Powderhorn WMA Offers Unique Hunting, Habitat

Powderhorn Ranch is a soon-to-be wildlife management area (WMA) and state park administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), but the hunting has already begun. A group of 14 lucky youth hunters had the opportunity to take part in the first-ever public hunting opportunity at Powderhorn Ranch, which is located just north of the Port O’Connor City Limits.

The youth group got to experience remote deer hunting and the ups and downs that go with it, as well as learn more about the wildlife that call the Texas coast home.

Hunting Powderhorn Ranch

The hunt was a result of a partnership with the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The TYHP strives to get kids outdoors so that they can experience what hunting is all about, such as being safe, ethical and making sound use of our natural resources. Many parents and their kids are interested in hunting, but having a place to go ends up being the limiting factor.

Powderhorn WMA Park Hunting

The TYHP tries to fill the gap by combining outdoor teaching and experience with interested youth hunters and their mentors on properties where hunting is beneficial to the resource. The newly-acquired property fit the bill, since not completely staffed and ready for TPWD’s drawn hunt system.

The opportunity not only presented a learning experience for young hunters also was the public’s first introduction to Powderhorn Ranch.

Powderhorn WMA

The Powderhorn is as cool as its name, sprawling an incredible 17,351 acres. The Powderhorn is located along the coastal prairies of Texas, comprised of woodlands, grasslands and, of course, wetlands. A variety of native wildlife species call this property home.

The Powderhorn Ranch is to serve both as a state-managed WMA and Texas state park. This means the Powderhorn Ranch WMA should offer hunting opportunities for deer, doves, ducks, geese and non-native feral hogs, too. The park will provide day-use and overnight facilities for families interesting in exploring Texas’ coastal plains.

Powderhorn Patchwork

Source: “Everything has purpose and value, but it also has timing and balance,” said Gene McCarty, the property’s caretaker and retired deputy executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “I like to call it a mosaic. It’s a patchwork of habitats that all work together.”

Powderhorn Ranch was acquired in 2014 and with the infrastructure and environmental renovation, the property is being opened to the public in a limited fashion. The plan is to open as a state park sometime after it changes into the care of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2018.

McCarty scanned the golden grasslands boarded by the Powderhorn lake and live oak mots.

“If they only know this world from looking at their iPhones, all this is in jeopardy,” McCarty said as he shook his head side to side. “These places are so beautiful, so unique, so important to the bigger picture. It’s important we do what we can to protect the pieces that are left and to be able to use those pieces for the education and enjoyment of its citizens.”

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Late Season Deer Hunting in Texas: Time to Go!

It’s almost over, but late season deer hunting is a great time to hunt in Texas for a number of reasons. The weather is typically colder and deer have depleted many of the natural foods that were available during fall. This means deer are hitting stable energy sources, such as spin feeders and winter food plots, on a regular basis.

It’s good timing, too. Getting outside is a great idea because kids are out of school and both parents and youth are looking for a reason to break the cabin fever funk. Fortunately, these late season hunting shots exists in Texas, allowing quality time with family and friends, the chance to complete harvest quotas, and put up some protein for the remainder of the year.

Deer Hunting the Late Season

Late Season Hunting Opportunities

The general white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey season closed in most parts of the state on New Year’s Day, but that doesn’t mean hunters with unused tags are out of luck. Special youth-only and late season opportunities start Jan. 2 and run through Jan. 15.

The two-week youth-only late season is open in all counties where there is a general open season for white-tailed deer or a fall hunting season for Rio Grande turkey. All legal hunting means and methods are allowed, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties, where hunting is only allowed with archery equipment and crossbows. Only licensed hunters 16 years of age or younger may hunt deer during a youth-only season and hunter education requirements still apply. Be sure to check the county-specific harvest restrictions in the Outdoor Annual.

Youth-only open season provides young hunters with opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation through an enjoyable and memorable outdoor experience allowing parents and mentors to introduce them to safe and responsible hunting.

During the special late white-tailed deer season in 106 counties in the North Zone and 30 in the South Zone, harvest is restricted to antlerless and unbranched antlered deer only. The late season provides additional opportunity for landowners and managers to attain deer harvest goals on their property.

Late Season Muzzleloader

The special muzzleloader-only season provides an opportunity for hunters, adults and youth alike, in 90 Texas counties to pursue white-tailed deer with primitive firearms. A muzzleloader is any firearm that is loaded only through the muzzle. A cap and ball firearm in which the powder and ball are loaded into a cylinder is not a muzzleloader. Muzzleloader deer seasons are restricted to muzzleloading firearms only.

