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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-10-23                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 23, 2006
TPWD Predicting Typical Quail Season
AUSTIN, Texas -- Like most coveys, quail are going to be bunched up and could be tough to find during the upcoming hunting season, unless you're hunting on land being managed with quail in mind, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
"This year, a little ground work on the front end will make a big difference in the quality of the hunt," said Robert Perez, TPWD quail biologist. "I would recommend hunters go early and scout out areas to try and locate birds ahead of time."
The statewide quail season runs from Oct. 28-Feb. 25. The daily bag limit is 15, 45 in possession. Legal shooting hours for all non-migratory game birds are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The bag limit is the maximum number that may be killed during the legal shooting hours in one day.
With quail hunting, opportunity is tied directly to production and this year's crop of birds looks to be average at best, according to TPWD quail census data.
Ideal quail production occurs in years that remain wet and cool during the spring and early summer months because it extends the window of opportunity for reproduction, according to Perez. He noted hens typically would make as many nesting attempts as conditions allow until they pull off a successful clutch. This year, conditions became hot and dry from late spring through September, which could have an impact on extended nesting success.
This year, most of the state experienced and unusually dry winter followed by less than average spring and summer rainfall. For these reasons quail production was delayed in some areas until rains fell, in other areas quail never really had much of an opportunity to nest due to lack of moisture.
"Had it rained earlier in August we might have seen some late production, but as it turned very little production over the course of the summer," Perez noted. "In parts of South Texas that did have timely rains -- a few showers across the summer -- they're covered up in birds, but it is extremely localized. During our October buffer area quail surveys in the Rolling Plains, we heard a lot of birds, so it appears there are more places in that region that pulled off successful production and wider production than in other areas."
Here's a summary of quail production around the state, based on annual census surveys conducted by TPWD and what hunters can expect to find this season.
Rolling Plains
Those parts of the Rolling Plains region that received more spring/summer rainfall are where quail were most successful. Overall production was less than average with small brood sizes being reported by field staff. There were was also a good amount of carryover birds from the previous season.
The average number of bobwhites observed per route was 14 compared to 37 last year. This is below the long term average of 23 and is indicative of a below average season. However, good bobwhite hunter opportunities will be found in areas under proper range management and in areas that received the most favorable weather conditions. Public hunting opportunities can be found at the Matador Wildlife Management Area and the Gene Howe WMA.
South Texas Plains
Drought conditions affected south Texas to a greater degree than the Rolling Plains. High daily temperatures combined with low rainfall hindered bobwhite reproductive efforts. However, scattered rains fell at a scale too small for this survey to detect. In these areas, quail were more successful, especially where range was being properly managed. Field staff reported very little production but confirmed that certain areas, especially in the eastern half (more coastal) were holding fair numbers of birds.
The average number of bobwhites observed per route was 3 compared to 9 last year. This is well below the long term average of 20 and is predictive of a below average hunting season. The Chaparral and the Daughtrey WMAs provide public quail hunting opportunities.
Trans-Pecos
The Trans-Pecos ecological region of Texas has experienced well above average populations of scaled quail for the past three years. Although still above average, scaled quail counts are down from an average of 34 birds observed per route last year to 19 birds per route this year. Reports from the western edge of the Edwards Plateau (the Stockton Plateau) also indicate above average populations of scaled quail.
Public hunter opportunities can be found at Elephant Mountain and Black Gap WMAs.
Other Areas
Our surveys indicate that bobwhite numbers in Gulf Prairies, Cross Timbers, and Edwards Plateau are all below their respective long term averages. Although there are certainly areas within each region where some quail hunting opportunity remains, there were not many parts of the state that were not affected by summer drought.
Access to hunting on TPWD managed public land is available with the purchase of a $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit, which can be bought wherever hunting licenses are sold, online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/licenses/online_sales/ or by calling toll free (800) 895-4248. There is a $5 convenience fee for online and phone purchases.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 23, 2006
TPWD Offers Opportunities During Special Youth Seasons
AUSTIN, Texas -- Spurred by recent rains and the onset of fall cool fronts, duck numbers are steadily building along coastal ponds and on Panhandle playa lakes. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging hunting mentors to take advantage of these early migrants with young waterfowlers during the Oct. 28-29 Special Youth Season in Texas.
