Piney Woods bucks on the move with cooler weather
Nothing perks up bow hunting for deer like an October cold front. This week’s blast of cold air is exactly what bow hunters in East Texas needed to jumpstart the rut in the Piney Woods. Timely rainfall across much of the state that began during winter 2011 and continued through the first half of this year generated much needed habitat recovery, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists. Those important food sources resulted in increased deer antler growth, improved body conditions and higher fawn production and survival.
With that good news, archers have hit the woods in record numbers. According to the TPWD, archery hunting stamp sales are up substantially this year.
“Archery endorsements are up 15.2 percent at 13,231,” said TPWD’s Steve Lightfoot. “The endorsement is required of anyone hunting during the archery-only season. The endorsement is included in the department’s Super Combo hunting and fishing license package, sales of which are also up 11.75 percent at 292,670.”
Wildlife officials point to rebounding range conditions this year that helped bolster deer populations as a contributing factor in the jump in hunting participation this fall
“Most of the state has received much needed rain to boost forage resources needed for antler development and fawn rearing,” said Alan Cain, TPWD deer program leader. “Far West Texas, primarily mule deer country, is still dry. I expect this to be an average to slightly above average season for antlers. South Texas, known for trophy bucks, should be in good shape as we’ve had rain this summer. The Texas Hill Country, known for higher deer populations, has also received good rains this summer, so hunters should expect decent antler quality and good body weights for this region.”
The general gun deer season in Texas opens Nov. 3 statewide, preceded by a youth-only deer season the weekend of Oct. 27-28.
“A bright outlook for deer season may not be the only reason more archers are taking to the woods,” said Lightfoot. “TPWD is taking steps to introduce archery to potential new hunters through the National Archery in the Schools Program, now in its eighth year in Texas. NASP is being offered in all 50 states and six countries. To date, worldwide more than 9.5 million school children from more than 10,300 schools in grades 4-12 have received archery instruction from their NASP teachers.”
California artist wins 2012 federal duck stamp contest
Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. This is Steiner’s second Federal Duck Stamp Contest win. His art previously appeared on the 1998-99 Federal Duck Stamp.
Steiner’s acrylic painting of a common goldeneye will be made into the 2013-14 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2013. The service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge system.
Of 192 entries in this year’s two-day competition, 17 entries made it through to the final round of judging. Paul Bridgeford of Des Moines, Iowa, placed second with his acrylic painting of a pair of northern shovelers. Gerald Mobley of Claremore, Okla., took third place with his acrylic painting of a pair of northern shovelers. Mobley’s art appeared on the 1985-86 Federal Duck Stamp.
“Whether you buy a Duck Stamp to hunt waterfowl, add to your stamp collection, admire in a frame, or contribute to conservation, you are buying a piece of history,” said Jerome Ford, the service’s assistant director for migratory birds. “For nearly 80 years, hunters, wildlife watchers, and millions of other people who purchase Federal Duck Stamps have made a direct contribution to wildlife conservation through the protection of wetland habitats.”
Waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp – commonly known as the Duck Stamp. Conservationists, stamp collectors and others may also purchase the stamp in support of habitat conservation. A current Duck Stamp can also be used for free admission to any national wildlife refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching, and photography.
Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from sale of the $15 Federal Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the purchase of migratory bird habitat for inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934, Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $850 million, helping the service purchase or lease 6 million acres of wildlife habitat on hundreds of refuges in nearly every state. There are 560 National Wildlife Refuges spread across the 50 states and U.S. territories.
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.