May 2020 - Now is the Time to Plan!

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target talk - texas hunter education news

In This Issue:  Planning for the Fall, Volunteers

Coordinator's Column - Summer Planning


With the COVID situation, now is a good time to plan for a successful fall - hunter education, bow hunts and the general seasons!  Have you looked at your lesson plans lately?  Do you incorporate SKILL training in your courses (even with social distancing)?  Have you thought about virtual (electronic) testing?  Are you practicing your shooting skills and getting ready for your own hunts this fall/winter?  These are just some questions that pop up.

It sounds like many of you are taking time during quarantine with taking time with your families to fish and hunt and to get organized in your garages, dens and work sites -- for when we can get back to "normal".  I was fortunate to harvest a bird with my bow in late April at longtime friend, Area Chief and mentor, Bob Boswell's ranch, with help from another longtime mentor and Area Chief, Duke Walton.  We also enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow bow hunters, Rob Neilson, Houston, president of the Ashby Bowhunting Foundation, Johnnie Smith, TPWD Outreach and Education Director, and Morgan Harbison, TPWD Mobile Shooting Sports Coordinator.  Though the bow hunt lasted only one day, it holds for me a memory of a lifetime! It also provided a chance to experience the real success of "Arrow Lethality" training and information recently provided by the Foundation and TPWD to hunter and bow hunter education instructors. For those of us wanting to incorporate more wounding loss reduction into our bowhunter education courses, please see the article and information below.  THANKS guys!

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Spotlight - Volunteers "Appreciated" in April


Carter Smith, Executive Director, Recognizes TPWD Volunteers

Carter Smith penned a letter prior to National Volunteer Appreciation Week to all TPWD volunteers -- including hunter education instructors! In the letter he stated, "An event like this (COVID) causes all of us to reflect on the things we are most thankful for. One of those things is our cadre of extremely dedicated and talented volunteers who support TPWD's mission with their wealth of knowledge, skills, experience, and passion. It takes a special person to take time away from their own lives and loved ones to teach others about conservation, stewardship and outdoor recreation. As a volunteer, you do that willingly, and in doing so, often serve as the face of TPWD and are in fact, the first contact for many outdoor enthusiasts to our state parks, state natural areas, and outreach events. Thank you!" 

Along with VIDEOS posted at the Hunter Education Facebook Page by Hunter Education Specialists, Heidi Rao (SE TX), Randy Spradlin (W TX) and Morgan Harbison (C TX); Brock Minton, (S TX) and Monica Bickerstaff (N TX) sent the following messages to Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors during Volunteer Appreciation Week (see Brock's and Monica's messages below!).  Hopefully, you also received the Special Edition of Target Talk highlighting your Volunteer successes.  I say, CONGRATULATIONS Texas Hunter Ed Instructors!



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Upcoming - Agriculture Teachers Annual Conference


ATAT - Waco - July 27-31, 2020

Field & live-fire activities like the ones held at the Corpus Christi Gun Club in 2019 will not be possible at the upcoming Agriculture Teachers of Texas Conference. TPWD is planning to host a virtual hunter education instructor course for those teachers needing to get certified prior to the fall. Please help TPWD staff recruit your fellow teachers to become certified as instructors, especially if they are already incorporating wildlife and hunting into their curricula.  More details are forthcoming!

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Hunter Ed Instructor Happenings


Texas Youth Hunter Education Challenge Youth Hunt.

Thanks to Bob Boswell, Georgetown, Texas State Rifle Association Hunting and Wildlife Director, and his ranch and hunting assistant, Duke Walton, Porter, for sponsoring a hunt coordinated by fellow hunter education instructors Jeanette and David Hammonds, Ft. Worth, for 8 TX YHEC champions and participants.


Tom Martine, Austin, who has been a hunter education instructor since 1990, is shown here practicing on his sporting clays field (wobble trap) to "stay in shape" while "staying at home!".  He and his wife, Carol, get lots of practice in and would be otherwise competing here-and-there if there was a here-and-there. You can bet that when we get back to normal, Tom and Carol will be shooting straight! Dove season is also around the corner," said Tom. Keep up the great work, Tom!


Edie Knight, Dripping Springs, an Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation (Outdoor Adventures) teacher at Dripping Springs Middle School (and a a pied piper there, is shown here with a nice gobbler taken off of the Shannon Ranch near McCoy as submitted by Randy Spradlin, W TX Hunter Education Specialist.  Edie is "having a ball" teaching hunter education to her middle schoolers, to go along with angler education, National Archery in Schools Program, and a host of other topics.  She recently attended the March Becoming an Outdoors Woman program and had nothing but great things to say about learning outdoor subjects in that environment. CONGRATS Edie!

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Turkey Hunting Incident - Fatal Misidentification!