Late season deer hunting can be quite productive for the reasons noted earlier, but it’s also a good opportunity to pull out the muzzleloader and knock blow out the dust. And bring the kids, too!

Venison Recipes

No better time than now to check out some great venison recipes! The regular deer hunting season will be wrapping up over the next week and temperatures will soon start to drop now that winter has officially arrived.

It’s cold outside, so bring those deer in and warm them up!

Best Venison Recipes

Backstrap Recipes



Chili Recipes

Slow Cooker Recipes



Sausage Recipes

TYHP Hunts: Schedule of Hunting Opportunities

Texas Youth Hunting Program

The Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) offers hunts for a variety of game species, but the most popular hunts are those for white-tailed deer. The TYHP is a cooperative program between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and but also incorporates the membership of hunting enthusiast and other conservation-minded groups.

Each year, the TYHP works with a number of private ranches and public lands across Texas to organize and schedule hunts for youth new to hunting. It is only through cooperation from private citizens, TPWD and conservation organizations that TYHP can provide youth with high quality hunting experiences year after year.

Texas Youth Hunting Program Scheduled Hunts

TYHP Goals

  • Preserve the hunting heritage in Texas for future generations.
  • Promote the highest ethical standards in hunting.
  • Teach the basic skills, values, techniques and responsibilities involved with hunting.
  • Instill a basic understanding of practical conservation measures in youth.
  • Promote wildlife habitat access, enhancement and management.
  • Provide our youth with an initial, educational, safe, positive, mentored hunting experience.

TYHP Structured Hunts

  • Usually on weekends.
  • Group format: at least 4 hunters.
  • A parent or guardian is required to accompany the youth.
  • Hunts are run by trained volunteer Huntmasters, assisted by volunteer Guides.
  • Meals are provided.
  • Lodging varies from bunkhouses to tent camping.
  • A Guide accompanies the youth hunter & their adult, acts as mentor and helps with all aspects of being in the field and with harvested game.
  • Costs is typically $150 per youth but grants are available.

Participate in TYHP Hunts

If you have not participated in the past then the first thing is to create a youth hunter account. In order to participate in the scheduled hunts all youth must be 9 to 17 years of age. In order to create a youth hunter account youth will need a valid Texas hunting license and appropriate tags or stamps when required, they will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and they will need to complete Hunter Education for Texas or another state.

Call TPWD at 800-792-1112 or visit the the agency’s webpage to view a schedule of upcoming Texas Hunter Education Courses in your area.

CWD in Texas Elk

CWD Found in Elk

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in Texas elk. Officials from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) confirmed CWD in a free-ranging elk, harvested in Dallam County, on December 6, 2016. This is the first known Texas elk to test positive for CWD.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and TAHC identified the CWD positive elk during surveillance of cervids at TPWD Panhandle Containment Zone check stations. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed the presence of CWD prions in the tissue samples taken from the elk. Dallam County is located in the Texas Panhandle and borders Oklahoma and New Mexico.

CWD Check Stations in Texas

“We commend all hunters and landowners who are submitting samples in the surveillance zone for CWD in the Texas Panhandle,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director. “Surveillance of this disease found in cervids is critical in detecting and preventing the inadvertent spread of CWD.”

Hunters who deer within the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones are required to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters and landowners can located a CWD check station near them.

CWD has been found in free-ranging elk across the US, including the adjacent states of New Mexico and Colorado, the state where CWD was first documented (1967) within the US.

CWD in Texas

The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. The disease has since been detected in a total of 8 mule deer in that West Texas population located in the Hueco Mountains and one mule deer in Hartley County. CWD has also been confirmed in white-tailed deer breeding operations located in Medina and Lavaca counties.

Symptoms of CWD

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. A cervid may carry the disease for years without any outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, a lack of responsiveness, and the general, chronic wasting away of the animal.

CWD in Texas elk and deer is limited and to date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. Regardless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

Do I Need Hunters Education in Texas?

Who needs hunters education to hunt in Texas? Chances are if you are asking about hunters education you will need it to hunt in Texas. Texas hunting regulations state that every hunter, including out-of-state hunters, born on or after September 2, 1971, must successfully complete hunter education prior to hunting.

The minimum age for hunters ed certification in Texas is 9 years and the cost of the course is $15. It is important to note that proof of hunters ed certification is not required to purchase a hunting license.

