NOV 2019 Issue: Tis the Season!

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target talk - texas hunter education news

Coordinator's Column - A Magical Time of Year!

Steve 3

I love this time of year -- mostly because of the colors of fall, cool brisk days, smell of Hoppe's #9 and gun powder, and excitement for the hunt.  As a 9-year old, I could not sleep the night before my first sage grouse hunt near Kremmling, CO. Finally, morning! I asked dad for the trunk keys (old Chevy Nova) to make sure I had enough .410 shells. As my dad and brothers visited with the landowner's family in the ranch house, I could not contain myself as I sifted through my stuff. I closed the trunk. Oh (shucks), "THE KEYS are in the TRUNK!" Though my dad had an extra ignition key, he did not have another trunk key. We could not get to everyone's gear, especially the shotguns! There I was, later, moping, trudging through the sagebrush flats behind my brothers. Naturally, they were peeved at their younger 'startup'.  They shared one side-by-side loaned to them by the landowner, to salvage what was one of our annual fall traditions. 

That was but one lesson learned from decades of hunting with family and friends.  As instructors and mentors, we take those 'lessons' and pass on the heritage by teaching safe, responsible, knowledgeable and involved hunting and target shooting practices. With five older brothers, I learned plenty of what NOT to do.  But, such lessons gave me the passion to educate others, especially my own kids.  Hunter Education is the perfect tool to help others avoid 'tough' lessons, learning by trial & error.  It gives us purpose and passion. I say, TEACH ON!


Steve Hall, Hunter Education Coordinator

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Statewide Youth Hunter Education Challenge Held


David and Jeanette Hammonds, Weatherford, have directed many of the Texas Youth Hunter Education Challenges including the latest at the Arlington Sportsman's Club on October 12th.  Here David awards Carson Golden his trophy for overall Junior at the Challenge.  Congratulations to all of the participants at YHEC who showcased the skills it takes to be a safe, responsible and proficient hunter.


Duke Walton - Porter, Monica Bickerstaff - N TX Regional Hunter Education Specialist, and Larry Holland - Garland, take a time out to pose for a photo at this year's YHEC. Thanks to them and the many volunteers (see below) who invest even more of their time, beyond teaching basic and advanced hunter courses, to mentor young hunter education students that become participants in YHEC.



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THEIA Hosting Elections -- Cast Your Ballot by Dec!


Texas Hunter Education Instructor Association News

1. Board Elections: Go to the following link for information and deadline on elections:

Up for election this year is: President, Secretary, Regional Directors 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. The nominations committee has published the following list for elections this year. President – Lindsay Hodgdon; Secretary – Debbie Ferrell; Region 2 - Keith Martz; 8 – Sue Snowden;10 – Megan Kolbe.  Vice President and Regions 4 and 6 to be announced. Ballots may be cast at the web site above. Elections Chairman is Julie Clark at

2. Membership: Go to the following link for information about THEIA membership:

Note:  New Hunter Education Instructors receive a FREE 1-year membership to THEIA as part of their Congratulatory Packet. THEIA also would like to extend this offer to existing Instructors who have never signed up or used this offer in the past.

3. THEIA Annual Conference - SAVE THE DATES: May 1-3rd, 2020. Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Palestine, TX 75801. Lodging and meals are available on sight at the conference center. Be looking for registration information in upcoming issues of Target Talk and by email.  Photo:  Please join us at the Conference Center in May -- a beautiful time in East Texas!


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HE Courses, Hunting 101s & Outreach Events

Bow Hunter Ed

(Above):  Area Chief, Duke Walton - Porter taught (L to R) Ida Hood, Lee Mueller, Paul Schleider, Gerald Golub, Doyle Warren, William Herrington, Brittney Myers, Rob Neilson, Nathan Reynolds and Ricardo Humbert as hunter and/or bowhunter education instructors.


James Davis, Pasadena, and Cheryl LeJune, Houston, presented "Skins & Skulls" and introduced hundreds to hunter education at the Nature Nurture Festival in Baytown, held October 12th. Outreach events are an important way to recruit students to attend hunter education courses -- especially families and youth from urban audiences such as the greater Houston, DFW, San Antonio and Valley areas. Thanks to all instructors that go "above and beyond..."


Jose Flores, Houston, traveled to Austin to teach a Spanish Course at the Airport Commerce Park Hunter Education offices. Along with basic hunter education curricula, students reviewed several films and when through the hunter safety "skills trail" (interpretation assistance provided by TPWD hunter education staff member and student, Andrea Cleveland).  THANKS Jose!



Bob Barnette, North Texas Field Operations Coordinator for the Texas Youth Hunting Program, conducted a "Huntmaster" Training course for the Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society at Texas Tech. Huntmaster training prepares volunteers to plan, coordinate and lead a safe, educational youth hunt.

