Archive for July, 2019

Safe Zone of Fire

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
Illustrating a safe zone of fire.

Illustrating a safe zone of fire.

This is Passport to Texas

Before you discharge a firearm, ask yourself: what is my safe zone of fire? Not knowing can have devastating consequences. But how do you determine your safe zone?

It’s easy to find your safe zone of fire.

Heidi Rao is a Hunter Education Specialist for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Start by focusing on an object ahead of you like a tree, hold your thumbs up and slowly bring them to the side of your body until your thumbs disappear from your vision. This is about a 45-degree angle and the area where you can safely take a shot. This is your safe zone of fire.

If you’re hunting with other people, never swing outside of your 45-degree safe zone of fire.

Another thing to think about is to be aware of is target fixation. When a bird flushes, you could easily forget about your surroundings and your safe zone of fire. If you’re excited and only focusing on your target, you can quickly lose track of your safe shooting zone. You can even lose sight of buildings and roadways. This is very dangerous.

Remember: firearm safety is your responsibility.

So, always be aware of your safe zone of fire, even when you’re excited.

View our hunter education video on Safe Zone of Fire, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel; just search Safe Zone of Fire.

Our show receives support from the Wildlife Restoration Program.

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

Firearm Muzzle Control

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Heidi Rao, demonstrating firearm muzzle control.

Heidi Rao, demonstrating firearm muzzle control.

This is Passport to Texas

Developing and reinforcing hunter safety skills must be a lifelong pursuit for every hunter. The first principle when hunting with a firearm: always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

This is basic safety.

Heidi Rao is a Hunter Education Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. She says even when alone in the field, hunters must remain aware of muzzle direction.

There could be other hunters or even a building near where you’re hunting. And you never want your firearm pointed at anything other than your intended target.

Until you’re ready to shoot, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction with the safety on, and your finger resting outside the trigger guard.

When you are hunting with two or more hunters you need to be aware of where the other hunters are at all times. You really must talk and let the others know where you are.

The way you carry your gun matters.

You always want to carry your gun in a way that there is no way possibility for the muzzle to be pointed at any other hunter.
One of the safest ways to carry your firearm is known as the two-handed carry or the ready position. This carry also provides the most control over your firearm and it gives you a quick setup for a shot.

Find hunter education videos on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our show.

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

Eradicating Giant Salvinia

Thursday, July 25th, 2019
Warning sign about Giant Salvinia.

Warning sign about Giant Salvinia.

This is Passport to Texas

In the 1958 movie The Blob, an ever-expanding goo from outer space threatened humankind. Today, Texas lakes are being invaded by a “blob” of a sort called Giant Salvinia: a floating aquatic fern that can double in size every seven to ten days.

In order to control it we have to be able to get on it early.

John Findeisen is a Natural Resources Specialist at Parks and Wildlife. His Aquatic Habitat Enhancement team is working to contain and eradicate Giant Salvinia.

We’ve starting using a lot more floating booms to keep it contained. We’ve found that if you can keep it contained then your chances of eradicating the plant are a lot easier.

Floating containment booms along with targeted herbicide treatments and freezing temperatures helped John’s team eradicate the plant from Lake Fork and Lake Athens in East Texas. But Giant Salvinia remains a threat.

The threat always remains. What we need to do is to get the recreational boaters, our angler, as well as our duck hunters to make sure that you clean, drain and dry. Clean out everything you have. Clean your boat, the trailer, the motor. When you find that stuff pull it off, throw it in a trash can or onto the ground where it’ll dry up and die.

Help stop the Giant Salvinia blob. Remember to clean, drain… and dry.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Giant Salvinia–A Real Life Alien Invader

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019
A handful of Giant Salvinia.

A handful of Giant Salvinia.

This is Passport to Texas

People of a certain age recall the arcade game Space Invaders. It was fun and pretend. Today Giant Salvinia is a not so fun, real-life alien invader found in Texas Lakes.

Giant Salvinia is from South America originally and it came to the United States through the aquatic gardening and the aquarium industry.

Natural Resources Specialist, John Findeisen, leads the Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Team at TPW.

It’s a floating aquatic fern. It appears to have a root but what looks like a root is nothing more than a modified leaf. It does go through very, very rapid vegetative reproduction where it replicates itself. If it gets cut in half each one of those halves will become a new plant.

This invasive alien plant cuts off sunlight to submersed aquatic vegetation which is a key ingredient in sustaining aquatic life.

Once you start losing that habitat, native life is just going to leave. In addition to that we’re not getting the production of oxygen into the water column itself. So basically, it’s an aquatic desert.

The Giant Salvinia threat to lakes is real. Boaters: always clean, drain and dry all watercraft and equipment before leaving the boat ramp. Transporting Giant Salvinia, or any invasive species, is prohibited by law.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program Supports our Series.

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

TPW TV–Sign of the Times

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019
Willie Steinhauser

Willie Steinhauser showing off one of his signs.

This is Passport to Texas

Ask Willie Steinhauser, “what’s your sign?” and he’ll say: all of them. That’s because he makes the iconic wooden signs with yellow lettering you see at Texas state parks.

They go throughout the entire state park system, small or large, and I make them all.

From his workshop at Bastrop SP, Willie explains that the old-school method of hand carving signs has given way to new technology.

I just type in what that sign’s supposed to say; [I] save it on a drive [and] the machine actually comes across and carves out the pattern. It’s a printer if you want to use that comparison, but it has got a router bit. The machine basically just does all the work.

Occasionally, Willie receives unusual sign requests.

I had an order for a sign, it was two signs, actually, for Big Bend Ranch State Park. One side said simply, Nowhere. And the other sign that went with it said The Other Side of Nowhere. I assume these signs go out somewhere in the desert and they’re mounted on the same post opposite each other. So that’s probably the most unusual sign I’ve made.

Watch Willie in his workshop the week of July 28 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

It’s not a bad gig to have. I enjoy doing what I do, I like doing it.

We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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