APR 2020 - Social Distancing

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target talk - texas hunter education news

In This Issue:  Social Distancing, Online Education, CO Draw & More

Coordinator's Column - Social Distancing


Webster's phrase for 2020 will be "social distancing". Fortunately for many hunters, we socially distance ourselves, naturally, while out in the field.  Combine that with a little hygiene and social distancing when back at the hunting lodge or camp, and we have a recipe for continuing our lifestyle -- especially during the current turkey seasons.  The bonus is the organic food we bring back to the dinner table!

We had to cancel Hunter Education courses in late March and April. I am hopeful that by June we can begin to bounce back and prepare for a more normal fall schedule.  Cancellations of major events, such as our annual THEIA Instructor Conference in early May, give us a chance to step back and reassess; to spend more time with our families or clean up our storage units and houses. I hope you all stay HEALTHY during this worldwide pandemic, and that we all stay positive in terms of getting thru this and being stronger for it in the future.  May we have a swift economic and social recovery! 

Photo:  Johnathan Flores took his first-ever game animal on a mentored hunt several years back -- which turned him on to hunting as a "way of life". This turkey season, we will have to take the photo individually or six-feet apart.

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Monthly Spotlight - Kalkomey Online Education


Kalkomey has been in the online education business since it started -- and, in a big way!  Back in the 1990s, Kurt Kalkomey,  who was with the Boating Trades Association of Texas, along with his wife, Cindy, worked on a new boater education manual with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, followed by a home study video course developed uniquely for and with Texas boater education and law enforcement staffs.  This led to online curricula that extended to hunter education and beyond. "The rest," they say, "is history!" With its suite of products and services (e.g. boater and hunter education, other outdoor venues such ATVs and snow mobiles, registration and database management, licensing, etc.), Kalkomey is the largest provider of online outdoor education tools. Along with Kalkomey, Texas now employs various online options/providers at Texas Parks and Wildlife hunter education online courses.


Kalkomey Partners with NWTF

Kalkomey, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has created a Turkey Hunting 101 Online Course (see press release here). Mitch Strobl, Kalkomey's VP of Agency Relations, sponsor of many THEIA Hunter Education Instructor Conferences, said, "In the past, we’re seeing an increasing demand for “what’s next” information from our online students. While we always try to guide students to clinics and workshops available from the states and/or partner groups like NWTF, we also know that students want something they can access at home and online. Our goal with this course is to give new hunters access to trustworthy information so they can develop the basic knowledge and confidence they need to hit the field!"   

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Upcoming Events - Cancelled Until Further Notice


April, May and June Hunter Education events, and maybe additional summer events, have been cancelled or postponed including "Hunting for Conservation - HfC" (formerly April 27-28), THEIA Annual Hunter Education Instructor Conference (formerly May 1-3), annual IHEA-USA National Conference in Florida (formerly May 18-21).  Be looking for notices for rescheduled dates, once Texas and the U.S. get back underway to normal operations following the pandemic situation.  HfC and THEIA will likely be rescheduled this fall or winter and the IHEA-USA conference will be pushed back a year and remain in Florida in May 2021.  We will see if the annual Vocational Ag Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) Conference in Waco the last week of July will be cancelled -- which will be a major blow to the program since over 600 teachers annually receive supplies and materials for their fall courses, while at the conference.  Again, we will go to PLAN B (direct mail) should VATAT be cancelled.  Teachers that are unable to be trained as new instructors will have to get trained locally by specialists or Area Chiefs in their respective regions.

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Happenings - Hunter Ed Staff & Instructors


Area Chief, Sanford "Sandy" Mason III, (L) presented a Certificate of Appreciation the Burleson Police Department for their support of Texas Parks and Wildlife hunter education courses held in their department's community room. Pictured is Burleson Police Chief, Billy Cordell, accepting the certificate on behalf of their community. Thanks, Billy!  With this kind of community support, hunter education instructors have places to teach throughout the Lone Star State!


Area Chief Duke Walton, Porter (R), and instructor Richard Rivas, Pearland, assist participants of the Ranching and Wildlife Expo at the Houston Rodeo with Lasershot hunter education activities, an annual multi-day effort by Houston area hunter education instructors each year to spread the mission of safe, responsible shooting. Thanks to all instructors for helping out with this weeklong outreach effort reaching thousands more with Hunter Education!


Duke Walton, Porter, also sent in a photo Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) Annual Convention Keynote Speaker, Lt. Col. Allen West, Dallas, former House Member and National Rifle Association (NRA) Board Member.  TSRA is the Texas champion organization and NRA affiliate when it comes to protecting a Texan's Second Amendment and Texas Constitutional Rights to firearm ownership and use, as well as to educate Texans on the safe, responsible use of firearms for hunting, target shooting and self-defense.


The Moment a Clay Breaks

Captured by a participant at the recent BOW workshop, Brock Minton, S TX Hunter Education Specialist sent in this photo. He and Jimmy Caughron, Ballinger, former W TX Hunter Education Specialist and current Shotgun 101 Contractor, were setting up trap machines and testing the shot angles for the shotgun events. When asked who took the shot, Brock said, "RB Minton Esq." (i.e. himself). Good shot, Brock!

robin hood

Area Chief Brent Heath, Waco, submitted this photo of a student in his course who shot a "Robin Hood" during the field and live-fire exercises -- in this case, bowhunter education.  That is impressive, Brent!  The goal of live-fire exercises is for students to demonstrate safe practices while handling and firing their sporting arms.  Secondarily, it is to learn basic marksmanship techniques to instill confidence in shooting a group of bullets or arrows.  Job well done!

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Partners - Outdoor Woman's "Poster Child"


Jeanette Hood, Fort Worth, longtime participant-turned-instructor in the Texas Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Program, is shown here teaching at the 2020 March event --the last major hunter education event held prior to the pandemic situation.

Jeanette, currently active as VP on the board of Friends of Texas Becoming an Outdoors-Woman {FOTBOW -- a 501 (c) (3) organization specifically set up to  support BOW} was, first, a participant of BOW when it started back in the early nineties. She attended several camps prior to realizing that she had much more to offer Texas BOW.  Several women that have graduated as participants went on to become very active instructors throughout the years, primarily because of their passion and exuberance for the program. Jeanette is the "Poster Woman" in that regard," said Steve Hall, Hunter Education Coordinator, who brought the program to Texas from Wisconsin in 1993 with the help of his friend and BOW founder, Christine Thomas, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, "I met Jeanette early on and she definitely embodied everything about BOW, and continues to do so today!  She and her husband, Jeff, have long taught one of the favorite BOW venues -- Outdoor Cooking. They also have taught other courses over the years including Outdoor Camping Skills."  He continued, "They bring their own trailer full of supplies and set up the entire weekend in whatever camp facility enables them to showcase many of their skills and the various equipment used in the outdoors."  Heidi Rao, SE TX Hunter Education Specialist and longtime TX BOW Coordinator, summarized it best saying, "Jeanette is a Class Act!"  As part of Jeanette's continued passion, she is one of FOTBOW's recruiters and said, "Thank you for your help and your continued support of BOW and the Friends (FOTBOW). If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me personally, or the Friends group at friendsoftexasbow@gmail.com."

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Hunter's Connect - Sign up for Prizes Today!

Hunters connect

Hunters Connect has launched a weekly prize drawing to bolster awareness for the International Hunter Education Association-USA efforts to educate hunters and shooters to be safe, responsible, knowledgeable and involved -- our collective mission!  Sign up for weekly drawings, today, and begin your trek on learning more about what we teach in hunter education and new hunting techniques and challenges.  Go to: ENTER NOW for DRAWING

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Colorado Hunting Applications Deadline April 7th


2020 Primary Draw Applications Are Due by April 7, 8 p.m. MT

You only have a few days left to apply for deer, elk and other big game licenses in Colorado.  Non-residents must purchase an annual small game license (or others) in order to qualify for the application process; so be aware of this new regulation and process. Apply now for your 2020 limited big game hunting license today.

