Waterfowl Hunting in Texas: State Contributes for Habitat



Waterfowl and Texas

Waterfowl hunting in Texas is big deal. Each year, hunters across the state chase ducks and geese from the Panhandle down to the coastal plains. But very few of the birds harvested in Texas are produced here. The bulk of waterfowl breeding habitat is found much further north.

“Waterfowl habitat conservation has to take place not only here on Texas’ continentally significant wintering grounds, but also on the breeding grounds that produce our waterfowl,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Executive Director Carter Smith said.


Texas Waterfowl Hunting

“TPWD is proud to be a strong DU partner across North America. Ducks Unlimited’s match and leveraging ability give our contributions four times the impact we could have alone. That’s a return on investment we can all be proud of.”

Habitat Work for Waterfowl

During remarks at Ducks Unlimited’s 80th National Convention, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith announced the department’s decision to award Ducks Unlimited $600,000 for habitat management projects on waterfowl breeding grounds in Prairie Canada.

This commitment brings Texas’ cumulative contribution for habitat conservation on Canadian breeding grounds important to Texas’ waterfowl to more than $4 million.

Habitat Work Funded by Texas Hunters

Recognizing the migratory nature of waterfowl, state wildlife agencies have been contributing to habitat conservation in Canada since 1965. More than 40 states participated this year, and funding comes primarily through hunting license sales. In Texas, all funding comes from the state Migratory Game Bird Stamp fund.

This fund is solely supported by the sale of Migratory Game Bird Stamps, required of all migratory bird hunters in Texas. These funds may be used to support waterfowl habitat conservation in Canada, and Texas has been doing so since 1985.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is one of our greatest partners in conservation in Texas and across the continent. They continue making wise investments in waterfowl habitat important to the birds that wing their way to the Lone Star State each year,” said DU Southern Region Director Jerry Holden.

“Banding data shows us a large portion of the ducks harvested in Texas come from Saskatchewan and Alberta, so investing the state’s dollars in this region clearly provides the greatest return for Texas waterfowl hunters.”

Waterfowl Breeding Grounds

Breeding ground habitat work is critical for the health of continental populations of waterfowl, and Texas’ waterfowl hunters understand that. The nearly 50,000 Texas DU members are appreciative of TPWD’s continued contributions to the program.

“The importance of state contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated,” said DU Canada’s Director of International Partnerships Pat Kehoe. “Individual state contributions are combined with other state contributions, matched dollar for dollar by DU Inc., used as match for North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants and then leveraged further by DU Canada.”

Ducks Unlimited Committed to Waterfowl

Ducks Unlimited’s programs in the U.S. and Canada are science-based and consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Prairie conservation programs on both sides of the border are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes.

These habitat projects have benefits far beyond waterfowl, including nature based flood protection, groundwater recharge, water quality enhancements and habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife.



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Hot Air Balloon Hog Hunting in Texas? Yes!

It’s not all hot air. Soon hunters in Texas can literally “make it rain” onto herds of feral hogs using the comfort and stealth that hot air balloons provide. Texas lawmakers have approved the hunting of feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons. Boom!

Feral hogs numbers have increased dramatically over the past few decades, and it seems lawmakers will stop at nothing to provide hunters with opportunities to control the non-native, rooting machines that are feral hogs. Hunting is already open year-round and their are zero bag limits. Hunt on.

Hog Hunting from Hot Air Balloons in Texas


Texas’ growing hog population causes millions of dollars worth of damage to agricultural crops every year. Texas has an estimated 3 million feral hogs. The high breeding rate of wild pigs and a lack of natural predators has seen feral hog numbers skyrocket. With hog numbers going up, so should the hunters.

Texas already allows the shooting of feral hogs from helicopters, but in addition to be costly, many say it is unsuccessful because the aircraft often scare the hogs out of shooting range. Hot air balloons are quieter and offer a more stable shooting platform, which understandably would be better for “sniper-like” hog hunting.

Before hunters can take to they sky for bacon to fry, the bill does require the state to license hot air balloon hunting. But with the bill out of the state congress and house, it now goes to Texas Governor Greg Abbott for his consideration. And in Texas, you know he’s gonna sign it like it’s hot… air balloon.

READ: Texas Investigates New Ways to Control Feral Hogs

Texas Offers Once in a Lifetime Hunts

Texas offers several once-in-lifetime type hunts every year. Residents and non-residents can apply for these hunts for $10 with no additional fees, other than once picked you must obtain a valid Texas hunting license.

Hunting is Always in Season

The upcoming hunting seasons may still be months away, but starting today you can enter the Big Time Texas Hunts drawing to win one or more of nine premium guided hunt packages. These exclusive packages include food, lodging, a professional guide, as well as taxidermy in some cases.

Big Time Texas Hunts 2017

Texas Big Time Draw Hunts

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. Other popular guided hunt packages included in the Big Time Texas Hunt program are the Ultimate Mule Deer Hunt, the Premium Buck Hunt, the Exotic Safari, the Wild Hog Adventure and more.


Entries for this year’s Big Time Texas Hunts are available now online for just $9 each, or for $10 each at license retailers. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase and all proceeds benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting. Deadline for entry is October 15.

Big Time Texas Hunts is made possible with support from Toyota and the Texas Bighorn Society. More details on all nine premium hunts can be found online at the link in the above paragraph. These really are once in a lifetime hunts, so best of luck to all that enter!

Wildlife Friendly Water Troughs

With temperatures heating up wildlife friendly water troughs are more important in Texas than ever. Hot, dry weather means wildlife will be in search of water, but is your water trough wildlife friendly?

Not all water sources are created equally. Some watering facilities may limit wildlife access based on their design. During periods of low rainfall, when many ponds and creeks dry up, surface water is limited. Many wildlife species of drown in troughs trying to reach water because they got in and then were unable to escape.

Water Troughs for Wildlfie

Troughs for Wildlife Need Escape Ladders

Escape ladders are an important part of a wildlife friendly water trough. These ladders can be installed in troughs to give animals a way out if they do fall in. These ladders can be made of many materials and may even include a series of rocks that act as stepping stones, but the material used for an escape ladder must be durable.

Wildlife ladders in troughs allow animals access the water, but more importantly, exit the trough. Instructions for building escape ladders are provided online by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in the following publications:

Evaluating Wildlife Friendly Watering Sites

Many troughs exist for watering livestock. In most cases, modifications to “working” troughs will have to be reinforced to a greater extent than a trough that is install strictly for wildlife use. Troughs that serve both livestock and wildlife are feasible, but planning is necessary to ensure you are meeting the needs of all of your constituents.

Check out the slideshow below for some great information on creating and restoring safe and accessible water sources for livestock, bats and other wildlife.

Water for Wildlife Slideshow

Rainwater Collection for Wildlife Water

An alternative source of water may be installing a wildlife water guzzler that captures and uses rainwater. These are great options for fields that were once cultivated or smaller properties that may not have a source of water but are providing supplemental water as a qualifying practice for a wildlife tax valuation. Wildlife including deer, turkeys, small mammals and birds will visit these wildlife friendly water troughs regularly for hydration.

A collection system can be as expensive or economical as you wish, but keep in mind that longevity of the system as well as maintenance can be addressed through the initial materials that are used. The purpose of a guzzler is to provide water for wildlife and they won’t care if you spend $10 or $10,000.

When a rainwater collection system for wildlife (guzzler) is installed, it’s a good idea to initially fill it with water, then in most years there should be enough annual precipitation to maintain water in them for the critters on your land. A roof funnels water into the holding tank and also slows evaporation. If you have livestock on your property, then it’s recommended you fence the guzzler to keep livestock out.

