|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-09-27                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Sept. 27, 2004
TPWD Predicting Another Banner Year for Quail Hunting
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has documented quail population trends since 1978 and long-term patterns reflect a history of "boom and bust" cycles for Texas quail. Veteran biologists and quail aficionados point to 1982 as "The Year of the Quail" in Texas, but now they are saying 2004 may be the new benchmark.
"Everyone should have a great year hunting quail this time around. This will be a year to remember," said Mike Berger, wildlife division director at TPWD.
"No other place in the country will have the birds South Texas will have this year," stated Robert Perez, TPWD quail program leader. "Past research has shown that in certain years, well-managed properties can support more than one quail per acre and this is one of those years. Reports from field staff indicate that flushed coveys are flushing other coveys when they try to land. This is indicative of high population levels."
Perez points to textbook-perfect conditions for quail reproduction for the second straight year throughout South Texas and above-average conditions across the Rolling Plains and in the Trans Pecos.
The two factors that are most important for good quail production, according to Perez, are habitat and weather. Weather can account for between 65-90 percent of annual variation in quail populations. Weather is responsible for a big chunk in the change from year to year in bobwhite numbers, but habitat accounts for the rest.
"You have to have habitat and we have habitat," said Perez. "The last strongholds for bobwhite quail in the world are South Texas, the Rolling Plains and western Oklahoma and the reason is habitat. What we're seeing this year are quail spilling over into habitat that's marginal at best, while those properties that manage for quail have phenomenal numbers of birds."
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 remained good from April through September and some hens that were successful early in the year will conceivably produce a second clutch with a new mate.
Hunters who have never had the opportunity to swing on a flushing covey of bobwhites or who've allowed their scattergun to collect dust are urged to don a bird vest and take to the fields this season. "With quail, there's no guarantee of carryover of birds from one year to the next," explained Perez. "We've been blessed with two straight years of good conditions, but if we get a cold, dry winter with as many birds as there are on the ground this year, there won't be enough food to sustain them all. When you have conditions like this, you ought to take advantage of them."
For those who don't have access to private land or are on a budget, there are ample opportunities to take part in the upcoming quail season on public land. Wildlife biologists at the Chaparral and James Daughtrey Wildlife Management Areas in South Texas point to banner bobwhite quail production, while the Gene Howe and Matador WMAs in the Panhandle should also offer excellent public hunting opportunities. Access to hunting at these WMAs and others is available with the purchase of a $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit, which can be bought wherever hunting licenses are sold, online at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/licenses/online_sales/) or by calling toll free (800) 895-4248. There is a $5 convenience fee for online and phone purchases.
In addition to ideal bobwhite quail hunting conditions this year, hunters should not overlook opportunities to pursue scaled quail, also known as blue quail, which occur in the arid desert regions of the Trans Pecos. Scaled quail surveys this year were the highest in 12 years and biologists on the Elephant Mountain and Black Gap WMAs are noting excellent numbers of birds. "If you've ever hoped to hunt blue quail in West Texas, this is the year to get it done," said Perez.
While overall population trends have increased, survey results don't always equate with hunting success in specific locations. Perez recommends drawing from past success in the field to determine likely quail haunts this year. "I'd suggest going back to the same areas that held birds last year, because that's where you're likely to find them this year," said Perez. "But what's been surprising this year is some landowners who haven't seen quail in a long time are suddenly seeing them on their property so you can't rule out anything."
The statewide quail season runs from Oct. 30-Feb. 27. 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.
"Annual quail population changes can be dramatic and our surveys indicate you may have to wait several years for another great year," he added. "We came off a terrible drought three years ago and are now seeing two consecutive banner years in South Texas. It is extremely rare to have those kinds of conditions repeat. I'm excited about what we have right now."
For more information on quail hunting in Texas, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/hunt/) or call (512) 389-4505.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Sept. 27, 2004
Donations, Surcharge Bolster Shrimp License Buyback Program
AUSTIN, Texas -- Thanks to recent financial boosts to a voluntary license buyback effort, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is well on its way to achieving the objectives of the state's commercial shrimping limited entry program, not the least of which is to ensure the long term health of Texas bays and estuaries.
Since the beginning of the buyback program in 1996, TPWD has retired 1,187 of 3,231 licenses on the books at a cost of $7.2 million. The overall number of inshore shrimp vessels in Texas waters has decreased from around 2,100 down to around 1,200 since the buyback program began. The most recent round wrapped up this year, when the agency retired 104 shrimping licenses, with the agency paying an average of $7,600. Of those licenses, 30 were purchased with assistance from the Earl C. Sams Foundation through a grant agreement with TPWD.
