Texas Dove Hunters Magazine - Fall 2022

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TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com

Official Publication of the Texas Dove Hunters Association

FALL 2022

JOE ELDER BECOMING AN OUTFITTER

DOVE DECOYS

ALLURING THEIR PREY

UVALDE

A PRETTY SPECIAL PLACE GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF HUNTERS AND WILDLIFE AMBASSADORS


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e xas

Dove Hunters Magazine

Official Publication of the Texas Hunters Association

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com

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Publisher TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS, LLC

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Editor SUSAN THORNTON

ON OUR COVER

Joe Elder With his family by his side, he has coupled values, passions and traditions to create a unique atmosphere and hunting experience for his clients.

Graphic Design STUDIO SYKES Contributing Photographers ATA GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY LARRY WEISHUHN OUTDOORS MEC OUTDOORS JAY SCHWISOW SCOTT THOMPSON MOJO OUTDOORS Contributors MEREDITH KAY REIS LADD LEANN SCHMITT NATE SKINNER TIM SODERQUIST LARRY WEISHUHN

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: 8

The Art of Decoying

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Decoys have been used to entice birds for centuries but have become much more sophisticated through the years.

Founders letter

23 Ladies in the Field 26 Outfitters in Texas 30 Season Dates 33 Reloading 36 Families in the Field 38 Habitat 40 Photos from the Field 44 TDHA Store 47 Recipe 48 Non-profit

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Printing SHWEIKI MEDIA, SAN ANTONIO, TX Cover Photo By ATA GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY BY TAMMY BLALOCK

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.......................... TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE is published bi-annually by Texas Dove Hunters, LLC (Publisher). Reproduction in any manner in whole or part is prohibited without the express written consent of the Publisher. Material contained herein does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher or its staff. TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE reserves the right to edit materials for clarity and space and assumes no responsibility for accuracy, errors or omissions. TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertisements or editorial, nor does the Publisher assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial appear. Articles and photographs are welcome and may be submitted to our office to be used subject to the discretion and review of the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. © 2022 Texas Dove Hunters, LLC. 2395 Bulverde Rd., Suite 104 Bulverde, TX 78163 210-764-1189 texasdovehunters.com

Uvalde

Just 80 miles directly west of San Antonio is a very special town, rich with history and an abundance of hunting opportunities in every direction. FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA 6 | FALL 2022

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LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER Dove season is upon us! Hopefully you have been practicing on clays, cleaning your guns, checking your gear, warming up your dogs and treating your spouse with unparalleled love so you can get a kitchen pass to go hunting. But have you secured your place to hunt? Outfitters book up very quickly, especially after the season dates are announced in the spring. The question on everyone’s mind right now is will we have any dove this year? The weather has been so hot and dry that many farmers have not been able to plant in some regions of the state and grain maturity is behind. Some outfitters are only booking part of their normal customer counts and using half of their land. The birds could be scarce in many parts of the state. But, they may surprise us. One thing that is guaranteed is that there will be 800 more Eurasian collared dove that will be banded and released across the state this month for the Texas Banded Bird Challenge (TBBC). Note that the entry deadline has changed this year. Entries for the 2022 TBBC close at midnight on August 31. I want to take a moment to pay our respects and to give our utmost and heartfelt sympathies to the people of Uvalde, a community very near and dear to many of our hearts. The town of Uvalde is a special little place. It has and always will be a hunting mecca. People come from all over to hunt in the Uvalde area and the sorrow from the event on May 24, 2022, was felt around the world. But the community itself has been shaken to the core. Please pray for the children, teachers, families, and everyone else who was affected by this horrendous tragedy. We were privileged to have outdoor writer Larry Weishuhn write an article for this issue on Uvalde and just what a special place it is. I know you’ll enjoy reading it. And if you’ve never had the privilege of hunting in this area, you’ve missed out! Every hotel and motel for miles is a sea of camoflauge on opening day. It’s a sight to be seen! Take a kid hunting,

Bobby Thornton

MISSION STATEMENT Texas Dove Hunters Association promotes strong family unity through hunting and outdoor programs. We are committed to research, education and habitat conservation. 8 | FALL 2022


TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION CORPORATE OFFICE 2395 Bulverde Rd., Suite 104 Bulverde, TX 78163 Off: (210) 764-1189 Fax: (866) 233-0507 email: info@txdove.com texasdovehunters.com

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Susan Thornton

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Myrna Hassfield

Maximizing wildlife habitat while creating a multi-generational investment in your land

PHOTOGRAPHER

Jay Schwisow

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info@habitatlandservices.org TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 9


