Archive for October, 2011

TPW Magazine–Deer Season

Monday, October 31st, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine editor, Louie Bond says November may be the month when most of us are gearing up for the holidays…

But for a lot of Texans, and especially those who read our magazine, it is deer month. And we have two really unique perspectives on deer hunting, I think. One is on the conservation end, because how would we even have any deer to hunt if it hadn’t been for the great conservation programs—not only in this agency—but for ranch owners like our Leopold Conservation winners: Buddy and Ellen Temple of the Temple Ranch.

Buddy and Ellen have just done this amazing job, not only of managing game on their ranch, but also of having education outreach. They’re so generous of heart and spirit with their ranch that they’ve shared everything they’ve learned with the community.

And, then on the other side of things… What a lucky editor I am to have a great guy like Carter Smith as the head of this agency. He is a fantastic writer; and so whenever I can I try to wheedle him into telling some of his own great stories. And this month he shares with us the story of his first hunt, and some of the philosophy about why he hunts, and why he loves to hunt. And I think it’s great for our readers—both for those who like to get out hunting and those who like to read about it.

Thanks Louie. Read articles online at

The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series…and is funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motorboat fuel.

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

Battling the Alligator Gar

Friday, October 28th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Alligator gar, virtually unchanged from prehistoric times, is attracting an enthusiastic 21st Century following.

:04—The species in recent years has become very popular amongst anglers and bow fishers.

David Buckmeier is a fisheries scientist for parks and wildlife. To fish for gar, you have to know where to find them.

:21—Most alligator gar are found in coastal rivers along the eastern part of the state; rivers like the Trinity are very, very well-known for their alligator gar populations. They’re also found in our coastal bays. They’re an interesting species in that they can go back and forth—maybe not into full salt water like in the gulf—but definitely in the bay systems. And they can go back and forth into the river and into those upper parts of those bays.

The alligator gar is the largest freshwater fish in Texas and gives anglers a good fight.

:16—Yes, they actually fight quite well. As you can imagine, any fish that weighs 150 or 200 pounds has a lot of power. So, they do fight; they actually jump quite a bit. They’ll completely clear the water. There’s some variations; some of them are more sluggish than others. But, they’re very entertaining and that’s the reason, I guess, for the popularity.

Anglers may keep one of these big fish per day. Lean more about freshwater fishing at the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish and Wildlife restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Blast from the Past: Alligator Gar

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Evolution bypassed the alligator gar. Compare today’s gar to the fossil record, and the differences are insignificant.

:07—They’re often perceived as this very primitive, horrible fish that is kind of scary looking. So people, for that reason, have some fear of them.

David Buckmeier, a fisheries scientist for parks and wildlife, says this coastal river-dwelling freshwater fish is actually quite docile despite appearances.

The alligator gar is the largest freshwater fish in Texas, and can grow up to ten feet long and have the potential of tipping the scales at over three hundred pounds.

:11—They have a head shaped much like that of an alligator, hence the name. They are quite primitive; they have heavy bony scales all across their body, which are called ganoid scales. And it’s actual bone plates that protect that fish.

A behavior that some find unnerving is the gar’s tendency to linger at the water’s surface.

:21—Their gills aren’t advanced enough to get enough oxygen, especially when the water temperatures are warm. So, that’s why people will frequently see them at the top of the water; they’ll come up, gulp air then and go back down. So maybe, it’s not that their gills aren’t advanced enough, maybe they are evolving and they’re going to be crawling on the land soon. (laughs) Unlikely. They’ve been around for a long, long time, and they’ve been the same way.

Alligator gar is abundant in Texas, and is a sought after sport fish. More on that tomorrow.

The Sport Fish and Wildlife restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conserving Sea Grass

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Redfin Bay is a popular destination for anglers.

In fact, this area is number one for guided fishing trips, and second highest along the Texas coast for private boat anglers. Visitors outnumber locals two to one.

Popularity comes with a price, says Faye Grubbs, a coastal fisheries biologist based in Corpus Christi. Seagrass provides essential food and habitat for marine life. Yet, submerged propellers severly trench the area uprooting the aquatic plants. There is a regulation to protects these plants.

And the basics of that regulation are, there’s no uprooting of Seagrass allowed inside this scientific area – that includes 32-thousand acres. Now, boaters are allowed throughout the area – no area’s shut down. Trolling motors and anchors are exempted from the regulations. So if you do uproot any seagrass by using one of those devices, you’re exempted from the law.

Trolling motors and anchors are exempt because any damage they might inflict is minimal.

[seagull call] Overall, what we’re trying to do is really get boaters to think about what they’re doing out in the water. The onus, the responsibility, is on the boater to know the area he’s fishing in, and also protect and preserve some of the habitat that supports the fish that he’s fishing for.

Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series. Through your purchases of hunting and fishing equipment and motorboat fuels, over 40 million dollars in conservation efforts are funded in Texas each year.

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

More Halloween in State Parks

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Halloween and state parks go together. Our State park Guide Bryan Frazier has details about a “Spooktacular” event at Sea Center Texas, and an event at Inks Lake SP featuring creatures of the night—and a star party.

This is a real novel idea; park staff dress up like animals that come out at night. And they’re going to talk about some of the things that these animals do. Then they’re going to do a night hike, there’s going to be a costume party. Then there’ll be a star gazing party that they’ll have there because of the open night sky in the Hill Country.

And this is a fantastic opportunity to get kids much more acclimated to what goes on after the sun goes down in our out of doors. And this is a way to take the Halloween theme and use that to educate that just because the sun goes down in a park doesn’t mean you can’t see the wonderful things that goes on outdoors after dark.

What kinds of spooky things happen at a place like Sea Center?

This is their fifth year; they’re having the annual Sea Center Spooktacular. It’s very kid oriented; they’ll have a costume contest, they’re having treats. They can tour and see the aquarium, and the hatchery—the real, functioning hatchery that we have at Sea center. So, it’s a great opportunity to get kids plugged in. It gives them a safe place to go and do something for the Halloween event.

Thanks, Bryan!

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet, supporting outdoor recreation in Texas; because there’s life to be done.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.