. Find a retailer near you. Check out the Fishing rules and regulations online.

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Iconic Guadalupe River Drives Local Economies

close up Guadalupe River flowingThe “Guad” is more than just a pretty river. Tubing, floating, paddling, rainbow trout fishing, shrimping, wildlife watching - all these activities and more owe something to the Guadalupe River. From its Hill Country headwaters through its 250-mile course to the Gulf of Mexico, the Guadalupe River tells the story of water’s importance to communities, local economies, recreation and wildlife. Watch “Tracing a Texas River” to see what she contributes to the lives of Texans. Explore the detailed descriptions and maps of each section of the river. 

Trout fishing is a specialty of the Guadalupe. Recognized as one of the top 100 trout streams in America and the southernmost trout stream in the United States, the section of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam is managed through special fishing regulations and is stocked in the winter months by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

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Ribbit! What Are Frogs Telling Us?

close up frog in shallow waterAmong the familiar and reassuring sounds of a spring summer night is that of frogs calling. Because frogs and other amphibians use wetland habitats during at least part of their life cycle and because they have permeable skin, declining numbers and malformations may serve as early warning signs of broader changes in the environment.

Dedicated volunteers take to creeks, pond banks and wet weather areas (watch them at work in this video) on behalf of Texas Amphibian Watch to help scientists understand what frogs and toads are telling us about the world around us.

Learn the rules of frogging about how to observe frogs and toads, and how to volunteer with Texas Amphibian Watch.

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Spring into Great Activities

large family picknicking

During these cold-for-Texas wintry months, many of us daydream about spring days out-of-doors. Each coming month brings unique opportunities, so make a plan now to enjoy these seasonal activities in the sunshine:

March – Photography
Enjoy your photography hobby at a Texas state park and enter your best shot in the 2014 Texas State Parks Photo Contest for a chance to win a HERO3+ Silver Edition GoPro® video camera, a $300 retail value, from Whole Earth Provision Co. AND have your photos featured in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

April – Birding
Whether you like to casually spy on the birds from your favorite park bench or consider yourself a birder with enough skill to compete in the Great Texas Birding Classic, April is an especially great time to watch for migratory birds traveling north through Texas as well as our resident species. Visiting a state park? Many parks offer a birding checklist

May – Picnicking
Food tastes better outside, so try a picnic.

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Outdoors Detectives: Texas Game Wardens

game wardens in camo, in desert

Game Warden Daniel Roraback has been named the 2013 Texas Wildlife Conservation Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation. A 2009 Graduate of the Texas Game Warden Training Center, Roraback is currently stationed in Red River County in northeast Texas. In addition to his regular duties, he organizes youth hunting events and teams with Oklahoma wardens to enforce regulations on the Red River, while maintaining a high conviction rate for violators. He has joined department’s highly specialized SCOUT team and serves as a Glock armorer and a role player for simunitions training.

Texas Game Wardens have become even more adept at special operations and collaboration with local law enforcement. Read “Ready to Rescue” as told in the latest Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

Check out case stories like ‘Tag, You’re  It’ and ‘South Texas Peyote Bust’ about law enforcement with a conservation approach in the latest Game Warden Field Notes to stay in touch with the activities of our dedicated wardens. For up-to-the-minute news on law enforcement off the pavement, follow Texas Game Wardens on Facebook or Twitter.

Share the link to the Texas Game Warden web page with someone who might want to be a Game Warden. 

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Zebra Mussel Rules Expanded into Central Texas

close up zebra mussels on boat structure

Anglers and boaters leaving or approaching public waters in thirty additional Central and North Texas counties will soon be required to drain all water from their boats, including live wells, bilges, motors, and bait buckets. The new counties affected by this rule are Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of Highway 19), Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, Travis, Wichita, and Williamson.

The rule applies to all types and sizes of boats, whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used on public waters.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the expansion in January after the presence of zebra mussels was confirmed in Lake Lavon, making it the sixth Texas lake to be infested by this destructive invasive species. 

The Commission’s actions also modified the rules that affect participants in fishing tournaments holding off-site weigh-ins. Anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body during a single day are allowed to transport live fish in water from that water body to an identified weigh-in location, provided all water is drained from their vessels before leaving the weigh-in location. Anglers will be required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that would identify them as tournament participants. 

The rules will take effect in late February or early March.

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