Hunters Education 

If plan to hunt in Texas, you will need the course if you were born on or after September 2, 1971 and you are:

  • under 9 years of age, you must be accompanied*.
  • age 9 through 16, you must successfully complete hunter education, OR you must be accompanied.
  • age 17 and over, you must successfully complete hunter education; OR purchase a “Hunter Education Deferral,” and you must be accompanied.

*Accompanied means: By a person who is at least 17 years of age, who is also licensed to hunt in Texas, who has passed hunter education or is exempt and you must be within normal voice control. Proof of hunters education in Texas or elsewhere or a deferral is required to be on your person while hunting.

Hunters Ed Deferral Option in Texas

Any hunter 17 years of age or older who has not completed hunter education may defer completion for up to one year. A deferral may only be obtained once and is only valid until the end of the current license year. You must be accompanied while hunting in Texas if you have a deferral.

The one-time Hunter Education Deferral is available at license vendors and costs $10. So… do I need hunters education in Texas? We hope this article helped you answer that question.

Virginia Deer Hunting – CWD, Carcass Importation

The white-tailed deer hunting season is upon us and Virginia deer hunters need to be aware of regulations before heading into the field. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is requesting that hunters pay particular attention to regulations related to Chronic Wasting Disease.

State officials are asking hunters to become familiar with regulations before transporting deer after a progressive neurological disease was found in 12 deer harvested in Frederick County and one deer killed on the road in Shenandoah County.

CWD Rules, Carcass Import Regs

The VDGIF stated that because of CWD, whitetail hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia, and must follow state importation regulations when transporting cervid carcasses into Virginia.

The VDGIF is has implemented deer management strategies within the CWD containment area of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, and Shenandoah counties. All cervids killed in those areas on November 19 and 26, 2016 must be brought to a designated CWD sampling station for mandatory testing.

Virginia whitetail hunters can still check their harvested deer via telephone or internet but must bring the deer to a designated CWD sampling station on the dates above for testing. No over-the-phone or web-based testing for the disease exists, yet.

CWD in Cervids

CWD impacts all cervids, including elk, deer and a number of other native and exotic species. CWD has been detected in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological disease found in North America and two other countries around the world. The disease results in death of the animal, although it make take years for the infected animal to show symptoms or die.

Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include drooling, abnormal posture, lowered head, confusion, staggering and dramatic weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, pets or even livestock. Hunters that encounter a deer that displays any of the described symptoms should contact a VDGIF representative as soon as possible.

CWD threatens white-tailed deer and deer hunting in Virginia and across the country. Whether hunting in state or out, understand the CWD carcass import regulations and check station requirements before harvesting a deer and bringing it home. It could cost more than just a ticket.

How Far do Quail Travel, Range?

How far do bobwhite quail travel? What is their range? Most quail move less than a half-mile in either direction, although quail have been documented to move several miles. One of the quail’s most noted moves comes as summer turns to fall, when successful broods year’s hatch begin to disperse and form into coveys. This movement is known as the “fall shuffle.”

During the fall shuffle, bobs are looking for long-term food sources and suitable cover. Ideally, these resources are close to one another. This is important for the winter survival of quail, as maintaining a close distance between food and cover, when herbaceous cover is lacking, greatly increases their chances of seeing the next year.

Moving Towards Winter Cover

The habitat required by quail varies throughout the year. Their breeding and chick-rearing habitat does not look the same as their wintering grounds. In the fall, woody cover is a must for environmental protection as well as structural protection from predators. Brushy cover also provides quail coveys with areas that can be used for loafing, just hanging out, during the times when they are not actively feeding.

These areas are called covey headquarters. To qualify, at least from a quail’s perspective, a covey headquarters must provide canopy cover with an open understory. This protects quail from weather and avian predators but allows them to move around. Species that serve as homes for quail consists of lotebush, skunkbush (frangrant sumac) or even shin oak.

Bobwhite Quail

They Can Move Out

Many hunters and land managers know that bobwhite quail can move from their summer range come fall. This larger movement does create opportunities for additional mortality, especially within juveniles. The trick — rather, key — to keeping quail is maintaining good habitat for them.

If quail can not find adequate winter habitat near their summer sites they will go and find it. It may be somewhere else on your property or it could be neighboring lands. Quail are not migratory birds, but they will move to find the good wintering habitat, habitat necessary for survival.

In fact, quail researchers have had to use aircraft to locate the birds fitted with radio transmitters in many cases, with birds ranging 20-30 miles in some instances!

Fall Surveys in Quail Range

Have the quail moved out or have they stayed put? Conducting annual fall covey counts for quail on your property will help determine the answer to that question. They will help you identify areas quail are using and also allow you to estimate quail covey size on your property.