"With this round of buybacks, we are continuing our objective of reducing the number of commercial bay and bait licenses," said Robin Riechers, management director for TPWD's coastal fisheries division. "Our objectives continue to be higher catch rates for shrimpers, reduced bycatch mortality and a healthy ecosystem."
The result of the voluntary buyback program is the number of shrimping licenses issued for state waters has dropped by 37 percent. With fewer shrimpers on the water, remaining commercial shrimpers have less competition for the limited shrimp resource, a shot at increased profits and, resource managers hope, a stabilized shrimp fishery.
Reduced shrimping effort means less bycatch of finfish, crabs and other non-target animals, plus fewer nets scraping the bottom of the bays, damaging the hugely important but often ignored benthic ecosystem.
For the first five years of the limited-entry program, state funding for the license buyback came almost exclusively from a surcharge on commercial shrimping licenses. The commercial license surcharge annually generated only about $170,000 -- enough to buy back only a relative handful of licenses. In those first years TPWD did acquire a $1.4 million dollar grant that enabled the program to get off to a good start; however, long-term stable funding was not in the mix.
That changed in 2000, when the TPW Commission approved a $3 surcharge on saltwater fishing stamps required of almost all recreational anglers fishing Texas coastal waters. That surcharge was scheduled to expire in 2005, but the commission recently approved an indefinite extension.
Bolstered by the additional funding, the buyback program has made good progress reducing shrimping effort in Texas waters. TPWD has held 14 shrimp license buyback rounds, said Riechers.
"Having grown up around Corpus Christi, I was aware of what the nets had done to the flounder population. I had seen the blue crab disappear and the golden croaker and red drum decline," recalled Bruce Hawn, president of the Earl C. Sams Foundation. "I knew it was real important to minimize the impact of shrimping in our bay system and that's why we felt compelled to give the money we did to help the buyback effort."
The Earl C. Sams Foundation was created in 1946 by Hawn's great grandfather, Earl C. Sams, and has a long history of conservation efforts along the Texas coast. Hawn's sister, Susan Yuras, is chairman of the foundation's board of directors.
Among the group's accomplishments include the creation of the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, which was donated to the city. The foundation recently helped the Saltwater-Fisheries Enhancement Association create a red drum grow-out pond at the Texas State Aquarium, which has the potential of rearing one million redfish a year. The foundation has also funded numerous wildlife and marine studies during the years and has been a substantial supporter of Texas conservation efforts.
In addition to the Earl C. Sams Foundation, the buyback effort has been supplemented by donations from conservation groups including: the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association, Saltwater Conservation Association of Texas and the Saltwater-Fisheries Enhancement Association as well as private donors.
The buyback process for commercial license holders is a reverse bid by which license holders provide TPWD the price for which they are willing to sell their licenses back to the department. The 15th round of the license buyback program is currently ongoing and the deadline for applications is Oct. 1.
For more information on the buyback program, contact Bobby Miller in Seabrook at (281) 534-0110, or bobby.miller@tpwd.texas.gov, Art Morris in Corpus Christi at (361) 825-3356, or art.morris@tpwd.texas.gov, or Robin Riechers in Austin at (512) 389-4645, or robin.riechers@tpwd.texas.gov.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Sept. 27, 2004
Rains Bode Well for Budweiser ShareLunker Program
ATHENS, Texas -- Just as April showers bring May flowers, summer rains may produce lots of big bass, come winter.
The 19th Budweiser ShareLunker season begins Oct. 1 and continues through April 30, and program coordinator David Campbell anticipates a good year. "Many lakes caught a lot of water this summer, and that produces more habitat for fish to spawn. Plus, when the lakes remain full for a longer period of time, the spawning areas are more accessible to anglers, and they catch more big fish," Campbell said.
Anglers who catch largemouth bass 13 pounds or more from October through April are encouraged to enter the fish into the ShareLunker program. Offspring of the lunkers are stocked into public waters in Texas in an effort to improve the quality of fishing in the state. Anglers receive a replica of their fish by Lake Fork Taxidermy and other prizes and may donate the fish to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or have it returned to them after spawning.