FEATURE

JOE ELDER

OUTFITTING IS A FAMILY AFFAIR By Nate Skinner

Photo by Tammy Blalock

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f you’ve ever been dove hunting in the Uvalde area, you’ve probably heard of Elderado. Owned and operated by Joe Elder, this is not your run-of-the-mill bird hunting operation. It boasts a unique atmosphere and experience that has evolved and molded over time, because of the Elder family’s values, passions, and traditions. The story behind this premier wing shooting destination is a special one. Elder grew up in Del Rio, where he began dove hunting with his Dad at age six. “I remember starting out, toting my first BB gun alongside my father and watching him shoot doves with his shotgun,” Elder said. “As I got older, I progressed to a pellet gun, and then my first .410.” Most of the ranchers in the Del Rio area were focused on white-tailed deer and didn’t care much about bird hunting. “If you were willing to shut the gate behind you and pick up your empty shells when you were done, most folks usually wouldn’t have a problem letting you come shoot some birds,” Elder said. ‘Nobody was selling dove hunts at the time.” In addition to dove hunting, Elder grew up deer hunting with his dad. “In my late teens, my dad bought a ranch outside of Del Rio and started running deer hunts on it,” Elder said. “I helped him guide while I was in college, and I brought my college buddies back to the ranch to hunt doves.” After college, Elder moved back to Del Rio to work on the ranch with his dad. During this time, he met his wife, Laura Jane, at a mutual friend’s wedding. They later ran back into one another and started dating, and the rest was history. Laura Jane is not a hunter, but she loves the outdoors. Elder said that horse riding and horse breeding are huge passions of hers that she passed on to their daughters. During the first several months of their marriage, they lived in Del Rio. “Laura Jane was from Uvalde, and didn’t know too many people in Del Rio,” Elder said. “At the time, she was trying to develop her culinary skills, and my mother was an excellent cook. She spent a lot of time with my mom, going through cookbooks, and learning how to prepare different meals.” Elder said that Laura Jane cooked ornate, gourmet meals regularly during the week, as she worked to improve her skills in the kitchen. His buddies would come over and partake of the delicious food. After about eight months of cooking for Elder and his friends, she told him that she was ready to move back to Uvalde. “She wanted to move back home where she had more friends,” Elder said. “I was working in the deer breeding industry and had just acquired a deer ranch outside of Uvalde, so we bought a farm to live on and made the move.” Elder was also working in medical sales at the time. When Laura Jane got pregnant with their first child, he decided to sell the deer ranch and his breeding program to focus on his family and their new farm. TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 11


On September 1, 2001, Elder woke to the sound of gunshots going off everywhere.

lodge experience to a whole new level, and our clients loved it.”

“It sounded like a war zone,” Elder said. “I was trying to figure out what was going on, so I got in my truck and drove to the back part of the farm. Nobody was on our property, but there were dove hunters shooting birds on all the surrounding properties.”

The fine dining atmosphere that Laura Jane created, helped their reputation in the hunting industry grow. With his deer guiding background, Elder was no stranger to the entertainment aspect of being an outfitter, and this, combined with his wife’s classy touch, allowed them to create a one-of-a-kind experience for their hunters.

“I had never seen anything like it,” Elder said. “Later that evening at a Labor Day party, I started talking to some folks and asked them if they had heard all the shooting earlier that morning. I was new to Uvalde, so I didn’t know anybody really well. These guys just looked at me like I was crazy and said, ‘well duh, it is dove season.’” The men at the party proceeded to explain to Elder how they sold dove hunts to hunters on their properties, and he was immediately blown away. “Right then and there I told Laura Jane, that we were going to turn the old barn on our farm into a hunting lodge,” Elder said. “She was not a proponent of my idea initially. She had all sorts of concerns about charging locals who she might know to hunt on our property, as well as how meals would work and what we would do to make sure we had plenty of birds. Having so many ties in Uvalde, she didn’t want it to fail.” Elder shrugged off his wife’s concerns and focused on the lodge, and Elderado was born. In his mind, he had exactly one year to be ready to accommodate hunters. “Laura Jane fought me tooth and nail throughout the year as we prepared to start this business, but by opening weekend in 2002, we had a lodge with 7 beds,” Elder said. “We basically started doing our own cooking for seven hunters. She ended up getting very involved, especially with the cooking, because she wanted to make sure that the quality of our food and service was up to par with her standards. If her name was going to be attached to it, she had to make sure it would be done right.” Laura Jane was adamant about providing a fine dining experience. “She would not allow us to use paper plates, and if we served steak, we had pair it with a good bottle of wine,” Elder said. “Laura Jane really took the hunting 12 | FALL 2022

Some standard menu items at Elderado since the beginning, have been a formal steak dinner and cabrito. In the early years, hunters would go to the Elder’s home to eat dinner in their dining room. This personal touch really made a lasting impression on their customers. Elder was fortunate enough to tap into corporate business from the very beginning. This has kept weekends throughout the seasons booked and the lodge full of hunters. “Every year, our clients would express the desire to bring more people, so every year, we have added on to the lodge,” Elder said. “It now sleeps 40 and has its own banquet room for dinner.” Elder has always enjoyed rustic construction and working with reclaimed wood. His entire lodge is made with reclaimed barn wood. “From the bunk beds to the walls and serving bars, Elderado is constructed almost entirely from reclaimed wood and rusty tin that I gathered over the years,” Elder said. “It was stuff I found on the side of the road or in other people’s burn piles. It adds a unique, rustic touch to the lodge that you can’t find anywhere else.” Elderado has always been a family affair. In addition to Laura Jane playing a major role in the success of the outfit, Elder’s two daughters, Mattie and Liza, have been a part of the family business for as long as they can remember. From growing up cleaning birds, to serving desserts to hunters at dinner, Elderado and the sport of dove hunting have always been a huge part of their lives. “My daughters love to hunt, and they love horses just like their mother,” Elder said. “Liza recently graduated from high school and is going to rodeo at Texas Tech University, and Mattie attends Texas Christian University, where she plays polo.”


