Shell Collecting and Wildlife Viewing (You)

November 12th, 2018

Matagorda Island. Image: USFWS

This is Passport to Texas

A leisurely stroll along one of Texas’ public beaches might include finding a sand dollar or two.

But at Matagorda Island WMA—you can pick up dozens of sand dollars, as well as giant Atlantic cockles and even shark’s teeth.

Shells are abundant on the island. And don’t be surprised if while sifting through the sand, you feel like you’re being watched.

It’s not uncommon to look up from your collecting pursuits to see members of the island’s white-tailed deer population a comfortable distance away, keeping tabs on your every move.

Or perhaps one or more of the 300 species of migratory birds that visit the island will fly in for a closer look, waiting to see what your efforts uncover.

During fall and winter, you might even see endangered whooping cranes.

Be mindful of when you visit, as the island is popular with hunters during whitetail season.

Matagorda Island WMA consists of nearly 57-thousand acres and is an offshore barrier island. All interior access is via hiking, biking, or TPWD vehicles during scheduled hunts or tours. No private motorized vehicles! There’s more information on the TPW website.

Out show receives support from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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

Building Marine Habitat by Recycling a Ship

November 9th, 2018

Onlookers watch the Kinta go under.

This is Passport to Texas

The Gulf of Mexico has a lot going for it, except for substrate—the hard material on which marine organism live and grow. That’s where this guy comes in.

[I’m] Dale Shivley; I’m the program leader for the artificial reef program for Texas Parks and Wildlife

Artificial reefs provide habitat for saltwater fish as well as destinations for underwater divers. About four years ago Shively and his crew were preparing to reef a 155 foot decommissioned freighter, called the Kinta, in 75 feet of water off the coast of Corpus Christi.

Basically, what we have is a huge piece of metal that will benefit the local environment. Marine organisms will begin to grow on it; fish will be attracted to it immediately; it’s been cleaned of environmental hazards and is ready to go. [ambience]

The ship has a new purpose on the gulf floor: nurturing marine life. Brooke Shipley-Lozano, a Scientist with the GIS Lab at Parks and Wildlife explains what happens when they reef a ship.

So, the water will start coming in at the stern. And then gradually the water will fill up the ballast tanks one by one from the stern to the fore, and the rear of the ship should hit the bottom, and then eventually the bow will follow suit, and it will land perfectly upright and everyone will celebrate…

See a video that features reefing the Kinta on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel Find a link at passporttotexas.org.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Hunting Alligators in Texas

November 8th, 2018
American Alligator, photo TPWD

American Alligator, photo TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

It’s a hot muggy afternoon in the marshes of east Texas; and that’s where we find hunters on the trails of alligators at J.D. Murphree Wildlife management Area.

The area that we’re hunting in, it’s a vast bayou of swamps and marshes, with canals running through. The adrenaline rush is way more than deer hunting or anything else because you’re after something that can actually get you. /There’s one probably about 10 foot and two seven footers right up here. In about 150 yards we’re going to try and put a set. / Never been gator hunting before. You know you see ’em on TV. See the alligator shows. And, this is exactly what it looks like. / Our bait is chicken thigh quarters/ Those smell savory. /It’s savory; thats for sure. Mmmm./And we let ’em sit out in the sun for a day or two and it got quite ripe./Upwind is better than downwind when you get those things out. [distant laughter] I am amped up; adrenaline’s pumping, and then it’s on!/ Alligator hunting — it’s just not like anything else I’ve ever done. You know, there’s one on the line and you start pulling me in. I don’t know. You get anxious, you get excited. You get nervous.

The story continues on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube Channel. Find a link at passporttotexas.org. https://youtu.be/vPWtSs0iMBg

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Helping Women Engage the Outdoors

November 7th, 2018

Learning the proper use of firearms during a Becoming and Outdoor Woman Weekend Workshop

This is Passport to Texas

Thanks to a unique program from Texas Parks and Wildlife, women of all ages–who have never had the opportunity to camp, climb, fish, or sport shoot–are getting the chance to become the outdoor women they always dreamed of being.

The Becoming and Outdoors Woman workshops span a weekend. They usually begin on a Friday at noon and lasting through Sunday noon. The weekend is divided into four sessions and attendees pick their own classes.

Class topics are diverse and can be divided into three areas: shooting sports, fishing, and non-harvest activities (like camping, kayaking, and plant identification). As much as possible the classes are taught with the “hands-on” approach and equipment is provided. They’ve even
learned to field dress harvested game.

Participants come away from the weekends with the confidence to engage the outdoors in new ways. Moreover, they meet other women with similar interests, and make new friends.

We just missed this year’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop. Even so, it is not too early to get on the list for next year. Visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to find out how to sign up. And while you’re there, you can check out other outdoor opportunities for you and the family.

We record our series at the Block house and Joel Block engineers our program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Harvested Game from Field to Kitchen

November 6th, 2018

Lee Smith in the kitchen preparing venison backstrap

This is Passport to Texas

When handled correctly in the field and in the kitchen, venison can be tastier than domestically raised meat. The key is to keep it cool and dry immediately after harvest.

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.

Lee Smith is a hunter and home cook from Austin, Texas. To store fresh venison, Smith recommends vacuum sealers, which keep meat usable for up to a year in the freezer. And when you’re ready for it, Smith says – simple preparations are best.

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. Find wild game recipes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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