Anglers wishing to enter a big bass in the program may call Campbell at (903) 681-0550 any time, day or night, to arrange to have a fish picked up. Or they may page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a phone number including area code. TPWD personnel will attempt to retrieve the fish within 12 hours. Information about caring for fish before the TPWD pickup can be found on the ShareLunker Web site (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/sharelunker.htm). Most marinas also have this information.
Sharelunker Trivia
No football commentator would go into the broadcast booth without being armed with reams of mind-boggling trivia. Use the following information to impress your fishing friends with your knowledge of the ShareLunker program.
--Total number of entries in the program: 364
--Number of public waters contributing fish: 52
--Number of private waters contributing fish: 13
--Year with most entries: 1995 (36)
--Year with fewest entries: 2001 (5)
--Most common first name of angler contributing fish: David (12, followed by 10 Randys, 11 Jims, nine Johns, nine Richards)
--Most common last name of angler contributing fish: Gore and Jones (five each, followed by Taylor, four)
--First woman to contribute a fish to the program: Bernice Rhodes, in 1988.
--Number of entries weighing more than 14 pounds: 124. More than 15 pounds, 20. More than 16 pounds, 11. More than 17 pounds, four. More than 18 pounds, one, Barry St. Clair's state record from 1992.
--Number of fish weighing less than 13 pounds: six. One of these fish was donated to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for display. Some were accepted based on weighing 13 pounds on uncertified scales and were later found to weigh less.
--Smallest fish accepted into the program: 6.5 pounds. This was also the only male accepted into the program. "It was the biggest male largemouth I've ever seen," said David Campbell, "and we used it for spawning."
--Day of week most fish caught: Saturday (74)
--Day of week fewest fish caught: Tuesday (36)
--Number of fish entered into the program anonymously: one
--Length of longest fish entered: 28.5 inches
--Number of fish whose girth exceeded its length: One, and it was caught by Bob Zerr from a private lake in 1987. The 13.1-pound fish was 23.25 inches long and 23.75 inches around-a real "football."
--Youngest fish entered into the program: 6-7 years. This was caught by Troy Johnson caught Jan. 15, 1998 from Gibbons Creek. Male descendants of this fish are still used in TPWD's Operation World Record breeding program.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Sept. 27, 2004
Texas State Parks Offer Interesting Halloween Alternatives
AUSTIN, Texas -- Some Texas state parks this year will take advantage of Halloween falling on a Sunday just few days after the Oct. 28 full moon by offering a variety of "tricks and treats" for families in the great outdoors.
On Oct. 23, Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site in northeast Texas will host quilting activities and a quilt exhibition in conjunction with the City of Paris' annual Festival of Pumpkins. Park visitors will be able to quilt a few stitches on the Festival of Pumpkins 2004 quilt, which will be on display through Thanksgiving. The quilt festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Historic quilts belonging to the Maxey family will be displayed for the entire month of October inside the 1868 Victorian-style home of the former Confederate general and U.S. Senator. Call (903) 785-5716 for more information.
How about saddling up a camel for a special overnight trek at Monahans Sandhills State Park west of Odessa? Make your reservations for the "Full Moon in the Dunes" outing on Thursday, Oct. 28, by calling toll-free (866) 6CAMELS. The cost for adults is from $200 to $375. The rate for children 12 and younger is half price.
The following state parks will host special Halloween events on Saturday, Oct. 30.
Big Bend Ranch State Park features one of the spookiest settings for Hallowed eve activities in the moonlit desert along the Rio Grande. The park's Contrabando movie set, which includes a number of adobe structures, was featured in the made-for-TV movies as the "Streets of Laredo" and "Dead Man's Walk." The modern day movie set along the Camino del Rio west of Lajitas will transformed into a haunted ghost town featuring a haunted house, gypsy fortune-teller, games, refreshments and ghost stories around the campfire. Wear a costume and join in "The Haunting of Contrabando" from 6:30-10 p.m. The fee is $3 per person. Call (432) 424-3327 for more information.
"Fireside Storytelling" at Mission Tejas State Park near Grapeland in east Texas will feature fireside tales of fact and fiction spun by park ranger John Tatum, a member of the Tejas Storytellers Association and East Texas Storytellers Guild. Tatum promises an evening (7:30-9 p.m.) of entertaining and age-appropriate Halloween stories. Call (936) 687-2394 for more information.
Lake Texana State Park in Edna will host a Halloween party, weather permitting. Children of all ages can enjoy a hayride along the Haunted Trail, games, and costume and pumpkin-carving contests. The party will be held from 7-9 p.m. Call (361) 782-5718 for more information.
Park volunteers will host a Fall Festival at Lake Houston State Park near New Caney. There will be a will variety of activities for youngsters, exhibits and a haunted forest trail. Call (281) 354-6881 for more information.
In addition, Halloween parties are scheduled on Oct. 30 at Galveston Island, Guadalupe River and Martin Dies, Jr. state parks. For more information, visit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Web site (http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/calendar/).

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Sept. 27, 2004
Outdoor Photo Exhibit Featured at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
ATHENS, Texas -- Some of the best outdoor photographs taken during the last year will go on display Oct. 1 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
The photos were all winners in the 2004 Outdoor Writers Association of America/Nikon photography contest. The exhibit includes 16 color and 16 black-and-white photos divided into five categories: scenic, flora, fauna, people and action. Subjects include geese, bugling elk, grouse, snakes, bullfrogs, wildflowers, sled dogs, mountains and anglers in action.
The photos were selected by a panel of experts from among hundreds entered in the annual contest. Copies of the photographs may be obtained through OWAA and ordering information will be posted at the exhibit.
Nikon, Inc., funds the annual contest and traveling exhibit, which will be shown at libraries, art galleries, outdoor expos, museums and other venues nationwide. The exhibit will be at TFFC through Nov. 10.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is located near Athens, 75 miles southeast of Dallas. The photo exhibit may be viewed during the following hours: Tuesday through Saturday 9a .m. -- 4p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission to the center includes the photo exhibit and dive show at 11 a.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays; fishing in the stocked 1.5-acre casting pond; tram tours of the hatchery and access to the .8-mile wetlands trail.
For more information visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/) or call (903) 676-2277.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Sept. 27, 2004
Learn About Hunting at a Fish Place
ATHENS, Texas -- A fish hatchery may not seem to be a likely place to learn about hunting, but the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is no ordinary fish place.
For one thing, TFFC -- 75 miles southeast of Dallas -- has a visitor center where guests can learn about fish and the role hatcheries play in making Texas fishing among the best in the nation, and see for themselves how much fun it is by fishing in the 1.5-acre stocked casting pond.
For another, TFFC is as much about aquatic education as it is about producing fish. About 30,000 school children visit each year on field trips to learn about aquatic habitats, ecology and the importance of fresh water to the environment we share with wildlife.
And of course there are all those fish the hatchery produces-2-3 million largemouth bass fingerlings annually. An increasing number of those fish are descendants of 13-pound plus lunkers entered into the Budweiser ShareLunker program, which aims to increase the quality of fishing in Texas.
A major part of what makes TFFC unique among not only Texas Parks and Wildlife Department facilities but also outdoor education centers throughout North America is its multipurpose wetlands trail. On one level, the .8-mile trail introduces visitors to the role wetlands play in improving water quality and providing wildlife habitat. On another level, the trail provides example hunting scenarios, or what TPWD hunter education coordinator Terry Erwin calls "the best hunter skills trail in North America."
The trail winds alongside ponds, through a wooded area and ends at a duck blind overlooking a pond. Using full-body decoys of almost every type of game legal to hunt in Texas, instructors recreate "almost every scenario related to hunting big game, small game, waterfowl, doves, wild hogs, use of blinds, elevated stands and obstacle crossings," says Erwin.
Leading the hunter education program at TFFC is Jim Parker, a tireless 75-year-old who estimates he toils 40-70 hours a week passing on the hunting heritage to the next generation. In 2001 Parker was recognized by the International Hunter Education Association and Winchester as the hunter education instructor of the year for North America. Students are more likely to see in him the patient grandfather everyone would like to have teach them about the outdoors.
"You get self-satisfaction knowing you are helping to preserve this tradition for future generations," Parker says. "I enjoy working with people who want to learn and get out there and benefit from it."
Funding for the hunter skills trail was provided by the Dallas Safari Club, the National Rifle Association and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The hunter skills trail at TFFC is open to any hunter education instructor who wants to bring students there for that portion of the course, which is required of every hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971. Arrangements can be made by calling Parker at (903) 676-2277. A full schedule of classes, including those offered in Athens, is on the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/edu/hunted/city.phtml). Classes are scheduled through mid-December. Each listing includes the number to call to register for the class.
For general information on the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, go to the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/) or call (903) 676-2277.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [MM]
Sept. 27, 2004
State Parks Offer Hands-On Connection With Texas Archeology
AUSTIN, Texas -- October is Archeology Month, and numerous Texas state parks are hosting tours that afford visitors the chance to get up close and personal with history at places where archeologists have uncovered important clues to the past.
For instance, an archeological survey this year at Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland has identified Native American Indian artifacts in the park. Artifacts found in several sites hail from the late prehistoric time, also called the "contact period," when European settlers coexisted with Native Americans. *
Todd McMakin, Cultural Resources Specialist for East Texas, says "We are excited about this new evidence for the Nabedache Village at Mission Tejas State Park. Not only can this information be used to enhance our interpretation at the park, but it can also be used to identify the true nature of this Caddoan village. These sites will be important to our interpretation of Caddoan life during the late 17th century."
From the findings, park interpreters will now be able to share more of this land's history with the public. Visitors to Mission Tejas can go on a monthly, guided tour of the Nabedache sites and can attend the archeology fair in October. But this is only one of several sites where visitors can connect with the past during Archeology Month in October. Here are more.
--October -- Hueco Tanks State Historic Site -- Pictograph Tours -- Every Wednesday through Sunday, by prior arrangement. See historic and prehistoric pictographs while walking among the unique rock formations of Hueco Tanks. Hear about and view the beautiful wildlife, plant life and history of this oasis in the desert. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.; reservations required, (915) 849-6684. (915) 857-1135.
--October -- Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site -- Fate Bell Cave Dwelling Tour -- Every Wednesday through Sunday. Take a walking, guided tour to one of North America's oldest cave dwellings, with walls covered by Pecos River-style pictographs, some 4,000 years old. 10-11:30 a.m. and 3-4:30 p.m.; fees $3 adults, $1 children ages 6-12; tours are subject to cancellation (432) 292-4464.
--October -- Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site -- White Shaman Tour -- Every Saturday. Guided, two-hour hiking tour into the Pecos River canyon on the Galloway White Shaman Preserve to view the White Shaman. This pictograph, done in Pecos River style, has great detail. Tours are subject to cancellation. 12:30-2:30 p.m.; fees, $10 per person, (432) 292-4464
--Oct. 2 -- San Angelo State Park -- Petroglyph Tour -- Visit the site of a Native American village and see Native American rock art. Less than 100-yard walk. Meet at the South Shore gatehouse of the park. 10-11:30 a.m. (325) 949-4757.
--Oct. 10 -- Mission Tejas State Park -- Archeology Tour -- This half-mile hike will take you through three centuries of history associated with the first Christian church in what is now Texas. It will include stories of how Texas got its name, the little Caddoan girl, Angelina, Farmer Moore's contribution, the Civilian Conservation Corps involvement with the mission and park, and a visit to the sites of the Nabedache Indian village and the trace of the El Camino Real where it came through park. 10-11:30 a.m. (936) 687-2394.
--Oct. 16 -- Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site -- Archeology Fair -- There will be archeology presentations and craft demonstrations appropriate to the Caddoan Indian culture. Details to be announced. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. (936) 687-2394.
--Oct. 16-17 -- Hueco Tanks State Historic Site -- 10th Annual Interpretive Fair, The activities of the weekend will showcase the unique cultural history and natural features of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. Attractions include song, dance and drumming by Mescalero Apache, Kiowa and Tigua groups, folklorico, charro and matachin performances, pictograph tours, atl-atl throwing competition for youth, cowboy poetry and a Saturday evening campfire program. There will also be educational displays and traditional food and gifts for sale. Admission is free; donations to the site's Lone Star Legacy Fund are welcome. 8 a.m. -- 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 16. 8 a.m. -- 5:30 pm on Oct. 17. (915) 857-1135.
--Oct. 16 -- Mission Tejas State Park -- Archeology Fair -- There will be archeology presentations and craft demonstrations appropriate to the Caddoan Indian culture. Details to be announced. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (936) 687-2394.
--Oct. 23 -- Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Johnson Branch Unit -- Archeology Celebration -- Park employee Diane Dismukes will present information and a demonstration of atlatl throwing. Visitors will also be able to see the Artifact Trunk from TPWD Archeology Lab. 2-4 p.m. (940) 637-2294. **
--Oct. 23 -- Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site -- Presa Canyon Tour -- Go on an all-day hike in the lower canyons to view the rock art sites in the closed area of the park. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; fee, $20 Texas State Parks Pass members, $25 non-members; reservations required and will not be taken more than 30 days in advance, some restrictions apply, tour subject to cancellation (432) 292-4464.