Both girls have fond memories of growing up and being part of the family business. They agree that their childhood experiences at Elderado have taught them so much about life. “Some of my earliest memories are from when we served dinner in our living room,” said Liza. “Our upstairs bedroom overlooked it, and dad was always strict on us being quiet and out of sight at dinnertime. My sister and I used to sneak a peek of the hunters at dinner. Our parents were always right there in the middle of all of the fun.” Liza said that some of the hunters have become like funny uncles over the years. “I see them once a year and have known them my whole life,” she said. “Most of their wives keep them on a regimented diet, and they totally cheat with our family’s rich food. They are always quick to remind me of that when I serve them an extra piece of cake. It’s been fun helping my parents, and I look forward to being part of the business for many years to come.”

Despite her hesitations more than 20 years ago, Laura Jane admitted that the business has produced a lifetime of wonderful memories. “We had lots of fun from the very beginning,” she said. “Cooking for hunters with two toddlers under foot is something that I don’t miss, but I’ll never forget those times. I had a backpack on my back and a snuggle wrap for my newborn, and off I went. The friendships we created will last a lifetime, and there are more great memories than we can count.” It’s safe to say that behind every successful man is a hardworking woman and an even stronger family unit. The Elder family and their Elderado, are living proof. Hunters may say that they go to Elderado for the bird hunting, but it’s the fine dining, southern hospitality, unforgettable experiences, and wonderful family atmosphere that keep them coming back, season after season.

Mattie said that one of the best things about being part of a hunting business has been meeting different people, and seeing them again, season after season. “During hunting season, my dad has always been focused on trying to make things perfect for our hunters,” Mattie said. “He instilled in me the value of quality customer service and how important repeat customers are in our industry. When I started waitressing with desserts at a young age, it seemed like a simple job to hand off a piece of cake, but my dad wanted me to do it a certain way. I didn’t understand back then, but it all makes sense now. Our reputation is everything, and I am proud of what Elderado has become.” TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 13


DECOYING THE WARY DOVE By Reis Ladd

Photography by MOJO Outdoors

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s an adult reflecting on my childhood growing up in the dove field, few scenes bring a sense of nostalgia like the image of a flock of foam dove decoys pinned to the clothes hanger my father always ensured made it into the truck. Upon arriving at the field, it was my job to place the individual decoys along the barbed wire fence or baren tree Daddy deemed fit. Always the skeptic, I was never convinced the seemingly toy, fake birds, could fool the real doves, but I seemed to be proven wrong at some point throughout the afternoon. The practice of decoying fowl originated within Native American culture and can be traced back to at least 1,000 years prior to European settlement in the Americas. These early Native Americans utilized natural resources within their environment to resemble their quarry and thus lure birds into range of their primitive weapons. Upon European settlement of the Americas, decoying tactics were quickly adopted and evolved over the years into what we see within the market today. While there is a rich culture and a seemingly integral piece within waterfowl hunting, decoys can be an effective tool for dove hunting as well. Generally, dove decoys are split into two categories, static and spinning wing decoys. Fortunately, dove decoys are on the more affordable end when compared to waterfowl decoys so the barrier to entry is relatively low for a would-be decoying hunter. When using static decoys dove hunters often find success placing decoys in areas doves naturally want to land and are easy to see for passing birds. Places such as barbed wire fences, trees without foliage, and even man-made "decoy trees" either purchased or hand-made. Tanner Neill, dove and waterfowl guide across the state, says the following, "We use clip on decoys all the time. I put about 8-10 on the top strand of a

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barbed wire fence and it is killer! The birds often land right alongside the decoys." While having real birds land in close proximity to your decoys can make for some decoy casualties, I would argue that is a good problem to have for most hunters! While hunters have been using static decoys for thousands of years, arguably the most influential milestone within dove hunting in recent history has been the advent of the spinning wing decoy. The late 1990s brought to the market the “MOJO Duck”, a spinning wing mallard decoy for duck hunting. Soon after, the spinning wing decoy made its way to the dove field. Motion decoys are common in waterfowl hunting, but the spinning wing dove decoy was the first of its kind to see success with dove hunters. Unlike typical waterfowl motion decoys that attract birds with movement of the entire decoy, spinning wing decoys take advantage of a “strobe effect”. Terry Denmon, President and CEO of MOJO Outdoors, says, “The spinning wing concept utilizes a different phenomenon than other motion decoys, how it attracts is not through movement, but rather the birds are seeing a type of strobe flash from the white under the decoy’s wing as it spins.” The strobe flash output of the spinning wing decoy is designed to imitate the similar flash given off by the white underwing of flapping doves, the very nature of this action coupled with the dove’s superb eyesight can attract birds from great distances. The spinning wing decoy has since taken the dove market by storm with a wide variety now on the market and with good reason. Over the years the spinning wing concept has proven to work better on species of birds that have relatively fast wing beats, such as the dove. “The spinning wing dove was a bigger hit than expected and seemingly works better on dove than any other species. Doves have one of, if not the fastest, wing beats of any other game bird making them attracted to the strobe flash of the spin-

