MAGAZINE OF THE TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION
Creating Lifelong Memories
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CEO COMMENTS D AV I D Y E AT E S
eptember is here again, and I couldn’t be more pleased. A crisp new Super Combo hunting and fishing license is tucked in my wallet. My battered old dove bucket is stocked with a new can of bug spray and fresh boxes of No. 8 shot. Top water plugs and tarpon flies are back in my tackle bag. And, a new rifle reloading recipe is in the works. Life is good. For the hunting and angling world, September is more like a spring than fall. It really marks the beginning of a treasured time of year. Here at Texas Wildlife Association headquarters, things are no different. Our education programs are ramping back up as the school year begins, and the Texas Youth Hunting Program is getting back into the field. Your TWA staff and I are excited about another very productive season of getting kids in pastures and on riverbanks with rifles or notepads in hand. At the end of the day, all of our programs seek to create awareness of Texas’ rich natural world. And we are looking forward to spreading that awareness to even more Texans, young and old, this year. The September issue of Texas Wildlife is our perennial “convention” issue where we highlight TWA’s annual event. Be sure to check out our WildLife 2016 coverage on pages 28-47 of this issue. I’m continually impressed by the amount of effort and generosity heaped into this event. I can’t thank staff and volunteers enough for their hard work that makes everything happen. And of course, we’d have no convention at all without the generous support of our sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, auction donors and buyers and registered attendees. Thanks to all of you. If you weren’t able to attend, you were missed—and I hope you can join us in the future. Convention is always fun; however, this year had an intangible positivity that was hard to define but impossible to overlook. I hope (and suspect) everyone in attendance felt the same thing. Many thanks to our special guests this year: Juan Martinez from the Children in Nature Network who shared his story of rising from a childhood in a tough urban neighborhood to outdoor education leadership; the blue ribbon panel of speakers for the Third Annual Private Lands Summit who introduced ideas to landowners about ways to better manage natural resources by thinking beyond property boundaries; and the Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department leaders who provided comments on several topics. I especially want to thank the elected officials who participated in our convention. Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus delivered the keynote address at the awards banquet, bringing the house down with his humor and genuine interest in issues important to TWA. TWA Member and State Rep. Tracy King, TWA Director and State Rep. Kyle Kacal; and TWA Member and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, graciously provided comments at the TWAPAC reception. It was an honor to have each of them in attendance. Texas is a better place because of their service. WildLife 2016 was also a hugely successful fundraising event and TWA appreciates the generosity of all donors and buyers. Your support enables TWA efforts and programs that work for the conservation of land, water and wildlife. I hope you enjoy reading this magazine as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Happy hunting!
Mission Statement of the Texas Wildlife Association
Serving Texas wildlife and its habitat, while protecting property rights, hunting heritage, and the conservation efforts of those who value and steward wildlife resources.
TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126 San Antonio, TX 78247 www.texas-wildlife.org (210) 826-2904 FAX (210) 826-4933 (800) 839-9453 (TEX-WILD) OFFICERS
Marcus T. Barrett IV, President, San Antonio J. David Anderson, Vice President, Houston Dr. Louis Harveson, Second Vice President for Programs, Alpine Tom Vandivier, Treasurer, Dripping Springs For a complete list of TWA Directors, go to www.texas-wildlife.org
PROFESSIONAL STAFF/CONTRACT ASSOCIATES Administration & Operation David Yeates, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Lisa Flowers, Director of Programs Quita Hill, Director of Finance and Operations Cheryl McPherson, Office Administrator
Outreach & Member Services David Brimager, Director of Public Relations Luke Sammons, Director of Communications Nicole Greaney, Director of Membership Kristin Parma, Membership Coordinator
Programs Kassi Scheffer, Director of Education—Outreach Programs Leslie Wittenburg, Director of Education—L.A.N.D.S. Intensive Clint Faas, Director of Conservation Programs Courtney Brittain, Consultant Elanor Dean, Education Program Specialist Toni Purnell, Education Program Contractor Elisa Velador, Education Program Contractor Adrienne Paquette, Education Program Contractor Kimberly Shaw, Education Program Contractor Sarah Grella, Education Program Specialist Brian Robert, Education Program Specialist Julia Farmer, Education Program Contractor Jo Picken, Education Program Contractor Marla Wolf, Curriculum Writer Olivia Sanchez, Conservation Legacy Program Assistant COL(R) Chris Mitchell, Texas Youth Hunting Program Director Bryan Jones, TYHP Field Operations Coordinator Bob Barnette, TYHP Field Operations Coordinator Barbara Scheib, TYHP Program Coordinator Kara Starr, Texas Big Game Awards Program Coordinator Sarah Pape, TYHP Administrative Assistant
Advocacy Joey Park, Legislative Program Coordinator
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Ralph Winingham Lorie Woodward Cantu Dale Rollins, Ph. D. Billy Higginbotham, Ph. D. Steve Nelle Henry Chappell Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management, Sul Ross State University-Alpine Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University-Nacogdoches Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University-Lubbock TEXAS WILDLIFE is published monthly by Texas Wildlife Association, 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, Texas 78247. E-mail address: email@example.com POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Wildlife Association, 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, Texas 78247. The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) was organized in 1985 for the purpose of serving as an advocate for the benefit of wildlife and for the rights of wildlife managers, landowners and hunters in educational, scientific, political, regulatory and legislative arenas. TEXAS WILDLIFE is the official TWA publication and has widespread circulation throughout Texas and the United States. All rights reserved. No parts of these magazines may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission from the publisher. Copyrighted 2014 Texas Wildlife Association. Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the Texas Wildlife Association. Similarities between the name Texas Wildlife Association and those of advertisers or state agencies are coincidental, and do not indicate mutual affiliation, unless clearly noted. Members who move should send new address and current membership classification to headquarters. TWA reserves the right to refuse advertising. For advertising information, contact David Brimager at (800) 839-9453 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, TX 78247 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEPTEMBER Volume 32 ★ Number 5 ★ 2016
8 Doves, Dads, Brothers and Buddies by STEVE NELLE
14 Lessons from Leopold Internal Controversy by STEVE NELLE
Kudos to the Bobwhite Brigade Dale Rollins: Bravo to you, your team and sponsors for putting together and supporting such an outstanding program. My son Winston is so charged up about what he learned that he wants to share and apply it. I get "quail quizzed" everywhere we walk on our property. He knows the plants very well. He is well into setting up/scheduling some presentations, writing an article for the local newspaper and setting up a radio interview on KOME. Winston has always been an outdoor enthusiast, but this program has thrown some "gasoline" on that fire as it showed him how he can make a difference and influence others on conservation issues by presenting facts, figures and correct information. The Quail Politics session has made him look at wildlife and habitat issues from more than one perspective. Knowledge is power, and this program has definitely given him a sense of individual empowerment to take action. Returning as an assistant covey leader for next year’s Brigades is on the top of his "must do" list. His observational skills have also been boosted several levels—just looking, seeing, hearing and smelling when out and about. I wish our public schools could be this successful at getting kids excited about something other than video games and texting. Respectfully, Lori Lagergren
Texas Wildlife Association Foundation Luncheon by CAROLINE CAGE
18 Guns and Shooting More Time for Doves by RALPH WININGHAM
20 Pond Management Become an Enabler
by DR. BILLY HIGGINBOTHAM
22 Borderlands News
Palmer’s False Hymenoxys by CHRIS JACKSON and BONNIE WARNOCK
24 SFA News
North American Bat Monitoring Program by DR. CHRISTOPHER E. COMER
28 WildLife 2016 30 32 33 34 34 38 38 40
PRIVATE LANDS SUMMIT TWA MEMBER AND DIRECTORS MEETING TWA BOARD OF DIRECTORS KEYNOTE SPEAKER TWA AWARDS TWA VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR TWAPAC SUCCESS AND SPECIAL GUESTS TBGA STATEWIDE SPORTSMAN’S CELEBRATION 42 EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS 44 AUCTION SUCCESS
48 Call of the Wild by JOHN GOODSPEED
ON THE COVER Learn More About TWA
Scan the QR code with your smartphone to learn more about the Texas Wildlife Association or visit www.texas-wildlife.org
MAGAZINE OF THE TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION
Dove hunting season is upon us. Family and friends are coming together to enjoy the sport. Many say their passion for hunting and wildlife began with dove hunting where they also forged lifelong friendships and memories in the field. Read more in Steve Nelle’s Doves, Dads, Brothers and Buddies on page 8.
Photo by Tosh O. Brown Dove Hunting
Creating Lifelong Memories
MEETINGS AND EVENTS
FOR INFORMATION ON HUNTING SEASONS, call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (800) 792-1112, consult the 2016-2017 Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual, or visit the TPWD website at tpwd.state.tx.us.
SEPTEMBER SEPTEMBER 15
Wildlife for Lunch Webinar: Disease Ecology in a Changing World: Why Should We Care in Texas? Presented by Dr. Ivan Castro, Texas State University. For more information contact Clint Faas at (800) 839-9453 or email@example.com.
The Texas Wildlife Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service sponsor lunchtime webinars the third Thursday of each month. If you are not able to attend the live webinar, each presentation is archived on the TWA website.
OCTOBER OCTOBER 20
Wildlife for Lunch Webinar: Coffee Shop Quail Talk: Common Myths and Misconceptions, presented by Robert Perez, TPWD. For more information contact Clint Faas at (800) 839-9453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT’S EASY! On the day of the webinar, simply go to https://texas-wildlife.webex. com, and click on the title of the webinar you wish to attend. The webinar series provides sound, science-based wildlife management options delivered by experts to you in the comfort of your own home or office.
Regional Women of the Land, Welder Wildlife Refuge, Sinton. For more information contact Clint Faas at email@example.com.
NO NEED TO TRAVEL! Each web-based seminar is fully interactive and allows you to engage the experts, make comments and ask questions during the course of the presentation.
Contact Clint Faas at (210) 826-2904 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wildlife for Lunch Webinar: Because Ranching and Wildlife Go Together, presented by Tyler Campbell, Ph.D., East Foundation. For more information contact Clint Faas at (800) 839-9453 or email@example.com.
Presented by Ivan Castro, Ph.D., Texas State University
Presented by Tyler Campbell, Ph.D., East Foundation
Disease Ecology in a Changing World: Why Should We Care in Texas?
Presented by Robert Perez, TPWD
Presented by Emily Belser, CKWRI
Coffee Shop Quail Talk: Common Myths and Misconceptions
Because Ranching and Wildlife Go Together
Patterns of Supplemental Feed Consumption in White-tailed Deer
Wildlife for Lunch Webinar: Patterns of Supplemental Feed Consumption in White-tailed Deer, presented by Emily Belser, CKWRI. For more information contact Clint Faas at (800) 839-9453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIVE WEBINARS NOON – 1PM
For first-time users of the WebEx webinar program, advance log on (up to one hour before the presentation) is recommended to address any potential problems. Users may be prompted to download WebEx software to run the program correctly. There is also a test site to setup and test WebEx any time, day or night. Please visit http:// www.webex.com/test-meeting.html to join a test meeting, today.
Photo by Steve Nelle
D OV E S, DA D S, B ROT H E R S A N D BU D D I E S
Steve Nelleâ€™s father George Nelle (l) and Steveâ€™s brother Doug Nelle (r) with a Stevens Model 94. Steve used the shotgun pictured when he went on his first dove hunt with his father. Doug and Steve would later spend many enjoyable afternoons dove hunting.
DOVES, DADS, BROTHERS AND BUDDIES Article by STEVE NELLE was limited to horny toads, box turtles, bullfrogs, snakes and anything else we could find. Dad had an old shotgun that he bought in 1946 after he returned from the war. It was a Stevens Model 94 single shot. He bought it second hand for $5. It was a 12 gauge with full choke. As young boys, my brother and I were fascinated by the shotgun, frequently admired it and hoped one day to be able to shoot it. The First Hunt One Sunday afternoon in September, Dad decided it was time for me to go dove hunting. He had already taught me about gun safety and how to shoot a shotgun at tin cans thrown in the air. On this first hunt, we walked in an old cropland field that was now grown up in sunflowers, Johnson grass and other weeds.
The doves were flying high and fast that day. I missed several in a row and was getting discouraged. Then one lone dove came into view flying fast overhead. I shot and watched the bird tumble to the ground. With Dad at my side, I killed my first dove. It was a memorable day and like a million other kids, I got hooked on dove hunting. I suspect everyone remembers their first dove. Dad knew that the old 12 gauge was not the ideal shotgun for beginning hunters, but itâ€™s what we had and how we learned wing shooting. The next Christmas, my brother Doug and I got a 20 gauge Remington pump to share. We would take turns shooting, keeping careful track of how many doves we each had. For the next several years, dove hunting was a major activity in our lives. Photo by Russell A. Graves
hink back to your very first dove hunt. No matter how many years ago, chances are you rememberâ€” the time, place, gun and who you were with. For many of us, dove hunting was the start into the world of hunting and wildlife, forging lifelong friendships, passions and memories. For me, it was about 1966. The memory is clear even after 50 years. Dad and Mom had bought a small piece of land in what was a very rural part of Denton County at the end of a bumpy, seldom used, gravel road. We would go there every weekend to clear brush, plant trees, explore and experience nature. For my brother and me, our primary interest was target shooting after the work was done. Up until that time, we had never really hunted. Our interest in wildlife
Photo by Tosh O. Brown
D OV E S, DA D S, B ROT H E R S A N D BU D D I E S
No photos exist of our many dove hunts in western Denton County, but the memories haven’t faded. We usually brought home some doves though typically not a limit. Still, each hunt was special and formed a piece of the puzzle that solidified my interest in conservation and wildlife management. Outdoor Classroom Like most dove hunters, we would examine the crop of each dove trying to determine what it had eaten. I couldn’t identify some of the seeds back then but with the knowledge I have today, I can remember seeing milo, sunflower, wheat and croton as we cleaned the birds. By listening to Dad and from our own observations, we learned that doves feed in the afternoon and fly to water during the day’s last hour. We learned that doves often alight in a dead tree to scope out the watering hole before descending for a drink. We learned doves have good eyesight and any movement on the ground can be
enough to spook them out of range. No one used camo clothing in those days; we just tried to wear neutral colors and hide the best we could in the grass and weeds. We learned that some doves are born late in the summer and are still small and skinny by September. Dad taught us that the first cool fronts will bring in birds from the north and these would be bigger birds. Dad called them “Kansas doves.” We learned what every other dove hunter learns—that sitting near a pond in late afternoon is a fun and productive way to hunt. Our favorite place was Dixon’s pond on the old Dixon farm. When a dove fell into the pond, we hoped the wind would quickly blow it to shore before the bullfrogs got it. After I left home for college, Doug continued to hunt with Dad occasionally. On one Sunday afternoon Dad agreed to go hunting and took 11 shells with him, saying that he would allow himself one miss. Dad lived through the Great Depression and
knew what it meant to be frugal. At the end of the hunt, he had 10 doves in the bag with 11 shots. Perhaps his days as a tail gunner in a Navy patrol bomber, PB4Y2, in the Pacific helped develop his shooting skills. Dove hunting seems to be as much or more about relationships among family and friends, and I want to share a few stories from some of my friends, mentors and fellow conservationists. This group of Who’s Who in Texas wildlife management shares what dove hunting has meant to them. These men are each renowned in their field—quail and turkey experts, big game outfitters, and whitetail management consultants. Each of them acknowledges the special place dove hunting has played. Dale Rollins Back in 1972 I purchased my first “very own” shotgun, a Remington 870 Wingmaster 12 gauge. I exercised it at every opportunity and when I could afford $3 for a box of shells. I’ll admit that my primary interest in dove hunting was to practice and get warmed up for quail season. My hunting companions included Coondog, Ziffle, Spud and Ace. Our favorite dove hunting spot was a dirt pond down on Uncle Bill’s place. The moment that football practice was over we hurried over to Uncle Bill’s pond. Our shotguns were already in our pickup truck (gun racks in the back window with the windows down and doors unlocked). The flights would begin to build about 6 p.m. and last for an hour or so. Only later would I realize how good I had it, hunting-wise. A few years later when I began my graduate study in 1980 at Oklahoma State University, it didn’t take long before I was hosting a truck or two of fellow grad students for a weekend dove hunt at Hollis. For me, dove hunting has ignited and sustained many professional relationships since that time. Ruben Cantu When my brother and I were kids we had one shotgun to share, a single action .410. If we were ever going to eat doves we had to get pretty good at shooting. We learned to make every shot count. I remember a little later, a friend would sometimes loan us his 20 gauge automatic. That was the sweetest shooting gun I had
our Gates.” That stuck with me. He afforded us all the dove hunting we wanted and never asked for anything except our company and friendship. Dad always gave him Popular Mechanics magazines, Days Work plug tobacco and a little cake or casserole from Mom. He had some fallow fields full of boottop high “teaweed” as he called it, (croton or doveweed as I would later learn). The mourning doves were always plentiful and flew well as we positioned ourselves in the shade near a tank with Mr. Koehler and Dad sitting behind us. Mark and I would take turns with an old bolt action 20 gauge and a break-down .410 single shot. I do not ever remember killing limits but we would always go home with enough doves for Mom to fix. They were good. This continued every September until I went off to Texas A&M University. I loved those times. I’m thankful for Mr. Koehler, who has gone on to his reward, for Dad (96) and Mom (87) alive and well at home in San Antonio, who raised us up to respect people, property and laws. Together, they introduced us to camping, fishing and hunting. I wouldn’t start deer and turkey hunting until later, but those dove hunts provided a formative education for me from an old farmer and gentleman who talked about the virtues of mesquite Photo by Russell A. Graves
ever used, but my brother and I would end up shooting all his shells without harvesting many doves, despite the effort. That old .410, which I still have, made me a decent shot as it forced me to work for every shot and appreciate every bird bagged. We sure didn’t want to spend a lot of money on those expensive shells. Dove hunting for us was about family and friends—lots of bonding with buddies and relatives. Hunting doves with that .410 shaped me into a halfway-decent wing shot, and maybe it also helped shape me into a conservationist. Greg Simons Some of my formative hunting experiences were built around small game, in particular, doves and rabbits. I sometimes wonder if we overemphasize starting kids off hunting deer, instead of introducing them to hunting through small game. One of dove hunting’s advantages is that it can be a social activity where everyone doesn’t have to worry quite so much about sitting still and being quiet. If a kid’s first experiences with hunting are fun, they are more likely to continue hunting later in life. Another nice aspect of dove hunting is that it’s more affordable than most other hunting options. This can appeal to a broader audience who want to involve their kids in hunting but need to be cost conscious. Dove hunting can help keep things affordable for the whole family and involve friends who may want to tagalong on a fun outdoor experience. Gene Miller In September 1967 when I was 15 and my brother Mark was 13, Dad took us down a dusty road to a little farm in Bexar County. The farm was owned by a fine old German gentleman, Rudy Koehler, who had brown leather skin and never wore a shirt except in winter. He was a bachelor and hermit who lived on garden vegetables, rabbits, catfish and cured meat; he made his own mustang grape wine. He had cows, chickens and pigs and rarely went to town for any reason. My most vivid memory was our first time to pull up to his unlocked gate with a chain wrapped around the post and a big wooden sign which said, “For Cows’ Sakes Close
Photo by Tosh O. Brown
D OV E S, DA D S, B ROT H E R S A N D BU D D I E S
Photo by Russell A. Graves
D OV E S, DA D S, B ROT H E R S A N D BU D D I E S
wood, honey bees and respect for western diamondbacks. Tribute to Dads Many avid hunters of today got their start just as Doug and I did, hunting doves with their Dad. It is a rite of passage for many hunters, and it is still one of the most challenging and enjoyable kinds of hunting. As I pen this article during Father’s Day week, I am grateful for many things, but especially for Dad who turned 90 this summer and for that first dove hunt 50 years ago. For me, hunting doves with my Dad, brother and buddies helped deepen my interest in wildlife and nature. That interest continued with education in wildlife management and has resulted in a lifelong interest in natural resource conservation and land stewardship. In addition to these things, dove hunting helps bond families and friends. It’s not just about shooting doves but mostly about fathers and sons, brothers and buddies.