Bob and Duke

Volunteer Instructor (retired Game Warden) Mike Legarretta and Captain Game Warden, Ray Spears, El Paso, assisted with a Dove Hunting 101 in late Sept. Shown here are Mike, Ryan, Jared and Ray with a bountiful harvest of Eurasian-collared doves and some white-wing doves.  Special thanks to Raul Zamarano and the 7X Ranch in Clint and Instructor, Joe Navarro, El Paso (Sun Valley Tactical), for providing the field and classroom sites, respectively!


Officer Mark Emmons - Lufkin, sent in a local newspaper article (Lufkin Daily News) featuring a hunter education course he taught at Angelina College as part of their workforce and continuing education classes. Like Mark, hunter education instructors throughout Texas, build local partnerships with colleges and other schools, businesses, churches and non-profit groups who promote, host and recognize their efforts. Way to go, Mark!

Charles M

Charles Marcus, Helotes, and Kirk McClelland, San Antonio, held a bowhunter education course at San Antonio River Authority's Graytown Park. Photo: Charles (L) and Kirk (R) help participants practice tree stand safety, shooting a deer from the stand and then blood trailing it to the finish. Tree stand safety, shot placement and game recovery are all part of the "3 in 1 Pocket Guide" and makes for excellent skill training set. Thanks to Nicki Apostolow (far R) for hosting the event, and providing breakfast and lunch, too!

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Game Warden News and Recognitions


Game Wardens Certified

55 Cadets received their Hunter and Bowhunter Education Instructor training November 5-6th at the Game Warden Academy near Hamilton. On hand to train the cadets were regional hunter education specialists, Morgan Harbison (C TX), Heidi Rao, (SE TX) and Brock Minton (S TX), along with Hunter Education Coordinator, Steve Hall, and Renan Zambrano, Target Range Grant Coordinator.  Applications are now being accepted until Nov. 15th (2 days left!) for the next cadet class -- get your application in TODAY!  For information, go to TPWD Career Pages.


Cadets went through a hunter skills trail and live-fire (shotgun) exercises as part of their instructor certification course.  The second afternoon, they "practiced teaching" each other and were evaluated by staff -- in this photo, Renan Zambrano, Target Range Coordinator. They also are introduced to "Hunting Incident Investigation" and "Game Warden Interview" forms and duties.


Shikar-Safari Club Officer of the Year

Rachel Kellner, Knippa, was named the 2019 Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year by Shikar-Safari Club International. This marks the 40th year this award has been presented to a Texas Game Warden.

In her 16th year, Kellner is team lead for the West Texas Game Warden Critical Incident Team which responds to incidents such as shootings, disasters and many other issues on a daily basis. In November 2018, Kellner responded to a helicopter crash carrying two newlyweds and a pilot after midnight in a remote part of Uvalde County.  Kellner and her partner searched by ATV and on foot until they located the crash site on the side of a mountain. When they arrived on scene, the game wardens found that a private helicopter had dropped off several members of the newlywed’s family at the site and consoled the family until other first responders could get there and take custody of their loved ones. She also was a spokesperson for Game Wardens during incidents that garner wide-scale media attention including Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda and flooding of the Llano River.


Midwest Officer of the Year

The Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers recognized game warden, Sean Reneau, as Midwest Officer of the Year for his service and accomplishments. Reneau serves the community of Nacogdoches and receives many requests from students who want to participate in the Volunteer Ride-Along Program. At any given time, it is common for him to mentor more than 10 individuals in the program. He routinely takes on a mentor role and volunteers to assist colleagues who can benefit from his experience and skillset. His willingness to take on extra work to aid fellow wardens is just one example of his willingness to invest in others.


Terrell County Wardens Forrest Price and Shane Holmes assisted the local TPWD wildlife biologist with a hunter education course in Sanderson. Among their many other hats, game wardens assist volunteers with many course topics beyond covering game laws and their job duties with students. Be sure to contact your local game warden next time you offer a course in his/her county!  Job well done!

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Chaparral WMA Celebrates 50 Years!

Chap WMA

(L to R): Chaparral Wildlife Management Area Managers, David Synatzske (1983 - 2012), John Ellisor (1969 -1976), Dr. Whitney Gann (2018 - Present) and Stephen Lange (2012 - 2017) pose with the 50-Year cake in celebration of wildlife conservation success in South Texas.  Synatzske began the "Youth Shooting Sports Event" in the nineties, which continues strong, today, with assistance from Hunter Education Staff including Brock Minton, S TX Hunter Education Specialist, Randy Spradlin, W TX Hunter Education Specialist, and Jimmie Caughron, Ballinger (ret. W TX hunter education specialist and TPWD contractor.  Thousands of high school students, mostly in agriculture science courses, have attended the semiannual FIELD/SKILLS day while at the management area. CONGRATS!