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 15


ning wing decoy,” says Denmon. Additionally, unlike waterfowl, doves have a relatively short life expectancy and do not become overly educated by the spinning wing decoys as easily. The fast wing beat of the dove coupled with their short life span plays in favor of today’s dove hunter. Come opening day of dove season one would be hard pressed to visit a dove field and not see at least a few decoys scattered amongst the cut crop. Grant Christopher, with Venatura Excursions near Hondo, states the following, "Decoys are very effective, especially the first week of the season. We run anywhere from 1-6 battery powered spinning wing decoys. After the first week, the birds generally wise up and can flare. We bring the spinning wing decoys back out during the split to pull the high-flying white wings down into range.” Optimal placement and positioning of decoys will undoubtedly vary from hunt to hunt, but a few tips to keep in mind include setting up within the existing flight pattern a hunter might predetermine from scouting, near water, or between the feed and the roost. In all instances, decoy setup should emulate a natural setting that passing birds can easily see from any distance. Keep in mind the decoy’s purpose is to bring birds within range of your shotgun of choice, hunters should place their furthest decoy accordingly. Most importantly every hunter should keep in mind their own safety and the safety of others they may be hunting with. Decoying birds can oftentimes come into close range and relatively low to the ground; hunters should choose their setup in a manner that mitigates the odds of firing in the direction of others. The following is a hot tip from Denmon, “When setting up our spinning wing decoy and static decoys they seem to work better as high in the air as possible. We use a 12' tall extension. Birds can see the decoys better and most important, it makes the shots safer since birds are coming in at a higher elevation.” However ironic, through the thousands of years of evolution and seemingly more sophisticated tactics, the end result of the use of decoys has never changed. Hunters in today's day and age still value the challenge and appreciate the efficacy that is deceiving their quarry into range with the art of decoying. Undoubtedly, a similar foam flock of doves will make it in the truck for my future son to clip on the top strand. 16 | FALL 2022



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DOVE HUNTING DESTINATIONS

THE JEWEL OF SOUTH TEXAS By Larry Weishuhn Photography by Larry Weishuhn Outdoors

Uvalde is the gateway to the famed Brush Country, home to the best whitetail deer hunting anywhere, or, the portal to the Hill Country. It simply depends on whether you leave town going south or north! But then, too, we are a sportsman’s paradise no matter which way you go from Uvalde. To the east are fields providing food for mourning and whitewing doves in numbers rivaling the finest dove hunting in the world. The terrain, vegetation, and climate in the Uvalde area are similar to parts of Africa and Asia. That’s one of the reasons exotics and big game species do so well in our area. Driving no more than fifty miles from the center of Uvalde you can hunt game animals found throughout the world. It’s a pretty special place! It was partly that statement that caused me to move to Uvalde in the early 1980s. TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 19


tales told of monstrously antlered “muy grande” whitetail bucks, and flights of mourning doves so thick you could not see the sky. One morning I sat at a table with who I assumed were area ranchers. There was talk of a particularly large antlered whitetail buck taken just north of town. The teller, in his early seventies, like all others in the coffee shop, wore a western felt hat and had a ready smile. He was a great storyteller with obviously lots of “experience.” When he left, the man seated to my right asked, “Know who that was?” I did not, but commented that he surely seemed likable. “That’s Joe Newton of the Newton Boys, the famous bank and train robbers!” I knew the Newton brothers were from the Uvalde area and were credited as history’s the most successful bank and train robbers!

Trips to the Uvalde area starting in 1970, during my early years as a wildlife biologist, allowed me to see and experience the beauty and uniqueness of the region, including its people. Back then, the historic Kincaid Hotel was in full operation. Any morning starting at 6:00 am, ranchers and area characters gathered there, some driving from their ranch headquarters fifty or more miles away. They came to visit and tell stories while enjoying several cups of coffee. In a single morning, I could visit with most of the prominent landowners in that part of South Texas. Stories told included tales of raiding banditos, of King Fisher the famed Texas outlaw, of Pat Garrett who is credited for killing Billy the Kid and lived in Uvalde for a while, and of John Nance Garner who served as the Vice-President of the United States during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. It was Garner who is credited for the statement “Being Vice-President isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit!” There are those who have said he was slightly misquoted! There, too, were 20 | FALL 2022

My wife and I lived in Uvalde for 35 years. Our two daughters, Theresa and Beth, attended school and graduated from Uvalde High School. Beth attended and later did her student teaching at Robb Elementary School. She, too, was much involved with the local chamber of commerce and served as a President of the Uvalde Country Club. My wife long worked with Sacred Heart Catholic Church and later volunteered daily at the El Progreso Memorial Library. Our roots are deep in Uvalde, even though we now live considerably east of “the Jewel of South Texas.”


Hunting and fishing the Uvalde area is nothing short of fabulous. The Nueces and Frio Rivers, crystal clear flowing streams, abound with a great variety of native sunfish, catfish and bass. Too, each year north of Uvalde, in the Chalk Bluff stretch of the Nueces, a goodly number of rainbow trout are released. No matter if you are a serious fly fisherman or like using a cane pole and a worm or grasshopper, fishing the Uvalde area is great fun! During my years in Uvalde I got to hunt several species of native game and exotic species, including red sheep on the OX Ranch, and Transcaspian Urial sheep on the world famous FTW Ranch, both north of Uvalde. Uvalde is on US Highway 90, the line which divides Texas’ Central and South Dove Hunting Zones. This allows for two opening days in the Uvalde area. Each fall many wing shooting enthusiasts spend time pursuing both mourning and whitewing doves. Interesting, there was a time when there were few, if any, whitewing doves in the immediate area. But all that has changed in recent years. The city of Uvalde is home to a huge whitewing “nesting ground.” Not only are mourning and whitewing doves tremendously abundant, but so are hunting opportunities. Numerous reputable outfitters and hunting opportunities are available. If you’re looking to visit Uvalde, the chamber of commerce, visituvalde.com is a good place to start as is texasdovehunters.com. Uvalde truly is “the Jewel of South Texas!”