In addition to waterfowl hunting during the statewide special youth-only hunting weekend, licensed youth 16 years of age or younger will also be allowed to harvest white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey. Seasons for other species, including quail and squirrels, are also open to all hunters regardless of age during this special weekend, providing excellent opportunities for mentoring youth.
Hunting for ducks, mergansers and coots during the youth-only waterfowl hunts is limited by federal rules to youngsters 15 years of age or younger. Bag limits and hunting restrictions under the new Hunter's Choice will apply during the youth season.
For hunters who do not have access to privately-owned land, TPWD is providing low cost access during the Special Youth Season to nearly three quarters of a million acres of department managed lands for hunting, including most wildlife management areas, some state parks and many leased properties under the Annual Public Hunting permit program.
Here's some of what's available during the youth-only weekend on public hunting lands with easy access from major urban areas:
--Youth hunts for white-tailed deer are scheduled during the special weekend season on 17 public hunting units, mostly in East Texas.
--Youth hunts for waterfowl are available on 60 public hunting units covering more than 500,000 acres, including the J.D. Murphree WMA an hour's drive from Houston and the Granger WMA just north of Austin.
--In addition to deer, quail season opens Oct. 28 and youth-only hunts are scheduled for two prime public areas, the Chaparral WMA, located an hour's drive south of San Antonio and Caprock Canyon State Park in the Panhandle.
--Adults may accompany youth on quail and dove hunts on the Black Gap and Elephant Mountain WMAs in the Trans Pecos.
--Youth-adult squirrel hunting is available on 28 units of public lands, mostly in East Texas, including the Gus Engeling WMA less than two hours drive from Dallas.
--Youth-adult feral hog hunting is available on five public hunting areas, including Richland Creek and White Oak Creek WMAs within range of Dallas.
Youth hunting on departmental public hunting lands must be accompanied by a supervising adult 18 years of age or older who possesses the required Annual Public Hunting Permit, a valid hunting license and any required stamps and permits.
The Annual Public Hunting Permit is a $48 permit, valid from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the following year. The permit allows an adult access to designated public hunting lands in the TPWD public hunting lands program. Hunting is allowed during legal hunting seasons for small game, turkey, white-tailed deer, exotics, predators, furbearers, and fishing without having to pay daily permit fees and in most instances, without having to be selected in a drawing.
Along with the appropriate Texas hunting licenses and stamps, permit holders may take youth under age 17 hunting free of charge on these public hunting lands.
Permits are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online through the TPWD Web site (tpwd.state.tx.us) or by calling 1-800-TX-LIC-4U and paying by major credit card. There is a $5 convenience fee for online and phone purchases. If the permit is purchased at a TPWD office, the public hunting lands map booklet and supplement will be provided immediately at the time of purchase; otherwise, the publications will be mailed to the purchaser within two weeks of purchase.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
Oct. 23, 2006
Extensive Facelift Returns Indian Lodge to Historic Splendor
FORT DAVIS, Texas -- Everything new is "old" again at one of the state's most beloved historic inns, Indian Lodge.
The Davis Mountains lodge, owned and operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has undergone an extensive renovation that took five years and cost $4.35 million to complete. The two-phase project began in 2001 to restore Indian Lodge to its 1930s appearance and update its mechanical systems.
Original ceilings of pine beams, or vigas, and smaller latillas, have been restored, as have almost 200 pieces of original rustic wood furniture. To ensure modern-day comfort, the lodge's heating and air-conditioning and plumbing systems have been upgraded in the first large-scale modernization to occur in almost 40 years.
State Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine, who was instrumental in securing initial state funding for the project, will join local government officials and other invited guests Oct. 26 to tour the renovated facilities, said David Bischofhausen, who manages the Davis Mountains State Parks Complex that includes the state park, Indian Lodge and nearby Balmorhea State Park. Park staff, he added, will be conducting interpretive tours of the refurbished lodge and grounds, Davis Mountains State Park and Balmorhea.
"Overnight guests will be able to experience the historic lodge as it was intended to look when the federal Civilian Conservation Corps built the inn in its unique Southwestern Pueblo architectural style," Bischofhausen said. "They also will enjoy updated room appointments, such as new bedspreads, lamps, rugs, curtains, lamps and vanities."
The purpose of recently completed project was to restore much of the character and original features that had been de-emphasized or covered up in the "modernizing" of Indian Lodge in 1967 and replace outdated mechanical systems. In addition, the patio was restored to its original layout with stone-lined concrete terrace, reactivated pool and fountain, and improved drainage and landscaping.
Indian Lodge is considered the "crown jewel" of the CCC structures in Texas and is the only example of Southwestern Pueblo-style architecture in Texas, according to TPWD historians. The inn has 39 rooms: 15 original rooms built in the 1930s (the 100s wing) and 24 rooms (200 and 300 wings) added during the 1967 expansion, which also included the addition of a restaurant, swimming pool and meeting room.
Indian Lodge's location in the Davis Mountains overlooking scenic Keesey Creek at 5,200 feet elevation, where air is typically drier and cooler, draws a steady stream of visitors, especially during Texas' warm-weather months. The lodge, originally called Indian Village when completed in 1935, was built concurrently with the Scenic Loop Road and Davis Mountains State Park.
Indian Lodge hosted more than 55,000 visitors in FY2006, including almost 16,000 overnight guests and 38,000 who dined at the Black Bear Restaurant. Rooms rate range from $80 to $115 a night. Call (432) 426-3254 well ahead of time to make reservations.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Oct. 23, 2006
Everything Kayak! Expo Slated for Aransas Pass Nov. 4-5
ARANSAS PASS, Texas -- Kayaks seem to be everywhere these days -- sprouting from the roofs of SUVs and compact cars alike, dotting streams and lakes and bays across Texas. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, kayaking participation nationwide doubled between 1998 and 2004, with recreational and sit-on-top kayaking the fastest growing segment of the sport.
Find out what it's all about at the first-ever "Everything Kayak! Expo," Nov. 4-5 in Aransas Pass. The free event will be held at the Ransom Point Paddle Launch and surrounding community park on Johnson Ave. just off State Highway 361. Hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Some classes, lessons and tours are fee-based and reservations are encouraged.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Director Larry McKinney, Ph.D., will offer two free seminars at the event on both Saturday and Sunday: "The State of Coastal Fisheries in Texas," and "Seagrass in Texas, Fighting to Save It."
A used gear market will offer some great deals on old or used equipment, and guest fly tiers Casey Smartt, fly fishing editor for Gulf Coast Connections magazine, and fly fishing industry experts John Carpenter and Harris Ashley will demonstrate how to tie some of their favorite patterns.
Paddling and safety lessons by American Canoe Association certified instructors come in two different styles: a one-hour introduction to paddling and a three-and-a-half hour class covering strokes, clothing, and deep water re-entry.
Fly casting lessons by Federation of Fly Fishers Master Caster Al Crise and Staci Trimble will be offered to everyone from beginners trying to figure out what the long rod is all about to experienced anglers who want to perfect that double-haul.
Two-hour, guided paddling tours will be offered both days in the afternoon.
All activities are limited in size and will be filled on a first-come first-served basis; reservations are recommended for all activities.
The Everything Kayak! Expo is sponsored by TPWD, the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation, Jerry B's Kayak Sales, Slowride Guide Services, Seaworthy Marine, the Aransas Pass Chamber of Commerce, the City of Aransas Pass, Saltwater Angler, TexasKayakFisherman .com, Microtel Inn & Suites, Neptune Motel, Cup Graphics, Custom Printing, All-Out and Trailer Trash.
For more information, or to make reservations for activities, please phone Slowride Guide Services at (361) 758-0463.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 23, 2006
Rains Throw Curve at Hunters as Deer Season Approaches
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hunters who spent the summer months refining game plans for deer season might consider going back to the drawing board. That's the advice from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists who suggest recent rains across much of Texas could put a damper on traditional tactics.
Many hunters will see plenty of green when they take to the woods opening day Nov. 4 and not much else if hunting over a feeder, as new plant growth stimulated by wet range conditions seems to have altered deer patterns significantly.
"Just a few weeks ago, we were expecting high harvest success early in the season with less than average range conditions this year," said Mitch Lockwood, TPWD white-tailed deer program leader. "Now, with the recent rain, forbs are responding and deer activity around corn feeders has started to decline. I'm not so sure that hunting over feeders during this green-up is the best idea."
This change in deer feeding patterns could also have an impact on opportunity around feeders during the Special Youth Season weekend Oct. 28-29. The season is available to licensed hunters ages 16 and under.
Hunters in eastern and central Texas are reminded that special buck antler restrictions are in effect in 61 counties. Under the regulation, a lawful buck in the designated counties is defined as any buck having at least one unbranched antler OR an inside antler spread of at least 13 inches. The bag limit in the affected counties is two lawful bucks, no more than one of which may have an inside spread of greater than 13 inches.
Counties that fall under this regulation for the first time include: Bell, Bosque, Bowie, Burleson, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Comal (east of IH 35), Comanche, Coryell, Delta, Eastland, Erath, Fannin, Franklin, Gregg, Hamilton, Harrison, Hays (east of IH 35), Hopkins, Houston, Lamar, Lampasas, Leon, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Somervell, Titus, Travis (east of IH 35), Upshur, Williamson and Wood counties.
Other counties having the buck antler restrictions include: Austin, Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Jackson, Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Victoria, Waller, Washington, Wilson and Wharton counties.
Dry conditions through the spring and summer months could have an impact on antler development, according to biologists, which may result in fewer bucks having legal antler spreads and hunters are urged to be conservative in judgments.
Despite the drought, fawn production and the overall health of the state's deer herd appears to be good. Lockwood attributes some of that to increased habitat management efforts on private lands and the prevalence of supplemental feeding regiments. "The effects of the drought are not nearly as noticeable on the intensively managed habitats and things don't look as bad as they did during a drought 10 years ago because of the supplemental feeding," he noted. "It has helped carry the deer, but doesn't do much for the range."
Here's how TPWD wildlife biologists around the state view conditions for this year's deer season.
Hill Country
Most of the Hill Country experienced very dry conditions this past summer, so hunters should not expect much in the way of antler quality this fall, according to Max Traweek in Kerrville. Range conditions have improved greatly with the recent rains and general body condition of deer should be at least fair or better by the opening of the general season. "Due to the green-up, hunting may be a little tough during the first few weeks of the season," Traweek notes. "Also, fair to heavy acorn crops in a few areas will result in even more restricted movement by deer in those locations. But, the Hill Country is known for high deer densities, and, even with lower than average fawn survival observed this past summer, hunters will have plenty of animals to choose from during the hunting season." Hunters and landowners in Bell, Coryell, Lampasas and Williamson counties need to be aware of the antler restrictions in place for the first time this year. The new regulation is also in effect in those areas of Travis, Hays and Comal counties that occur east of IH-35. There are no changes to the deer regulations in areas of those three counties lying west of IH-35.
Post Oak Savannah
According to David Sierra in Tyler, timely rains are producing forage for the deer, but he does not think it will make a major impact on hunting. "It should still be a good year for hunting around food plots and in the bottoms where we've had a fair acorn production." As for the new buck antler restrictions, he suggests hunters "Err on the side of caution; if you have any doubts whether it fits in the parameter of the law, pass it up because it will be there next year." Sierra says fawn production is much better than expected, so this is a good time to harvest the recommended number of does on managed lands and he would highly recommend taking antlerless deer and those within the buck regulation. "I think harvest will be up this year and hunters will see more of the bigger bucks because they'll be moving around more," he predicts. "Instead of laying around under an oak tree eating acorns they'll have to move more to find food."