This information will give you the advantage when it comes hunting season. But it’s just as important to know where quail aren’t on a property. If there are areas devoid of quail then this could signal potential areas for restoring quail habitat. A little management can pay big, quick benefits.

Best Crossbow for Long Distance

Ravin’s R9 Crossbow offers rifle-like accuracy, is the best crossbow for long distance hunting and shooting. The HeliCoil technology allows for ease of handling and delivers devastating killing power. It’s superior technology gives hunters an important edge, the ability to close the distance.

Go Long

One of the design advantages provided by HeliCoil technology is the Frictionless™ Flight System. This patented technology allows the string and arrow to both free float above the rail, providing a quieter shot and vastly improved string life by eliminating string friction, noise and fletch clearance. All of these advantages contribute to unmatched, repeatable accuracy, and make for a deadly long distance opportunities while hunting deer or other game.

The Trac-Trigger™ Firing System is another advantage enabled by HeliCoil. This patented system features a built-in trigger sled that slides forward in the rail and clasps directly on the center of the string. This creates a perfectly balanced draw, which is an often overlooked but critical component in accurate and consistent shooting. The trigger sled also contains the safety and anti-dry-fire mechanisms.

Best Crossbow for Long Distance Hunting and Shooting

Distance and More

This crossobw can shoot a long way very accurately, but it’s also safe, seamless. Another unprecedented design feature provided by HeliCoil technology is the Versa-Draw™ Cocking System. Working in conjunction with the Trac-Trigger Firing System, this ultra-compact, fully-integrated cocking mechanism is built into the sleek stock design. The fully ambidextrous system is mounted internally in the stock and allows for easy cocking and uncocking of the crossbow.

The cocking handle is mounted on the quiver provided with the Ravin crossbow. It is easily inserted in the recessed hole on either side of the stock where slots and magnets hold the handle firmly in place. Once engaged, the bow can be easily cocked and uncocked with minimal effort. There is no need to fire the weapon to uncock it.

It’s a quality piece of equipment and probably the best rated crossbow for long-distance hunting and shooting. In our opinion, it’s a deer-killing machine!

Ravin R9 Crossbow Distance-Adding Technology

  • Fully Assembled/Pre Tuned Crossbow
  • 6 Ravin Branded Arrows and Ravin Nocks
  • Removable Cocking Handle
  • Quiver/Mounting Bracket
  • 6 Practice Field Points (100 Grain)
  • 100-Yard Illuminated Scope
  • Built-In Cocking Mechanism
  • Anti-Dry-Fire/Auto Safety
  • Built-in Sling Mounts

Are There Bears in Texas?

Yes, there are black bears in Texas! These large mammals once covered the entire state of Texas, but are now mostly found in the Trans-Pecos of Texas, with good numbers in the Guadalupe and Big Bend Mountains. They range into New Mexico and Mexico and as east as Kerrville in the western part of the state.

There are bears in East Texas, especially the northern parts of this region, but could be spotted at any time along the Red River of the Sabine River.

The black bear, Ursus americanus, is listed as threatened by the State of Texas.

Black Bears are in Texas

Black Bears Nice by Nature

A wild bear is normally shy and not aggressive towards people. However, a bear that is regularly fed, regularly visits a deer feeder, or has become otherwise habituated to humans may be a problem. A bear that loses its fear of people should be seen as problem.

If you experience a bear at close range, it is recommended that you talk calmly while backing away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear, and do not attempt to run straight away as the bear may chase out of instinct. If a bear approaches you, stay where you are, raise your arms, jacket or other gear to appear larger and yell at the bear to scare it off.

Bears and Texas Hunting Regulations

Black bears are black. So are many feral hogs. It is recommended that hunters study their game carefully to avoid mistaking a bear for a feral hog or other legal game animal. It is against the law to kill a black bear in Texas, with penalties of up to $10,000, added civil restitution fines, jail time and loss of all hunting privileges.

Bear Safety While Out

To minimize encounters with bears, hunters should keep camps clean to prevent odors that will attract bears and discard gut piles far from campsites. Placing deer corn in piles or in open feeders will attract more bears, while using an automated feeder hung out of reach of bears will decrease bear visits.

Also, switching bait from whole corn to soybeans will reduce bear activity. Another good idea is to attract deer using food plots. This brings in deer for harvest, but does not bring in the bears. Most of all, use common sense precautions if you are in or near the black bear areas of Texas.