Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Rio Grande Turkeys

Thursday, March 10th, 2016
Rio Grande Gobbler

Magnificent Rio Grande Gobbler

This is Passport to Texas

Everything’s big in Texas – including the Rio Grande turkey population.

The Rio Grande is really a neat bird from a Texas standpoint, because Texas has, by far, most of the Rio Grandes in the country. There are Rio Grande turkey populations in Okalahoma and Kansas as well, but they’re very small compared to the Texas population.

Former upland game bird specialist T. Wayne Schwertner currently serves as Assistant Professor of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences at Tarlton State University.

So, the Rio Grande turkey is a uniquely Texas bird. It’s adapted to the arid conditions of the western part of the state, to the brush lands and prairies. Versus the eastern turkey which is much more adapted to the forests of east Texas and the east United States.

Spring Rio Grande season varies by zone, with the South Zone kicking off March 19 and the North April 2. Hunters will find the bulk of the birds west of I-35.

The Rio Grandes occupy the central half of the state, from about I-35 to the Pecos River, and all the way from the Panhandle down to the Rio Grande Valley.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and works to increase hunting opportunities in Texas.

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

Women Hunters and Why They Hunt

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
Sharon Cundiff, Straight N Arrow Archery, pictured here with her first deer. An Axis doe taken in Del Rio.

Sharon Cundiff, Owner and Lead Instructor with Straight-N-Arrow Archery, pictured with her first deer by rifle. An Axis doe taken in Del Rio.

This is Passport to Texas

Although I am not a hunter, I attended an all-woman hunting trip to the Texas Hill Country to learn about it.

I met women on the trip who were long-time hunters as well as others who were on their first hunts. Tami Crawford was the hunt coordinator, and explained the purpose of the event.

We’re trying to get women involved in the outdoors, and to take some of the mystery out of the sport of hunting. Before it’s just been something that the guys go do.

Ten women in all went on the trip. Each brought a guide with them. First time hunter, Millissa Salinas of Austin, brought her father Ralph.

I’ve always wanted to experience the outdoors, and I thought the perfect opportunity to bond with my father would be this event so he could show me the rope and experience some special memories together.

Millissa, like all of the women on the trip, was enthusiastic about the experience.

It was extremely exciting. We’d been preparing for it for about a month. He had taken me target shooting, I had borrowed a rifle. So I’d been anticipating the whole excitement for some time now. So when the actual moment came to pull the trigger, it was extremely exciting.

Millissa harvested two deer on that trip. Hunting with other women and her father made for an experience that Millissa intends to recreate with other family members.

We definitely want to get involved more in the outdoors. And I have a younger sister that we’re going to try to encourage to join us.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

On the Hunt for Snipe

Monday, February 8th, 2016
Wilson's Snipe (Common Snipe or Jacksnipe)

Wilson’s Snipe (Common Snipe or Jacksnipe) Photo credit: USFWS


This is Passport to Texas

An invitation to participate in a snipe hunt fills young hearts with anticipation and anxiety. In my youth, snipe hunts were cloaked in mystery; and that’s what made them deliciously terrifying.

Taken at night to a wooded area and outfitted with a burlap bag…a flashlight with weak batteries…and a whistle to call for help… hunters enter the woods alone in search of dreaded snipes. And how would they recognize them? They would know them when they saw them.

Before long, panicked whistles and screams from deep within the woods pierced the silence, as vivid imaginations got the best of the young snipe hunters. Eventually everyone, including the hunter, had a good laugh.

Today we know snipe are small, long billed, brownish shorebirds in the sandpiper family. Their habitat includes freshwater marshes, ponds and flooded fields. They breed across much of North America, but like to spend their winters in the southern states, including Texas.

Snipe are game birds here, and the season to hunt snipe ends on February 14th. So if you want to go snipe hunting, and not be left holding the bag, time is running out.

