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OutDoors of southeast texas

Braggin’ Rights show us your catch


Custome Rods

“Swamp People” of Southeast Texas

Big Thicket National Preserve


a diverse natural area right in our own backyard.

HWY FISHING 73/82/87




to Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas Rich Macke, Publisher

Ok, I’m just gonna say it! OMG! You guys are absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for making the Spring (�irst edition) of Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas such a huge success. Close to 10,000 copies of our debut edition �lew off the shelves and into the hands of readers just like you! That much excitement really makes it fun, yet challenging, to plan an even better second edition for this summer. Who else better to grace the cover than the Swamp People of Southeast Texas themselves, T-Roy Broussard & Harlan “Bigfoot” Hatcher. Feature writer and avid outdoorsman, Chester Moore, brings the SETX natives out of the TV and into Real Outdoors with a fantastic cover story. In this edition, Chester also covers �ishing

highway 73 in a feature story that shares the hot spots for local �isherman. For the food lovers, Gabe’s Good Grub garnered tons of attention from readers. Many readers asked that we publish more than just two recipes in our next edition. Well, we heard ya, and this edition Gabe Pruett will give ya three fantastic recipes to try out. That should keep ya nice and full! A new topic for the summer comes straight from the Pleasure Island marina. Sailing is hot hot hot and so sailing we go. Information on the Port Arthur Yacht Club, Pleasure Island Marina and The Power Squadron might just get you jonesing for a boat of your own. Or, if you already have one, getting away from it all in a way that only those that sail truly know how! The Big Thicket doesn’t have to be a destination only for tourists or families out to have a picnic. Many folks use the beautiful area

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for hiking and/or running. Cody Edgerton & Julie Garcia, along with photographer Morgan Jones, show you how to use the great outdoors of The Big Thicket to stay in shape. We de�initely can’t forget the reader favorite pages “Braggin’ Rights”! Where locals can show off their biggest, best or even �irst catch/kill ever! And local gun expert, David Guay, in his column “Our Second Amendment” covers pending changes to the application process for concealed hand gun laws. We hope you like the summer edition of Real Outdoors as much as you did the spring edition. It is our goal to go bigger and better every issue. And like always, if you have an idea for us to cover in an upcoming edition, please shoot me an email at See ya next time!



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Big Thicket National Preserve Page 2



DISCOVER SAILING LAKE SABINE ............................ Page 7 GEAR GUY .................................. Page 8 FISHING HWY’S....................Page 10 SARGE CUSTOM RODS......Page 12 ADVENTURE ON TAP .........Page 18 BRAGGIN’ RIGHTS ..............Page 24 OUR SECOND AMENDMENT ........................Page 27 GABE’S GOOD GRUB ..........Page 29 NEXT ISSUE .............................Page 31

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Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas is a quarterly publication of the Port Arthur News, 3501 Turtle Creek Drive, Port Arthur, TX 77642 and The Orange Leader, 841B Dal Sasso Drive, Orange, TX 77630. Letters or Editorial contributions should be sent to Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas, PO Box 789, Port Arthur, TX 77641. Or e-mailed to rmacke@ Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas is not responsible for unsolicited submissions. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content in any manner, without permission is strictly prohibited. Publisher Rich Macke, Port Arthur News Advertising Director Merle Hebert Feature Writer Chester Moore Photos Morgan Jones Chester Moore

Advertising Account Executives Ed Kestler Tonya Petix Diana Laborde Robin Banks Katherine Aras Connie Yuarte

Contributing Writers Gabe Pruett Cody Edgerton Erinn Callahan Julie Garcia David Guay Graphic Design Jennifer Sky

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


“Swamp People” of Southeast Texas

It was an unforgettable encounter. 4 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

By Chester Moore, Jr. Walking out of a duck blind on an unseasonably warm November morning our guide took off ahead of us to get the four-wheeler to transport us to dry ground. Just as he crossed over a levee, a huge tail flung into the air, followed by a splash and the shocking scene of our guide diving onto the fallow field. I ran over to see what was going on and was met by our guide carrying a seven-foot-long alligator. “Can you believe there’s a gator out in November?” he asked nonchalantly as he carried the beast over to us and then let it go in a safe location.

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r e h c t a H Harlan med nickna

” t o o f g i “B

Continue from page 4 The guide was Harlan Hatcher of Fannett and when I first saw “Swamp People” on television I thought he would be a natural fit for the program. So did the casting crew at History who chose Hatcher and his friend of 30 years, Troy “T-Roy” Broussard, a Port Arthur fireman, to be the first-ever Texans featured on the hugely popular program’s fourth season. “It’s such an honor and privilege to represent Southeast Texas on ‘Swamp People’. That is a wonderful program and to be a part of it and get to do what we do naturally is a real thrill,” Broussard said. Hatcher, nicknamed “Bigfoot” for his towering

size and habit of not wearing shoes, said the choice came down to authenticity. “They were looking for people who really live the outdoors lifestyle and who in some ways are comparable to the Landrys and the other stars of the series and that is exactly what they found in us.” “Swamp People,” for those who have never seen it, follows a group of southern Louisiana alligator hunters and details their struggles, trials and triumphs. The series has been so effective at branding alligators to Louisiana Broussard said he got messages from a few northern viewers denying Texas has alligators. “That was at the very beginning but after the season was completed they

should know we have plenty of gators in Texas,” he said. In fact, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department survey from a few years back showed there are well over 300,000 alligators in the Southeast Texas area alone and the controlled season helps keep it in check. “Gator hunting was opened

in 1984 after being closed for a long time. At that point the gator population had grown back and since then it has served to maintain balance and those of us who participate in the program can earn some money for our efforts,”

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Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Discover Sailing Lake Sabine!