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LADIES IN THE FIELD

HUNTING & FISHING NEVER TASTED SO SWEET By Meredith Kay

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t’s one thing to eat what you harvest, but it’s another thing to eat a redfish or a white-tailed deer for dessert. There is an incredibly talented lady deep in the heart of coastal South Texas who creates stunning and edible masterpieces for those who love to hunt and fish. Dusty Sinclair, “The Cake Taxidermist,” started Sugarbelle Sweets in 2014, and today she continues to create hyper realistic hunting and fishing themed cakes out of her kitchen in Flour Bluff. Her creations are truly works of art that require ingenuity, engineering, and artistry in equal parts, and she has customers all over the state of Texas who place orders for her creations, sometimes a year ahead of time. Born in Mineral Wells, Dusty’s family moved to Port Aransas when she was young, so she grew up hunting and fishing with her family and her grandparents. It was her great aunt, Wilma Jo Loughmiller,

who taught her about taxidermy and the art behind preserving animals. Dusty says, “Aunt Jo is lauded as the first known female taxidermist, and she taught me how to process an animal with skill and respect, and that you never stop learning.” Today, Dusty practices taxidermy as a hobby on animals that she harvests on her own, and she uses some of these same skills when sculpting the cakes into their unique shapes. Dusty and her husband, Ryan, have three children. Their son, Landon (9), is already an avid hunter and fisherman, and his younger sisters, Hunter (5), and Peyton (6 months) aren’t too far behind him. The family feels strongly about raising their children to feel comfortable around guns and teaches them proper gun safety, how to put the right shot on an animal to take them respectfully and cleanly, and the importance of utilizing the whole animal. When speaking of how important it is to her and TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 23


LADIES IN THE FIELD

her husband to teach their kids early, Dusty says, “We want our children to grow up understanding the importance of conservation and knowing where their food comes from. Hunting and fishing are traditions in our family, and I want to be able to pass the tradition down to them and to future generations. My best memories from childhood are of times that I was out on the water, hunting with my dad, and baking with my grandma. We want our children to have some of the same memories, so we try to spend time as much time together as a family as we can. It was Dusty’s “Grammy”, Linda, who taught her to bake when she was just three years old. It started as a family tradition at the holidays. They would bake cookies and sweet treats that they would give to friends, family, and teachers, and she loved baking so much that she stuck with it, learning, and improving her techniques over the years. She even made her first tiered wedding cake for her sister’s wedding when she was just 19 years old. Today, she makes two to three specialty cakes per week and delivers her creations all over the state with the help of her husband and some of his employees when needed. Some of her creations are massive and can weigh well over 100 pounds. Her sculpted cakes all begin with an interior support frame. Then the cake is added and sculpted into shape and finished with buttercream frosting and modeling chocolate before it is carefully hand painted to create a beautiful, realistic gastronomic masterpiece. Sugarbelle Sweets specializes in sport fish and wildlife busts, but Dusty also does tiered, themed cakes, and the occasional full-body animal. She recently had a special commissioned order for a full-size cake replica of Reveille, the beloved mascot of Texas A&M, and she captured the Collie’s spirit perfectly. Her cakes are true works of art, and there isn’t any theme or shape that she isn’t willing to tackle. The bigger projects can take up to five days to put together, and she carefully plans and builds each cake herself. She is sometimes even tasked with making both the bride’s tiered wedding cake and the whimsical groom’s cake for weddings. The cakes come on handmade wooden serving boards and can last 3-5 days outside of the refrigerator. When she isn’t in the kitchen baking and creating, you can usually find Dusty on the water fishing, or hunting with her family. Her husband is a fishing and hunting guide, and they love to spend time in the Corpus Christi area on their air boat gigging and bowfishing at night when there are fewer people, tourists, and boat traffic.

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“Each of the kids has his or her own protective earmuffs and they’ll often just fall asleep on the boat while we fish. Being on the water, or in the field hunting, is second nature to them, and it is so important to cultivate that family time.” Dusty Sinclair is vivacious, and her kind nature and infectious energy is felt the minute you meet her. She is an incredibly impressive woman and a jack of many trades, and her cake artistry, as well as her commitment to her family, will leave a delicious impression on everyone lucky enough to meet her. See more of Dusty’s creations at sugarbellesweets.com



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2022 Texas Banded Bird Challenge HARVEST A BAND TO WIN

Entry Deadline: August 31

PHOTO BY JAY SCHWISOW

bandedbirdchallenge.com | texasdovehunters.com TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 29