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Leopold Internal Controversy
Photo courtesy of the Aldo Leopold Foundation (www.aldoleopold.org)
BY STEVE NELLE
The love of nature is a matter of aﬀection and esthetics; the understanding of nature is science; the use of natural resources is economics. The conservation movement is composed of people in whom these three elements are mixed in widely varying proportions. It follows that there will be internal controversy. The controversial nature of this field sets up this specification: all three elements must be represented…~Aldo Leopold
n this 1937 essay, Leopold demonstrates his understanding of the complexities and internal struggles within the discipline of land and wildlife management. Our interest in wildlife management may start out in any of the three places, but as it matures, it must involve all three elements—it must touch the heart, the mind and the bank account. This balance should be sought within individuals, organizations, universities, agencies and farm and ranch enterprises. An over-emphasis or underemphasis on any one element results a deficiency or excess in another element. It is a balancing act that is difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain. For some people, conservation and wildlife management start with the love and appreciation of outward beauty— flowers, birds, butterflies, rivers and sunsets. These affections draw us to the land and have intrinsic value that is much different than economic value. Admiration of outward beauty can be a good introduction into nature, but that alone will not take you very deep into the conservation world. It may be a starting place but it must go beyond esthetics. Some people pursue nature as a scientific quest to learn as much factual information as possible about the natural world. Fortunately, there are many great wildlife scientists in Texas who help us understand natural resources.
Leopold himself is regarded as a brilliant scientist, utilizing the science of ecology as the basis for his work in forestry, range management, watershed management and wildlife management. Today, wildlife ecology is more complex and involves the integration of many disciplines including soil science, botany, animal science, hydrology, agriculture and sociology. It requires a sharp mind and focused thought. But good science cannot stand alone. People may spend their entire careers in the sciences making important contributions, but if they are devoid of the emotional elements of the land or economic realities their scientific contributions will be stunted. For some people, wildlife management is all about economics. They rightly emphasize that the land must generate enough income to cover costs and provide a return to the owner. This is especially true for landowners who make their living from agriculture. It costs money to own land, and it costs money to operate and manage land. Most landowners do not have enough outside income to completely subsidize their land ownership expenses; hence, the land must either pay its way or generate enough revenue to justify ownership. Scientific knowledge and emotional affection will not pay for the considerable expenses of conservation and land ownership. Of course, economics alone without the ecological and esthetic
elements can be short sighted and lead to exploitation and degradation. When there is a love of nature, an understanding of nature and the economic use of natural resources, then a kind of harmony and sustainability becomes possible. An imbalance among these three factors creates stress and strain, hinders long-term conservation and productivity. The heart, the mind and the pocket book are all essential parts of a balanced conservation equation. Leopold said “conservationists are notorious for their dissentions.” He did not say that these dissentions are bad. They are a fact of life in our profession, and they help us see other perspectives. Today there are plenty of disagreements in Texas wildlife management, and sometimes the disagreements are heated. But if we try to address our dissentions with a proper combination of esthetics, sound science and economics, seeking what is good for the whole rather than the individual, resolutions are possible. Successful conservationists have diverse portfolios of investments. They invest their love and affections, their scientific understanding and their economic resources into the land. The result will be a beautiful, attractive landscape, functional ecosystems and economic productivity, all of which help sustain the lands, waters, wildlife and people of Texas now and in the future.
WRITER’S NOTE: Aldo Leopold (1887—1948) is considered the father of modern wildlife management. More importantly, he developed and described many of the concepts of conservation, ecology and stewardship of natural resources. Leopold was an amazingly astute observer of the land and man’s relationship to the land. His writings have endured the test of time and have proven to be remarkably prophetic and relevant to today’s issues. This bimonthly column will feature thought-provoking philosophies of Aldo Leopold, as well as commentary.
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Texas Wildlife Association Foundation Luncheon Featuring Juan Martinez Article by CAROLINE CAGE Photos by DAVID SMITH
n Friday, July 15, the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation hosted its Ninth Annual Convention Luncheon, featuring Juan Martinez at the J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. Martinez shared his unique story of how he stumbled upon his passion for the outdoors. Martinez is a product of inner-city Los Angeles and as a youth, after getting into trouble at school, he was facing inschool detention as a consequence. This wasnâ€™t his first time in detention, so when the alternative of Eco-Club was offered in place of detention, he figured it was worth a try. He had no idea that this decision would not only change his life and shape his future, but position him to be one of the leading voices of conservation in America today with a passion for getting the next generation connected with the outdoors. Eco-Club got him turned on to gardening. His interest in gardening called for a better understanding of science. One of his teachers encouraged him to apply for a science scholarship
TWA Foundation President Timo Hixon recognized Past President Tina Y. Buford for her service.
Excellence in Education scholarship recipients pictured with S.A.L.E. Leadership.
program that took him to Wyoming for a summer. This trip was the first time he had been more than 20 minutes away from his home. When he got off of the bus, he looked up at the sky and for the first time saw the stars. He realized his calling in life was connecting the outdoors he loved to his inner-city roots. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he got involved on the local level and participated in countless efforts and programs that connected the outdoors to the urban population. In 2011, Juan was recognized by National Geographic for these efforts and was named a National Geographic Explorer. Today, Juan is the Director of Leadership Development for the Children in Nature Network and the Natural Leaders Network, a North Face ambassador as well as a TED speaker. He has dedicated his life to connecting youth to the outdoors with the hopes that he will not only influence their direction in life but also instill an appreciation for nature, so that the next generation will understand it and take care of it.
Tina Y. Buford, Juan Martinez and Tamara Trail
Excellence in Teaching scholarship recipients pictured with S.A.L.E. Leadership.
San Antonio Livestock Exposition (S.A.L.E., Inc.) is a volunteer organization that emphasizes agriculture and education to develop the youth of Texas. Last year, they sponsored five $10,000 scholarships that were awarded to entering college students majoring in Agriculture and Natural Resources. Additional scholarships were awarded recognizing outstanding educators who model innovative approaches to incorporating natural resources into their classrooms.
GUNS & SHOOTING
More Time for Doves Seasons Expanded by 20 Days Article and Photos by RALPH WININGHAM
Charlie Thompson (l) and Harvey Winingham enjoyed some excellent wing shooting action near New Braunfels last year, with even more birds and hunting time being made available to them and other hunters this season.
hose dove hunters who say that there just isn’t enough time for participating in the state’s most popular family outdoor activity will have that complaint chipped away
this year. After years of wrangling and compromising with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have arranged for 20 days to be added to the 20162017 dove season. With predictions of some of the highest numbers of both mourning and white-winged doves in history filling the skies, the extra field time could mean a bird-hunting bonanza for the state’s nearly 330,000 dove fans. “Expanding the season is not going to mean more dead doves, it will mean an increase in the flexibility of hunting times,” said Shaun Oldenburger, program leader for doves/cranes with TPWD.
“We don’t expect a huge increase in the dove harvest,” he said. “In a bad year, we will still be shooting 5 million mourning doves and in a good year we will shoot more than 5 million, plus more than a million white-winged doves.” The additional days added to the standard season of 70 days will give Texas its longest season in the past 80 years, but is not expected to satisfy all of the dove hunters across the state. “What we have tried to do is listen to all the opinions about options and utilize some of the options we heard about,” Oldenburger said. Any of changes in seasons, zones or bag limits require review and approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he added. Mike Hawks, who assists with the dove hunting at the Nooner Ranch near Hondo, which is one of the largest white-winged dove hunting operations in the state, said he expects little impact
GUNS & SHOOTING
John Goodspeed retrieved a dove that he dropped during an opening day hunt last year. Goodspeed expects to be among the estimated 330,000 Texas hunters who will enjoy additional hunting days this season.
unless weather conditions are just right in the late season. “Some years we see new birds move down here from the north later in the season, but we would need cold fronts at the right time,” he said. He continued, “It won’t help much to just extend the season because a lot of times our early season birds have already moved south. We would like to see the zone lines moved. Many years there are a lot of birds south of U.S. Hwy. 90, but we can’t get to them because the South Zone season isn’t open.” Benny Lyssy, who is one of the coordinators of the Karnes County Lonesome Dove Fest held each year in conjunction with the opening day of the South Zone, said he is looking at the positive side of more hunting opportunities. “This will mean more hunting time around the Christmas holiday so the kids will be out of school and we will get more families out hunting,” he said. “I always like to see more people have the opportunity to hunt more, but I would also really like to see the South Zone opening day set at Sept. 20 no matter when that falls during the week.”. Oldenburger pointed out that one
option supported by many hunters— opening the entire state for dove hunting on Sept. 1 rather than a split opener in the North/Central and South Zones—has always been the federal biologists’ line in the sand. “They have never been in favor of that and there is no indication of any change in their stance,” he said. The TPWD biologist said that all indications are that there will be good numbers of both mourning and whitewinged doves in most areas of the state when the seasons open. Some parts of the state that have suffered from extensive flooding may be the exception. “We had a good early hatch, then we had some heavy rain and high winds in April that may have damaged a lot of nests,” Oldenburger said. “We are also getting reports of good numbers of birds in states north of us in the Central Flyway that could mean good migrations later in the year.” While the traditional dates for opening of the seasons remain fixed, the 20 additional days are being integrated to extend the early season about two weeks and add about a week to the second season. This year the North and Central Zones
will both start on the traditional day of Sept. 1, with the North Zone season to continue to Nov. 13 and the Central Zone to run through Nov. 6. The late season will run from Dec. 17 through Jan. 1, 2017, in the North Zone and from Dec. 17 through Jan. 8, 2017 in the Central Zone. In the South Zone, which is generally along a line south of U.S. 90 and Interstate 10, the opening day will be Sept. 23 and the early season will conclude on Nov. 13. The late season will run from Dec. 17 through Jan. 23, 2017. The daily bag limit in the three zones will remain at 15 birds, including any combination of mourning and whitewinged doves, with a possession limit of 45 birds. In the Special White-winged Dove Area, the season will be conducted from Sept. 3-4; Sept 10-11; Sept. 23 through Nov. 9; and Dec. 17 through Jan. 23, 2017. During the early two weekends in the Special White-winged Dove Area, hunting is allowed only after noon and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two whitetipped doves. After the general season opens in both the South Zone and Special WhiteWinged Dove Area, shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset with a daily bag limit of 15 birds, including no more than two white-tipped doves. A migratory game bird stamp endorsement is required to hunt any doves in any season. When purchasing a license, hunters should indicate to the license clerk that he or she intends to hunt migratory game birds and needs to be HIP (Hunting Information Program) certified by answering a few simple questions. Hunters should also be aware that there is no closed season or bag limit restriction for Eurasian collared-doves or common pigeons. It is recommended that plumage be left on these two birds for identification purposes so they do not get included in a daily bag limit count. As in the past, hunters are being asked to report any leg bands they find on doves by calling (800) 327-2263 or on the web at www.reportband.gov.