All Sailors have their own personal reasons for why they love sailing so much. But ultimately they all agree on one thing “Sailing allows you to get away from it all and melt the stress of daily life completely away. It allows you to look at the world much differently than you would otherwise”. Man,doesn’t that sound great! 6 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

By Rich Macke Most sailboats around here dock at one of the 300 slips located at the Pleasure Island Marina on Pleasure Island, just over the bridge from Port Arthur, Texas, and spend their time sailing Sabine Lake. The lake itself is 14 miles long, 7 miles wide, and most of the time 5 to 8 feet deep. During the summer months, southeast winds can kick up to 12 to 14 knots in the afternoon. The Pleasure Island Marina, which recently finalized reconstruction of the marina after the devastation from Hurricane Ike in 2008 destroyed all but a handful of slips, now has new 30, 40 & 50 foot slips for the avid sailor. The cost to dock your sailboat is $6.00 per foot if you are a member of the PAYC and $7.00 per foot if you are not. Many of the sailboats that are housed at the Pleasure Island Marina are owned by members of the Port Arthur Yacht Club. Approximately 200 of the slips are under the confines of the PAYC and require membership. The PAYC organizes races, cruises, socials and training camps for junior sailors throughout the year for its members. Any novice sailor or landlubber just wanting to see what it’s all about should take safety training classes before venturing out into the lake. Contact info can be found at the PAYC and Sabine Sail & Power Squadron. But the best advice all experienced sailors will give is to practice, practice, practice. Go out when the lake is not very crowded and the weather is minimal. You don’t want to be getting used to your new boat when the weather is rough! Remember, safety first. And when you get started, you definitely want to know the language, so here’s a few terms that the beginning sailor needs to know. 1. Aft - The back of a ship. If something is located aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. The aft is also known as the stern. 2. Bow - The front of the ship is called the bow. Knowing the location of the bow is important for defining two of the other most common sailing terms: port (left of the bow) and starboard (right of the bow).

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Continue from page 6 3. Port - Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, port is used to define the left-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front. 4. Starboard - Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, starboard is used to define the right-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front. 5. Leeward - Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward). 6. Windward - The direction

in which the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the opposite of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind). Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction an important sailing term to know. 7. Boom - The boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom toward the direction of the wind is how the sailboat is able to harness wind power in order to move forward or backward. 8. Rudder - Located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship. Larger sailboats control the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats will have a steering mechanism directly aft.

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Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


GearGuy by: Cody Edgerton

As the days roll on and clouds part, presenting beautiful sun-filled blue skies indicating Summer is finally here, rest assured that as the temps rise, people will flock to the closest water whether it’s the beach, creek or lake. Everyone will be looking for a moment of respite from the sweltering Southeast Texas heat. But as we head out for these trips let’s not forget our favorite toys. This past year or two I’ve managed to pick up several items that to me scream summertime.

The Perception Sport Pescador 12.0, this is a sit-on-top model kayak that affords a nice cool breeze unlike the sit-ins that most people are familiar with. The Pescador is set up for adventure with its large bow hatch, and small center and stern hatches. I’m able to fit a small folding charcoal grill in mine along with a radio and camp chairs with room to spare. This lends itself perfectly to grilling burgers on a sandbar at Village Creek. The kayak is 12 feet long and weighs in at about 60 pounds, it’s a little tough to handle sometimes. The seat is exceptionally comfortable and I loved the adjustable foot brace system. You can pick it up for around $499 at Academy but don’t forget also you’ll need a paddle.

8 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

GearGuy by: Cody Edgerton

Though the sun is out longer during the summer months that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself out in the dark and there is no better thing to have than the Black Diamond Storm headlamp. Not having a flashlight in your hands is pretty convenient. I personally love it for when I hike but I recently found it really useful for an early morning run before the sun was even thinking about showing its glowing face. Another thing about this lamp is the fact that it’s waterproof. It was very humid when I went running and I was pouring sweat by the time I got back home, the lamp never missed a beat. The only drawbacks that I can see is that the lamp is a tad bit on the heavy side and it could use a little more life to the batteries but for most people who aren’t hiking or running for long periods in the dark the battery life should be just fine.

Black Diamond Storm headlamp

I was recently gifted a Garmin GPSMAP 62s and immediately fell in love with it. I like hiking and also enjoy taking out the kayak so having the ability to get yourself back to safety is a nice confidence booster. My wife recently brought up geocaching and it turns out that the unit has a dedicated profile for just that. Geocaching is the activity of either hiding or searching for a small container typically hidden outdoors utilizing GPS. This unit excels in several areas including active tracking, marine utilities and the aforementioned geocaching. My family actually had our first two successes within a couple miles from my house at Clairborne Park. The unit worked flawlessly, leading us right to the proper location. It also allows you to download the caches right to the device, which is very convenient. You don’t have to type anything in, it’s simply there when you’re ready to go ‘caching or treasure hunting, as my kids say.

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas




Jim Burke, fishing on 73 By Chester Moore, Jr.

Southeast Texas anglers wanting to score on great fishing need only jump on the highway. Actually they have the choice of hitting three highways for some of the best bank fishing and crabbing access found anywhere. Let us look at these three paths to fishing and explore what they have to offer.

Highway 73

Running concurrently with Highway 62 from Interstate 10 in Orange County and picking up with 87, this relatively short path breaks off and cuts off toward Winnie. Anglers have a variety of options beginning in Bridge City where both sides of the Lower Neches Wildlife Management area offer fine fishing between the city and the Rainbow Bridge. Anglers find solid number of oversized black drum, redfish, croaker and flounder on the intake side of the Entergy Canal as well as plenty of spots for crabbing. The area is also a popular spot for anglers to throw castnets to catch bait on their way to fish in Sabine Lake and nearby Bessie Heights Marsh. As 73 forks off toward Winnie anglers will find opportunities for catfish under the 73 Bridge at Taylor Bayou and at

10 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

various drainage canals between there and Winnie. “Don’t overlook the canals along 73 and the 365 area, especially when we have a flood or simply there’s a lot of water in them after a rain. You will find a good number of catfish in there so somebody rigged up with a chunk of chicken liver under a cork can score on plenty for the frying pan,” said Fannett-based Daniel Stark of Killer Instinct Outdoors.

Highway 82

When Highway 82 forks off from 87 and cuts across Pleasure Island it brings anglers to some of the best bank fishing and crabbing to be found anywhere. We covered Pleasure Island well in our inaugural edition so we will not spend much time on it here.

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Continue from page 7 9. Tacking - The opposite of jibing, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. 10. Jibing - The opposite of tacking, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. Jibing is a less common technique than tacking, since it involves turning a boat directly into the wind.

Sailing Tips

• Choose calm, uncrowded waters. If you’re just starting to master sailing basics and learn how to sail, then one of the most important beginner sailing tips to remember is to practice in ideal conditions of light winds and low traffic. • Choose a small boat to learn how to sail. It’s easier to learn how to sail with fewer lines and sails. A small dinghy

will be more responsive and easier to maneuver, and is also perfect for practicing test capsizes in (see tip #7 below). • Begin on a boat rigged with one sail. Similar to the above, beginning on a boat that’s rigged with just one sail will make learning sailing basics easier and less complicated. • Follow sailing basics for safety. There are certain sailing basics for safe boating that should go without saying, no matter what your level of expertise. These include always telling someone before you go out on the water, always bringing a floatation device and knowing in advance how to swim. • Research tide, wind and weather conditions. Check the weather forecast so you can be prepared for whatever the weather might bring. Be sure to bring along adequate provisions, clothing and basic weather gear as needed. Boating and sailing basics means always being prepared. • Become familiar with sail control. The best sailors are the ones who are able to adjust sail settings to take the best advantage of different wind and water conditions. In general, sails should be

relatively flat when the wind is either very light or very strong, and full when there is a moderate wind. • Capsize on purpose. This may seem like one of the oddest beginner sailing tips we could suggest, but it’s better to practice how to handle a capsized sailboat within a controlled environment, as opposed to an uncontrolled one. We learn best from experience, and the valuable sailing basics you’ll pick up from going through a testcapsize in a small dinghy will serve you well in the event of a real-life one. • Respect the boom. Some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing. To avoid a bump to the head, or

even worse, being knocked overboard, one of the most important beginner sailing tips to always remember for both passengers and crew is to be conscious and respectful of the boom at all times. • Learn basic sailing terms. Before you venture out on your first trip, be sure to acquaint yourself with basic sailing terms. Make sure you know the difference between port, starboard, and other important concepts. • Practice makes perfect. Don’t try to teach yourself all the sailing basics. Invest in a good sailing course, research guides and books, and learn from friends with experience.

This list was taken from

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


SARGE CUSTOM RODS 12 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

By Erinn Callahan The News staff writer There is saltwater coursing through Sarge Upchurch’s veins. The Houston native spent his formative years chasing trout and redfish through the choppy Gulf Coast currents. “I enjoy the outdoors tremendously, and my greatest passion in the outdoors is fishing,” Upchurch said. “It’s a great place to escape and help put perspective in your life.” When “Sarge,” whose real name is Rex Sergeant Upchurch — no, really — isn’t busy putting his own life in perspective, he’s helping other people do the same in theirs. Four years ago, Upchurch joined some friends in a business venture after they purchased their own rod company. His job was to design and craft the rods. “I was just helping them out,” Upchurch said. “That evolved into me doing all of it.” And that evolved into Upchurch moving from his home in Round Rock, where he’d lived for 12 years, to Nederland, where he started his own business venture. Upchurch launched Sarge Custom Rods on June 8, 2012, and got to work building both the shop and his work station. He began building rods in August of the same year. Less than a year later, Upchurch is designing fishing rods for approximately 40 customers per month, to a 100 percent satisfaction rate, he said. “Everything starts and ends with me, from the point of the initial interaction with the

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Continue from page 5 Hatcher said. Hunters with access to land are issued tags based on estimated alligator populations and the huge reptiles are hunted by posting bamboo piles rigged with heavy nylon line, a large hook and some sort of foul-smelling hunk of meat. “The higher you set the bait out of the water the bigger the gator you catch. If you go in an area and see an 11 footer you set it higher than you would if you were hunting a seven footer,” Hatcher said. Alligators can lunge surprisingly high and that adds an element of danger to the practice. “You just have to use common sense out there and realize you are dealing with a dangerous creature. They aren’t out to get you but if you are out to get them and you corner one it can get ugly.”

