Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Research: Using Browse Survey to Manage Deer

Thursday, March 12th, 2015
White-tailed buck

White-tailed buck


This is Passport to Texas

Biologists can estimate deer density by observing what they’ve eaten, or browsed. Browse survey results can help guide managers to maintain healthy herds and habitat.

15— Of course, we could go out and run one of a multitude of deer counts – whether that be spotlight counts, or camera counts. This is one we do fairly regularly in the wintertime on properties to get out there and get a look at deer densities.

Wildlife biologist, Heidi Bailey, says when deer browse less tasty plants like pines, overpopulation may be the cause.

15— For instance, on most properties, if I see five percent use on some of these pines and cedars and things that they really don’t like, that’s when I start getting a red flag and thinking, Hmmm…maybe we need to increase the harvest a little bit on this property.

Increasing harvest rates can help keep habitat in balance. But not all managers remove animals from the landscape.

16—A lot of people turn to planting food plots and putting out protein feed to supplement a deer’s diet. Of course, from the wildlife biologist’s standpoint, [we] always encourage people to manipulate their existing habitat as opposed to supplementing or putting a band aide on a problem.

Find landowner technical assistance information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and works to restore and manage wildlife for the benefit of
the public.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunt | Research: Browse Survey

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Whitetail deer in snow.

Whitetail deer in snow.


This is Passport to Texas

An estimated four million whitetail deer roam Texas’ public and private lands; biologists help landowners determine deer density on their property by surveying what the animals eat, including “browse.”

10— Deer have all sorts of different things they’ll eat, browse being one of those items. So, essentially browse is the woody twigs and stems on plants and trees.

Heidi Bailey is a wildlife biologist in Northeast Texas. She says deer prefer some plants more than others, and calls those Blue Bell Ice Cream plants; their least favorites: Brussels sprouts. Everything in between: Meat and potatoes.

19— We go out and we look at these Bluebell plants, and we determine how much they’re eating those. Then, we’ll look at the meat and potatoes plants, and then we’ll get down to the Brussels sprouts and see how heavily the deer are eating those. And if they’re eating the Brussels sprouts plants – they’re eating a bunch of stuff they don’t care anything about – then you know you’ve got issues.

Issues like overpopulation. The browse plants that provide the best clues of this include…

12—Things like cedars, pines, American holly, sweet gum, post oak, and blackjack oak, wax myrtle. There’s lots out there, but boy, it’s not too tasty for them, for sure.

Recommendations biologists make based on browse surveys. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and works to restore and manage wildlife for the benefit of the public.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunting: Spring Turkey in Texas

Friday, March 6th, 2015
A turkey amid the spring growth.

A turkey amid the spring growth.


This is Passport to Texas

Spring hunting season for turkey kicks off this month.

04— In Texas – the majority of the state – the western two-thirds of the state are going to be Rio Grande Turkey.

Robert Perez, upland game bird manager at Parks and Wildlife, says over the long term, Rio Grande turkeys are doing well in their range. Another sub-species is the Eastern Wild Turkey, which occurs in deep East Texas.

13— And it’s population, for many years, Texas Parks and Wildlife and partner –the National Wild Turkey Federation – worked very, very diligently to restore that bird. But there is a spring eastern season in certain east Texas counties only.

And that season runs April 15 through May 14 and encompasses 28 Eastern counties. Find those counties in the Outdoor Annual on the TPW website. Meantime, if you plan to take advantage spring turkey season…

13— To hunt any upland game bird, there’s the upland game bird stamp – a seven dollar stamp – required to hunt pheasant, quail, turkey, or chachalaca. So, to hunt those species, you buy that stamp, and then that goes toward the conservation of that bird.

Find license, hunting and management information for all game species on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series, funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunting: Spring Turkey –All About the Bird

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
A fine looking turkey gobbler.

A fine looking turkey gobbler.

This is Passport to Texas

Upland game bird hunters look forward to spring turkey season, which begins March 21in in the south zone.

08— In Texas, what we’ve seen over the last several years – maybe over the last decade – is a continuing interest and growth in the number of spring turkey hunters.

Robert Perez is the upland game bird program leader at Parks and Wildlife. Perez says fall turkey hunting is often incidental to deer hunting.

05— Say, someone’s in their deer hunting blind, and they see some turkeys and decide, “Okay, I’m going to take a turkey.”

But, in springtime it’s all about the bird.

25— It’s more involved as far as calling a strutting male, or a male that’s going into breeding season. He’s going to be more colorful; he’s going to be looking for hens and responding to a hunter’s call. So, he’ll [the hunter] be imitating the calls of the hen, completely decked out in camouflage at the base of a tree or somewhere – trying to get that bird to get close enough to him to shoot. And it can be a very exhilarating, very exciting experience to successfully call in a bird. So, it’s quite addictive.

Find out when and where to hunt turkey this spring when you log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series, and works to create hunting and wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Research | Hunt: Learning From Dove Lethality Study

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove


This is Passport to Texas

Lead shot is the most common load used when hunting dove in Texas. In high accumulations it is a potential environmental toxin. Texas carried out a two-year study to evaluate effectiveness of lead versus non-toxic shot, should ammunition regulations change in the future.

02—We went into this study no knowing what we would find.

Corey Mason, Wildlife Region Three Director says it was a double blind study.

23— Everyone that was in the field – the observer recording the data and the hunter pulling the trigger – they did not know what kind of ammunition they were shooting. All of the ammunition looked identical on the exterior: all in the same brass, the same hole. No one knew what they were shooting. So, it removed all of that potential bias so that the study results are as objective as they can possibly be.

Mason says Texas needed to determine if a non-toxic ammunition alternative would be as effective as lead.

19—Secondly, we needed to know that information because of our harvest management strategies in which we base the number of days, the daily bag [limit], the opportunities to hunt these birds based on current knowns. And so, if those efficiency and wounding rates were to change it could potentially have an impact on the number of days in dove season, the daily bag – all those sorts of things.

Mason says the final analysis shows virtually no difference in effectiveness of lead versus steel shot. So, for now, it’s hunter’s choice.

03— We believe in hunter choice, but we want that to be an informed hunter choice.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.