Become an Enabler
Article by DR. BILLY HIGGINBOTHAM, Professor and Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
ell, being an enabler in this day and age often carries a negative connotation. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I am an enabler. In this case, though, I am guilty of doing all I can to help make largemouth bass “overweight.” Yes, in diet-conscious America (even Texas I hear), we are all about reaching that “acceptable weight” for our height, age and gender. It’s printed right there on the dreaded scales at your doctor’s office. We also have estimated appropriate weights in proportion to length for largemouth bass, and I am willing to help Texas pond owners exceed those bass weight standards by as much as possible. There is nothing I like more than a well-managed bass population where the fish look like “footballs with fins.” I have seen several cases where the bass had their dorsal (top) fin actually sit in a groove along the top of the back.Now those are slab-sided largemouths! How do you go from “snakes with fins” to “footballs with fins?” Well, first you have to document what is going on with your bass population—your entire bass population from small to large. We can accomplish this task by carefully measuring total lengths of all bass caught and taking total weights of each fish caught from September through December. Biologists call the metric calculated from these data relative weight or Wr. By comparing your actual fish weights at given lengths to “standard” table values, we can learn a lot about the relative condition of your largemouth bass population. Your bass are the apex predators in your pond, and I firmly believe that if things are going well for this fish sitting atop of the food chain, your habitat and forage fish must be in pretty good shape .
Start by selecting fishing lures in three distinct size categories: 1-inch to 2-inch, 2-inch to 4-inch and 4-inch to 8-inch. By fishing with each of these lure sizes for equal amounts of time, you stand a better chance of sampling all sizes of bass present. Having multiple anglers doing the sampling is also a plus because no two anglers fish exactly alike, therefore you enhance the opportunity to sample all sizes of bass (8-inch or larger) present. For each largemouth caught during this four month time period, carefully collect a total length of each fish to the nearest 1/10 of an inch. This should be measured with the fish’s mouth closed and its tail compressed. Next, using digital scales, collect the fish’s weight to the nearest 1/10 of a pound. Since at least 20 fish should be caught and measured before any inferences are drawn, multiple fishing trips throughout the fall may be necessary—even into waterfowl, deer and quail seasons if need be. The larger the sample of fish, the better. For each fish, look up its standard weight from the accompanying table. Then divide the actual weight of your bass by the standard weight of that fish based on
its total length. As long as you obtain an overall average of 0.95 or higher for your fish sample, things are going swimmingly for your bass population. Let’s make an example calculation. You catch a bass 17 ½” long (or 17.5”) and it weighed 2.6 pounds. By scanning down the column on the left to 17, then across that line to the value corresponding with the 0.5, heading across the top, we see a 2.997 pound standard weight for a 17.5inch bass caught in the fall. When we divide the actual weight by the standard weight or 2.6/2.997, we get a Wr of 0.87. Now, don’t jump into deep water based on a single fish calculation. Wait and see how your entire fish sample fares before you make any determination on your bass population’s condition. I have seen many private lakes and ponds where the relative weights of their bass population averaged only 0.70 to 0.75. Something is not right because the fish are severely underweight based on Wr calculations. What should pond owners do if their Wr is out of whack? Start with a frank evaluation of the habitat. A number of conditions can exist that negatively impact
a bass population. Do the bass have 18 inches to 24 inches of visibility throughout most of the year? If not, they may not be able to adequately access the forage species present. This is especially true of habitually muddy ponds. Measure the pond. As pond size shrinks below one surface acre, largemouth bass become increasingly more difficult to manage and keep in balance with the available forage base and habitat. If it is a pond in East Texas, is it acidic and/or low in total alkalinity? If you haven’t had your pond water tested, collect a sample and drop it off at your local county extension agent’s office for analyses. Assess your aquatic weed population. Up to a point (usually no more than onefourth to one-third of the pond’s surface area), vegetation can provide needed habitat and harbor food items, especially for young of the year bass. However, too much of a good thing may negatively impact the bass’s ability to access forage fish and cause their Wr to decline. If the habitat checks out, the next step is evaluating the forage fish population, specifically the bluegill, which is the largemouth bass’s principal forage fish. Break out the cane pole and worms and catch some sunfish, verifying that bluegill are present. You cannot manage
successfully for bass without them. If the habitat is good and bluegill are present, next look specifically at your Wr average for bass in the 8-inch to 12inch size range. In many cases, the Wr of this group may be considerably lower than for larger bass. You may need to put more pressure on this smaller segment of the bass population by removing 10 to 20 small bass per acre annually. If everything else looks good, you are ready to become an enabler. In order to pack on the pounds of your bass populations, consider these weight gaining tips: Establish an automatic feeder for every 10 surface acres set to feed three times daily from April to November to feed the bluegill—more pounds of bluegill equals more pounds of bass; consider fertilizing the pond (See the March issue of Texas Wildlife for details.); stock additional forage species (typically threadfin shad, tilapia or both) to supplement the bluegill; and lastly, keep pressure on the smaller segment of bass if their Wr is low but no other issues exist with the habitat or forage base. Record-keeping is everything. As you adopt these management tips, you should see your Wr values increase over time. It may take a year or two but you too can become an enabler, who is guilty of growing the fattest bass possible.
RELATIVE WEIGHT (WR) FOR USE WITH ANGLER-CAUGHT LARGEMOUTH BASS FROM SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER* Length 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
0.0 .5025 .6811 .8991 1.161 1.470 1.833 2.252 2.732 3.279 3.896 4.589 5.362 6.221 7.169 8.211
0.1 .5187 .7011 .9233 1.190 1.504 1.872 2.297 2.784 3.337 3.962 4.663 5.444 6.311 7.268 8.321
0.2 .5353 .7215 .9478 1.219 1.539 1.912 2.343 2.836 3.397 4.029 4.737 5.527 6.403 7.369 8.432
0.3 .5522 .7422 .9728 1.248 1.573 1.952 2.389 2.889 3.457 4.096 4.813 5.611 6.495 7.471 8.543
0.4 .5695 .7634 .9983 1.279 1.609 1.993 2.436 2.943 3.517 4.164 4.889 5.695 6.589 7.574 8.656
0.5 .5872 .7850 1.024 1.309 1.645 2.035 2.484 2.997 3.579 4.233 4.996 5.781 6.683 7.678 8.770
0.6 .6052 .8069 1.051 1.341 1.681 2.077 2.532 3.052 3.641 4.303 5.043 5.867 6.778 7.783 8.884
0.7 .6236 .8294 1.077 1.372 1.718 2.120 2.581 3.108 3.703 4.373 5.122 5.954 6.874 7.888 9.000
0.8 .6424 .8522 1.105 1.404 1.756 2.163 2.631 3.164 3.767 4.444 5.201 6.042 6.972 7.995 9.117
0.9 .6616 .8754 1.133 1.437 1.794 2.207 2.681 3.221 3.831 4.516 5.281 6.131 7.070 8.103 9.235
*Standard weight values (pounds) for largemouth bass of various lengths (inches) for calculating Relative Weights. Desirable Wr values are 0.95 + of standard weights shown. The standard weight for a largemouth bass 17 ½ inches long would be 2.997 pounds.
B ORDERL ANDS NEWS BORDERLANDS RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Palmer’s False Hymenoxys
How a little-known forb in West Texas is providing insight into desert ecology
Article by CHRIS JACKSON and BONNIE WARNOCK
ecent research investigating forb diversity and abundance on the O2 Ranch in Brewster County revealed the identification of a little-known forb that has importance to wildlife. Palmer’s false hymenoxys (Plateilema palmeri) is a small, leafy, stemless, native perennial composite that grows to only about 6–8 inches tall (Fig. 1); similar in appearance to a dandelion. Palmer’s false hymenoxys is likely endemic to the Chihuahuan Desert and has been infrequently documented from few localities in Coahuila and Nuevo León, Mexico and historically from Brewster County. Prior to its rediscovery, Palmer’s false hymenoxys was last documented in 1929 by Henry T. Fletcher—a former manager
Figure 1: Palmer’s false hymenoxys grows at the base of a burned western honey mesquite. The area was previously treated with prescribed fire.
LYSSY & ECKEL FEEDS 22
and partner of the O2 Ranch. Currently, the population on the O2 Ranch is the only known locality for the United States. This small composite is the only representative of its genus, and we are the first to perform a scientific investigation into its ecology. Ecologically, the presence of Palmer’s false hymenoxys on the O2 Ranch is interesting because of its disjunct distribution. This population is separated by some 150 miles from its nearest locality in Coahuila, Mexico. Populations in Mexico also show similar distribution characteristics. Why are these plants separated by such distances and so limited in their distribution? Those are a couple of our research questions with many potential answers. This plant also gained our interest because its presence is
Figure 2: Primary habitat of Palmer’s false hymenoxys on the O2 Ranch. The “island” of vegetation surrounded by bare soil is known as banded vegetation patterning, a natural phenomenon that occurs in many desert flats.
