I’ll bet you didn’t know that there were as many as 14.3 million active hunters in 2012 who spent $7.8 billion on their sport. With that in mind, this week’s outdoors column is all about hunting and shooting.
Dove season opens Sept. 1, and just after that is the early teal season opener, with a six-bird daily limit. If you don’t have a place to hunt, now is a good time to start looking. The best place to find guided hunts is on the Internet. But before you book a trip, definitely make sure the guide you’re set up with is not going to put you in a field that’s overloaded with shooters. Ask lots of questions before you pull out the wallet.
Duck hunting meeting at the J.D. Murphree WMA in Port Arthur
On the duck hunting scene, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department invites the public to attend an informational meeting regarding the upcoming migratory game bird hunting season and ongoing wetland restoration efforts on Wildlife Management Areas along the Upper Coast of Texas.
The public meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 6-8 p.m. at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area headquarters check station, 10 Parks and Wildlife Drive in Port Arthur, on the south side of Highway 73 near the intersection of Jade Avenue.
Wetland projects were completed on sites in the Lower Neches WMA and the J.D. Murphree WMA. Updates regarding public hunting access within the Upper Coast WMAs and information on rules and regulations, including leased public hunting sites, will also be available.
Additional information regarding public hunting opportunity on TPWD owned lands is available at www.tpwd.texas.gov  or by contacting the J.D. Murphree WMA at (409) 736-2551.
Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation reports record attendance
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation reports that it had record-breaking attendance at its recent National Team Championships. More than 2,000 shooter athletes, which is an increase of over 30 percent from last year’s event, descended on the World Shooting & Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill., for the 2013 National Team Championships.
Shotgun shooters competed in either skeet (600 participants), sporting clays (500 participants) or trap (1600 participants) over the course of six days; many athletes competed in more than one event. More than 160 Teams from 26 different states were represented, setting a new attendance record for the Scholastic Clay Target Program.
The Scholastic Pistol Program conducted its first ever National Action Shooting Event in both center fire and rimfire at the World Shooting & Recreational Complex at the same time. More than 200 pistol shooters representing 25 teams and 47 squads total competed in the four stage match, making it one of the largest Youth Action Pistol events ever held in the U.S.
“This was clearly our best Nationals ever,” said SSSF President and Executive Director Dan Hathaway. “Both our clay target and pistol programs are growing at a significant rate. Plans are already well underway for the 2014 National Team Championships, which will be held again at the World Shooting & Recreational Complex in Sparta on July 14-19, 2014. The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation is responsible for all aspects of the Scholastic Clay Target Program and Scholastic Pistol Program across the United States. The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation exists to raise funding and other resources for Youth Development Programs in the shooting sports industry.”
The SCTP and SPP are youth development programs, originally developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, where adult coaches and volunteers model sportsmanship, responsibility, honesty, ethics, integrity, and teamwork while using shooting sports programs to teach these and other positive life skills to the athletes.
To learn more about SCTP or SPP call (419) 794-9924 or visit their website at www.sssfonline.com.
Poachers are stealing from you
Help stop illegal hunting and fishing in Texas. If you have information that will assist game wardens in apprehending persons who are violating the hunting and fishing regulations of this state, Operation Game Thief needs your help.
Authorized in 1981 by acts of the 67th Legislature, the Operation Game Thief program was created to assist game wardens in our state’s ongoing battle against poaching. Operation Game Thief quickly became a vital link between the sporting public and our game wardens, and has since evolved into one of the nation’s premier wildlife crime stopper programs.
To report game and fish violations call 800-792-GAME (4263), any time, day or night and provide the following information to the Texas Parks and Wildlife police communications officer:
• The nature of the violation
• The location of the violation
• The name and/or description of the violator
• A description of any vehicle or boat involved in the violation
• Any other important information which will assist in apprehending the violator
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.