Extra Bullets

By John Jefferson

Like to hunt and fish?

If so, you might be interested in this. Senate Joint Resolution 2 2, introduced in the 2015 legislative session, proposed a Texas constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. It passed both houses and will appear on the November 2015 ballot for voter approval. Your right to vote is already guaranteed; so make your opinions known this November!

Think eastern turkey check stations are a hassle? Check this out!

Eastern turkeys still have to be repor ted within 24 hours of harvest, but hunters no longer have to leave camp to do it. In fact, starting with the 2016 spring season, there won’t be any more check stations. Instead, harvested easterns can be reported online at tpwd.texas.gov/turkey/ or on a new app called My Texas Hunt Harvest. The app is available for download for Android devices at Google Play and for iOS devices from the App Store. A confirmation number will be issued upon registration, but hunters still have to tag their bird. The app has other features for hunters, including a harvest log.

Buckin' the Trend

For decades in East Texas, when deer sprouted their first antlers, they were in somebody’s sights. Prior to 2002, 52% of harvested bucks in some areas consisted of yearling bucks. Two-year-old bucks accounted for another 27%—shot before age could mature their antlers. Then came antler restrictions— notably requiring 13-inch minimum antler width. A three-year experimental season resulted in considerably more mature deer harvested, and remarkably fewer young ‘uns. More counties were added; 117 currently have the restriction. Now, 56.65% of harvested bucks are 3.5 years or older. TPWD’s age and antler survey and recent Texas Big Game Awards entries show a steady increase in Boone & Crockett scores among these bucks. In the Piney Woods, seven non-typicals scored over 160 B&C, the highest taping 1975⁄8. Eight typical bucks measured more than 160—all from low- fenced ranches. Alan Cain, TPWD’s white-tailed deer program leader, attributes the increase to antler restrictions and knowledge. “Hunters and landowners have become more educated in deer management,” Cain says, “resulting in improvement in overall quality across Texas.”

Bears in the Air

TPWD’s law enforcement just elevated its ability to move wardens, gear, and even K-9 units with its new Airbus helicopter. The chopper has the latest law enforcement technology, satellite communication, and night vision. “This helicopter is a tremendous asset and force multiplier for the Texas game wardens, especially in times of disaster,” says Colonel Craig Hunter.

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