For more information about all of these events, call the individual state parks, or phone state park information at (800) 792-1112.
* Correction, DATE: Sept. 29, 2004 -- Details about the artifacts were changed from the original release. (Return to corrected item.)
** Correction, Sept. 29, 2004 -- This item was not included in the original news release. (Return to corrected item.)

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 27, 2004
TPWD Calendar (September Addition)
The following meetings may be of interest to the public. Check the master calendar for all TPWD events.
--Oyster Advisory Committee Meeting, Sept. 29, Dickinson Coastal Fisheries Office, 1502 FM 517 E., Dickinson, TX 77539.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 27, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on more than 100 Texas stations. Airing Sept. 27-30, It's all-aboard for a locomotive whodunit. Plus, if you want to be able to see some of the state's best fall colors, mark your calendar for Monday through Friday next month, we'll explain why.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv).
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Sept. 27, 2004
Licensed Hunters Have Shots at Free Bighorn Sheep Hunts
AUSTIN, Texas -- Without the support of Texas sportsmen through their purchase of hunting licenses, one of the state's premier wildlife restoration efforts could not have happened. As a way of saying, "thanks for helping" the recovery of the desert bighorn sheep, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is giving away two prized guided permit hunts in a drawing among hunters who purchase their license on or before Oct. 17.
"By purchasing hunting licenses, the hunters of Texas have stepped up to the plate over the years to help pay for conservation programs like desert bighorn sheep restoration," said Robert L. Cook, TPWD Executive Director. "Without their support, this initiative would never have happened. Now that we've surpassed our goal of returning the bighorn sheep to historic levels, it's time to give something back to the hunters."
Anyone who buys a resident hunting type license (excluding TPWD employees) by midnight on Oct. 17 will automatically be entered into a drawing for one of two Texas bighorn sheep hunting permits. If you already have purchased your resident license, you are already entered in the drawing. A random drawing among license holders will be held in mid-October, with winners notified immediately following the drawing. One non-hunting companion may accompany each winner on the hunt and meals and lodging during the hunt are included in the package. The guided hunts will take place by the end of the year.
Because the hunts are physically demanding, TPWD has included a provision whereby the winners may transfer, but not sell, with permission, the permit to an immediate family member or youth 8 to 16 years of age. Hunters must be able to negotiate rugged terrain at high elevations and in extreme temperatures.
Additional information, including complete rules and restrictions, can be found on the TPWD Web site (http://tpwd.texas.gov/) or by calling the TPWD Wildlife Information Hotline at (512) 389-4505 or toll free (800) 792-1112.
Cook said the decision to offer the hunts was based on evidence of additional surplus bighorn sheep observed during recent aerial census surveys. By conducting annual helicopter survey counts, TPWD biologists can ascertain not only how many animals are present, but also if there are surplus bighorn rams. This year's survey documented 104 more sheep than last year, a 22 percent increase.
More than a century ago, wildlife biologists estimated there were about 500 desert bighorn sheep in Texas. About fifty years later, there were none. Today there are nearly 700 of these majestic animals in the state.
Coincidentally, one of the guided permit hunts will take place on the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area (WMA), where the last sighting of a native Texas bighorn sheep occurred in 1958 and where restoration efforts began. The other hunt will be held on the Black Gap WMA, where a major transplanting effort in 2001 brought in 43 bighorns from the Elephant Mountain WMA; that population of sheep has nearly doubled in size.
Since 1988, when TPWD reinstated hunting for desert bighorns on an extremely conservative basis, 53 permits have been issued. More than half of the rams harvested in Texas have qualified for the Boone and Crockett Club's big game record book, including the new state record taken earlier this year by Glenn Thurman of Mesquite.
Bighorn sheep program director Clay Brewer points to the impressive increase in population as well as the record-book quality of Texas' bighorns as indicators of the success the restoration effort is having.
In addition to the permits being offered in the drawing among Texas hunting license buyers, TPWD offers the chance to hunt a bighorn through the Big Time Texas Hunts Grand Slam hunting package. For a $10 fee, hunters can enter in a drawing for the opportunity to hunt all four of Texas prized big game animals: the desert bighorn, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Permit applications are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. Permits may also be purchased using a major credit card through the TPWD Web site or by calling (800) 895-4248.