Although alligators are important to both Hatcher and Broussard, they are not the only thing they pursue in the wilds of Southeast Texas. “If it swims, flies, runs or slithers we’re usually out there in pursuit of it,” Broussard said. Broussard does everything from run crab traps to duck hunt but one of his biggest passions is bass fishing. “I absolutely love to bass fish and I love to fish bass tournaments from the FLW opens to local events.” Broussard even got to use his airboat (featured on “Swamp People”) during the filming of the final day of the Bassmaster Elite Series “Sabine River Challenge” as winner Todd Faircloth of Jasper fished in the Taylor Bayou system. “That was a real thrill for many reasons and one of them is seeing someone from our area do so well in such a high stakes

tournament,” he said. Hatcher said one his favorite things growing up was hunting nutria. “Rat hunting is about as a fun a thing you can do with your clothes on,” he said. However with nutria numbers in the area not what they used to be he spends a lot of time pursuing catfish. “Big catfish are so much fun to catch and I have a pretty good system for

getting them.” Broussard said being considered a celebrity has taken some getting used to but he and his partner appreciate all of the positive feedback and want to use the position for good. “The good Lord blessed me with a wonderful daughter and she really changed my life,” he said. “To be able to inspire children and to help them see how much good, wholesome fun you can have in the outdoors is very important to us. That is why we have enjoyed doing the meet and greets and different family-based events so much. The smile of a child is a truly valuable thing.” Hatcher said they are taking things one day at a time and are planning to keep on doing what they have always done. “On any given day you would find us swamping around the swamps and marshes. It is in our blood and we feel so fortunate to be able to share that with others and having had the honor of being on ‘Swamp People’. That’s just too cool.” You can find Broussard and Hatcher on Facebook and like their “Texas Swamp Stompers” page.

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Continue from page 10 It is however worth noting that various points on the ship channel side of 82 offer solid fishing, especially for black drum and flounder. Anglers should use caution in traversing the steep slopes down toward the channel but these do offer solid fishing especially for anglers equipped with surf rods. Once you cross the Louisiana border SH 82 opens up dozens of miles of excellent surf fishing. There are numerous beaches there including Peveto Beach, Johnson Bayou Beach and Holly Beach. One of the top producers for speckled trout, Spanish mackerel and redfish is Constance Beach. It along with several of the others has rock jetties spaced out several hundred yards apart to help reduce erosion. This has created a natural fish attractant and when tides are are running high they offer superior trout fishing in particular. In fact, the fishing can be so good there that many anglers will launch in Sabine Pass, run through the Louisiana boat cut at the jetties and run over to the beach from the surf side to fish. Landbound anglers can enjoy the same kind of action and can simply walk across a few yards of sand to get there. Another option along those beaches is setting out big surf rods rigged up for bull redfish and sharks. The Louisiana coast runs a little deeper than the Texas side and big bull reds and sharks stay close to shore throughout the summer and into fall. Large chunks of cut mullet or croaker can lead to super-sized catches. In the fall anglers enjoy top-notch

James Mouton, Crabbing on 73 flounder fishing action off of 82/27 near the Cameron Ferry and find arguably the best crabbing in Louisiana just up 27 toward Hackberry in the canals adjacent to the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

Highway 87

Highway 87 begins in deep East Texas and runs down to Sabine Pass where it is cut off by a Hurricane-savaged stretch of road that prevents running from there to High Island. Beginning in Newton County is a series of creeks that drain into the Sabine River. These areas receive little fishing pressure and can produce solid numbers of catfish and crappie. The peak fishing is when high water pushes lots of water into the creeks but the fish will bite any time there is movement to the water. In Orange County, Lion’s Den Park located in the heart of Orange is popular with local bank fishermen and gives up quality catches of catfish, bream, alligator

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garfish and occasionally redfish. Cow Bayou in Bridge City has fair fishing opportunities around the public boat ramp under the big bridge entering the city. It is also good for catfish and bream but at times can be good for croaker and even speckled trout depending on salinity. The extreme southern end of 87 offers super surf fishing for redfish, shark and speckled trout in Sea Rim State Park, with a bonus that all state park fishing can be done without a fishing license, and in the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge for redfish, gar and catfish. Many areas offer little in the way of fishing access for landbound anglers but Southeast Texas and neighboring Southwest Louisiana are an exception to the rule. Anyone can take one of these three highways and find stellar fishing spots that quite often have little or no fishing pressure. From freshwater to the Gulf and from bream to big black drum, the 73/82/87 corridor has it all.

Continue from page 12 customer, to the delivery of their product, and everything in between,” Upchurch said. “Controlling that entire experience and having my hands on each piece of it means a lot to me and the customer.” And there are plenty of pieces. Full comprehension of Upchurch’s building strategy requires a full tour of his shop, which is located at 3501 Turtle Creek Drive, Suite 105. “There’s 13 different rod models, and every one of them is different,” Upchurch said, gesturing to the far wall of his shop, where he keeps the blanks that he imports

from China. “They can be as specific as a rod model to a certain application, or they can be more generalized to cover multiple applications. It depends on what the angler’s looking for.” Next, Upchurch enters another room at the back of his shop, scattered with supplies. This is the room where Upchurch cuts the blanks, the threaded barrels, dry fits all the components of the handle material to the rod blank, and eventually dry fits and assembles the trigger. “This is where most of the dirty work gets done,” he said. If designing custom fishing Since 1978

rods sounds like tedious work, one need only take a tour of Upchurch’s shop to dispel that notion. “Thisismyhighlysophisticated redneck gluing station right here,” he laughed. “This is all very elementary stuff. It’s really a big arts and crafts project.” Indeed it does involve a lot of gluing. Upchurch called the act of gluing the butt and handle of the rod “a standalone process.” Once the glue has dried, Upchurch gets to work on the reel seats. After that is done, it’s off to the wrapping station. “I have a multitude of colors,” he said. “Customers have a lot of choices.” Once the wrapping process is completed, the rods are ready to undergo a three-phase

finishing process. “Once I put this back on the drying rack, each phase of this take 12 hours,” Upchurch said. “With the first coat of what I call final finish, the rod will start to take this glossy effect.” Upchurch prefers not to design one rod at a time, opting instead to spend two to three weeks perfecting 20 of them. But as far as customer interaction goes, he’s more of a one-on-one kind of guy. “This is a very personal job,” Upchurch said. “There’s a great deal of pride that not only I take in building this tool for the customer, but the customers have in having one as well.” At $350 per rod, Upchurch said his customers are normally those who share his

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9604 HIGHWAY 105 409-792-9491

2003 WESTERN AVE. 409-883-4433

Come paddle with us on Village Creek! We offer Canoes, Kayaks, Van Shuttles, Outfitting and Guide Services For reservations and information call 409-385-4700 Visit our website at

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Looking for a family trip that will keep everyone entertained and not break the bank? By Cody Edgerton The News staff writer

How about a visit to the Big Thicket National Preserve, a diverse natural area right in our own backyard. There is something for everyone whether you’re looking for rare carnivorous plants, miles of hiking trails, bountiful fishing, camping or one of the top ten paddling trails in the nation. For information about the preserve call (409) 951-6700. If an easy laid back weekend is what you’re after, look no further than Village Creek State Park. Offering 25 campsites that can accommodate an RV and 8 sites for walk-in tent camping VC State Park can satisfy any camper no matter their experience level. From swimming, hiking fishing, bird watching or just kicking back at camp, there is plenty to do at VC State Park. And with an entry fee of only $3 daily for adults and children under 12 free, there is no reason not to pay the park a visit. For more information about the park call (409) 755-7322.

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If paddling catches your fancy there are several areas to put in a canoe or kayak. There are also several local outfitters that rent out boats and equipment or can provide shuttle services, dropping you off and allowing you to paddle back to your vehicle. The following companies provide various services dealing with paddling Village Creek and the Neches River: • Eastex Canoe Trails (409) 385-4700 • Pineywoods Outfitters (409) 751-0911 • Big Thicket Outfitters (409 786-1884


Surrounded by water, this area is great for fishing and paddling in both the northern freshwater area and the southern estuarine habitat. Private boat tours and canoe rentals are available.


The broad Neches River slithers through both forest and swamps with options for both overnight and day camping. Be sure to check out Village Creek State Park with its beautiful trails,


A free-flowing stream meandering through whitesand sandbars and beautiful forests, Village Creek is one of the most popular paddling trails in Texas.


Turkey Creek Trail leads 15 miles from FM1943 to FM 420 with Turkey Creek running along most of the trail. The trail is open to hiking year round and the unit also contains The Pitcher Plant Trail and the Kirby Nature Trail. The Pitcher Plant trail is a wheelchair accessible .3 mile boardwalk through the bog, rife with carnivorous plants waiting for their next insect for dinner. The Kirby Nature Trail provides visitors with a trip through four plant communities within a two mile loop.


Dry, sandy uplands and wet lowlands result in abundant flowers and grasses, longleaf pine forest and wetlands mix here. The one-mile Sundew Trail also runs through this section and there is a .5-mile boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible.


A forest of beech magnolia and loblolly pine descends into dense stands of floodplain hardwoods on the 5.4-mile Woodlands Trail. Beaver Slide Trail, a 1.5-mile loop, winds around a series of ponds formed by old beaver dams. Horse and all-terrain bicycle riding are permitted on the 18-mile Big Sandy Trail. The trail is closed for hunting season, contact the preserve.


The Birdwatchers Trail is a short stroll to the Trinity River where you can see numerous migratory and resident bird species.


A one-mile loop trail leads through a slope forest community of northeastern and southeastern species. Some information provided by the National Park Service

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


ADVENTURES ON TAP By Julie Garcia The News staff writer

After what seemed like the longest winter ever in Southeast Texas (or was that just me?), the sun is finally out and it’s time to get moving outdoors. Though I started running again after a two-year hiatus last summer, I was only subjected to humid and sticky runs for a short period of time before the fall 5Ks and marathon training started up. This will be my first full summer as a “runner” and I’m excited to broaden my horizons and hit these beautiful trails everyone’s been talking about. Continue to page 19

Never the same run on a trail

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ADVENTURES ON TAP Continue from page 18

THE GROUNDWORK Most of my running experience has been on concrete, sidewalks or tracks. Though the road may be in bad shape, I always have a good idea of where my foot is going to land next. Trail running is a completely different beast altogether and on a recent excursion to Village Creek State Park in Lumberton, I came face-to-face (more like foot-totrail) with the real aspects of running in the woods. Most of the trails at Village Creek are soft with fallen leaves and undergrowth. There are some tree roots that are directly in the way and gravel at some junctures. Though it would feel very free and Pocahontas-like to run barefoot on a trail in Southeast Texas, your toes will probably thank you later if you decide to wear tennis shoes or Vibrams (also known as five-finger shoes). Mud is always a possibility so be mindful of those $100 shoes you just bought from On the Run in Beaumont. This may be a day for an old pair of Reeboks sitting in your closet. Don’t miss out on the beauty of nature around you by staring at the ground the entire time while you’re running. It’s a good idea to glance down every few paces, but look around. These are views you’re not going to get at the Hike and Bike Trail in Beaumont or the Seawall in Port Arthur.