Pineywoods
"All of our acorns have already fallen and about half are good and the others are hollow," reports Gary Calkins in Jasper. "Deer aren't even hitting the acorns, they're going after the new green weeds and we're seeing a lot of movement." Calkins says in the 16 counties in his area that fall within the new buck antler restrictions this year, his only concern has been the impacts of the drought on antler quality. "With the dry weather we've had this year, rains right now don't make up for the months of drought, so we need to take a lot of does," he notes. "Doe days were increased in some counties a couple of years ago, so hunters need to take advantage of the opportunities." He went on to add that hunting should be very good this year because of the deer movement. The area saw fair fawn production this year, but because production was good last year there will be a lot of 1 and 2 year old deer so hunters need to be patient.
Possum Kingdom
Kevin Mote in Brownwood reports most of north-central Texas has experienced below average rainfall since August of 2005. "We've had very little habitat recovery during the growing season due to extremely hot and dry conditions. Dry conditions have delayed the availability of winter wheat and oat crops that are typically a good source of protein for deer heading into the fall hunting season." He says acorn crops are spotty and the much needed fall forbs have yet to appear. "All of this could certainly mean more deer at the feeders this year," he predicts. "Managers are strongly encouraged to take deer early. Well managed properties will still produce quality deer this year but as a general rule, we expect below average to average body weights and antler development throughout the eastern three-quarters of the district."
South Texas
David Synatzske in Cotulla says the drought has had an impact on fawn production and deer quality this year, but the recent rains have turned things around dramatically. "The past three months have been the driest on record, but also the last six months and the last 12 months as well. Many old-timers said it was worse than the drought of the 50s. We experienced no grass production or seed production, virtually non-existent forb production, many of the browse species failed to green up and those that did had virtually no new growth. In addition to the lack of vegetative production, perhaps the thing I noticed most was the complete lack of mast production. I cannot recall in the last 23 years a year where such total mast failure existed, even with virtually no prickly pear fruit production." But what a difference rain makes. "The same area where we'd had less than two inches since the first of the year has had seven-plus inches in the last five weeks! Grass and forb production is unbelievable and brush has exhibited a tremendous level of new growth. Since one of those rains was 4.5 inches we have more water than we've probably had in many of the ponds in the past 10 years and deep moisture is present as well." Deer movements have been noted to be severely impacted by the flush of vegetation and it will likely be a harder than normal season for hunters as a result.
Panhandle
"We were real dry the first two thirds of the summer and range conditions were tough," says Danny Swepston in Amarillo. "Since late July, things have improved dramatically and range conditions going into the season are good to excellent. Body weights should be good, but antler development likely suffered during the drought." Swepston reports the Panhandle is not lacking in available food for deer. "There's plenty for them to eat out there. We have lots of winter wheat. I would encourage folks to take does, especially on the eastern side of the region where we're seeing higher densities of deer."
Coastal Prairies and Marshes
David Forrester in LaGrange notes, "Other than in Brazoria, Matagorda and Victoria counties, the majority of the area has experienced poor range conditions since last winter. As a result, antler development would not be expected to be as good as it was in the 2005-2006 hunting season. Additionally, last year's fawn crop was substantial, so we expect a large number of young bucks entering the 1 year-old cohort. Although recent rains should provide some good forbs and browse going into winter, deer will probably readily visit existing feeders." The acorn crop is spotty in this region, although live oak seems to be producing well. There are reports of some water oak, but not much else. "I would urge hunters in the antler restriction counties to make use of the unbranched antlered tag this year," recommends Forrester. "Also, if hunters are able to harvest does, they should try to accomplish this as early as possible. Get the mouths off the range as soon as you can."
Trans Pecos
"We had a very dry winter after several years of good rain and it dried out, which will affect our antler development," says Tim Bone in Alpine. "I anticipate antler development will probably be average and our fawn crop may be down a bit." Late summer rains have helped create a "green up" and forage conditions are very good across the Trans Pecos, says Bone, "and we're getting rain in October. Any winter moisture we can get is great." Body conditions ought to be real good and Bone also emphasizes doe harvest, especially in the eastern end of the district in Terrell and Pecos counties.
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