Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Safe, Successful Rabbit Hunting

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
Hunting rabbits and hares can be a rewarding challenge.

Hunting rabbits and hares can be a rewarding challenge.

This is Passport to Texas

Deer hunters are used to sitting quietly in a blind for—sometimes—hours before a buck or doe saunters into view. If they ever do. Increase your odds of harvesting game by hunting rabbits.

I mean, there is an abundance of rabbits across Texas.

Rabbit hunting is year-round and statewide. Heidi Rao, a hunter education specialist says rabbits don’t often stray into the wide open spaces, and suggests hunting the edges of their territory, such as fence lines or tree lines.

 A lot of people use .22 rifles, .22 pistols. Some people use 410 shotgun or 20-guage.

Rao recommends sticking with the .22s; shotguns are loud and can cause other rabbits to run erratically, reducing your odds of taking a safe shot.

The do zigzag. We always recommend making sure you have a safe background and that you can identify your target. So, we always want to make sure that you have a good still shot. So, make sure that they stop. Because it’s always difficult to hit a moving target if you don’t have a spray of pellets like a shotgun.

Besides, it was that shotgun blast that made the rabbits zigzag in the first place. Plus, a single shot from a .22 will go further to preserve the integrity of the meat.

Tomorrow—a recipe for making cottontail carnitas.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and works to promote shooting sports and hunting in Texas.

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

Hunting Rabbits and Hares in Texas

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
Jackrabbit hiding behind prickly pear cactus.

Jackrabbit hiding behind prickly pear cactus.

This is Passport to Texas

People who hunt rabbits say they find it more engaging than waiting hours in a blind for a deer to visit a feeder.

Sometimes when you’re deer hunting, you might be sitting in a blind just being quiet and waiting and not see anything.

You don’t have to “bait and wait” with rabbits; they’re everywhere. Heidi Rao, a hunter education specialist, says rabbits and hares may be hunted year round, statewide.

In West Texas, you do have the larger jackrabbits. We do have some larger rabbits and hares down in South Texas. There is an abundance of rabbits across Texas.

A hunting license is still necessary. Rao says you can use a shotgun when rabbit hunting, but they tend to be loud.

If you plan on doing a day of rabbit hunting, and you’re using a shotgun, you could scare away some of the other rabbits in the area. They could hunker down and hide because of the noise. A .22 rifle or pistol is a lot quieter.

Heidi Rao offers tips on hunting rabbits.

The best way to hunt rabbits—they love cover. They hide near their food source. So that’s a great way to hunt rabbit, along what we call edge. Which is the edge of their habitat versus the open area.

Find hunting information by species on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and works to promote shooting sports and hunting in Texas.

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

Rabbits Versus Hares — Some Differences

Monday, February 13th, 2017
Side-by-side comparison of a cottontail (left) and hare (right).

Side-by-side comparison of a cottontail (left) and hare (right).

This is Passport to Texas

A cottontail is a rabbit and a jackrabbit is a hare. And although they’re in the same family, they’re different species. Hares have longer ears and back legs than rabbits—and the differences don’t stop there.

One of the differences between hares and rabbits are the types of nests they build. And this is determined by the condition of their young at birth.

Heidi Rao is a hunter education specialist. She says true rabbits are born hairless, blind, and dependent on their mother’s care.

A young jackrabbit is actually born with his eyes open, and his body fully furred, and with the ability to hop around only moments after birth. It doesn’t need an elaborate nest to be reared.

Hares are less social, and they give birth and raise their young in above ground nests. Rabbits live in groups, and give birth and raise their young in underground burrows or warrens. There is one exception. The cottontail.

The eastern cottontail’s nest is a saucer-like depression three or four inches deep and about eight inches across. And they line it with mouthfuls of soft, dead grass mixes, and hair from the mother’s body.

Hares are more skittish than rabbits and do not make good pets. But they both are good eating. Hunting rabbits and hares…that’s tomorrow.

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

A New Hunter Gets a Shot at Success

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
Hunting for white-tailed deer.

Hunters attempting to attract deer to a clearing for a good shot.

This is Passport to Texas

Adults with little exposure to hunting are expressing interest in the activity. So, in December, Texas Parks and Wildlife offered a mentored deer hunt for adult novices at Inks Lake State Park. Chris Hall was hunt coordinator.

[We did it] to give a total turn-key experience—start to finish—of ethics, proper care and maintenance. As well as the hunting experience, itself.

Barham Richard, an environmental attorney from Austin, was among the group participating in the mentored hunt. He’d been squirrel hunting as a kid, but that was years ago. He sought guidance for big game, and found it.

From the first day, everybody’s been so helpful, and they’ve taken a lot of time to figure out what they wanted to do here. You can tell they took a lot of pride in putting this all together. So, I can’t tell them how much I appreciate all of it.

Barham and his cohorts spent the first morning of the 3-day mentored hunt in the classroom, and that afternoon at a shooting range. On day two, it was off to the blinds. Preparation paid off for Barham.

Got my first doe. You say this is your first doe. First deer? Yes. First deer ever. We got it late at night. We were about to pack up, and there it was. So, we took it, and I’m really happy. So, how did you feel as you were pulling that trigger? I tried to stay calm. Well, I had a misfire. So, we had to
unload it [the rifle], reload it. By that point it was pretty easy to stay calm. [laughter]

More adult novice mentored hunts are being developed.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Tips for Hunting Squirrels

Friday, January 27th, 2017

This is Passport to Texas

Mention hunting to a Texan and most think: deer.

That’s just the way it’s always been. But it doesn’t mean that for everyone.

For some people, hunting includes small game like squirrel, says Hunter Education specialist Heidi Rao.

I think we need to get outside of the box and pursue these opportunities that we have here in Texas. There’s such an abundance of wildlife.

We may legally hunt fox and gray squirrels in Texas.

A .22 is usually the best choice of rifle to use to hunt squirrel. They’re found statewide, and you do need your hunting license. And if you’re required to take hunter education, you must have that as well.

Heidi says it’s best to have a strategy before going squirrel hunting, such as the one she employs when hunting with her kids.

So, our strategy was what you call still hunting. And what that meant is that we moved very slowly through an area. We remained in a straight line, and we kept a good distance from each other. And we slowly moved throughout area looking for squirrel. You’re listening to the rustling of the leaves that the squirrels may be foraging in looking for acorns and food. You can hear them chattering between themselves, among themselves. And you can look into those different calls to see where they may be located.

After that, it takes patience, a keen eye and steady hand. Find season information and hunting regulations in the Texas Outdoor Annual.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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