Supplementing the Habitat www.lefeeds.com
BORDERL ANDS NEWS
Table 1: Results of forage analysis of Palmer’s false hymenoxys. Analysis performed by the Texas A&M University Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory in College Station.
primarily limited to a particular soil type and specific habitat (Fig. 2). Plants restricted to particular soils, or edaphic endemics, are of interest in the plant and soil sciences because of their unique association with specific edaphic and environmental factors. Understanding these unique associations is important from a management perspective for habitat conservation and preserving habitat diversity which leads to resilience. From a utilitarian standpoint, Palmer’s false hymenoxys is interesting because it is foraged regularly. Its low-growing habit makes it an unlikely candidate for cattle forage so it is most likely being consumed by wildlife. We sent samples to the Texas A&M Soil & Forage Testing Laboratory for nutritional analysis and set up a number of motion-activated and time-lapse cameras to see if we could capture herbivory in action. Laboratory analysis revealed that it is very high in crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrients (TDN) making it an excellent forage choice. Results show that these percentages are similar to those of alfalfa. Alfalfa possesses generally 14-22 percent CP and 54-74 percent TDN, as compared to Palmer’s false hymenoxys at
13.3-22.3 percent CP and 63.9-73.8 percent TDN (Table 1). Through photography we have yet to capture images of game species consuming it; however, we have been able to document other consumers important to desert ecology such as jackrabbits, grasshoppers, harvester ants and desert millipedes. As our research continues, we hope to answer questions about soil differences of habitat and non-habitat sites through laboratory analysis. Further research is needed using fecal analysis or additional cameras to document use of Palmer’s false hymenoxys by game species such as mule deer and pronghorn. We are also using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to potentially predict where else this plant might occur in the Trans-Pecos portion of Texas and attempt to gain an understanding of its disjunct distribution. Tentatively, because populations are separated by such distances and seeds of Palmer’s false hymenoxys are not distributed by wind, we think it is unlikely it is distributed by organisms and may possibly be a relict species from an earlier and wetter time period. Endemic and relict species possess
greater risks of extinction through environmental changes, such as global warming and man-made disturbances. However, it’s important to understand how certain species can tolerate, or even thrive on, certain levels of disturbance. Palmer’s false hymenoxys can reproduce by root cuttings and seems to thrive in areas where mesquite grubbing has taken place, indicating that some level of disturbance may be important for the recruitment of this plant. Management implications towards maintaining this population on the O2 Ranch include: communicating our research results to ranch managers regarding environmental factors and processes towards habitat preferences; identifying critical habitat areas; and recommending erosion mitigating techniques within these habitats. We thank the owners of the O2 Ranch, Lykes Bros. Inc, and the O2 Ranch Manager, Homer Mills, for facilitating our research and their continuing commitment to practicing sound range management principles and employing ecological restoration treatments on a biologically diverse rangeland in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. As a final note, one of the challenges we have encountered during our attempts to document additional localities in the Trans-Pecos is landowner concerns about possibly documenting any rare, threatened or endangered plant species (i.e., listed species). However, many landowners aren’t aware that no federal or state regulatory agency has management jurisdiction over listed plant species that are rooted on one’s property. If a landowner has a population of listed plant species on their property, no agency can come in and dictate how that property is managed. Agencies only have jurisdiction over “commerce” of listed species; in other words, if one wishes to dig up and sell a listed plant species, agencies require that one has a permit. This policy differs from policies regulating wildlife because wildlife species are mobile and plants are not. We feel that landowners should take pride in rare plants as this is a sign that management is helping to preserve and protect these species.
arthur temple college of forestry and agriculture
stephen f. austin state university
North American Bat Monitoring Program
Data about bat abundance will help quantify the impacts of White Nose Syndrome.
Photo by Russell Graves
Photo courtesy of National Park Service
Article by DR. CHRISTOPHER E. COMER, Professor of Forest Wildlife Management, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University
A tri-colored bat with visible signs of WNS from Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.
ince 2007, those of us interested in bat conservation have dreaded the months of February to May. This is the time of year that bats emerge from their winter hibernacula and begin their summer activity season. It is also the time of year that state agencies release their data from annual hibernacula surveys and when we annually add states to the list of those affected by the fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome or WNS. This year, we have added the states of Rhode Island and Washington with documented occurrences of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans and its associated devastating disease symptoms. It was first described in 2006 in New York and has since spread to 29 states (Figure 1). The disease infects hibernating bats, primarily in caves and mines and disrupts their hibernation metabolism and behavior. Affected bats wake up from hibernation early, which depletes fat reserves and leads to early emergence. The infection causes extensive damage to wing membranes and, ultimately, mortality
Healthy Mexican free-tailed bats. No cases of WNS have been detected in Texas.
in most cases. Although mortality of cryptic species like bats is difficult to estimate with any precision, over 95 percent of hibernating bats in some caves have died from WNS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) estimates more than 6 million bats have died region wide. Although WNS is certainly the most immediate threat to bat populations in North America, they are also under pressure from habitat loss and conversion, energy development and threats to their winter and summer roost locations. In fact, the USFWS has recently considered proposals to list little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and tri-colored bat, three once-common eastern bat species, and the northern long-eared bat was listed as threatened this year. As biologists attempted to quantify the impacts of WNS and other threats to bats, it became clear there is a lack of both baseline and long-term data about bat abundance. As many know, one of the most important sources of information about long-term trends in bird populations is the
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S FA N E W S
annual Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). The BBS was started by the United States Geological Surveyâ€™s (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in 1966 to track potential effects on bird populations from contaminants, habitat loss and fragmentation and other threats. It consists of over 4,100 roadside survey routes across North America that are each 24.5 miles long. They are surveyed annually during May and June and the resulting data are compiled and analyzed by the USGS. These data have been invaluable in identifying population declines and assessing conservation priorities Figure 1: Map showing expansion of white-nose syndrome disease across North America. Courtesy of white-nosesyndrome.org. for birds across the U.S. and Canada. such as prey items or obstacles. The and simplicity. Over the summer of 2015, Using the BBS as a model, the USGS characteristics of these echolocation calls we put out stationary recorders for four and other federal agencies recently including frequency, shape and duration nights at each of 48 locations. We also initiated a similar program to monitor are unique to each bat species and can be conducted vehicle surveys on 24 routes and track bat populations in the U.S. and used to identify them. Of course, unlike (each 25-30 kilometers in length) using a Canada. Official guidelines for the North bird songs, bat calls are not audible to the roof-mounted microphone. We recorded eight of 13 species known American Bat Monitoring Program or human ear, so we have to use specialized NABat were published in 2015. high-frequency recording equipment to to occur in the region. The WNSvulnerable tri-colored bat was our thirdAs part of the program, a 10-kilometer record them. by 10-kilometer grid was created that Any continent-wide monitoring most abundant species based on number covers all of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. program like this is an ambitious of calls. Following a second data collection For example, there are 133,307 cells in undertaking involving many partners season that is currently ongoing, we the continental U.S. Each grid cell was at state and federal levels. As a first will evaluate the NABat protocols and randomly assigned a priority number, step, several states, including Texas, the potential for more widespread and each state will attempt to survey cells implemented pilot-scale NABat programs implementation in Texas. Along with other pilot programs around the country, according to their priority and available in 2015. funding. For the acoustic monitoring portion of these data will help frame the future The program has multiple components, the surveys, the Texas Parks and Wildlife nationwide NABat program. For more information about the NABat including annual counts of bats in known Department and Stephen F. Austin State hibernacula or maternity colonies; University partnered together to survey program, the USGS has a website at however, a primary component is 12 of the 100-km2 grid cells in East Texas. www.fort.usgs.gov/science-tasks/2457, and surveys of bat populations using acoustic Although the ultimate goal is to survey there is a multiagency site documenting monitoring devices. To help navigate public and private land, we used the the latest in WNS developments at in low-light conditions, bats use high Angelina and Sabine National Forests whitenosesyndrome.org. frequency sound waves to locate objects as primary study areas for ease of access
Terry Drury Drury Outdoors
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All Convention photos by David Smith
PRIVATE LANDS SUMMIT 2016 Impacts Across Fence Lines Article by CLINT FAAS
Dr. Louis Harveson, Matthew Schnupp, Katharine Armstrong and Aaron Wendt (l-r) field questions as part of a panel discussion during this year’s Private Lands Summit.
o own or manage land comes with an unspoken responsibility that we are to do the best job possible to be stewards of that land for future generations. Whether it’s five acres or 5,000 acres, the need to preserve, enhance and maintain remains the same. Attendees of the third annual Private Lands Summit all joined the discussion to increase their ability to do just that. Impacts Across Fence Lines focused on expanding landowners’ ideas about wildlife and habitat management beyond their own property boundaries. With experience ranging from the Panhandle to South Texas and the Trans-Pecos to Houston, this year’s presenters and moderators left little to be desired. To start, Katharine Armstrong of Texan by Nature shared her background and ties to the land. She said that she became intimately involved in the management and care of the land, subsequently learning the importance of being good land stewards and working with others to achieve successful outcomes. Session 1 focused on a landscape
level approach to management. Aaron Wendt with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and Matthew Schnupp of King Ranch explained how people must keep in mind the amount of land that is needed to make big impacts on water and wildlife. Although certain management techniques can generate localized impacts, affecting those same changes in an aquifer or in a wildlife population may take much larger land parcel. In Session 2, Tools of the Trade, presenters covered ways to actively become engaged in management. David Yeates,
Texas Wildlife Association CEO, shared an in-depth look at conservation advocacy and the Texas legislative process, stressing the importance and impact of showing up and voicing your opinion. Erin Franz with Texan by Nature described to attendees various alternative funding sources available to landowners. Dr. Roel Lopez from the Texas A&M Institute for Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) wrapped up Session 2 by explaining how the Center for Private Land Stewardship will benefit landowners. This partnership between IRNR, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the East Foundation was formed to fill research, education and policy needs to further land stewardship. Session 3 fostered ideas and examples of putting conservation into action. Dr. Tom Arsuffi with Texas Tech University and Jim Willis of the Wildlife Habitat Federation, outlined the ways they brought landowners together to manage for healthy watersheds and native grasslands. By reaching out to other land managers and promoting a common goal, they were each able to increase the stewardship footprint. Keynote Speaker Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, gave the final remarks at the Private Lands Summit. His presentation “Private Lands, Public Support: Bridging the Value Proposition, not only served to meld the previous messages but also left attendees energized and ready to go out and make a difference.
