Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Hunt | Food: Doing your Own Processing

Thursday, December 18th, 2014


Processing venison at Feral Kitchen

Processing venison.

This is Passport to Texas

Chris Houston of Austin is a hunter and home cook; he butchers and processes what he harvests; but that’s not always been practical.

05—We have a decent sized [kitchen] counter space, but certainly a limited area and limited equipment.

Hunters, says Houston, go to processors because of limited workspace, equipment, and a lack experience. He adds processors are decent folks who provide a good service – but he still wonders what comes back to him.

06—Am I getting back my animal in the sausage? Am I getting all the meat that I had taken in there?

Chris Houston taught himself to butcher and process, and excels at it now. To empower others to do the same, he offers a fully equipped commercial kitchen and his knowledge as Feral Kitchen, a wild food workspace.

23—Butchering and sausage-making tends to feel complicated. However, it can be really simplified. And so, we really want to pass on that education and that confidence to others. We’ve been offering some classes on general game butchering, and some other classes on sausage-making to kind of help people take that step in the learning curve to doing it themselves. And, really, to just try and simplify the entire process.

Learn more about butchering and processing wild game on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and at

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunt: Antlers, Horns and Habitat

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


Whitetail deer in snow.

Whitetail deer in snow.

This is Passport to Texas

Hunting is about more than trophies. It’s about creating healthy habitat.

05—That’s exactly right. And our tagline at TBGA [Texas Big Game Awards] is Hunting equals Habitat.

Justin Dreibelbis is Hunting Heritage Program Director at the Texas Wildlife Association, which coordinates the Texas Big Game Awards, or TBGA.

25— Those big deer are not an accident. They are a direct response to the habitat that they were grown on. And that’s why we celebrate antlers and horns at Texas Big Game Awards. Not because it’s some big trophy and that’s what’s important. We celebrate antlers and horns because we recognize that’s a direct result of the habitat that that animal was raised on – and that’s what we’re trying to get back to. It’s all about habitat and our hunting heritage.

The TBGA is currently accepting entries of white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Desert Bighorn Sheep and javalina. Find a list of certified volunteer scorers at

18—Contact them and they’ll get the animal scored for you. You fill out the form and send it in to us – it’s completely free. If it’s a youth or first harvest category, you don’t even have to contact a scorer. All you have to do is go to, print out a copy of the youth and first harvest form, fill it out and send it in. And that’s all there is to it.

Deadline for entries if February 15, 2015. Three Regional Sportsman’s Celebration banquets will be held to honor winners and program participants. Find more information at

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Hunt | Habitat: Texas Big Game Awards

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014


Big Buck at Choke Canyon State Park

Big Buck at Choke Canyon State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Big Game Awards started in 1991 as a partnership between the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife as a means to document the native big game resources we have in the state.

05—And also, to celebrate our hunting heritage and recognize young and new hunters.

Justin Dreibelbis is Hunting Heritage Program Director at the Texas Wildlife Association.

12— We have scored entries that have to meet a certain scoring criteria for that particular region. And then we also have unscored categories which are our youth division and our first harvest division.

Texas Big Game Awards recognizes white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Desert Bighorn Sheep and… this was a surprise… javalina.

08—At this point it’s still kind of a well-kept secret. But it’s something that we do want to publicize that javalinas are actually able to be scored and entered into TBGA, too.

The awards showcase quality big game in Texas, and prove thoughtful land management can produce big healthy game animals, especially deer, anywhere. And, Justin says that makes landowners take notice.

19—It kind of opens up people’s eyes to going, hey, you know what – we’ve never grown any big deer around here before, but it’s possible. And that’s something we’re constantly telling people: if you let a deer get old enough, and you manage the habitat so that it has plenty of groceries at every point during its life, you have the ability to grow a big deer anywhere in the state.

More on the Texas Big Game Awards tomorrow. That’s our show… with support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conservation: Money for Quail

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Bobwhite quail in Texas

Bobwhite quail in Texas

This is Passport to Texas

There’s new hope for bobwhite quail.

13—Four million dollars of the upland game bird stamp fund was authorized by the legislature this past session to specifically go towards further developing this concept of focus areas for bobwhite quail and grassland birds.

The “focus area” concept is one TPW upland game bird program leader, Robert Perez, has worked on for years.

08—Well, a focus area is an intensive effort within a small area to demonstrate that quail restoration can be successful.

Most focus areas are east of the I-35: places where quail are gone, said Perez, but they haven’t been gone long.

23— One of our focus areas in the Columbus-Seely area, southeast Texas. Another is the Navarro-Ellis area, along the I-35 corridor where Waxahachie is. Another is West of Dallas a good ways over towards Wichita Falls, around Clay County and south. So these are the front lines of bobwhite decline; birds are still around, but they’re noticeably rarer.

The agency awarded 15 grants, with two more in process, to nonprofits, universities and others for grassland restoration. Grantees will use the $4 million dollars over a two year grant period.

19—But that doesn’t mean that the project is over at the end of two years. Because the impacts – when you start to turn the dirt or manipulate habitat – those effects go on for years. And so what’s most important is to continue to monitor – think of the future beyond those two years – to really understand and paint a good picture of what the impacts are of these types of manipulations.

Find quail information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Hunt/Food/Charity: Hunters for the Hungry

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Donated Venison via Hunters for the  Hungry program, Image courtesy of

Donated Venison via Hunters for the Hungry program, Image courtesy of

UPDATE: Since producing this program, The Texas Association of Community Action Agencies, Inc., entered into an agreement with the Texas Food Bank Network, now Feeding Texas, to take over the Texas Hunters for the Hungry program. You can find more information about making a donation or becoming a processor at the Hunters for the Hungry website:

This is Passport to Texas

Venison is quality protein; and hunters help get it onto the tables of deserving families when they donate deer to Hunters for the Hungry.

09—Once it’s [the deer] donated, the meat is used by food pantries, food banks, and other food assistance providers, which serve their local communities.

Anitra Hendricks oversees the program. Hunters may donate their legally tagged, field-dressed deer by bringing it to participating meat processors. Find a list of processors on the Hunters for the Hungry website.

24—Once they locate a processor, then basically it’s just a matter of harvesting the deer, making sure that they get it cleaned out. The processor will handle everything else. There is a reduced processing fee for those who donate to the program. They pay the fee, they do receive a receipt for a possible tax deduction. The meat processor will grind the meat, package it, and then from there it goes to the food assistance provider.

The Panhandle, far west Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have the fewest donations due to low processor participation. Without nearby participating processors, hunters don’t have an easy way to donate. Anitra is always on the lookout for more processors.

08— The have to be willing to keep some minimal book-keeping as far as tracking donations and reporting that to us at the end of the season.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish restoration program supports our series and works to increase fishing, hunting and the shooting sports in Texas.

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