Hunter Education MONTHLY NEWS

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In This Issue:

Coordinator's Column - Gearing Up!

Illustration of lure, deer horn, knife and license

August is time to GEAR UP -- for both your upcoming hunter education courses and for your fall hunting trips. Have you set up your fall school classes (professional educators) or your weeknight/weekend field and classroom courses (staff and volunteers)? Have you prepared yourself through physical exercise and practiced with your shotguns, bows and/or other sporting gear?  Have you scouted your hunting area, serviced your vehicles and prepared your survival and emergency gear.  There is lot to do before the start of the dove season come September 1st!  Here's to hoping you are prepared for another year of enjoying our WAY of LIFE! 

And while we are at it, support the GEAR UP for Game Wardens program launched in 2017 by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (see article below)!

Happy, SAFE hunting and hunter education season!

Steve Hall, Hunter Education Coordinator

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Hundreds of Ag. Teachers Attend Annual Convention!


A total of 87 Agriculture Science Teachers were certified as hunter education instructors during the Vocational Ag Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) Conference held July 29-August 2 at the Corpus Christi Convention Center. Thanks to S TX Hunter Education Specialist, Brock Minton for coordinating staff and volunteers in hosting the field training and a 20' X 20' exhibit.  A total of over 6,000 student packets were distributed to teachers for their fall semester courses. Above: Volunteer instructor, Baylea Herring, Three Rivers, (R) trains teachers in safe carry methods.


Randy Spradlin, W TX Hunter Education Specialist and Morgan Harbison, C TX Hunter Education Specialist, spearheaded the shotgun shooting live-fire exercises for the agriculture science instructor applicants at VATAT.  A BIG THANKS to Area Chief Instructors, Junior Munoz - Austwell, Benny Ham - Whitsett, and Paul Silva-Corpus Christi, Area Chief applicant, Martin Tunon - Corpus Christi, and volunteer instructor, Baylea Herring, Three Rivers, for assisting staff in teaching the new instructors. Special thanks to the Corpus Christi Gun Club, a TPWD target range grant recipient, for hosting the field activities Monday afternoon!


Thanks to Heidi Rao, SE TX Hunter Education Specialist (see photo), who tested the instructor applicants during the rotations at the range, and to Monica Bickerstaff, N TX Hunter Education Specialist, who taught Game Laws & Ethics at the field course. Agriculture Science teachers collectively train 10,000 students in hunter education each year, a program begun in 1988 when TPWD implemented the mandatory program. THANKS to all Texas Agriculture Science Teachers for teaching hunter education in high schools throughout Texas! 

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Hunter Education Instructor Profiles

Steve Russell

Steve Russell, Flint (Certified 2005)

Why I became a Hunter Education Program VOLUNTEER - I felt a need for there to be an instructor readily available to any youth group who wanted to go hunting -- initially heightened when I volunteered with the Texas Brigades. Also, my dad raised and mentored me, an only child, to be behind bird dogs or in a small bass boat (outdoors). I wanted to share my passion and opportunities with anyone who wanted to give it a try. I became more active (before online only “instruction”), as my motivating drive/advocacy focused on an understanding the importance of hunting to wildlife conservation.

My most prized sporting arm - Remington 870 Wingmaster Pump Shotgun. Most basic, safe, and easily maintained shotgun ever made, and it was my first firearm purchase when I was old enough to quit hunting with my dad’s guns. Using it for demonstrations in hunter education classes, I joke that the Remington 870 was the firearm God used to go hunting!

My favorite hunt – Wing Shooting for Dove and Quail - I once joked with Dr. Dale Rollins that I could write my own life’s biography outlined by the sequence of bird dogs I had owned: Spot, Rowdy, Brownie, Flipper, Ruff, Reddi, Major, Sue, Patches, and Ginger -- setters, pointers, Brittanys and mixes. I hunted Bobwhite quail in the fields, pea patches, and pine forests of Northeast TX for 5 years as a boy before a friend and I added mourning doves to the bag. As an adult, in W TX Texas, bobwhite and scaled quail were available, however dove remains more of a favorite.

My tee-shirt would say - Phrases currently out there -- TPWD’s “Life’s Better Outside!” Second would be “No Child Left Behind” or “No Child Left Indoors.”

Dan Odem

Dan Odom, Orange (Area Chief - 1994)

Why I became a VOLUNTEER - I was teaching rifle/shotgun shooting for Boy Scouts (BSA), and one summer while at Buffalo Trails BSA Camp in the Davis Mountains, I was asked by their range master asked why I was not teaching Hunter Education for TPWD. I said I did not know about it and was busy with Boy Scouts and Church activities. 

