Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

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.

Research | Hunt: Dove Lethality Study

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Dove hunters at sunset

Silhouette of dove hunters at end of day with sunset

This is Passport to Texas

Texas leads the nation in dove hunting with roughly a quarter million hunters bagging 5 million mourning doves each fall.

03—Dove hunting is kind of a rite of passage for fall for many hunters.

Corey Mason is Wildlife Region Three Director. He says in December (2014), the agency released results of a two year study examining the lethality of lead versus non-toxic shot for mourning dove.

07— Long story short, what this [analysis] told us is that bagging, wounding and missing rates, they really did not differ across ammunition types.

Mason said the most commonly used shot is a 2 3/4-inch 12-guage shell, one and one-eighth ounce 7 1/2 lead shot.

10— We compared that to a one ounce seven steel, and a once ounce six steel. It came out with very comparable results. So that statistically speaking, there was really no difference.

Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, trained as observers, spent two years in the field collecting birds bagged by hunters at commercial hunting operations.

14—There were over 5-thousand shots fires; there were over 11-hundred birds bagged. Every bird that was shot was necropsied, x-rayed, and examined. We took information gained in the field – as well as the terminal ballistics – [to determine] the effects those particular pellets had on the birds.

Again, researchers discovered negligible differences between ammunition types. But why study this at all. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

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.