LISTEN TO YOUR RUN In some circles, I’m known as Julie the Technology Destroyer. This is because I’ve killed two of the last three iPods I’ve owned during major races. My first was during the 2010 Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, and the last one sadly succumbed to an early death during the Houston Marathon this past January. And in the midst of marathon training, my smart phone lost its ability to hold a charged battery. This probably had to do with an intense amount of apps it was forced to run, one of which was the NikePlus Running app that used GPS to map out and time my run mileage. Regardless, I now run technology-andapp-free and have found how liberating it is to hear the sounds of nature around me. At Village Creek, there are several different

species of birds to see and hear when trekking through the park. You know how your pace will syncronize with the beat of whatever song you’re listening to? The same thing happens with chirping birds, the crunch of leaves under your feet and your even (or huffy) breathing during the run. Nature has a way of singing to you, and it’s always a beautiful song.

ROUTE PLANNING It’s easy to get lost in a run. But it’s not as easy to find your way back when you’re running through the woods as it would be if you were on a familiar street in your neighborhood. Your first plan of action should be learning the map before you lace up your sneakers. Decide how long you want to run and how far and make sure to pay attention to the signage. The signs at Village Creek are low to the ground, so keep an eye out for them. Don’t rely on Siri to get you back in the right direction. Many of our local state parks, including the Big Thicket, have a thick canopy that makes it difficult for any cell phone carrier to have good signal.

WHAT TO BRING Temperatures stay in the mid-80s to low-100s during most of June, July and August in Southeast Texas. So prepare accordingly if you plan on running for longer than 45 minutes. Drink a hearty amount of water before the run and find a way to bring a bottle with you during it. Many runners swear by a running belt that can hold small bottles of liquid and other snacks. The belt snaps around you like a fanny-pack, but be aware that it wll bob up and down while you’re moving. Use mosquito spray all over your body except your face. Just imagine sweating OFF into your eyeballs — OUCH. And with every outdoor activity in the summertime, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply well before hitting the trail so it’s well-absorbed before you start sweating. Just remember that the trail changes every time you run it. It’s never the same leaves on the ground, birds in the trees or critters on the logs. It may be the same trail but it’ll never be the same run.

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Continue from page 15 passion for fishing. “My rods are expensive, but they’re very good tools,” Upchurch said. “If I had different tools, the rod may not come out as nice as it does. The same can be said of the fisherman’s experience on the water and the tool that they’re using.”

However, Upchurch said, his customers generally think his tools are worth the money — something he never tires of hearing. “There’s a lot of good tools to choose from,” Upchurch said. “I’m very fortunate that I have a lot of great customers that love the ones I have to offer.”

Motion Audio, Inc. ORANGE’S Only Authorized Dealer J.V.C Arsenal • Kicker Arc Audio • MTX Look for our Summer Specials

20 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

SALT Fishing Results

Saltwater Angler’s League of Texas Memorial Day Class 2013 - Standings Redfish: Anthony Trahan (7.49) Croaker: Kaden Trevino (.59) Gafftop: Mason Myers (2.40) Hardhead: Lillian Peltier (Honorary Hardhead) Sandtrout: Connor Junot (1.02) Saltwater Perch: Sidney Nicklebun (.35)

JUNIOR DIVISION Speckled Trout: Toby Tubbs (5.04)

Flounder: Hunter Wyble (1.74) Crab: Gracey Peltier (.68) Black Drum: Kristen Zenos (4.96) Sheepshead: Dustin Davis (Honorary Sheepshead)



1. 2. 3.

John Brown (8.27) Kyle Simmons (7.96) Steve Coulton (7.33)

FLOUNDER 1. 2. 3.

Kenny Ratcliff (3.24) Scott Hodges (3.17) Ronnie LaSalle (3.16)

SALT Fishing Results

Saltwater Angler’s League of Texas Memorial Day Class 2013 - Standings REDFISH

1. 2. 3.

Steve Havard (9.80) Jose Cisneros (9.14) Justin Trahan (9.08)

BLACK DRUM 1. 2. 3.

Charles Simmons (12.13) Drew Ratcliff (11.91) Lynli Bonin (11.13)


Daneen LaBove (4.77) Daneen LaBove (4.06) Daneen LaBove (4.03)


1. Michael Gallagher (1.57) 2. Justin Trahan (1.48) 3. Lynli Bonin (1.30)

REDFISH WITH MOST SPOTS: Steve Havard (13 spots)


(Art Bellair 21 inches/3.88 pounds)


Steve Hodges (3.17) Brian Ahlgrin (2.79)

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas



Preston Dishman, 4 yrs old in November in Sabine while fishing w/ his father Casey Dishman and grandfather Wade Witt. Preston caught two this size that day all by himself!

Lucas Moore caught this big gar while fishing with his father Frank on Sabine Lake.

24 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

Ian Klien caught his first-ever bass while fishing on a local pond last spring.