Later, that same year, a friend was hunting in East Texas with shotguns. A 16-year old was having problems with his shotgun and did not say anything. The shotgun discharged and caught my friend, George, in the face 15-feet away, and he died right there. He left a wife and two little girls behind; now, with no father or husband. His family expected him to come home safe from his hunting trip, not to get calls that he had been fatally shot. I knew, then, that I needed to do something to help prevent hunting accidents that can destroy families.

My most prized sporting arm - My father’s .22 pistol - My brother presented it to me as it was originally left to him.  It is very sentimental to me! 

My favorite hunt – White-tailed deer with a bow. You have to get close without being detected by one of the most keenly-sensed animals

My Tee-Shirt Message - Hunting - One of life's extreme challenges!” 

Photo: My grandson, Kayden with my son, Paul (R) – with Kayden’s big deer!


Nile Dean's Education "Building"

Sporting his hunter orange cap, Nile Dean, Rusk, prepared his hunter education students for the upcoming dove season and then took time to take a photo with the group in front of his very own "Outdoor Education Building".  He put up the building to have a place to teach in Northeast TX. Thanks for your many contributions, Nile! Your passion shows!

He also displayed the Hunter Education Banner --Way to go!

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Gear UP

From TPWD Foundation Newsletter:  GEAR UP FOR GAME WARDENS!

"Thanks to you, Texas Game Wardens are getting the specialty gear they need to be safer, more efficient, and more effective.

Hundreds of generous donors have contributed more than $845,000 since the Gear Up for Game Wardens program launched in 2017.

In recent months, the emphasis has been on providing specialty gear used in water rescues, which is critically important during the spring and summer months.

You can help the game wardens in your region who protect the land, waters, wildlife, and people of Texas."  See full news release at:  TPW FOUNDATION NEWS

Danny Shaw

"Congratulations to Danny Shaw as he takes on a new role with Operation Game Thief!

Danny retired as Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Division at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on June 30, after a 33-year career as a Texas Game Warden. He didn’t miss a beat, and stepped right into the executive director position with Operation Game Thief (OGT) on July 1.

He’ll be the first executive director in OGT history. OGT is the original support organization for Texas Game Wardens, and was formed by the Texas Legislature in 1981. The program encourages Texas citizens to get involved in conservation by reporting poachers."  See full news release at:  TPW FOUNDATION NEWS


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JOIN US "Last Minute" for these August Events!


Bowhunting 101 Workshop

SATURDAY, AUG.17th - 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

JOIN US for this FREE Workshop!

East Montgomery County Improvement District Bldg. located at 21575 Hwy 59 North Room 102. (North feeder road - 1st. driveway on right after you pass Community Drive/99 toll Rd).  Entrance door is on the south side of the building. 

Area Chief, Duke Walton and TPWD Hunter Education staff have worked with the Ashby Foundation to educate (bow)hunters on reducing wounding loss by selecting and practicing with arrows and hunting points that work effectively to ensure a clean kill.  Robert Neilson, Cypress, Ed Ashby Bowhunting Foundation President, says, "The foundation has made its mission to assist bowhunters in using the right equipment. Participants include instructors and bowhunters wanting to improve recovery rates. It works!

Please sign up with Duke Walton @  Bring your bow, practice arrows and a sack lunch & drink. Coffee & donuts provided.


Breaking Clays Shoot - TSRA Foundation

SATURDAY, AUG. 24th - 8:00 a.m. Register

Ellis County Sportsmans Club
470 W Sterrett Rd.
Waxahachie, 75167

  • 8 am Registration/Check-in
  • 9 am Shotgun Start

ONLINE Registration via iClays Individual & Team *Please select your team in the ROTATION.

MAIL IN REGISTRATION FORM - BREAKING CLAYS Fundraiser for Youth Shooting Sports


AUGUST 24th and 31st - Still Time to Promote NSSM!

National Shooting Sports Month® There is still time to support the cause! If you’ve already got some shooting sports related events planned for later this month, please add them to the events calendar to receive a promotional package consisting of shirts, hats and promotional signage to help raise awareness around the month. Another option to introduce new people to target shooting is by hosting an NSSF®- endorsed First Shots intro. experience.

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State Youth Hunter Education Challenge in October


Arlington Sportsman's Club (ASC) Hosting YHEC OCT 2019

The Texas Youth Hunter Education Challenge, for youth ages 9-18, is scheduled for Saturday, October 12th, at Arlington Sportsman's Club, 11500 CR 525, Mansfield, TX 76063, from 7 am to 7 pm. Cost is $35.00 (includes T-Shirt and  meal). Extra meals are $8.00 each -- to be noted on registration form.