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Archery & Bowhunter Education

IBO Challenge

TYHP to Host Archery Hunt for Forever Wild TV

The Texas Youth Hunter Education Program ( offered Free Hunt Certificates to 2019 NASP State IBO 3D Challenge or NASP State Bullseye Tournament divisional winners. TYHP has partnered with NASP for several years by providing free hunt certificates to the division winners. This year, they wanted to get as many NASP winners as possible on a special TYHP archery hunt that will be filmed by a crew from Forever Wild TV!  This will be a production that highlights NASP, the Outdoor Tomorrow Foundation's Outdoor Adventure curriculum, Hunter Education, TYHP, and the wonderful kids that embrace the outdoors through these programs.

This hunt will be January 24-26, 2020 at the Circle B Canyon Ranch in San Saba. It’s a beautiful property on the San Saba River, right in the heart of Texas in the famous Hill Country.  Hunters will be able to take white-tailed deer and hogs, hunting from archery blinds.

If unable to join them for the special hunt, TYHP offered another hunt to those that earned Free Hunt Certificates.  If you have any questions, please contact Bob Barnette with the Texas Youth Hunting Program.

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Hunter Education Staff Recognition


Hunter Education Coordinator - 30 Years with TPWD

TPWD Release:  Steve Hall, TPWD Hunter Education Coordinator - Austin, received his 30-Year Service Award & Plaque at the November 7th Commission Meeting from TPWD Commission Chairman, S. Reed Morian (L) and TPWD Executive Director, Carter Smith (R). Hall served as Asst. Hunter Ed. Coordinator (1985 - 1987), Education Director (1988-1991) and Outreach/Education Director until he retired in 2011. He then tried his hand in the non-profit sector serving as executive director for both the Texas State Rifle Association and International Hunter Education Association - USA.  To stay in Texas, near his kids, he opted to go back to work for TPWD in 2015 as hunter education coordinator.  Steve said, "I have a vocation that is my avocation -- that is quite a blesssing!"  He earned a BS degree in wildlife management from Colorado State, and worked for the American Sportsman's Club and Colorado Division of Wildlife prior to moving to Texas. He and his wife, Karen of 31 years, have a son, Ryan and daughter-in-law Kelsey, and daughter Sarah. "It is always a great pleasure and privilege working with Steve!" said Smith.

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In Memory - Meagan Hooker, TYHP


"Meagan Dawn Hooker, age 23, of Italy, Texas, left behind so many who loved her on November 7, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. She was born in Dallas, Texas on November 12, 1995 to her parents who adored her. Meagan graduated high school from Italy, Texas as the Salutatorian in 2013 and graduated college from Texas A&M University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Communications and Journalism and a minor in psychology. After graduating college, she went on to pursue a career at Lytle High School in 2018 as an Agriculture Science teacher. She loved hunting, fishing, and spending time with her family, and leading hunts through the Texas Youth Hunting Program."

Austin Woods & Waters Club "Chief Huntmaster" & HE Instructor, Doug DuBois, Jr., Austin, said "I had the privilege of knowing Meagan since she was 17 and became a Junior Huntmaster, training with her dad, Jerry, and family friend, Steve Hollywood.  Meagan had a commanding presence of self-confidence, with tremendous humility.  She was an outstanding young Texan who will be sorely missed."

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Southwest Transplant Alliance in Meagan’s honor by going to their website: or by mail: 5409 Blair Rd, Dallas, Texas 75231.

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Hunter Education Staff Contact Info.

Hunter Education Staff

(From L to R) - Morgan Harbison (Central TX HE Specialist), Steve Hall (HQ, HE Coordinator), Heidi Rao (Southeast TX HE Specialist), Monica Bickerstaff (North TX HE Specialist); Eddie Kleppinger (HQ, HE Admin. Asst.), Brock Minton (South TX HE Specialist), Randy Spradlin (West TX HE Specialist)

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

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

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

W TX, Randy Spradlin, Abilene:; 512-923-3509

C TX, Morgan Harbison, College Station:

HQ, Steve Hall, Coordinator:; 512-389-8140 w; 550-7330 c; Eddie Kleppinger, Asst.,; 512-389-8142

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Hunter Education Resources/Partner Links

Hunter Education Overview | Instructor Resources | Student Resources

Operation Game Thief | Texas Game Warden Association

Texas Youth Hunting Program | Texas 4-H Shooting Sports

International Hunter Education Association | NRA PROGRAMS & Services

NSSF Hunting & Ranges | Texas Hunter Education Instructor Association

Texas State Rifle Association

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Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Funding