Learn more about snipe and see an image of this not so terrifying creature when you log onto our web site: passporttotexas.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory.

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

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More about Snipe:

Snipe winter throughout Texas and huntable numbers can be found in suitable habitat. Generally hunting of snipe is in association with waterfowl hunting, but it has the potential of providing more recreational sport hunting days. Most hunters are unaware of the quality hunts provided by this species. Federal harvest surveys estimate a total statewide harvest of 5,000 birds annually.

Can You Eat Snipe?

Of course you can. But, be prepared for how small they are.  Hank Shaw, who curates the blog Hunter*Angler*Gardener*Cook and is author of three game focused cookbooks, including “Duck, Duck, Goose” says: “[Snipe] is a bird with a flavor all out of proportion to its size. As small as it is, one bird makes a great appetizer, and four a hearty meal. They taste like a combination of squab and duck, with something else. Maybe its the wormy things they eat?”

Hank says the smaller the bird, the higher the heat for cooking. His preparation of snipe is simple: He says he sets his oven to the highest setting (most go to 500° F),  greases up the birds with lard or butter, sprinkles them inside and out with salt, and places them in an oven proof pan with a little bit of water  in the bottom of the pan to help keep the snipe moist.

He says he puts the pan with the snip into the oven for about 5 minutes; after which time he removes the birds from the oven and bastes them with more butter or lard, before putting them back in the heat for another 5 to 7 minutes. He removes the birds from the oven, and lets them rest a few minutes before plating them. He says right before serving, give them a good dusting with black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Tree Stand Safety

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
Safety first when using a tree stand.

Safety first when using a tree stand.

This is Passport to Texas

To be “up a tree” is usually a bad thing—unless, of course, you’re a hunter in a tree stand.

Did you know that the number one cause of hunting injury and fatality in North America is falls from tree stands?

In this instance, being up the tree isn’t the problem… falling from it is. Steve Hall, Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education Coordinator, offers three simple rules to prevent falls.

One, use a good climbing system. Two, a harness while you’re in the stand. And three, a haul line to haul up your equipment and lower it back down to the ground.

Hall says climbing to the tree stand is when most accidents occur.

You want to make sure you have three points of contact while you’re climbing on a ladder or into a stand. You also want to step down onto the platform of that stand before you strap yourself in, in terms of the tree and the harness.

Once a hunter is in the stand, Hall says he or she needs to be sure the tether is nice and taut.

If he does happen to fall off the platform, this will keep his legs near the platform.

This allows the hunter to easily step back onto the platform. There’s more hunter safety information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and works to increase hunting and shooting sports in Texas.

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

Lily Pulls the Trigger

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015
Lily Raff McCallou

Lily Raff McCallou, photo courtesy www.oregonlive.com


This is Passport to Texas

When you grow up in a hunting family, you learn to appreciate the tradition.

It was so different from what I grew up with and from anything I knew, that I wanted to know more about it.

Lily Raff McCaulou moved from NYC to Bend Oregon to write for a small newspaper, her readers included anglers and hunters. To connect with them and her food, Lily learned to hunt.

You know, the locavore movement was starting to take hold, and I’d been a meat eater my whole life, and was wondering: do I really have what it takes to hunt and kill my own meat. And wanting to know what I could get from that experience — and that closeness to my food. So, it was a combination of all these different factors that made me decide this is something that I want to try.

After hunter education and learning to shoot, she attended a Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop, which included a pheasant hunt. She thought she might not have the nerve to pull the trigger.

All the other women in my group had shot a bird, and I just started feeling like, ‘Hey, I’ve come all this way and it’s been a year in the making, and I want to take a shot, too.’ Eventually, all the stars aligned and the dog that I was with sniffed out a bird and held it on point [and when it flushed] , and I got it; I took the shot and the bird fell immediately. Rather than feeling all the guilt and remorse, I felt empowered.

Lily Raff McCaulou wrote a book about her experience entitled: Call of the Mild.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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