Quail Management & Hunting: Coffee Shop Talk

Bobwhite quail are an interesting bird that many of us grew up hunting in Texas. These upland-dwelling, ground-nesting gamebirds have taken it on the chin, so to speak, in recent years, but some folks around Texas are calling it the best quail year ever. Now, we all have a chance to learn even more about bobwhite quail.

Thew Texas Wildlife Associatin (TWA) and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension are inviting everyone to join them for their next Wildlife for Lunch webinar discussing bobwhite hunting and management. The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 20, 2016, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm CDT and the session is being touted as “Coffee Shop Quail Talk: Myths and Misconceptions.”

Bobwhite Quail in Texas

This presentation will cover common myths and misconceptions related to quail ecology, management and conservation to include: impacts of fire ants, feral hogs, turkey, roadrunners, mesomammals, disease and parasites. It will also discuss ecology facts such as: double brooding, life span, reproductive strategy and potential and also impacts of hunting at multiple scales. The speaker will be Robert Perez, quail biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

There is no cost for the coffee shop quail talk and interested persons can participate anywhere with a computer, smartphone, or tablet as long as they have internet access.

To sign up, simply point your browser right here on the day of the webinar and click to join the Wildlife for Lunch webinar. Each web based seminar is fully interactive and allows you to engage the experts, make comments, and ask questions during the course of the presentation.

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Texas Quail Hunting Outlook Great in Rolling Plains, South Texas

Bobwhite quail: You either got ’em or you don’t. It’s that simple. Fortunately, the Rolling Plains and South Texas Plains of Texas have them this year!

Quail hunting in Texas comes and goes with bird populations. Although having areas where suitable habitat exist is paramount, precipitation plays a key role in the annual boom-bust cycle when it comes to annual quail production, especially in semi-arid regions such as the Rolling Plains and South Texas.

Quail Population Sets Record in Rolling Plains

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists conduct quail surveys in Texas each year in late summer. The census has been done since 1978, but it was this year that produced the highest average in the Rolling Plains of Texas, 50.2 birds per survey line.

Texas Rolling Plains Quail Population

TPWD personnel count birds by driving 20 mile routes in early morning, when bobwhite quail are most visible. The long term average for the Rolling Plains Region is 20.16, and the previous record was 49.25, in 1987. So it’s been a while, but good news for quail and quail hunters.

But it always wasn’t so rosy. During an extended drought, the Rolling Plains quail survey counted a record low of 2.91 birds per census line in 2013. That’s just a few years ago! Fast-forward to today, after two growing seasons that provided excellent rainfall, and quail numbers in the Rolling Plains have gone from worst to first. Quail are a boom-bust species, so the boom is on.

South Texas Quail Hunting Still Good

Most of South Texas had great quail hunting last season with good outings reported right up to the end of the season. Spring-summer nesting was reported across the region but field observations of broods were mixed this year. Weather conditions were variable along with nesting and brooding activity in the later summer months.

Despite differences in production, the sheer number of quail surviving from last year coupled with even minimal reproduction will likely make for an another good quail year. The average number of bobwhites observed per route was 14 compared to 21 last year. This suggests a slightly below average hunting season for South Texas as a whole, but I wouldn’t sit at home.

The Chaparral and the Daughtrey Wildlife Management Areas provide public quail hunting opportunities. Staff surveys on the Chaparral WMA recorded above average numbers of bobwhite on the area again this year. Buy an APH permit and go!

Texas Quail: Hunting for Birds Elsewhere

TPWD surveys indicate that bobwhite numbers have fallen below average in the Gulf Prairies where only 3.8 bobwhites were observed per route in 2016 compared to 14.9 last year. Although there was good carryover of adult birds along the coast, bobwhite nesting was likely adversely affected by too much rainfall in this region.

Despite a lower estimated population in this region, field reports suggest there are huntable populations of quail on well-drained sites. Hunters should focus on the central and lower coast in native prairie habitats.

The High Plains and Edwards Plateau of Texas reported a general, continued increase quail numbers. Although there are certainly areas within each region of Texas where some quail hunting opportunity remains, this survey is not designed to detect changes in localized populations, especially in fragmented landscapes.

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

Today is National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas! In recognition of the 45th annual observance of the conservation successes of hunters and anglers, Gov. Greg Abbott has proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 24, as National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas.

“Hunting and fishing are family traditions in Texas that have been passed down through generations. I am proud that, just last year, we forever enshrined the right to hunt and fish in the Texas Constitution,” said Gov. Abbott. “As we celebrate Hunting and Fishing Day, I encourage all Texans to learn more about ways we can continue to conserve our natural resources so that future generations can protect our connection with the land.”

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

It has been more than a century since America’s first environmentalists — hunters and anglers — established the conservation tradition in our nation. These early environmentalists warned that the population growth and industrial development that offered prosperity for our nation also created serious threats to the future of our wildlife resources.

Hunters and anglers fought for the laws and regulations that created a new system of wildlife management that would rescue many species of wildlife from near extinction and would set aside millions of acres of important habitat to help ensure future wildlife abundance.

In Texas, efforts by anglers helped create protection of red drum and other aquatic resources from commercial over-harvest, as well as conservation of aquatic habitat such as seagrasses and the control of invasive exotic aquatic vegetation.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. From shopping center exhibits to statewide expos, millions of citizens learned to appreciate America’s sportsman-based system of conservation funding. That system now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places.

McFaddin NWR Acreage, Duck Hunting Increases

McFaddin National Wildife Refuge (NWR) and other public lands are getting additional acreage as a result of money from duck stamp purchases. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved $33.2 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to purchase, lease or otherwise conserve more than 81,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across the United States.

“The first Migratory Bird Treaty was signed 100 years ago as part of our commitment to protect and conserve North America’s treasured migratory bird species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The funding approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is evidence that this commitment endures today as strongly as ever.”

Of the total funds approved by the commission, $21.5 million will be provided through North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants to conserve more than 68,000 acres of wetlands and adjoining areas in 19 states. NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. For a complete list of projects funded, go here.

To date, NAWCA funds have advanced conservation of 33.5 million acres of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 states and Canada, engaging more than 5,600 partners in more than 2,600 projects. NAWCA grants are funded through federal appropriations as well as fines, penalties and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; from federal fuel excise taxes on small gasoline engines, as directed by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act; and from interest accrued on Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funds. Grants made through this program require matching investments. The projects approved today will leverage an additional $51.7 million in matching funds.

The commission also approved expenditure of $11.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve more than 13,000 additional acres at four national wildlife refuges – McFaddin in Texas, Felsenthal in Arkansas, Lower Hatchie in Tennessee and Turnbull in Washington. The funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps (Duck Stamps), which help provide habitat for wildlife and increased opportunities for refuge visitors who hunt, bird-watch, photograph and view wildlife.

“The sale of Duck Stamps continues to play a pivotal role in conserving our nation’s wildlife,” said Ashe. “Although required by those goose and duck hunting as an annual license, these stamps are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of the National Wildlife Refuge System who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation. The money generated through Duck Stamp sales has been essential in helping maintain and grow this irreplaceable network that also provides all Americans with opportunities to get outside and experience nature.

For every dollar spent on federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund have provided more than $800 million to acquire more than 5.7 million acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Good news for Texas duck hunters and especially McFaddin NWR.

CWD in Texas Panhandle Mule Deer: Meetings Scheduled

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in a hunter-harvested mule deer last year in the Texas Panhandle. The next step is monitoring to determine the spread within the region. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in partnership with Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, has set two informational meetings to help educate landowners, hunters and the public in the Texas Panhandle about CWD management.

Meetings on CWD Regulations

CWD meetings are open to the public and will be held in:

  • Dalhart – Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Dallam County Courthouse, District Courtroom, 501 Denver Ave.
  • Amarillo – Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m., Amarillo Public Library (Downtown Branch), 413 E 4th Ave.

During the meetings, aspects of new CWD regulations will be thoroughly explained including the establishment of CWD zones, mandatory sampling of hunter-harvested deer in the CWD zones and restriction of permitted deer movements to and from the CWD zones.

CWD Rules in Texas Panhandle

New rules banning importation of certain deer and elk carcass parts from states where the disease has been detected, as well as the movement of the same carcass parts from CWD zones within Texas, will also be covered.

The new rules developed by TPWD and TAHC are part of the state’s comprehensive CWD management plan to determine the prevalence and geographic extent of the disease and to contain the disease to the areas where it is known to exist.

For more information about CWD, CWD management and new CWD regulations.

Texas Public Hunt Drawings: Deer Deadlines Soon

If you are interested in the Texas public hunting drawings for white-tailed deer do not waste any time. The application deadlines for deer hunts on public lands will be here soon. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Drawn Hunts for deer categories have until midnight Tuesday, September 20, to apply.

Texas Public Deer Hunting Costs

The Drawn Hunts program offers economical deer hunting opportunities across Texas, including several Youth-Only hunt categories. Application fees for public deer permits are $3 or $10 depending on the hunt category. Selected adults hunters may also need to pay a Special Permit fee of $80 for regular hunts and $130 for extended deer hunts.