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TWA JOINT MEMBERSHIP AND DIRECTORS MEETING Article by DAVID YEATES
he Texas Wildlife Association elected nine new directors and reelected another 57 by acclamation on July 15 at the TWA Joint Membership and Directors Meeting, held during TWA’s annual convention WildLife 2016 at the J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. Additionally, Dr. Louis Harveson was nominated and unanimously elected to serve as TWA Second Vice President of Programs. Dr. Harveson is a professor of wildlife management and the Dan Allen Hughes Jr. Endowed Director of the Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross State UniversityAlpine. BRI focuses on assisting land stewards with natural resource management in far West Texas. Following comments from TWA officers, the agenda included reports from TWA’s staff management team on Administration and Finance, Membership, Conservation Legacy, Hunting Heritage, Marketing, Legislation and Development.
TWA Officers (l-r) J. David Anderson, Vice President; Tom Vandivier, Treasurer; Dr. Louis Harveson, Second Vice President of Programs; and Marcus “Marko” T. Barrett IV, President.
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Elected at TWA Annual Convention Compiled by DAVID YEATES and NICOLE GREANEY
TWA OFFICERS Vice President – J. David Anderson, Houston
TWA DIRECTORS ELECTED ON JULY 15, 2016 TO A THREE YEAR TERM ENDING IN 2019 WERE:
Second Vice President for Programs – Dr.
Dr. Fred Bryant, Kingsville
President – Marcus T. Barrett, IV, San Antonio
Louis Harveson, Alpine Treasurer – Tom Vandivier, Austin
Jason Cross, San Angelo Dr. Selma Glasscock, Sinton Corey Howell, Houston Justin McCelvey, San Antonio
Hefner Appling Jr., El Campo
Clint Orms, Kerrville
Richard Bennett, Batesville
Carl Ray Polk, Lufkin
M. McLean Bowman, Carrizo Springs (Past
Matthew Schnupp, Kingsville
David Zimmerman, Houston
Robert Bracken, Tilden
Andy Allen, Boerne
Richard Butler, Karnes City (Past President)
Terry Anderson, Martinsville
Charles M. Davidson, San Antonio (Past
Ernest Angelo Jr., Midland
Katharine Armstrong Love, Austin
Ed Dutch, Marble Falls
Bradford Barnes, Fort Worth
Derry T. Gardner, San Antonio (Past President
Susi Bell, Ingram
Luke C. Kellogg, Amarillo (Past President)
Mark Bivins, Amarillo
Steve C. Lewis, San Antonio (Past President)
Warren Bluntzer, Lometa
Gary Machen, Pearsall (TWA Co-Founder)
Lamar Brown, Austin
Paul E. McSween III, San Antonio (Past
E.A. "Bud" Christy III, San Antonio
President) Murphy E. Ray Jr., Somerset (TWA CoFounder) Wallace "Happy" Rogers III, Carrizo Springs (Past President)
Hon. Susan Combs, Austin Alan Curry, San Angelo Ernie Davis, Cotulla D.E. "Doug" DuBois, Jr., Austin Edward Farmer, Austin
Charles Schreiner IV, Salado
Milton Greeson, Victoria
Jimmie V. Thurmond III, San Antonio (Past
Cecario "C.G." Guerrero, Pearland
President) Larry L. Weishuhn, Uvalde (TWA CoFounder)
Jay Harpole, Boerne Dr. Louis Harveson, Alpine Elliott Hayne, San Antonio
Honorary Directors Emeritus
Brian Hays, Gatesville
James L. "Jaimie" Hayne Jr., San Antonio (Past
Dr. David Hewitt, Kingsville
President) A.C. "Dick" Jones IV, Corpus Christi
W.H. "Bill" Hoffmann, Jr., Eastland Lee Hoffpauir, Lampasas Johnnie Hudman, Albany Parker Johnson, Houston William "Whit" Jones III, Corpus Christi Hon. Kyle Kacal, College Station Dr. Wallace Klussmann, Fredericksburg Tucker Knight, Houston Jonathan Letz, Comfort Hon. Robert Lindsey III, Goldthwaite Keith Martin, San Antonio Walter "Monty" Martin, Cypress Mark Matthews, Hondo Dr. Dan McBride, Burnet Heath McBride, Brady Kent Mills, Hermleigh Larry Pierce, Overton Sue Price, Blooming Grove Sims Price, Sterling City Russell Rehmann, Johnson City Dr. Dale Rollins, San Angelo Joe Ruple, Pleasanton Jenny Sanders, Lufkin Kevin Smithart, Lufkin Misty Sumner, Van Horn R.H. "Butch" Thompson, Kingsville Tamara Trail, Albany Karla Welch, Hebbronville Dr. Neal Wilkins, San Antonio William Writght Jr., Cisco Randy Wyatt, San Antonio William "Carl" Young, Georgetown Max Yzaguirre, Austin
Richard Hill, Austin George "Timo" Hixon, San Antonio
WILDLIFE 2016 KEYNOTE SPEAKER Article by DAVID YEATES
he Honorable Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House, delivered the keynote address at the General Session and Awards Luncheon during WildLife 2016. The Texas Wildlife Association was proud to
recognize him as a Conservation Hero for his exemplary service in the Texas House of Representatives. Straus is a State Representative from San Antonio. He was first elected Speaker in 2009 and his colleagues have since re-elected him three times by overwhelming margins. Under the leadership of Speaker Straus, the House has helped the Texas private sector build the strongest economy in the country. He and his colleagues have worked to improve college and career readiness in public schools, relieve traffic congestion throughout the state and make state government more efficient and transparent. Speaker Straus also led the successful push in 2013 to address the state’s growing water crisis. Under his leadership, the House has repeatedly balanced the state budget without higher
taxes while prioritizing education, public safety and infrastructure. Speaker Straus is a fifth-generation Texan, a San Antonio native and small businessman. He and his wife, Julie, have two daughters. His remarks at the luncheon focused on the challenges facing rural Texas in regard to private property rights, water and wildlife matters. He thanked TWA for its participation in state policy issues, stating that as a Texan those issues important to TWA were important to him as well. Straus’ comfortable speaking style and quick wit were enjoyed by everyone in the room. TWA thanks Speaker Straus for his service to the great state of Texas and for participating in WildLife 2016. We were honored to have such a great leader and friend attend the convention.
RAY MURSKI FRIEND OF WILDLIFE AWARD Article by LUKE SAMMONS
he Ray Murski Friend of Wildlife Award is given to a member of Texas Wildlife Association that has made outstanding contributions to the association and to wildlife habitat
conservation. Past recipients include: Dr. Gary Schwarz, Roy Hindes Jr., Steve Lewis, Dr. Wallace Klussmann, Ray Murski, Lee Bass, Gary Machen, Murphy Ray, Joseph Fitzsimons, Dr. Bill Eikenhorst, Carl Young, Will Harte, Irvin and Karla Welch, Charles Davidson, Randy Rehmann, Dr. Dan McBride, David K. Langford, Tina Buford and Lee Hoffpauir. This year’s awardee is TWA Past President Greg Simons. He is a warrior, wildlife biologist, hunter, philosopher, leader, an entrepreneur and one of TWA’s the strongest advocates. TWA Vice President Emeritus David K. Langford once said, “TWA always manages to find the right president at the right time.” That was certainly the case in July 2013, when Simons was elected to serve as TWA president. Simons’s passion for wildlife began at a very early age, fostered by his family and friends, and he followed that passion to Texas A&M University where he majored in wildlife and fisheries sciences and graduated in 1987. His leadership skills
were honed when he served as president of the Texas A&M Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and later as vice president of Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Simons is owner of Wildlife Systems and has successfully run that business since 1987. It is now one of the most respected guiding and wildlife management companies in the United States, currently managing almost 1 million acres of private land. Simons incorporated his entrepreneurial spirit during his term as an oﬃcer. He brought fundraising to a new level. He has been one of the most successful volunteer fundraisers TWA has seen. Additionally, Simons’s service to TWA did not end with his presidency. He was named as a Trustee of the TWA Foundation, where he still serves today. And, he served as co-chair for this year’s TWA Convention. TWA thanks Simons for his many contributions.
SAM BEASOM CONSERVATION LEADER AWARD Article by LUKE SAMMONS
he Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award is given to a member of the professional conservation community who has made an outstanding contribution to the conservation of Texas
wildlife and shares the philosophies of TWA. Past recipients include: Dr. Don Steinbach, Dr. Dale Rollins, Steve Hall, Al Brothers, Dr. Fred Bryant, Bob Cook, Dr. Steve Nelle, Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Dr. Louis Harveson, Ruben Cantu, Dr. Neal Wilkins, Carter Smith and Dr. Ken Cearley. At WildLife 2016, the Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award was presented to TWA Director Linda Campbell. Campbell received a degree in forest resources and conservation from the University of Florida and a masterâ€™s degree in Rangeland and Ecosystem Management from Texas A&M University where she studied bobwhite and scaled quail. She is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a Certified Range Management Consultant. Campbell worked for 11 years with landowners in Florida and Texas as a range and wildlife specialist with the USDA Soil Conservation Service. She recently retired from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after serving 21 years where she
held the following positions: Education and Outreach Specialist in the Wildlife Diversity Program, Wildlife Diversity Biologist for Central Texas, Statewide Nature Tourism Coordinator, Non-game Program Director and most recently program Director for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program. Campbell played a significant role in expanding this program by directing voluntary conservation practices for landowners and oil companies in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas; elevating the Lone Star Land Stewardship Program; enhancing the Landowner Incentive Program; and providing more public hunting opportunities throughout the state. Campbell is also an active volunteer and began volunteering with the Texas Youth Hunting Program in 2003. She attended Huntmaster Training in 2009 and conducted her first hunt as Lead Huntmaster in 2014 at the Bamberger Ranch. As a guide she volunteered more than 300 hours of her time.