To obtain registration forms, please contact:

Deborah Laughman, Texas State YHEC Treasurer; 6249 E. FM 916; Grandview, TX 76050;; 817-991-5525. Return completed forms to Deborah Laughman with check made payable to YHEC Outdoor Sports, the memo line should state “YHEC Registration.”

Deadline for registration is September 30, 2019.  (Note: There will be a $10 fee added for registrations received after 9/30/18.) This is both a spectator and participant event, so families and friends are invited. 

There are 6 scoring events: 22 cal. rim-fire rifle, muzzle-loading rifle, shotgun, archery, a combination wildlife identification/hunter skills trail, and a 'hunter responsibility' exam.  Olympic style medals will be awarded for first, second, third and fourth place in each event. You must provide your own equipment and ammunition, but there is some loaner equipment available, in case a participant lacks the necessary equipment. Teams that have been involved in the Challenge are certainly invited, once again, but, if you can put together a team between now and October, please consider it (especially Professional Educators and 4-H Clubs).

If you have questions or you want to VOLUNTEER for the event, please contact:

David Hammonds, Texas State YHEC Director; 153 Scott Lane; Weatherford, TX 76085;; 817-915-4294  

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Dove Hunting Season Around the Corner!


Dove Hunter's Checklist

  • Hunting License/Stamp - purchase online, by phone or in person
  • TX  Migratory Bird Stamp ($7)
  • Harvest Info. Program (HIP)
  • Proof of Hunter Education
  • Review season dates, regs, bag limits and shooting hours
  • Know your doves
  • Find a Place to Hunt
  • Texas Outdoor Annual - Download the APP today!
  • Join the Texas Dove Hunters Association
safe zone

SAFETY PRIMER For Dove Season!

TPWD has embarked on producing short Youtube videos for use in the classroom and on social media platforms.  The first video covers the number one cause of hunting incidents during dove season --"Swinging on Game Outside of a SAFE ZONE OF FIRE" Sticking to your safe zone and always communicating with your hunting companions is a good reminder right before the dove season! Go to: SWINGING ON GAME

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IHEA & Partners Create Digital Media Tools to Help New Hunters Clear Hurdles to Get Outside

IHEAS-USA News Release : Hunters Connect will answer How-To, Where-To, When-To and What-To for Those Entering Hunting for First Time.

More than 600,000 new hunters go through hunter education courses annually in the U.S. and the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA-USA) is continually striving to communicate with those hunters using a variety of methods. Hunters Connect, part of HunterEd.Com, a new HunterEd R3 outreach program, was created to leverage digital media tools that lower the hurdles facing new hunters. Available beginning August 5, the Hunters Connect digital video library will provide the “how-to,” “where-to,” “when-to,” “what-to” for new hunters.

These topics will cover what new hunters want to know yet have struggled to find as the mentor-based culture has changed. From purchasing and applying for licenses, selecting firearms and bows, choosing gear, reading maps, tactics for hunting
different species, food care and prep, and everything in between, Hunters Connect will speak to the Millennial and Gen Z generations and those adult onset hunters just entering hunting. The existing library will be enhanced with a weekly video added every Monday and distributed via all social media channels; YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and email.


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Hunter Education Staff and Contact Information


Monica Makes it to Five Years with TPWD!

Congratulations to N TX Hunter Education Specialist, Monica Bickerstaff, who was recognized recently by Steve Hall, Hunter Education Coordinator, for her five years of service with the department.  Having worked in hunter education for Kansas Wildlife & Parks prior to moving to Texas, Bickerstaff hit the ground running and has not looked back.  Texas if fortunate to have the talents of Bickerstaff and her fellow staff members (see below) who dedicate themselves to introducing Texans into the outdoors and to being safe and responsible.  THANKS Monica!



PHOTO (From L to R) - Heidi Rao (SE TX), Randy Spradlin (W TX), Morgan Harbison (C TX), Brock Minton (S TX), Steve Hall (TPWD HQ), Monica Bickerstaff (N TX)

N TX, Monica Bickerstaff, D/FW; 469-601-8349 c

S TX, Brock Minton, Corpus; 361-825-3249 w; 361-944-3617 c

SE TX, Heidi Rao, Houston; 713-829-1377 c

W TX, Randy Spradlin, Abilene; 512-923-3509 w/c

C TX, Morgan Harbison, College; OR, Steve Hall, Austin; 512-389-8140 w; 512-550-7330 c

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TPWD & Texas Hunter Education Partner Resources

Hunter Education Overview | Instructor Resources | Student Resources

Operation Game Thief | Texas Game Warden Association

Texas Youth Hunting Program | Texas 4-H Shooting Sports

Other Hunter Ed Resources

International Hunter Education Association | NRA PROGRAMS & Services

NSSF Hunting & Ranges | Texas Hunter Education Instructor Association

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wildlife & sport fish restoration