Gunner wanted to go fish in the pond behind his house after attending the Sunday BASS weigh-in in Orange, TX. He scored this big beauty. The bass measured 23.5”, with a 16.5” girth. She was promptly released after measurements. Caught on a live shiner. Estimated weight 7lbs (scale batteries were bad). Proud parents- Jason and Alice Grimes


Dustin Ellermann of Zavalla with a monster hog he shot on the JB Hunting Ranch. You might notice Dustin from being the winner of Top Shot Season 3.

Not all outdoors Braggin’ Rights are from fishing and hunting trips. Erin Beard’s favorite animal is the wolf. Recently she got to hold as well as bottle feed baby wolves courtesy of wolf expert Jerry Mills. Her smile tells the story.

Colby Crochet was hunting on his uncle and aunt’s land (John and Esther Benoit) at Big Hill in Winnie, Texas. The alligator was about 7 foot and weighed approx. a couple hundred pounds. It was shot on 9/28/11

James Menard is all smiles after catching this monster bream.

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas



Robert Durmon of Rose City, TX. Catfish caught on April 12th. Caught 28# catfish on Lake LBJ close to Marble Falls, Texas. Catfish caught on a 12ft Crappie pole with a jig and a shinner.

DJ Hembree shot this amazing buck while hunting his family deer lease in East Texas.

Celines Dal Valle of Groves caught her first flounder, in fact her first fish of any type larger than her hand, on a recent Sunday afternoon in May on Pleasure Island. She was fishing with a minnow on the new boardwalk behind the Pleasure Island Condos, next to the marina.

My 8yr old daughter Isabelle caught this Flounder while fishing with her Papa at Walter Umphrey’s. We’re new to the south so this was really exciting for her!

To share your “Braggin’ Rights” in our ne on of Real Outdoors of Southeast Texas, email your photo and descrip on to: 26 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

Current Application Process & Pending Changes


Our 2nd Amendment By: David E. Guay - Columnist

The winds of change are blowing and may affect current TX CHL (Concealed Handgun License) holders or those of you looking to acquire your license to carry a concealed handgun. Since January new (or variations of old bills dressed up to look like new ones) were introduced in the Texas legislature regarding everything from those that affect our second amendment rights to the elimination of smoking in workplaces and public places to an exemption for farms from payment for wastewater service. To stay on topic we’ll look at how proposed changes to right to carry a handgun may affect us. Before we look at these items, let’s take this opportunity to outline for those of you looking to obtain your CHL for the first time, the steps and info needed to get your license in the state of Texas. To begin with, you must: 1. Be at least 21 years old. (Members and former members of the armed forces must be 18 or older.) 2.

Must be a current resident of Texas for at least 6 months.


Have a clean criminal history, including military service and recent juvenile records.


Not be under a protective order.


Not be chemically dependent.


Be of sound mind.


Not be delinquent in paying fines, fees, child support, etc.


Not be under a restraining order.


Be eligible to purchase a handgun by completing the NICS (National Instant Criminal System) background check.

Secondly, you must successfully pass a Concealed Handgun License course given by a TX DPS certified CHL instructor. This course is split up into 2 sections; qualification or practical time at a shooting range and 10 to 15 hours of class instruction. The shooting portion of this course is conducted to demonstrate to the CHL

instructor that you are proficient in handling your handgun safely and be able to accurately fire it on command at a target at 3 different distances; 3 yards, 7 yards and 15 yards. If you choose to qualify with a semiautomatic, you’ll be able to concealed carry any legal handgun (semi-auto or revolver). If you intend to qualify with a revolver, then you will only be able to conceal carry a revolver or Derringerstyle handgun. My suggestion to you would be to choose a handgun that you are confident with, and able to handle (including loading, unloading, cleaning, as well as how it fits your hand and its recoil). Spend ample time at your favorite shooting range, perfecting that comfort and skill by firing as many rounds as needed. You want to be as accurate as possible in sighting in your handgun so that when it comes time for the practical portion of the CHL license, you’ll be able to score at least a 70% or 175 points. (see illustration A) Once you’ve completed the practical portion of the CHL course, it’ll be time to move on to the classroom instruction. As mentioned earlier, this classroom time is supposed to last for 10 – 15 hours, though most instructors keep it to a minimum. Topics covered during this time include firearm safety, Texas CHL laws (where you can and cannot carry), storage of your firearms, the use of lethal force and so on. Once the instruction portion is complete, you’ll be given a written exam that’ll highlight your training and ensure that you fully understand the requirements and responsibility that come with being a concealed handgun license holder in the great state of Texas. By the way, you’ll need to score 70% or better to pass this exam as well. Once you’ve successfully completed the TX CHL course, go to the TX DPS website and apply for your license. Before doing so, make sure that you have your Texas driver’s license and a valid credit card available, along with a list of your home addresses from the past 5 years before proceeding. Once you’ve gathered these items, grab a cup of coffee, relax in front of your computer and apply.