Some categories, such as the Youth-Only deer hunts, require no application fees or permit fees, so these are good ways to get your kids a big outdoor experience for a only a little money.

Texas Deer Hunting

Application Deadlines for Public Hunts

It’s mid-September so there is no time to waste! Among the popular drawn hunt categories closing September 20 include: E-Postcard-Youth Deer Antlerless/Spike; Gun Deer — Antlerless/Spike; Gun Deer — Either Sex; Gun Deer – Management; Youth Only Gun Deer — Either Sex; and Youth Only Gun Deer – Management.

Hunters can apply up to 11:59 p.m. Central Time on the application deadline and after the application is submitted, and they can check their drawing status online at any time.

How to Apply for Draw Hunts in Texas

All hunt opportunities can be viewed by category or by hunting land/area using an interactive map. The entire process is handled online — from browsing opportunities, to permit applications, fee payments and deer permit issuance. To participate, applicants will of course need internet access, an email address and a credit or debit card.

It also helps to have a current hunting license. The Customer ID number from the applicant’s hunting or fishing license is one of the easy ways to access the system, but you do not need a current hunting license to apply.

For more information about Texas public hunt drawings and to get started in the application process visit the TPWD web site. They have all of the deer hunts broken out by hunt type, method of take and by site/area.

Best Dove Hunting in Texas in 10 Years

Dove Hunting a Big Deal

There is no doubt that the opening day of dove hunting season is Texas is considered a bonafide holiday by many hunters. Dove hunting is also a big deal to all of those little crossroad towns that dot Texas’ rural landscape. The contributions to those local economies is significant, with direct expenditures and taxes from dove hunting contributes over $400 million to the Texas economy.

With the average hunter taking 7 to 8 shots per bagged bird, that’s a lot of shells, for starters. And a lot of sold burgers at DQ.

Dove Season Expectations

With opening day done, what can dove hunters expect to find in the fields the rest of the season? Based on survey conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), mourning dove numbers may be some of the highest in more 10 years in the Panhandle with similar numbers as 2015 in the remainder of Texas. White-winged doves continue to increase in numbers across the state, but surveys show that the growth of the species is no longer ramping up, but rather growing slowing.

“Dove hunters should be prepared for good seed production across the state, so there will be plenty dove foods available for mourning doves except in areas where flooding occurred,” said Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD dove program leader. “This may make dove hunting a little more difficult due to thick vegetation cover, and hunters will need to spend a little more time finding downed birds in areas due to this issue during opening day in some areas.”

Texas 2016-17 Dove Hunting Seasons

Dove season in Texas‘ North Zone runs Sept. 1 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 1, 2017; in the Central Zone from Sept. 1 – Nov. 6 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 8, 2017; and in the South Zone from Sept. 23 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 23, 2017. The daily bag limit for doves statewide is 15 and the possession limit 45.

In the Special White-winged Dove Area, the season runs Sept. 3-4, 10-11, Sept. 23 – Nov. 9, Dec. 17 – Jan. 23, 2017. During the early two weekends in the Special White-winged Dove Area, hunting is allowed only in the afternoon and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. During the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

Wildlife Management Workshop for Deer, Hogs & CWD

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has announced that it will offer a Wildlife Management Workshop on September 24th, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for Central Texas property owners. The even will take place at the Bass Conference Center located at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, about 30 minutes west of Kerrville.

The wildlife management topics covered will include white-tailed deer management, dealing with feral hogs and provide information on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The purpose of the workshop is to:

  • Provide up to date knowledge pertaining to White-tailed deer (Genetics, Nutrition, and Habitat)
  • Manage Feral Hogs (Eradication, Trapping, Lethal doses of Sodium Nitrite); and
  • Discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (Knowledge and Scientific facts on CWD, Existing/Future regulations pertaining to CWD.

All presentations will be made by TPWD trained specialists and biologists. To register for this wildlife management workshop, contact Brock Minton; (S. TX. Hunter Ed. Specialist) at 361-944-3617 or at brock.minton@tpwd.texas.gov. Seating is limited so if you are interested in learning about managing whitetail and hogs then get signed up ASAP.

Each participant will be responsible for bringing his or her own lunch. Distances to and from area dining facilities are too far from the Kerr WMA and time consuming, and will interfere with workshop’s agenda.The afternoon portion of this workshop will be conducted outdoors. Please be prepared (bug repellant; sun block), and dress (clothing, boots, etc.) for all adverse conditions.

Best of all, there is no charge for this workshop!