Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Pronghorn Restoration and Rural Economy

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist Shawn Gray finds pronghorns fascinating, and hopes you will, too.

The pronghorn is a unique mammal of North America; it’s the only one found in its family. It’s the fastest mammal in North America. It’s a big game species.

Gray is the pronghorn program leader and oversees the Pronghorn Restoration Project. Because it’s is a game species, hunting them should pick up as their population grows, thus benefitting local communities.

In 2008, we issued probably like 800 buck only hunting permits. And, shoot, in 2009 or 10, we were issuing less than 100. And there’s a lot to that. Not only is it the money that they get for trespass access for hunting, but the hunters come into the local communities and spend time and spend money. So, there’s a lot of those economic impacts as well with a much reduced pronghorn population out here.

The Trans-Pecos pronghorn population dipped below 3K in 2012, and Gray says through translocation and natural reproduction, they hope to see the number rise to 10K.

Most of the local communities in the Trans-Pecos really miss the pronghorn. And they really want to see pronghorn back on the landscape at numbers that they are used to seeing.

With the continued success of the restoration project, they may get their wish.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds pronghorn restoration in Texas.

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

After the Shot: From Field to Kitchen

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018
Whitetail in a clearing.

Whitetail in a clearing.

This is Passport to Texas

Handled correctly from field to kitchen, venison can be tastier than store bought meat. Keep it cool and dry immediately after harvest.

15—And then, the real poetry begins in the aging of that meat. If you can hang that meat for three to six days, some of the enzymes in the meat start to break it down, and you really get that tender, good tasting, concentrated flavor.

Austin resident, Lee Smith, is a hunter and home cook. He recommends vacuum sealing the meat to keep it usable for up to a year in the freezer. While you may wish to elevate a venison dish, Smith says, simple has its merits.

23—You’re legally – depending upon what county you’re hunting in – able to take five deer in Texas. And that can be a lot of meat. So, I can understand after a while, how you might want to change it up and have a little horseradish sauce, or some kind of port reduction with some mushrooms. But, I want to taste the meat; I don’t want to throw a heavy sauce on it. In fact, tonight, we’re having venison fajitas.

Lee Smith says he usually marinates venison back strap briefly in olive oil and soy sauce, grills it, and ends up with something the whole family enjoys.

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

Field Dressing Game

Monday, January 15th, 2018
Tagging legally harvested deer.

Tagging legally harvested deer.

This is Passport to Texas

Lee Smith comes from a hunting family. This longtime Austin resident and avid home cook, says from the start, he’s hunted for meat not trophies.

Once you’ve pulled the trigger and you’ve got an animal down, the work really begins.

As soon as the animal’s down, the clock starts ticking; field dressing the animal is a race against spoilage.

Meat spoils due to three things: heat, moisture and dirt. Getting those internal organs out is going to immediately start to let that carcass cool. Second thing is: the skin. Taking that skin off is going to get that animal cooler, and also allow it to dry quicker. Once you’ve got it back [to camp], and taken the skin off, you rinse out the interior chest cavity, and get it into that cooler.

If you’re hunting on public land, or there’s no walk-in cooler at your lease, after field dressing and skinning the animal, quarter it.

That’s taking off the four quarters, the two backstraps, and the rear legs. That’s what you are legally bound to take. If you don’t take that, you can be ticketed for waste of game.

Put the quarters into tall kitchen garbage bags, and then into coolers with ice. How to handle game when you get it home – that’s tomorrow.

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

Outlook for the end of Waterfowl Season

Friday, January 5th, 2018
The Bigwoods on the Trinity. Waterfowl hunting

The Bigwoods on the Trinity. Waterfowl hunting

This is Passport to Texas

The regular duck season continues through January 28, in most of the state. Wildlife biologist, Dave Morrison, says overall, you still have good hunting ahead of you.

Total numbers of ducks are down. But when you take a look at the overall picture. We’re still at numbers we’ve never seen before.

The past five years offered “unbelievable” hunting, said Morrison. And while the populations of the ten species they surveyed this spring changed…it’s not bad news.

This year, five are up, five are down. But the good news is that—with the exception of pintails and scaup—all of them are above their long-term average. So, we’re still anticipating ducks showing up in Texas.

He says if you went out last season, then expect a similar outcome this season.

When you think about what Texas has been through, something that’s similar to last year is probably pretty good. Harvey wreaked havoc along our coast. But that habitat is recovering faster than anticipated. [1.5 seconds ambiance]

And for goose hunters: light goose season ends Jan. 28 in the east zone and February 4 in the west zone.

Texas is blessed; we’ve always had pretty good goose hunting here in this state. From the perspective of snow geese, we’ll have probably about the same as last year, simply because the numbers really haven’t changed.

The Texas Outdoor Annual has seasons and bag limits for all waterfowl.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

2018 Resolutions for Hunters

Thursday, December 28th, 2017
Hunters at sunrise.

Hunters at sunrise.

This is Passport to Texas Resolutions Week

Today: resolutions for hunters. Hunter Education Director, Steve Hall, provided a list of resolutions that, when followed, will make it even more rewarding to be a hunter in Texas this New Year.

Attend a hunter education course and recommend the training to anyone who wants to learn more about firearm, hunting and outdoor safety as well as game laws, ethics and responsibilities.

Be safe and obey the laws such as always practicing proper muzzle control, staying within a safe zone of fire and brushing up on game laws and regulations each year through the Outdoor Annual.

Practicing your shooting skills before you leave for your hunting trips; learn proper shot angles, shot placement, distance estimation and vital zones of the game you hunt.

Take care of your game from “field to table”; learn how to properly field dress, transport, butcher, freeze and prepare your favorite wild game meals.

Take along someone new to hunting on your next trip; expose them to the joys of the outdoors and to taking their own healthy, organic meat for the table.

Become a hunter education instructor and give back you knowledge, skills and proper attitudes towards the hunting heritage and a brighter future for hunting and shooting sports.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti