|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-10-30                                    |
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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: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Oct. 30, 2009
Big Time Texas Hunt Winners Announced
AUSTIN, Texas -- Ty Chumley was due for a bit of luck after losing his home and most of his belongings to Hurricane Ike.
Chumley, a tugboat operator from Nederland, bought one chance in this year's Big Time Texas Hunts Grand Slam category; it was the first time he'd ever entered. He won.
The winner of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts crown jewel, the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, receives four separate guided hunts for Texas' most prized big game animals -- desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.
"I haven't hunted deer since I was a kid and I lost most of my guns in the hurricane," said Chumley, who will embark on the first of four big game hunts-of-a-lifetime in early December as winner of this year's Texas Grand Slam special drawn hunt package. "I'm a fisherman, but this will definitely get me started back into hunting."
Chumley joins 16 other lucky sportsmen who are making special plans for hunting season as winners of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts. The hunters were selected by random computer drawing from applicants in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program.
All told, hunters bought 72,688 Big Time Texas Hunt entries during this year's sales period through the Oct. 15 deadline. This generated about $704,507 in gross revenue to support wildlife research, habitat management and public hunting.
Following are the winners of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts.
--Grand Slam -- Ty Chumley, Nederland.
--Premium Buck Hunt -- Kelly Nunn, Austin.
--Exotic Safari -- Michael Masera, Houston and Jeffrey Pumphrey, Midway, Kentucky.
--Whitetail Bonanza -- Lawrence Ringley, McKinney; Gene Finn, Granger; Daniel Boschert, Dallas; Randy Ansley, Forney; Sammy Kelley, San Antonio; Robert Peterson, Temple; John Ehrhart, Highland Village; Charles Salazar, Houston; James Denny, Lockhart; John Massey, Kerrville.
--Big Time Bird Hunt -- Phillip Barry, Highland Village.
--Waterfowl Adventure -- Donald Tousley, Wichita Falls.
--Gator Hunt -- Gregg Slade, Lockhart.

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
Oct. 30, 2009
Deer Season Prospects Shaping Up With Recent Rains
AUSTIN, Texas - An early and abundant acorn crop, combined with new growth of native vegetation may force Texas deer hunters to stray from supplemental food sources during the 2009-2010 general deer season, which opens Nov. 7.
Reports from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department field biologists indicate above average mast crop production and an early acorn drop. Recent rains across much of the state have also helped generate forb production, adding to the availability of native food sources for deer.
"It's been at least three years since ground moisture has been this good at this time of year," said Mike Krueger, TPWD district wildlife biologist in Kerrville. "It looks like springtime in the Edwards Plateau at this time.
Krueger noted the warm-season plants have put on a final burst of growth and flowers and there is a flush of early growth of cool-season grasses and forbs. That will probably contribute to a slow deer season for hunters, especially early in the season and especially for those hunters that are dependent on hunting over feeders.
"There is an abundance of food sources for deer right now, and deer movements are reduced because they don't have to move as far or as often to keep their bellies full," Krueger added. "Deer don't appear to be coming to feeders as often or as regularly as they would if it were still dry."
The only consolation is that bucks are becoming more active due to the onset of the rut in the Hill Country, so they'll be moving around as they typically do during the rut, regardless of the condition of the range.
Although the range conditions are good to excellent right now, the rains came too late to help with this year's buck antler growth which is probably no better than average throughout the Edwards Plateau region, or with the fawn production that is also no better than average. But if it continues to rain throughout the fall and winter, the stage is being set for better antler growth and fawn production next year.
While recent rains have improved range conditions across much of the state, whitetails in South Texas are battling through an extended stress period that started with last year's rut, according to biologists.
"Last season the rut was later and more spread out than normal and this did not fare well for mature deer," said Daniel Kunz, TPWD biologist in Alice. "By the first of February bucks were extremely drawn down and numerous reports of early antler shedding were occurring; an indication that bucks could be in poor shape. This will likely affect antler quality."
Hunters should expect a reasonable number of 2 ½ year old bucks and 5 ½ to 7 ½ year old bucks as 2002-2004 and 2007 were good fawn production years resulting in good carry over, added TPWD biologist Dustin Windsor in Cotulla.
"Everything's greened up and deer aren't coming to feeders as readily because there's so much forage out there," said Alan Cain, TPWD district wildlife biologist for South Texas. "That might affect hunting success early in the fall but deer will still be there."
Surprisingly, according to Cain, some of the helicopter surveys in the brush country are showing some decent body conditions on bucks and does. Some places have some pretty good deer despite drought conditions. Fawn crops are looking pretty pitiful this year.
One region of the state that is entering the fall hunting season in prime condition is the Panhandle, according to Calvin Richardson, TPWD district biologist in Amarillo.
"The Panhandle deer herds -- both mule and whitetail -- are in great condition and should go into the fall in great shape," said Richardson. "With harvest being down last year, we should have some older aged bucks carry over into this year's season. My guess is that both mule deer and white-tails are not going to have to move around much to find quality forage, so hunting feeders might not be as productive as in years that we have been dry.
Deer hunters in 52 counties this season will be joining those in 61 existing counties having buck antler restrictions. Legal bucks in those counties are those with at least 1 unbranched antler (e.g., spikes and 3-pointers) or having an inside spread of at least 13 inches.
Newly affected counties include: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.
According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, the antler restrictions have significantly improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect.
Hunters should also note whitetail bag limits have changed in several counties across the state. Be sure to check the county listings in the 2009-2010 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations for the county hunted.
The department got overwhelming support to increase whitetail bag limits in several areas of the state with growing deer numbers or populations sufficient to support additional hunting opportunity.
The department is increasing the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). Counties affected include: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.
In addition, the department is increasing the bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans-Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer.
Another change increases the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Counties affected include: Armstrong, Borden, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.
The department also opened whitetail hunting in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless).
Areas of the state having sufficient antlerless deer populations to warrant additional hunting opportunity are getting more doe days this fall. The department is increasing antlerless deer hunting in the following areas:
--from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties;
--from 30 days to full-season either-sex in Cooke, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties;
--from four days to16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties;
--from four days to Nov. 7-29 in Cherokee and Houston counties;
--from no doe days to four doe days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties.
The department is also expanding the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected include: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Borden, Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.
In East Texas, the department is establishing a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthening the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and altering the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season.
New counties affected include: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.
The department is also adding one additional weekend and 10 additional weekdays in January to the current youth-only season.
The department also established a one buck only, antlerless by permit, nine-day mule deer season for Parmer County, the first ever deer season for that county.
The season concludes in the North Zone on Jan. 3 and the South Zone season ends Jan. 17.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, Robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Jennifer Owen-White, 512-539-7272, Jennifer.owen@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Oct. 30, 2009
eBird Kiosks Debut at Texas State Parks
AUSTIN, Texas -- A new system in Texas state parks that are part of the World Birding Center network in the Lower Rio Grande Valley will allow bird watchers to record their sightings and use an online, interactive database to see what other birders have reported, creating a continuously updated record of bird observations for each site where it is featured.
The network, called the eBird Trail Tracker, was developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, is currently based at three states parks in Texas and will eventually expand to most of the nine WBC sites. There are 20 eBird kiosks located throughout the nation.
The WBC site in Weslaco, Estero Llano Grande State Park, in 2007 became the first location in the nation outside of Cornell to install an eBird kiosk. Kiosks at the WBC headquarters in Mission, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State, and at Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville also are up and running. Birders can access the kiosks at all three parks in the Visitors Center.
The eBird database also can be accessed via the Texas eBird Web site. Sightings entered in the state park kiosks appear on the Texas eBird Web site and conversely those entered on the Web site are displayed on the kiosks. Biologists and ornithologists can use the data logged in the system to map out bird populations and distribution, and coordinate conservation efforts.
"It's an easy, user-friendly way for our visitors to get an update on the species they are interested in seeing and then share their experiences with future visitors," said Jennifer Owen-White, South Texas state parks regional interpretive specialist. "People enjoy mapping their sightings and comparing them to what others have seen, plus the new sound and photographic features make it an excellent educational tool. The more people who use it, the better information we have."
In addition to logging bird sightings and locations, users can view photos and listen to audio recordings of bird songs. The system also helps visitors who aren't familiar with birds identify what species they have seen.
"Visitors can come in and see what birds have been sighted in the past day, two days, week, month, etcetera," Owen-White said. "Then they can look at where the sightings occurred on a map of the park. They can look up pictures of birds, listen to bird songs and find information about birds-and soon there will be video. Then, they can input information about what they have seen and send it in an e-mail. Plus, since the information is online, they can actually plan their visit before they even go to the park."
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
Oct. 30, 2009
Texas Delaying Oyster Season Opening In Some Areas
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas oyster season will open Nov. 1, but due to health risks there will be several areas closed to harvest. Recent heavy rains statewide and red tide events on the lower Texas coast prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue closure notices for some shellfish harvesting areas, including the Galveston Bay area.
In addition to the delay, East Galveston Bay will remain closed for two years to bolster oyster reef recovery from Hurricane Ike damage.
Oystermen are reminded closure violations now carry stiffer penalties as a result of actions taken during the 80th Legislature to further deter harvest of oysters in closed waters. New laws require that everyone on board a harvesting vessel in violation of a closure be charged instead of only the vessel captain. The penalty is a fine of not less than $500 or more than $4,000 and up to a year in jail or both.
Texas game wardens patrol the state's bays and estuaries to protect consumers by ensuring that oysters are not harvested from unapproved areas that could be a health risk.
Specific area closures can be obtained by contacting the Texas Department of State Health Service at 800-685-0361 or any TPWD coastal area office.
On the Net: