+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-10-31                                    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes.          |
|  It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying            |
|  and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages.             |
|  To copy the text into an editing program:                              |
|    --Display this page in your browser.                                 |
|    --Select all.                                                        |
|    --Copy.                                                              |
|    --Paste in a document in your editing program.                       |
|  If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send            |
|  an e-mail to webtech@tpwd.state.tx.us and mention Plain Text Pages.    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 31, 2005
Application Deadline Is Nov. 5 for Big Time Texas Hunts
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Lone Star State boasts some of the finest hunting anywhere in the country, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Big Time Texas Hunts offer hunters a chance to experience the best of the best. But, you can't have a shot at the action if you don't apply and deadline for entries is Nov. 5.
The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more top guided hunts with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas' most prized big game animals -- the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Big Time Texas Hunts also offers six other exciting hunt packages, including opportunities to hunt quality whitetail, alligator, exotic big game, waterfowl and upland game birds. Winners could have the opportunity to take their hunts as early as December.
Entries for the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each and are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. They may also be purchased online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/dreamhunts/) or by phone (800) 895-4248. For online and phone purchases there is an additional $5 administration fee. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, and entries may be purchased as gifts for others. Purchasers must be 17 years of age or older.
Proceeds from the Big Time Texas Hunts are dedicated to providing more public hunting opportunity and to funding wildlife conservation and research programs in Texas. Last year, more than 80,000 entries were received.
Here's a summary of the Big Time Texas Hunts offerings:
The Texas Grand Slam -- This is truly the hunt of a lifetime. The bighorn sheep hunt is very exclusive; TPWD only issues a handful of permits a year. The bighorn sheep hunt takes place on Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, just outside of Alpine, in far West Texas. The other three hunts included in the Texas Grand Slam will be on some of the most exclusive private ranches in the state. The winner may also bring along a non-hunting companion to share in this awesome outdoor adventure.
Texas Whitetail Bonanza -- 10 winners will each get to experience a high-quality white-tailed deer hunt, something legendary to Texas on popular ranches known to produce big bucks (150-plus Boone and Crockett scores). Guide service, food and lodging are provided on these 3-5-day trips during hunting season. Each winner can also bring along a companion to hunt as well.
Texas Gator Hunt -- One winner and a guest will enjoy a rare and unique three-day trip pursuing alligators at the J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area on the Gulf Coast. Both hunters may harvest one alligator. All necessary equipment, expert guides, lodging and gator hide removal are included. The winner and guest will also be treated to an airboat tour of the marsh to view alligators.
Texas Waterfowl Adventure -- One winner and as many as three invited guests will win a series of four exciting waterfowl adventures. The hunts are located on some of the best waterfowl areas in Texas. Trips include a Coastal Prairies guided hunt for snows, blues and white-fronted geese; a guided duck hunt in the Coastal Marshes; an East Texas hunt for wood ducks and mallards, and a guided trek in the Panhandle for Canada and snow geese.
Texas Exotic Safari -- Two winners will experience the thrill of hunting African exotic game right here in Texas on the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the Texas Hill Country. Each winner can take two exotic species, including waterbuck, gemsbok, scimitar-horned oryx, greater kudu, sable antelope and impala. Hunters may choose to shoot modern rifle, muzzleloader, archery or crossbow. Winners can also bring along a companion to hunt a management exotic. Food and lodging will be provided at the scenic Mason Mountain WMA lodge. Taxidermy service will be provided for the two winners. Proceeds go to benefit wildlife conservation and research on Mason Mountain WMA.
Texas Big Time Bird Hunt -- One winner along with as many as three hunting buddies will enjoy a unique package of upland game bird hunts: two days of quail, two days of pheasant hunting in the Panhandle and two afternoons of dove hunting. There will also be a two-day guided spring turkey hunt for two included in the package. Food, guide service and lodging are included on all bird hunts, and pointing dogs are provided for quail and pheasant hunts.
Texas Premium Buck Hunt -- This is the ultimate deer hunting experience-take a shot at a trophy white-tailed buck (160-plus Boone and Crockett score) in the rugged South Texas brush country. One winner and a guest will enjoy the finest deer hunting trip that Texas can offer. Professional guide service, food and high quality accommodations are included to provide each hunter comfort as well as great hunting.
TPWD first offered the Texas Grand Slam in 1996 and expanded the concept to create Big Time Texas Hunts in 1999. Since then, revenue from the program has benefited a range of wildlife conservation projects, including the following:
--Aerial surveys of desert bighorn sheep in the Trans-Pecos region.
--Landscape evaluation of pronghorn antelope and mule deer habitats in the Trans-Pecos.
--Habitat preferences and movement of pronghorn in the lower Rolling Plains region.
--Ecological studies on Gambel's quail and Montezuma quail.
--Texas' portion of a national mourning dove banding study.
--Rainwater collection system (guzzler) use by wildlife on the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area.
--White-tailed deer food habits in the Rolling Plains.
--Effects of disking on bobwhite quail habitat.
--Lesser prairie chicken habitat use and survival in fragmented and unfragmented habitats.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 31, 2005
Migratory Bird Report Gives Hunters a Weekly 'Heads-Up'
AUSTIN, Texas -- In an effort to give migratory bird hunters a ballpark view of what to expect during an upcoming trip, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers a weekly migratory game bird hunting report.
In its fifth season, the TPWD weekly hunting report models the state agency's weekly fishing report, which has been providing information about fishing conditions at most major freshwater lakes and coastal bay systems to Texas anglers for more than 25 years.
Like the fishing report, which combines factual data like water temperatures, lake levels and water clarity with anecdotal information from avid anglers, the weekly migratory bird hunting report gives sportsmen an overview of regional conditions.
As most waterfowlers know, weather conditions play a big part in setting the stage for a successful outing. Drawing insight from area weather forecasts, the report puts those factors in perspective with bird movements as observed by wildlife biologists, refuge managers and avid hunters.
The report, which goes out on Wednesdays, is available online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/news/migratory.htm) and is carried by some newspapers. Also available on that Web page are links to related information for migratory bird hunters, including season dates and bag limits, zone maps and recent news releases. The weekly hunting report will continue through the middle of February.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Oct. 31, 2005
Shocking Story From Lake Alan Henry
ATHENS, Texas-Largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more are so rare only 385 have been entered into the Budweiser ShareLunker program over the past 19 years.
As rare as it is for an angler to land such a fish, it's even more unusual for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists to collect one during annual electrofishing surveys.
The crew of Charlie Munger, David DeLeon and Craig Bonds were lucky enough to have that experience on Lake Alan Henry the night of October 18. Using a specially equipped boat that sends an electric current into the water to temporarily stun fish, the three were themselves stunned when a 13.9-pound largemouth bass 24.8 inches long floated to the surface.
In comparison, the biggest bass ever electrofished from Lake Fork, the big bass lake in East Texas that has produced 222 Budweiser ShareLunkers, weighed in at 11.5 pounds and was collected in October 1992, according to Kevin Storey, TPWD biologist for that lake.
"I've electrofished public and private lakes in Virginia and Texas for 10 years, and that's the largest fish I've personally electrofished," Bonds said. "We electrofished a total of one hour that night, and we got four other fish over 5 pounds."
Making the event even more unusual is the fact that Lake Alan Henry, located southeast of Lubbock, is a canyon lake with relatively little shallow water. Electrofishing is normally not effective in water more than about 8 feet deep. "We had just come out of a cove on Rocky Creek and rounded the main lake point when she came up out of a juniper bush with only its top sticking out of the water," Bonds said. "She might have been suspended up in that bush."
The normal routine of netting fish and dumping them into a holding tank to be weighed and measured came to a halt when DeLeon brought the big bass aboard with his long-handled dip net. "There was a lot of whooping and hollering even from folks somewhat used to seeing big fish," Bonds said. "Everyone realized it may have been a once-in-a-career thing to sample a fish that big."
The crew quickly weighed and measured the fish and returned her to the water. "She swam right off," Bonds said. "She was just gorgeous--not really long, but very thick, plump, in great shape, not a blemish on her."
While largemouths 13 pounds or larger are very rare, Lake Alan Henry has established a reputation as one of the best lakes in Texas to catch a trophy bass. During the Budweiser ShareLunker season that ended this past April, Lake Alan Henry produced 9 ShareLunkers, the most of any lake in the state.
Regional Inland Fisheries director Bobby Farquhar of San Angelo thinks the latest big fish bodes well for the upcoming ShareLunker season, which started October 1 and runs through April 30, 2006. "I have 30 years experience with TPWD, and I just talked to a biologist who retired after 35 years, and neither of us have ever seen a bass that big electrofished. That tells me Alan Henry probably has a pretty high percentage of big bass. The fact it weighed almost 14 pounds, and there were so many ShareLunkers caught last year and returned to the lake where they've had another year to grow, makes me think there should be 14 to 15 pound bass out there, and I'll be surprised if someone doesn't catch one this year."
Any angler legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more in Texas waters may enter it into the Budweiser ShareLunker program by calling program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or leaving a page at (888) 784-0600. A TPWD employee will pick the fish up within 12 hours, and it will be taken to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where the big bass are used for spawning. Anglers receive ShareLunker clothing and a fiberglass replica of their catch at the annual ShareLunker banquet and may donate their fish to TPWD or have it returned to them after the end of the season.
The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 31, 2005
TPWD Coastal Fisheries Symposium Seeks Input for Future
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Division will host a symposium at the Omni Bayfront Hotel here Nov. 17-18 celebrating 30 years of continuous monitoring of the state's marine fisheries. The agency is seeking input on how to conduct operations for the next 30 years.
Information from 40,000 bag seines, 60,000 trawls, 40,000 dredge samples, 20,000 gill net sets and 250,000 angler interviews collected over the past three decades generated millions of data points that make this TPWD database one of the longest, and possibly THE longest, marine resources dataset in the world.
Information gained from the database has been the basis for resource management decisions and regulations that have generated an economic impact of almost $2 billion annually in Texas. This information has also been utilized in TPWD's successful efforts to secure freshwater inflows, and to protect the water quality of our estuaries, which are critical habitats for our fisheries.
The symposium will feature panel discussions on lessons learned during the past 30 years, and future challenges and issues facing Texas' coastal fisheries. Information gained during these discussions will be incorporated into the agency's coastal fisheries 30-year strategic plan.
Distinguished marine biologist, Dr. Sylvia Earle, known as a tireless advocate for marine conservation and for fostering public awareness of the perils to ocean ecosystems caused by overfishing and pollution, will be the keynote speaker on Friday morning.
Registration deadline is Oct. 25. Group rate rooms for the symposium are available at the Omni Bayfront Hotel for $85 plus tax. For further information contact Ellen Kotrla at 512 -389-4878 or email ellen.kotrla@tpwd.texas.gov.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 31, 2005
Panhandle Boasts Boom Quail Production
AUSTIN, Texas -- Quail are famous for their "boom and bust" cycles. In other words, in good years there are a lot of quail, in poor years there aren't any. In the Panhandle region of Texas, this is more than just a good year for quail -- it's an awesome year for quail!
Quail have high reproductive potential that lets them recover from the worst years quickly. Good quail years are dependent on several factors; good carryover of breeding pairs from the winter, timely rainfall, mild temperatures, lots of food and good range/habitat conditions. The Rolling Plains, for the most part, has been experiencing these conditions for the last two years, which means a lot of quail.
Based on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Quail Surveys and landowner observations, this will be a quail season to remember, according to wildlife biologist Dana Wright in Paducah.
"This is the year to get the bird dogs out of the kennel, buy plenty of shotgun shells and spend as much time out in the field as possible, since this could be a year to remember as far as quail hunting is concerned," Wright said. "If you don't have a place to hunt, don't forget the Matador Wildlife Management Area offers public hunting opportunities for quail."
Wright points to this year's quail count surveys as the barometer for hunting opportunity.
TPWD conducts annual roadside quail surveys to monitor population trends. These surveys are completed during the first two weeks of August using 20-mile routes. The same routes are driven every year, and some routes in the Panhandle have been surveyed for 30 years. The survey route is driven during the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset and quail counted along the route are recorded as singles, pairs, and coveys. The number of birds in a covey and size of the birds in the covey (adult vs. juvenile) are also recorded. Jackrabbits and cottontails are also counted while driving the survey route.
When conditions are good for quail production other species also do well.
Quail numbers look good for the Texas Panhandle, which includes 56 counties, basically an area from the top of the Panhandle south to Andrews County and east to Jones and Hardeman County.
"Based on our surveys over the last 30 years we have averaged 18.2 birds per survey route," explained Wright. "This year we observed 30.8 birds per route compared to 15.7 birds per route last year. That's a 100 percent increase over last year. As a matter of fact, we have not observed this many birds on our survey routes since 1987!"
Quail hunters are reminded that in addition to a valid Texas hunting license, an Upland Game Bird Hunting Stamp is required in order to hunt quail in Texas.
For hunters wanting to take advantage of quail on public lands, including the Matador WMA, an Annual Public Hunting Permit ($48) is required and can be purchased wherever hunting licenses are sold. Please check with the Matador WMA to see when they are open for quail hunting (806)492-3405. Quail season runs Oct. 29-Feb. 26.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 31, 2005
Students Research Local Horned Lizards for Essay Contest
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging students to take part in the Hometown Horned Lizard historical essay contest. The writing contest is designed to engage children in learning about and promoting conservation of the Texas state reptile.
Many Texans can recount fond memories of the official state reptile, which is not actually a toad. People have always loved telling stories about their beloved horny lizards but they have become increasingly rare during the last 30 years. The goal of Hometown Horned Lizards is for students to explore the past and present abundance of Texas horned lizards, habitats used by Texas horned lizards, changes in habitat over time and unusual experiences people have had with horned lizards.
For the fifth year, TPWD is asking young people to research horned lizards in their community using public records and firsthand accounts from residents and then write an essay. Kids have kept them in shoeboxes on the back porch, stuffing them full of big red ants. They've traveled across the country by the hundreds to Boy Scout jamborees. One particularly famous horned lizard reportedly spent three decades in the cornerstone of the Eastland County Courthouse.
TPWD biologists see the contest as a unique opportunity to glean additional information about the horned lizard for possible inclusion in their research projects. In counties where Texas horned lizards have declined, researchers are looking for localized documentation as to when and perhaps why horny toads disappeared. Of particular interest to biologists are essays from the eastern part of the state, where horned lizards have nearly disappeared, but that should not deter young journalists from reporting on horned lizard history in their hometowns elsewhere across the state.
The recollections of Texas residents may provide the key to helping the species recover, according to Lee Ann Linam, coordinator of TPWD's Texas Horned Lizard Watch. "We believe that people's memories are a valuable collection of knowledge about this popular species. We have already seen that this essay contest can help to capture that knowledge before it is lost forever. These viewpoints may help us to develop better conservation approaches."
Students will compete in three age groups: grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Deadline for submission is Feb. 1, 2006. Submissions will be judged by participating organizations, including TPWD, Texas Historical Commission and the Horned Lizard Conservation Society. Prizes will be awarded based on a combination of criteria, including thoroughness of research, number of people interviewed, number of local written sources accessed, and quality of presentation in terms of historical perspective, scientific analysis, neatness and creativity. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded by April 1, 2006.
Three individual winners in each age group will receive an outdoor adventure kit, including such items as GPS units, digital cameras, binoculars, or backpacks. The top team in each category will earn up to $1,000 for a field trip to a TPWD Wildlife Management Area.
The essay contest also offers personal rewards to its participants, says Linam. "For older Texans, Hometown Horned Lizards may offer a chance to remember--to recall long summer days filled with lemonade stands, swimming in creeks and horned lizards on string leashes. For another generation, the students, perhaps it offers a chance to connect with a Texas legend and the people who knew it best."
For more information about the Hometown Horned Lizards essay contest or to receive a set of participant guidelines, including entry forms, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/htht/ or call (800) 792-1112 ext. 7011.
-30-