Link to Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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Archery - NASP State Tournament Now May 19-20th


NASP rescheduled for May 19-20 in Belton

Burnie Kessner, TX National Archery in Schools Program Coordinator had to make the difficult decision to reschedule the late March Texas State NASP Bullseye Tournament and NASP IBO 3-D Challenge because of the pandemic. The rescheduled dates are now May 19-20th at the same venue in Belton. Admittedly, Kessner said, "This may be too soon, but these were the only dates available, and we may even have to reschedule a second time." He added, "But, if and when the tournament is underway, we can always use the help of our hunter education instructors during the tournament, either as line judges or volunteers in other capacities."  To volunteer, email burnie.kessner@tpwd.texas.gov.

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Hunter Education Instructor Profiles



Susan Rios, Instructor - Uvalde (2013)

Why I became a HE VOLUNTEER - I grew up living on USFWS Refuges in a hunting family where hunting and wildlife management went hand in hand in our household.  When I was in high school, I took a wildlife management class and received hunter education certification.  There were only a few girls in that class and that stuck with me, along with the fact that all those years growing up on wildlife refuges, there were only a few women that actually had wildlife-related jobs.  Around 2013, I was going thru License-to-Carry instructor certification training, and my ‘Area Chief’ significant other, David Rios, said I should become a Hunter Education Instructor.  He said there weren't enough women teaching, and he was right! Those memories of few to no women being involved in hunting and wildlife came back to my mind.  So, I took the instructor’s course, did my Game Warden interview with Henry Lutz, and in no time, I was getting the next generation of hunters ready to learn and love hunting and nature.

My most prized sporting arm - Browning A-Bolt .204 Ruger - It was my first rifle that I picked out and bought for myself by myself. 

My favorite hunt – Valentine’s Javelina Hunt at Chaparral WMA -  David, my husband, and I spent that Valentine’s weekend, camping, hunting, and enjoying nature.  Most people think Valentine’s Day needs to involve candlelight dinners, roses, and chocolates, but a campfire under the stars and a day out exploring nature with the one you love is best kind of romance there is! 

My tee-shirt would say - “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” From the movie Auntie Mame staring Rosalind Russell.   


Charles Edenfield - Saginaw (2017)

Why I became a HE VOLUNTEER - I have a friend who was teaching Hunter Education but wasn't an active hunter. He knew I was and suggested I replace him. We taught together for a while and then I took over. I love the experience and am very glad to participate.

My most prized sporting arm - Custom longbow crafted by Mark Horne who is located in Boyd, TX. I have used it for many years to fill my freezer with mostly venison, but a turkey made it there, too. I chose that sporting arm as it is beautiful to look at, functions well and keeps the challenge in the hunt. I have several rifles that I prize, but none produce the satisfaction of harvesting game as does the bow.

My favorite hunt – Mule Deer Hunt in 1980 at 8000 feet in the Nevada Mountains where I took a nice buck. He hangs in my den as a reminder of that experience.

My tee-shirt would say "Hunt with Integrity"

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Hunter Education Staff & Contact Information

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: monica.bickerstaff@tpwd.texas.gov; 469-601-8349

S TX, Brock Minton, Corpus: brock.minton@tpwd.texas.gov; 361-825-3249 w; 361-944-3617 c

SE TX, Heidi Rao, Houston: heidi.rao@tpwd.texas.gov; 713-829-1377

W TX, Randy Spradlin, Abilene: randy.spradlin@tpwd.texas.gov; 512-923-3509

C TX, Morgan Harbison, College Station: morgan.harbison@tpwd.texas.gov

HQ, Steve Hall, Coordinator: steve.hall@tpwd.texas.gov; 512-389-8140 w; 550-7330 c; Eddie Kleppinger, Asst., eddie.kleppinger@tpwd.texas.gov; 512-389-8142

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\

Texas State Rifle Association | Hunters Connect

Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Funding