ZONE MAP & 2022-2023 DOVE SEASON DATES

NORTH ZONE That portion of the state north of a line beginning at the International Bridge south of Fort Hancock; thence north along FM 1088 to State Highway 20; thence west along State Highway 20 to State Highway 148; thence north along State Highway 148 to Interstate Highway 10 at Fort Hancock; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to Interstate Highway 20; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 20 to Interstate Highway 30 at Fort Worth; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 30 to the TexasArkansas state line. CENTRAL ZONE That portion of the state between the North Zone and the South Zone. SOUTH ZONE That portion of the state south of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to State Loop 1604; thence following Loop 1604 south and east, then north, to Interstate Highway 10; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to the Texas-Louisiana Line. SEASON DATES & ZONE INFORMATION COURTESY OF TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT ZONE MAP ART BY MATT TUMLINSON

2022-2023 DOVE SEASON DATES & REGULATIONS North Zone September 1 – November 13, 2022 December 17, 2022 – January 2, 2023

Special White-Winged Dove Days September 2, 3, 4 and 9, 10, 11, 2022 (SWWDD shooting hours noon to sunset)

Central Zone September 1 - October 30, 2022 December 17, 2022 - January 15, 2023

Shooting Hours: Unless otherwise noted, one-half hour before sunrise to sunset

South Zone September 14 - October 30, 2022 December 17, 2022 - January 22, 2023

Daily Bag Composition* 15 mourning, white-winged and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in aggregate, to include not more than 2 white-tipped (white-fronted doves. *No more than two Mourning doves and two white-tipped doves during Special White-Winged Dove Days

IMPORTANT NUMBERS TDHA Banded Bird, If harvested call 210-764-1189 Federal Banded Bird, If harvested: Report at reportband.gov Public Hunting: tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public Operation Game Thief: Witness a Violation, call 800-792-4263

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Possession Limit: Three times the daily bag limit Migratory game Bird Stamp & HIP Certification required. Texas Dove Hunters Association 210-764-1189


JOIN US FOR OUR FALL 2022 HUNTS Sept 16-18: Ladies Teal Hunt, Eagle Lake Sept 24: Dove Hunt at the Hiner Ranch, Dilley Oct 1: Dove Hunt, Brownsville McKenna Quinn is proud to work with the top outfitters and lodges across the nation to provide curated women’s hunts and events designed to support and encourage women in the field. Find out more and reserve your spot at

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TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 31


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RELOADING

THE ECONOMICS OF RELOADING By Reis Ladd

Photo courtesy of MEC Outdoors

C

raftsmanship takes many forms, but the pride within whatever form it takes never seems to be lacking. At first glance, reloading shotshells does not have the appeal as, say, woodworking or glass blowing. However, once an individual takes a deep dive into the world of reloading the appeal seems to quickly stack up. Looking back at my summers before being able to drive, I spent countless hours in a seated position behind a sturdy desk with a single-stage 20 gauge reloader that lived in the garage for the remainder of the year. Our relationship always started out rocky, but by the end of the summer and thousands of shells later, I was always somewhat sad watching her go back into the garage. Reloading shotgun shells took off in the 1950s with companies like MEC Outdoors and Lee Precision bringing self-reloaders to the market. Companies such as these enabled outdoorsmen to reload shotshells in their own homes with the ability to save money, customize their loads, and experience a sense of independence apart from the big ammunition manufacturers. In addition to purchasing one of the various reloader options, any individual reloading will need to source the expendables within the process; hulls, primers, powder, wads, TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 33


and shot. Depending on the purpose and desires of the reloader, there are various options available and it is ultimately up to individual preference. Different shotshell recipes are utilized for different applications and can be found by visiting the manufacturer’s website. Unfortunately for the modern day reloader, the monetary savings one would experience are not quite as substantial as they once were. There is still marginal cost savings especially if an individual will be reloading in great volume, but not quite what it used to be. Companies such as MEC Outdoors and others offer cost calculators online for individuals to review their potential savings before committing to the financial investment. Even though the cost savings is not what it once was, the ability to customize one’s shotshell load is still a valuable benefit to reloaders. Terry Neans, a longtime member and supporter of TDHA, has been reloading for over 25 years. He says he reloads and “believes other people should, for the customization. A shooter can alter their recipe for their load to perform how they want. Say they are going from skeet shooting to dove hunting, to pheasant hunting, one would be able to change how they see fit, but one must always make sure the new recipe is within manufacturer’s safety protocols.” Cost savings is a concern for Neans, but his main point of contention for new reloaders was that of supply chain issues. As the world knows, the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on many industries, including the reloading world. Shawn Wozniak with MEC Outdoors agrees with Neans that, “far and away the biggest issue reloaders face today is the supply chain and inflation especially when trying to find primers and any foreign components.” As the market struggles to get back to normal, reloaders will continue to have trouble finding materials, but fortunately the pandemic did not have all negative impacts on the reloading world. Considering the uptick in outdoor activities and society simultaneously needing more things to do within their own homes, the popularity of reloading experienced an increase since the beginning of 2020. Not only was reloading giving individuals an activity to focus on, but it also seemed to be catering to the self-reliance aspect that has always been a part of the reloading process. With any craft, there always seems to be something experienced by its patrons that is initially unexpected but eventually becomes an intrinsic crutch for the participant. When asked about the process of reloading, Wozniak stated, “the word that comes up often in the reloading world is ‘therapeutic’.” Many begin reloading with certain expectations but end up finding something much more valuable in the process. Whether it be the smell of fresh gunpowder, the metallic clink when the lever is pulled, or the image of your own case of “freshly rolled” shotshells at the end of the day, few reloaders regret their actions, but rather continually admire and take pride in their craft.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Reloading can be dangerous if not done per the manufacturer’s recommendations and within safety standards. Please always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, perform your research, and seek advice from a professional before beginning the reloading process.

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Celebrating 20 Years! Thanks for the memories! We want to thank all of

you who have been part of our lives for the last 20

years. This year we honor the memory of my sweet mother, Lana Smidt.

- Joe and Laura Jane

“She was a beautiful

lady and the best hostess I ever met.”

- Chris Zielenski

Corporate Upscale Wing Shooting Specializing in North and South Zone Dove Hunting • Fine Dining • Lodging Joe Elder • 830-317-0456 • joeelder@sbcglobal.net • P.O. Box 1239 • Uvalde, Texas 78802


FAMILIES IN THE FIELD

FAMILIES IN THE FIELD Send your dove hunting photos to:

info@txdove.com

36 | FALL 2022


FAMILIES IN THE FIELD

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 37


HABITAT

GRASS BURS CAN SPOIL THE HUNT By Tim Soderquist Habitat Land Services

F

or all of us who love hunting and the outdoors, the Field Sandbur “Grass bur” is known by several names but we all can agree they translate to pain. Although I am not a botanist, I must agree that the Greeks named it best with the species name Cenchrus echinatus which means armed with spines (spikelets). Sometimes making it challenging and painful to hunt, it holds especially true for our trusty retrievers and pointers working through a thick patch of “pain” grass burs! Texas has ten diverse ecoregions and grass burs are more prevalent in certain regions vs. others. According to many Feed Store marquis throughout central and south Texas, advertising herbicides to help fight the pesky “spikelet” weeds, there must be a regional connection with the current drought conditions along with sandier soil types. For who are challenged with their favorite hunting fields overwhelmed with grass burs, there is hope. The following methods are proven ways to manage these unwanted weeds.

Food Plots Disking and planting of your favorite sunflowers, sesame, milo, or millets will help minimize the challenges with grass burs as density and shade-out of your favorite dove food plants should overwhelm the growth of weeds.

Growing Good Grasses This is the best defense for fighting grass burs. A dense field of grass will choke out the annoying weeds.

Mechanical Habitat Management Timely shredding of fields allows grasses to overtake the grass burs. Depending on your density of grass, 38 | FALL 2022

do your best not to scalp the field giving your weeds the advantage of overtaking your healthy grasses.

Pre-Emergent and PostEmergent Herbicides The pre-emergent herbicide application is the most effective means of controlling grass burs and needs to be done before weed seeds germinate. A good rule of thumb is to apply when the soil temperature has reached 52 degrees. The guys and gals at those feedstores in Central Texas will recommend applying around March 15, while in South Texas they shoot for March 1, and April 1 in North Texas (depending on that year’s weather). According to Associate Professor Dr. James A. McAfee of Texas A&M University, a variety of brands are available for grass bur control including Amaze Grass & Weed Preventor, Surflan AS, Weed & Grass Preventor, and Weed Stopper. For fields with light infestation, two applications about six weeks apart should control your field. But for densely covered fields of grass burs apply every six weeks through September. Also, do your best to apply just before a good rain or irrigate the field with a good soaking to get the best bang from your pre-emergent products. Post-emergent herbicides should be applied once the air temperature reaches 75 degrees. A liquid herbicide vs. granular is going to be more effective once the grass where burs appear. Although there is nothing we can do about drought conditions across Texas, We won’t allow the invasion of the painful grass burs to stop us and our dogs from having great times in the field this season. Take control of your wildlife habitat and maximize your enjoyment of time spent with family and friends outdoors!



PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

Send your dove hunting photos to:

info@txdove.com 40 | FALL 2022


Dust Devil Outfitters Photo by Patrick Tragesser

A True West Texas Wingshooting Experience

Dove......................... $125 Goose ...................... $350 Sandhill Crane ......... $350 Duck ........................ $300 Upland ..................... $350

dustdeviloutfitters.com Located in Lubbock, Texas North Zone • Lodging Available (903) 617-9595 DustDevilOutfitters@icloud.com


PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

42 | FALL 2022


AN UNPARALLELLED EXPERIENCE

Guided Sandhill Crane, Goose, Duck, and Dove hunts Lubbock and surrounding areas

FULL THROTTLE OUTDOORS

(214) 263-4604 Jacob@fullthrottlehunting.com TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 43


TDHA STORE • SHOPTDHA.COM

TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION STORE

Heavy Blend Hoodie $39.99

Order Texas Dove Hunters Merchandise at:

shopTDHA.com

12 oz. Slim Can Beverage Hugger 6 Pack $11.99

26 oz. Water Bottle $17.99

Solar Shirt Made of 100% polyester breathable material with SPF 50+ UV protection and moisture-managing interlock fabric. Available in khaki or olive.