TWA VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR Article by DAVID BRIMAGER
ach year, the Texas Wildlife Association recognizes members who go above and beyond supporting TWA and its associated programs as Volunteers of the Year. In 2016 we had two Volunteers of the Year—Tina Hendon and Morgan Buob of the Tarrant Regional Water District. Out of the 36 field investigation days that TWA hosted in North Texas for the 2015-2016 school year, Buob and Hendon were present at 30 field days. In the endless heat or through wet winter days they drove across North Texas, excited to participate. These volunteers did not just simply show up to teach a lesson, they brought a fully equipped trailer and a lesson plan they
had created to enhance students’ understanding of erosion and stream and river flow. TWA has collaborated to align their lesson plan with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) guidelines, and this year the Tarrant Regional Water District How Streams Flow lesson will be included in the Learning Across New Dimensions in Science (L.A.N.D.S.) teacher notebooks that are distributed at TWA’s summer teacher trainings. To better meet the growing needs of TWA’s L.A.N.D.S. Intensive and Trinity programs, Hendon and Buob proposed that TRWD to build a second stream trailer. As of June, there are now two TRWD stream trailers serving North Texas and guaranteeing their presence at every TWA field investigation day. Through TRWD, Hendon and Buob are currently helping to expand TWA’s L.A.N.D.S. Intensive and Trinity programs by fully sponsoring five new North Texas educators to attend the L.A.N.D.S. Intensive summer training workshop this August. These five new teachers will reach 380 new students in the coming school year. Due in part to the efforts of Hendon and Buob, TWA now has a close working relationship with the individuals who manage the Trinity River through Fort Worth, which has been an integral and priceless part of scheduling field investigation days on the Trinity River. Hendon and Buob have enriched everything about TWA’s mission in North Texas, and they truly are priceless assets to our team. Congratulations again to TWA’s 2016 Volunteers of the Year.
For TWAPAC at WildLife 2016 Article by DAVID YEATES
TWA Water and Legislative Advisory Committee Chairman Bill Knolle, (l) visits with Dr. Wallace Klussmann, a TWA Executive Committee Member, at the TWAPAC booth during WildLife 2016.
he Texas Wildlife Association Political Action Committee (TWAPAC) enjoyed solid fundraising success at the TWA convention gathering more than $40,000 in contributions in two days. The total represents direct contributions at the TWAPAC booth, manned by Dr. Wallace and Dolores Klussmann, as well as proceeds from Grand and Silent Auction items that were dedicated to the TWAPAC by the donors. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Rep. Kyle Kacal and Rep. Tracy King were all on hand to deliver remarks on issues important to
(L-R) Fellow TWA Directors Tom Vandivier, J. David Anderson, Rep. Kyle Kacal, J.Y. Timmins and Greg Simons
TWA in the upcoming Legislative Session. All three elected officials are long-time friends and members of TWA. Kacal was reelected as a TWA Director at this yearâ€™s convention. TWA is appreciative of each of their attendance and participation at
convention and thankful for their service and leadership at the Texas Capitol on land, water and wildlife matters. Campaign contributions from the TWAPAC are recommended by the TWA Legislative Committee and approved by
(L-R) Chairman of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee Tracy King, Blair Fitzsimons and Joseph Fitzsimons
the TWA Executive Committee. TWA members interested in making a voluntary contribution to the TWAPAC may call the TWA Office at (210) 826-2904 for more information.
(L-R) TWA President Marko Barrett, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, TWA CEO David Yeates, Chairman Tracy King and Rep. Kyle Kacal
2016 TBGA STATEWIDE SPORTSMAN’S CELEBRATION Article by DAVID BRIMAGER
s always, Friday night at WildLife 2016 was a great opportunity for old friends to catch up at the Texas Big Game Awards Statewide Sportsman's Celebration. The Cibolo Canyons Ballroom was full of energy as hunters and landowners were recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments and their dedication to wildlife habitat conservation in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith delivered the opening address to more than 800 attendees. Kelton Mote of May (Comanche County) was this year’s statewide winner of the TBGA Scholarship program. The $3,000 scholarship is generously sponsored each year by Carter’s Country Outdoor Stores. Mote was a former TBGA
first big game harvest awardee and has been an intern at TPWD WMAs since 1999. His responsibilities include plant surveys, biological research, wildlife habitat management practices and communication with the public. Currently a student at Tarleton State University majoring in wildlife management, Mote works with the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society as well as the Wildlife Quiz Bowl Team. He is also a former Buckskin Brigade cadet and top herd winner, a TWA member and the recipient of the Charley McTee Memorial Scholarship funded by TWA. Four of the five TBGA field photo contest winners attended the Friday night banquet and were recognized. Each received a Nikon rifle scope sponsored by Nikon Optics. Thirteen Texas Slam recipients and 23 hunters were recognized for harvesting the top big game in Texas this past hunting season. Landowners who managed those wildlife and their habitat were also recognized.
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WILDLIFE 2016 EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS Article by CLINTON FAAS
It was standing-room only at many of the presentations as seen in this photo taken during the discussion about the control of feral hogs given by John Kinsey with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
his year’s Educational Seminars held on Saturday morning during WildLife 2016 again raised the bar. The diverse presentation topics appealed to the crowd of 425 people, double last year’s attendance. The following is a recap of the topics presented: Bobwhite Quail Management: It’s Not Just Rain Bobwhite quail are important to Texas’ hunting heritage and economy. They have also declined 80 percent since the 1960s causing many private landowners to remove them as a focal species in their wildlife management plan. Quail management is not a mystery and bobwhites are definitely not just a byproduct of rain. In this presentation, Dr. Kelly Reyna (University of North Texas Quail) related his research with practical wildlife management schemes to get more wild birds on the ground, updated attendees on the state of quail in Texas and gave insight on new research to develop large, sustainable quail populations.
Development of an Oral Toxicant for Lethal Control of Feral Swine John Kinsey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) briefed attendees on the feral swine problem in Texas including a description of current population control methods, the need for other control techniques and how their interdisciplinary team from state, federal, and private entities has developed, evaluated, and will register a toxicant against feral swine in the USA. Their science-based efforts began in controlled captive settings and will be expanded to free-range settings in representative habitats across the U.S. By aiding efforts to reduce and eliminate populations of feral swine, the toxicant and delivery system will serve to improve native habitats and thus benefit native wildlife and fish. Making Energy Development Compatible with Range and Wildlife Management Dr. Chase Currie (Rancho San Pedro), who worked in both both ranch/wildlife
management and energy development, shared the ways the two can be intertwined. By planning ahead and negotiating acceptable terms with energy companies, impacts to native vegetation, soils and wildlife can be minimized. Implementing techniques such as erosion mats in areas with steep slopes, redistributing topsoil, reseeding with proper seed mixes and continued monitoring, areas used for energy development can, in some cases, be better after reclamation than before. Geospatial Technologies for Wildlife and Habitat Studies In this presentation, Dr. Humberto Perotto (Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute/CKWRI focused on how they are using technologies such as geographic information systems, remote sensing, global positioning systems and drone technology for monitoring animal movement, habitat change and management. He showed examples of how they are monitoring pronghorn movements and habitat monitoring such
The presentations included topics such as birding, energy development, native plants, financial assistance and much more.
as tanglehead mapping at CKWRI. He also presented concepts that are currently being developed to integrate ongoing field work with cutting-edge geospatial technologies that will contribute to the conservation and management of wildlife and their habitats in Texas. Introduction to Bird Watching and Citizen Science Birding is a hobby that encompasses bird watching, identification and often recording the species and location in which you find them. It is a challenging endeavor but with the right tools and practice you can become an expert in bird identification in no time. Dr. Janel Ortiz (CKWRI) explained how, with your bird observations you can become a citizen scientist and aid in bird research about migration, species ranges and changes happening in Texas avian life. The “South Texas Wintering Birds” database allows the community to collect scientific data and contribute data for personal use and research purposes. Pollinators and Native Plants, Forever Intertwined Ricky Linex (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) led this presentation on pollinators’ importance and the native plants they rely on. He introduced the attendees to the various habitat requirements for many of our pollinators with a focus on native bumblebees, European honeybees and Monarch butterflies. He showcased beneficial plants that are important pollen and nectaring producers during spring, summer and fall. He also emphasized the
The J.W. Marriott culinary team demonstrated creative ways to cook with wild game. Here, rabbit liver pâté is sampled.
importance of planting and managing for a diversity of flowering plants throughout the year as a means of managing for this critical landscape component.. Native Pollinator Management Practices of Wildlife Tax Valuation As more than 94 percent of Texas lands are privately owned, effective native pollinator conservation will require private landowner engagement and involvement. However, large scale conservation is often cost prohibitive without financial incentive. One such incentive available to landowners who currently manage land qualified under the 1-D-1 Agricultural Tax Valuation is agricultural tax appraisal based on wildlife management use. Michael Warriner (TPWD) explained that landowners may qualify for this tax valuation by developing a wildlife management plan for their property and implementing a set of specific management actions. Although management plans have not traditionally targeted native pollinator communities, interest in managing for these species has been increasing in recent years. As a result, protocols geared directly at the management of native pollinators have been developed. Federal Farm Bill Financial Assistance Programs for Landowners Federal farm bill programs annually provide Texas farmers and ranchers with more than $350 million in financial assistance for needed conservation improvements on their properties. The latest farm bill also contains a program that leases land for public recreational
access. In this informative presentation, Chuck Kowaleski (TPWD) outlined what programs are available, what each one is designed to do, land and landowner eligibility, who to contact, how to apply and what is expected from the landowner in return for this financial and technical assistance. Habitat Cost Share Programs for Texas Landowners In this presentation, Arlene Kalmbach (TPWD), Brendan Witt (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Jon Hayes (TPWD) gave a collective look at private lands conservation opportunities sponsored by TPWD, Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture and USFWS. Each presenter spoke on their respective programs and covered: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service-Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife-Pastures for Upland Birds Program (PUB), Grassland Restoration Incentive Program (GRIP), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Landowner Incentive Program (LIP). Cooking with Cottontails: Easy Recipes for Entertaining Continuing once again with the wellattended cooking demonstration, the J.W. Marriott culinary team wowed attendees with their versions of the not-so-famous protein—rabbit. Explaining proper ways to break down and cook rabbits, the chefs showed how this wild game can be turned into a delicious appetizer and entrée. In addition to sampling rabbit liver pâté, grilled, bacon-wrapped rabbit and a pasta dish, attendees took home several other recipes.
AUCTION SUCCESS Article by DAVID BRIMAGER
n enthusiastic crowd gathered Saturday night at WildLife 2016 to show its support for TWA and to bid on many one-of-a-kind trips, vehicles and artwork. Many thanks to all of the Grand Auction donors, bidders and buyers. Your generous support provides vital funds to your TWA. A record number of auction items were purchased this year, thanks again to all those who donated. Thank you to our 2016 Auction Committee: Greg Simons, Co-Chair Vannie Collins, Co-Chair John Park Chipper Dippel Carolyn Dippel Nick Johnson Tucker Knight Allison Knight Mark Connally Wallace Rogers IV And, a final thank you to our auctioneer Terry Reagan and his team for all of their great work and support at the auction.
THANK YOU to everyone for making WildLife 2016 a huge success!
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Photo by Russell A. Graves Coyotes also cause the most predation in Texas, especially on white-tailed and mule deer fawns, sheep and goats and whatever domestic fowl are running loose.
CALL OF THE WILD
Article by JOHN GOODSPEED
redator calling can be a tool for landowners, game managers and hunters who want to protect livestock and wildlife by keeping the population of coyotes, bobcats and foxes in check. To answer the demand, an industry has grown to dozens of manufacturers producing hand-held reed calls and diaphragm calls that fit in the mouth that start at less than $10 to electronic calls with sounds of real animals in distress that can range from a mere $40 up to $1,000. The roots of modern predator hunting stretch back to 1905 when a rancher near Marble Falls spied a jackrabbit caught in a fence that was screeching in fear. A pair of gray wolves honed in on the noise. Morton Burnham figured that if he could make a similar sound, it would be easier to reduce the number of wolves on his ranch to prevent loss of livestock. So he practiced sucking air through his lips and cupping his hand over his mouth until he got it right. Then the wolves came running, along with other predators. As did outdoor writers, eager to document something new, years later when Burnham’s reputation grew.
“He was written up in national magazines and things spread,” said his son Murray Burnham, 88, who learned how to make the same sounds when he was 10 and still lives on the same ranch. “I always went with him on those hunting trips with the writers. “People kept asking for calls, and we started making them.” Murray Burnham and his late brother, Winston, founded Burnham Brothers predator calls in 1952 and eventually earned enough money to open a store in Marble Falls in 1960. “We made a call that could expand on what my father did with his lips,” Burnham said. “We called it the Close Range call. We sold it for $1.” They also began producing a 78 rpm phonograph record with recordings of Burnham making the lip sounds and sold it as a package to use in the field. “That’s pretty primitive nowadays. I still have that old record. A few years ago I took it out in the woods and it still works,” Burnham said. Burnham Brothers was featured in a magazine in 1956. “We went with a photographer and a writer to Mexico and all over calling varmints. They took a set of pictures of us
calling up a raccoon and catching it in a dip net,” Burnham said. “They couldn’t believe it. It launched us.” While Burnham Brothers may not have been the only company making predator calls back then, their products were among the most innovative and most copied. They were the first to produce predator calls on reel-to-reel, eight-track and cassette tapes as well as the first digital device, the Compucaller. “It made good sounds, was lightweight, had a remote control and would last forever,” he said. “Everybody and their dog copied that.” For realistic distress calls, the brothers chased chickens, jackrabbits and cottontails into a chicken wire enclosure and recorded the sounds. “Then I learned how to train them,” Burnham said. “I’d catch one and make it squeal. I wouldn’t hurt them. The next day they would squeal a little longer. It conditioned and strengthened their vocal chords.” The natural sounds on an electronic call are better, especially for beginners, he said. Not only are the sounds right, but placing a speaker away from you and controlling it with a remote makes predators look at where the sound is coming from and not
Photo by John Goodspeed.
CALL OF THE WILD
Founded in 1952 and one of the oldest predator call companies around, Burnham Brothers’ innovations include the first electronic call, with its third incarnation the Compucaller III (left); calls from the 1950s still being produced include the Long Range and Black Magic (top) while others were added along the way such as the Close Range (bottom) and the Mini Blaster (bottom left).
at the hunter, where they would look if using a hand or mouth call. Plus, the electronic call leaves both hands free, except for pushing buttons on the remote. He recommends applying a rabbit scent to the speaker to cover human odors. Hand calls are easier to carry and allow quickly mixing up the volume, tones and sounds until you find one a predator responds to. “The sounds they don’t like won’t spook them,” he said. “Try it til you get it right.” The basic strategy for predator calling is to find a place that has an open space in front, cover to sit in with the sun to your back and the wind to your face so the predator won’t smell you. Camouflage head to toe is important. He wears a net over his head with two holes for his eyes and another for his mouth. He doesn’t wear a glove on his calling hand, which almost got him in trouble one time. “My hand was tanned, brown like a rabbit, and a coyote ran up and fixed his eyes on my hand,” Burnham recalled. “I put my hand behind me, and he would have gotten it if I hadn’t taken evasive action. I fell over on my back kicking him. He ran off 10 feet and stood there with his hackles up and growling. He didn’t know I was somebody.
“A game warden who was with me was way off to one side. All he was doing was laughing.” One hand call he developed in the 1950s that is still in production today is Black Magic, which emits a low tone of a jackrabbit or fawn that carries farther than a high pitch. Burnham still has one of the original Black Magic calls that he used for lions in Africa, red fox in Alaska and Canada and mule deer and coyotes all over. In 1991 he sold Burnham Brothers to TWA Member Gary Roberson of Menard, who carries on the tradition with a website featuring a photo from the early 1960s of singing cowboy/actor Roy Rogers holding a bobcat with Murray and Winston Burnham at his side. The Compucaller went through two revisions, and the fourth generation, which promises more ground-breaking innovations, is undergoing testing, Roberson said. While he has added more hand and mouth calls and other products to the lineup, Burnham Brothers still sells some designs that date back to the 1950s. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Roberson, who also hosts the Pursuit Channel’s “Carnivore,” a TV show about predator hunting.
He agrees with Burnham that coyotes are the smartest. They depend on their nose more than cats do and will circle around to get downwind of potential prey. They’re also more wary when approaching, and the slightest noise or movement will send them packing. Coyotes also cause the most predation in Texas, especially on white-tailed and mule deer fawns, sheep and goats and whatever domestic fowl are running loose, Roberson said. “They especially like to prey on sheep and lambs and go to their bedding grounds,” he said. “A sheep doesn’t offer much resistance, and coyotes are very opportunistic.” They usually don’t kill calves unless there is an unusually high coyote population. He says to pass on a bad shot at a coyote, especially a female, because you may never call it up again. Bobcats favor fowl and have a much lower impact on deer than coyotes, he said. “My favorite place to call bobcats is going to be around a turkey roost. They love turkeys, especially birds that are a little crippled or young birds that have trouble flying up,” Roberson said. “My next favorite place is at a deer feeder. “A bobcat will come by it hunting for food. There are rats, other rodents, birds and, of course, deer. Our management techniques sometimes help pattern the food for a lot of these predators.” The main thing about calling bobcats is to be hidden and find a place where the sun will be on them when responding to the call, he said. “Since the bobcat’s sense of smell is not that good, he doesn’t try to gain wind advantage, where coyotes always circle to downwind,” Roberson said. “Cats generally just use cover and sneak up.” He advises starting with a medium loudness for a series or two. If nothing comes, raise the volume a notch to reach farther. Bobcats will not come from 500 yards or more like a coyote. Water sources also are good spots to call predators, whether they are coming to drink or eat. The same sounds and series of calls will
CALL OF THE WILD
work for all predators. Roberson starts with a medium loudness, waits a couple of minutes and adds volume if nothing picks up on it. Once he sees a predator, he changes. If it’s coming in, he does nothing. If it hangs up, he’ll call with a higher pitch and a lower volume. When it gets closer, he gives some squeaks. “You can do that with an electronic or a mouth call by pinching on the reed with your lip or teeth,” he said. “Or just lip squeak on the back of your hand. You don’t even need a call for that.” If nothing shows up, it’s time to move after about 30 minutes for coyotes and up to an hour for bobcats because they usually do not rush in, and they easily can be distracted along the way, he said. For those wanting to get started in predator calling, there are many choices for handheld and mouth calls and electronic calls from such manufacturers as Flextone, FoxPro, Hunters Specialties/ Johnny Stewart Wildlife Calls, Primos
Hunting Calls and Western Rivers. Electronic calls keep getting better and easier to use with today’s continually evolving technology that seems to do everything except pull the trigger. Just push a button on a remote control and a loudspeaker up to a couple of hundred yards away will send out such sounds as cries of baby cottontails, fawns, rodents, birds and shoats or attention-getters including vocalizations by coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Some feature a pre-programmed series of calls for different predators to take out all the guesswork. Less expensive models may have fewer sounds but can work just as well. Higherpriced lines include hundreds of sounds and can store up to 1,000 or more. Some come equipped with fold-out, four-speaker systems—two horns and two tweeters—with jacks for more speakers. Sound can fade from left to right Many sport easy-to-read, full-color LCD screens with intuitive controls.
Options include remote-controlled motorized decoys that look like birds or rodents to help convince predators that dinner is just a few steps away. Roberson is old-school, though. He prefers Burnham Brothers’ Stick Tease Decoy because of its simplicity—a flexible rod pointed at one end to stick into the ground with the other attached to a swivel, line and feather that swings in the breeze to get predators’ attention. “You may not be 30 yards away, but the wind could be blowing in a different direction and you can tell where that coyote will come from,” he said. He also likes hand calls for the up-close interaction. “You have to be a better hunter, have to hide yourself better and watch the wind closer,” he said. Regardless of the method, calling predators is effective and can be a great management tool for landowners.
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by Leo Keeler Photographer Leo Keeler snapped this photo of a ringtail, a cat-sized carnivore with black and white rings around its raccoon-like tail. The image was captured during the 2006 ICF Pro-Tour of Nature Photography at Block Creek Natural Area.
TWA and Vantage Bank are proud to partner with the Images for Conservation Fund in an eﬀort to present some of the outstanding images captured during its nature photography competitions held on private lands in Texas. ICF is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization created for the purpose of conserving wildlife habitat through photography. The Save Camp Lula Sams conservation campaign was completed June 29 through the purchase of the camp by IDEA Public Schools and the donation of a conservation easement to Valley Land Fund. All campaign donations will be invested in an endowment to be used for monitoring the easement and protecting the habitat.
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