Continue to page 28

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Continue from page 27 At the end of the application process, you’ll be instructed to: •

Print out the Concealed Handgun Licensing Online Application Checklist

Obtain 2 passport photos

Submit your fingerprints electronically using FAST (Fingerprint Applicant Services of TX)

Download and print out a CHL-6 Form (photo holder / signature card)

Download, print out and complete form CHL -78A

Submit the signed CHL-100

From here you simply collect all of the above items and mail off to the Concealed Handgun

Licensing Program, MSC 0245 at TX DPS in Austin. By using the website to apply, you’ll be able to trim several weeks off the processing of your application providing that you have submitted all of the above items in a timely fashion. Now with all of that said, let’s get to the legislation being voted on in Austin that would change the aforementioned CHL instruction criteria and affect current license holders. The first of such legislation comes in the form of Senate Bill 864 which reduces the number of classroom training hours for original Concealed Handgun Licenses from 10-15 down to 4-6. As supported by the NRA, this change would make it more convenient for CHL applicants to obtain a license to carry and exercise their right for personal self-defense. This along with Senate Bill 299, which protects against the unintentional display of a handgun by a CHL holder, is heading to Governor Rick Perry’s office for his signature. For those House Bills that have

28 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013

How is the practical scoring done? You’ll shoot a total of 50 rounds for the practical; 20 rounds @ 3 yards, 20 rounds @ 7 yards & 10 rounds @ 15 yards. On a B-27 silhouette target, hits within the #8 ring count as 5 points, hits outside of #8 but within #7 count as 4 points, and any other hit on the silhouette outside of #7 count as 3 points. Your grand total of 50 rounds fired must be 175 points or greater with 250 being a perfect score. (Illustration A)

been approved and sent to the Texas Senate include House Bill 485 for the reduction of fees for initial and renewal Concealed

Handgun Licenses for veterans who have been honorably discharged after at least one Continue to page 30


Good Grub MEXICAN MEATBALLS Cook time: 7-10 minutes Servings: 10 Ingredients: 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef 1 package taco seasoning mix 1 diced green onion 2 beaten eggs 1 minced clove garlic 1 block sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the cheese. Mold the meat by tablespoons around a cube of cheese to form a meatball. Place meatballs on a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake the rolls for 7-10 minutes or until meat is done and cheese has melted.

SHRIMP STUFFED JALAPEÑOS Cook Time: 15 minutes Number of Servings: 10 Ingredients: 10 raw shrimp ¼ cup diced onions 1 diced garlic clove ¼ cup sweet corn 2 oz cream cheese

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese 10 pieces of bacon 10 whole jalapeno peppers Salt Cayenne pepper Olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees -- Dice the onions and garlic and sauté them in a little olive oil over a medium heat. When they start to soften up, add the raw shrimp. Saute until shrimp turn pink. Add the corn and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, combine softened cream cheese with shredded cheddar. Add salt and Cayenne to the cheeses. Clean the peppers, slit on one side and core them out. (The seeds left in will produce more spice.) For best consistency, blanch the peppers in hot water before stuffing. Stuff each pepper with equal parts cheese mixture and sautéed veggie mixture, pressing one cooked shrimp inside each. Wrap each pepper with one slice of bacon. Lightly grease pan with olive oil before adding peppers. Shake a little garlic salt over each pepper and now place into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Peppers are done when mixture starts to bubble and spill out.

Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Good Grub



Cook Time: 20 minutes Number of Servings: 16 Ingredients: 1 can Chicken (5oz) 12 oz. cream cheese ½ cup Ranch dressing ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese 4 oz. Buffalo sauce Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 2. Mix together cream cheeses and stir in salad dressing, Buffalo sauce and cheese until well mixed. Stir in chicken. 3. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through. Skim off any grease that has come up to the top and serve with any chips or crackers.

Do you have ideas or recipes you would like to see featured?

Email them to or send by fax: (409)883-6342 Attention: Gabriel Pruett Continue from page 28 year of military service, along with reserve and part-time peace officers. House Bill 48 which was written for the intent to streamline the renewal process of a CHL by eliminating the continuing education course (basically consists of apx 65% of the initial CHL course) AND eliminating the handgun proficiency or practical portion of the course as outlined previously in this article. Please keep in mind that this is only directed to those CHL holders who would be renewing their license which occurs every 5 years. Again, these are National Rifle Association backed items, which I support as well. My only concern is that new TX CHL applicants not only get the required classroom training, but fully understand the responsibility that comes along with being granted a license to carry a concealed handgun in this great state. Last but certainly not least; House Bill 700 was introduced in the Austin on January 24, 2013, which relates to the authority of a person holding

a Texas Concealed Handgun License to be allowed to open carry a handgun in public. As written by State Representatives George Lavender (Texarkana) and Chris Paddie (Marshall), TX CHL holders would be able to exercise the option to concealed carry or open carry practice without penalty under law, which is currently a felony. Similar bills have been authored and introduced many times in the past though have perished even before getting to the Senate

floor. At this time, HB 700 has been left pending in committee which took place on March 14, 2013. Without going into too much detail, as this subject is a whole other column, there are currently 43 states within this nation that allow open carry of a handgun and Texas is NOT one of them. Whether the method of carry is ‘concealed’ or ‘open’, we as Texans should exercise the right to arm ourselves in public in order to preserve our personal

safety, along with the safety of family, friends and the general public. In doing so, we should become ‘know-it alls’ as it pertains to this right. Know the laws, know your firearm, and know when and when not to present and use lethal force, are all critical to the aforementioned safety and responsibility of the CHL holder.

See you at the range…

For more information & to download the needed forms, please visit the Texas DPS Website at the following link:

30 Real Outdoors SE Texas Summer 2013



OutDoors of southeast texas

To Advertise in the Fall Edition of the


The Port Arthur News at 409-721-2424 The Orange Leader at 409-883-3571


Summer 2013 Real Outdoors SE Texas


Real outdoors 0613  

Outdoor living magazine for southeast Texas

Real outdoors 0613  

Outdoor living magazine for southeast Texas