Richardson 112 Cap Leather Badge with Texas Dove Hunters logo. Available in Khaki/Olive, Black, Charcoal/Pink, Black/Charcoal

$24.99

$24.99

shopTDHA.com 44 | FALL 2022


We know shotguns. Now get to know us! K-20 Parcours. Light, Sleek and Smooth

The Ultimate Bird Vest • • • • •

Cool mesh construction Hideaway security pockets 6-way adjustability to fit any size hunter Water bottle holder Washable game bag

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TDHA STORE • SHOPTDHA.COM

TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION STORE

TDHA Camo Backpack Perfect for urban, work, school, or outdoor activities $59.99

Order Texas Dove Hunters Merchandise at:

shopTDHA.com TDHA Frio 14 Oz Stainless Steel Mug $19.99 Realtree Xtra® Camo TDHA Sport Duffle $59.99

Sport Tek Youth Tee with moisture wicking available in lime or navy $28.99

Ogio Endurance Tee with Stay-Cool Wicking and Reflective Details available in black or brown

TDHA Frio Cedar Picnic 24 Can

$39.99

$79.99

shopTDHA.com 46 | FALL 2022


WILD ABOUT DOVE RECIPE

DOVE POT STICKERS Holly Holly Hearn Game Girl Gourmet

INGREDIENTS 2 packages of pot sticker wrappers 1 pound of finely minced (or ground) dove meat ¼ cup vegetable oil 4-6 cups of green onions (if you can find garlic chives I recommend them instead) 3 tbsp toasted Sesame oil ¼ cup of soy sauce 3 cloves of garlic finely minced 1 inch of fresh ginger finely minced Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS 1 Cook oil in a small skillet for about 7 minutes *this step is optional but adds a nice and nutty flavor to your potstickers! Be sure to let the oil cool down to room temp before moving to step 2

2 Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl, sauté a tiny amount of the filling mix to ensure you have the desired flavor

3 Assemble the potstickers by placing ½ tbsp

of filling in the middle of your wrapper. Next dip your finger in water and wet the outer edges of the wrapper. Fold the potsticker wrapper in half and firmly press the edges together, this ensures an airtight seal. Then use the palm of your hand flatten the bottom of your potsticker so it sits upright. Repeat until the filling is gone.

*Note if you would like to pleat your potstickers like the ones in the photos please head over to the Game Girl Gourmet Instagram for a video tutorial

4 For the steaming method: simmer water in

a skillet ensuring it does not touch the bottom of your steamer basket, line your steamer basket with cabbage leaves or parchment paper, fill with potstickers cover with lid and steam for 1 minutes

5 For pan fried method: add a couple tbsps of

oil and heat over medium heat, place potstickers bottom side down directly in pan, fry for about 2-3 minutes or until bottoms are starting to look golden, add ½ cup of water and cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 7 minutes

6 Serve with a side of soy sauce and enjoy! TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 47


NON-PROFIT

OUTDOORS TOMORROW FOUNDATION By LeAnn Schmitt Operations Manager, Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation

I

n today’s digital age, our youth spend much of their free time in virtual worlds playing video games or conversing on social media. Compared to previous generations, they have less connection with the outdoors and outdoor skills and recreational opportunities. Left unchecked, this trend will only get worse. The Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation works hard to reverse this trend through the Outdoor Adventures curriculum. Through Outdoor Adventures students learn all about the outdoors and the unique and wonderful adventures that they can experience there. Founded in 1981, Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach outdoor education and to promote and fund conservation of wildlife worldwide. The Foundation developed and implements Outdoor Adventures, an in-school, accredited K-12 comprehensive outdoor skills and conservation curriculum. The Outdoor Adventures curriculum is taught as a physical education class, local school elective, or as an ag science wildlife management course. Through the efforts of Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, the Outdoor Adventures curriculum has become the country’s premier in-school program now offered in nearly 1,000 public and private schools across 45 states. More than 80,000 students annually are receiving a comprehensive education in outdoor skills and wildlife conservation that they can use and enjoy for the rest of their lives. The curriculum consists of 34 units that may be customized to suit local preferences and geographical area, such as ice fishing in the northern states and saltwater fishing techniques along the coast. The units include everything from hunter education, archery, and shooting sports to backpacking, camp cooking, and survival skills. Students in the Outdoor Adventures classes learn through hands-on experiences. Learning these new

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skills builds confidence and self-reliance and creates a foundation that can lead to future outdoor adventures. Being outdoors and engaged in physical activity has proven to improve many behavioral and mental health issues. Learning about conserving our wildlife and wild lands in a long term, sustainable manner promotes students becoming good stewards of our natural resources. Feedback and statistics from principals, educators and parents at schools teaching the Outdoor Adventures curriculum has shown improved attendance, fewer discipline issues and improved grades for students enrolled in the course. This has especially proven true at schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods with elevated levels of student apathy and truancy. Most importantly, students have used the skills learned in the Outdoor Adventures classroom to achieve significant accomplishments, including: • Harvesting, processing, and consuming their first game bird. • Catching their first fish. • Competing in state and national archery competitions. • Saving a life using CPR. • Taking their family camping. Outdoor education is for all kids regardless of gender, physical ability, previous experience, or socioeconomic level. The Outdoor Adventures classes, provided and supported by Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, teach practical yet life changing skills and give students a more memorable and valuable set of experiences than they get from video games or social media. The Outdoor Adventures curriculum prepares today’s youth for a life of enjoying and appreciating the outdoors. If you would like more information about getting this program in a school near you, visit the gootf.com website for additional information including contact information for Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation.


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JOIN or RENEW TODAY

online at: texasdovehunters.com or call 210-764-1189

Standard • White Wing • Life Memberships Available

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