It's the experience

Submitted by Kathy Boydston, Texas Parks and Wildlife Program Supervisor for Wildlife Habitat Assessment 

One memory of how great life is outside is one of my first public hunts.  My husband, his best friend and I had drawn on a black-powder hunt for deer on Choke Canyon Reservoir.  The public hunts were taking place on the undeveloped side of the state park. That is the beginning/edge of the south Texas brush and so we were able to experience some of the great variety of species associated with that ecosystem. 

There were three units that had hunters in them and we were in the unit farthest from the developed part of the park. This area had only one road going in, and then had some senderos that had been cleared and one or two deer blinds set up. 

There were three of us and only a couple of blinds so I opted to sit along the sendero to try and catch deer either crossing or feeding in the sendero. I was in full camo, including a face mask, which can provide some incredible wildlife viewing, especially if you can sit very still. 

I was sitting there being very still and heard some quail calls. A covey of scaled quail came out of the brush into the sendero. I was able to watch them for 30 minutes or more just moving around in a covey, calling softly to each other and looking around for food.  Then, I was spotted by a bird behind me, who picked up on the fact that there was something strange about this “brush pile” and proceeded to alert everything around me.  I finally looked behind me to see what type of bird it was and it was a verdin, the first and only time I have seen one!  After it sufficiently alerted everything around, it left. 

 At lunchtime, I was coming out of the brush (still in full camo) and noticed that a roadrunner was sneaking along the edge of the brush, looking for prey.  It was only about 10 yards away and headed my way, so I just stopped to see what might happen. It worked its way along the edge to me and then stopped right at my feet.  It looked me up and down, from head to toe, for a minute or so, and then continued on sneaking/stalking down the edge of the brush.  I almost laughed while it was checking me out, wondering what it was thinking. 

 On the way back to where we were staying, we had a somewhat sad experience when we came around a curve and saw a huge Indigo snake dead, hit while trying to cross the road.  That was the first time I had seen one up close and never one that size. It stretched from one side of the park road to the other.  I know it is difficult to think of snakes as beautiful but this one really was with that wonderful blue-black color! 

Unfortunately, we did not harvest any deer but that was a memorable time regardless, reminding us that it is the experience that you are really looking for and that a harvest is the icing on the cake.