Jack County April 15, 2020:  A recent turkey hunting incident in Texas reminds us that, though rare, VICTIM MISTAKEN FOR GAME incidents often prove tragic since they involve a hunter purposely shooting at another person, thinking he/she is the animal being hunted. Usually, it is the color of the of the person's clothing combined with subtle movements that has the hunter somehow believing that what he/she is seeing is the actual quarry. In this recent accident in the Panhandle, a 23-year old hunter shot his 23-year old friend from 60-65 yards with a .223 rifle (legal in TX). At around 6:00 p.m., the three were hunting on a private ranch when they saw a turkey cross a roadway. They got out to stock the bird which flew off. Two hunters separated from the eventual victim, agreeing to meet back up at a specific location. At around 7:00 p.m., the two spotted a dark object next to a power line pole, believing it to be a turkey.  The shooter fired a shot, then two more quick shots, before hearing screams from the supposed target. It was their friend! The two called 911, administered aid and drove the victim to the front gate where they met up with a Young County Sheriff Deputy. Though the group continued chest compressions, the victim was pronounced deceased shortly thereafter by EMS who had arrived at the scene.  Both shooter and victim had completed hunter education training.

Peter Churchbourne with the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum, recently penned a "Turkey Hunting Safety Tips" article in NRA's American Hunter magazine regarding 'fanning' or 'reaping' -- a relatively new practice of sneaking on turkeys using an actual or replica turkey fan to hide behind. Talk about looking like the game being hunted! 

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New Virtual Hunter Education Test Available


Eddie Kleppinger, TPWD Hunter Education Admin. Asst., Austin, developed an electronic test which is now being offered to hunter education instructors for their social distancing needs. 

Kleppinger states, "The test is almost identical to the standard final exam.  The primary difference is the location of the correct answers on the student’s exam. The correct answer may be “A” on one student's exam and “D” on his or her neighbor’s exam. The questions remain identical, only the answer locations fluctuate between each student's exam. This is a security feature to prevent 'shoulder surfing'. These tests are self-grading, so no burden is placed on the instructor to keep up with a template or random format."

If you are offering a webinar class during Covid-19, please send an email to  He will send you a copy of the test and complete instructions. Students can take the test on a phone, tablet, or computer.

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Partner News - Ashby Bowhunting Foundation


Rob Neilson, President, Ashby Bowhunting Foundation, sharpens a broadhead during a recent turkey hunt hosted by Area Chiefs, Bob Boswell and Duke Walton.  Neilson and the other bow hunters were putting into practice the Arrow Lethality workshop training and information they either taught (Rob) or received in 2019 workshops at the annual Instructor Conference in Uvalde or at the training held in August north of Houston (See previous Target Talk newsletters at TPWD Hunter Education's Web Site). The workshop covers 12 strategies developed specifically by the Foundation to improve arrow penetration and performance by bow hunters in taking game, especially larger animals where penetration may sometimes be difficult due to heavier shoulder bones, ribs and scapula.

TPWD Hunter Education Staff and Rob Neilson are currently preparing a schedule of 2020/2021 Arrow Lethality (Bowhunting Wounding Loss Reduction) workshops specifically for hunter/bowhunter education instructors to learn first-hand the 12 strategies for success in taking big game with bow and arrow (crossbows included).

Below, TPWD has included the "12 Factors Affecting Arrow Lethality" as a blow-in insert into the new Bowhunter Education student manuals ordered recently.


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Hunter Ed Instructor Profiles


Ken Lewis, San Antonio (2007)

Why I became a Hunter Education Program VOLUNTEER - I grew up in a hunting family. Many do not have that opportunity. My Hunter Education class as a new 12-year-old hunter was a positive and life shaping experience. As an avid sportsman and a desire to preserve our heritage, I found an opportunity in Hunter Education. I began teaching Hunter Education in South Dakota in the mid-80s, moved to Alaska in the early-90s, North Dakota in the mid-90s, and began teaching Texas in 2007.

My most prized sporting arm - I covet my Winchester Model 94 .30-30 lever action rifle. (I have the Model 94-22 as well.) It was my first rifle at 14 years of age.  I do not shoot it as much as others, but it is still my favorite go-to.

My favorite hunt Favorite…hard to say. Moose, caribou, mule deer, whitetail, pheasant, prairie dog, feral hogs…I cannot decide. Each hunt gives me the opportunity to get away from the daily routines and reconnect with the quiet simple life. There are few moments more awesome than a mountain sunrise and a hot cup of coffee. It is the only time during legal hunting hours my prey gets full quarter.

My tee-shirt would say - American Hunter - Preserve the Heritage”


Joseph 'Mike' Degioanni, Tomball (2015)

Why I became a Hunter Education Program VOLUNTEER - I love teaching, Texas, and hunting.  I love the content and mission of the program.  I love the ethics, science, heritage, and safety.  As a kid, hunter education was one of the most enriching experiences of my youth.  It was my first exposure to ethics, and I know it is for a lot of kids since ethics are not part of Texas’s public school curriculum.  The impetus at the time I applied to become an HE instructor was also that I had a lot of family and friends who wanted me to train them and guide them on hunts.  I wanted to do the best job that I could   Now, I really enjoy teaching classes to the public in our state.  They are some of the most outstanding groups I have ever met.

My most prized sporting arm - Hoyt Switchback Compound Bow

My favorite hunt – Bow hunting White-tailed Deer 

My tee-shirt would say - “Celebrate March 2nd!”

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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:; 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

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