Toxicants for Controlling Feral Hogs

Toxicants for controlling feral hog populations may soon be a reality. Each year in the US, wild and ever-increasing hog populations are causing millions of dollars in damage on farms, ranches and even suburban settings. Neither hog hunting nor trapping has been able to control feral hog numbers. An approved toxicant has the best chance at being successful, in my opinion.

What land owners and managers need is exactly what a toxicant can provide, a solution that works more or less passively that is highly effective at eliminating large numbers of feral hogs. Toxicants do work. The biggest problem with toxicants is ensuring that they are only ingested by only unwanted, feral hogs. There is also problems with potential carryover into the human food chain should “toxic” hogs be shot, butchered and consumed. The latter is not a problem with sodium nitrite, but definitely an issue with warfarin.

Source: “Two toxicants that have previously been used in Australia to poison feral hogs are being considered for use in the U.S.

The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working with researchers to register and approve sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is used in hog poison in Australia and is used as a food preservative in the U.S. (ironically in bacon). It causes methemoglobinemia in hogs, resulting in rapid depletion of oxygen to the brain and vital organs. Death occurs within 1.5 hours in feral hogs.

Kaput® is a warfarin-based bait that was eventually banned in Australia. Warfarin is a blood thinner that hogs are very susceptible to, dying within a few days of receiving a lethal dose. Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) in collaboration with Scimetrics Ltd. Corporation worked to develop Kaput®. Kaput® has an Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved label and is currently being considered for approval in several states. Immediately following TDA approval of Kaput® for restricted use in the state of Texas, legal action followed citing concerns to human health. Kaput® says they will have a commercial product available in May-June 2017 if its use is legal in any states.

Toxicants will not be the silver bullet landowners are looking for, but it will be another tool in the war on hogs. The Kaput® label has very specific protocols for habituating hogs with a mandatory feeder, disposing of carcasses, grazing restrictions and reporting of non-target kills. It will be extremely important for applicators of toxic baits to adhere to all requirements in any label approved by the EPA as well as any special restrictions imposed by a state. Misuse of any approved toxicant can result in damage to natural resources and result in the loss of a new tool for hog control.”

In short, even using toxicants to control feral hogs is not a one-and-done deal, but based on the paragraphs above it appears baits formulated with warfarin have the potential for a number of issues both before and after baits have been ingested by wild pigs. At this point, it seems sodium nitrite may be the better option since the potential to harm us, humans, seems lower, but it seems more research is warranted.

It’s been said that there is no silver bullet for feral hog control, but I think an effective toxicant has the opportunity to be just that. Most hog gurus site that at least 70 percent of the hog population must be controlled annually to prevent an increase in hog numbers. My “back of a napkin” math makes me think that is possible, even if I don’t know exactly which toxicant is right for the job.

Golfer Nails Duck While Driving Golf Ball

Flying Duck Hit by Golf Ball

Want to see a flying duck get drilled by a golf ball right off the tee? Not something that anyone would request — but a golfer did unintentionally connect with a duck flying across the fairway recently, and the freakish ash was captured on camera.

In life, and death, it seams, everything is about timing. The golfer was setting up for a great swing and a duck was simply looking for “greener grass,” so to speak. As it turns out, both were surprised.

The guy hit the ball, the ball hit the duck (both in mid-flight) and the duck hit the water.

Company Pulls Fatal Feral Hog Bait

Kaput Feral Hog Bait has pulled from Texas before even a single pig (or anything else) was harmed. Scimetrics Ltd. Corporation (SLC) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas.

SLC announced, “We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal. However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.”

Kaput Hog Bait Pulled from Texas

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was dismayed over the decision by the maker of Kaput Feral Hog Bait to remove the product from use in the state.

“As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I am disappointed that landowners, farmers and ranchers will lose this tool to fight back against the growing economic threat of feral hogs. Unfortunately, it seems that once again the hard working folks who turn the dirt and work from sunup to sundown have fallen victim to lawyers, environmental radicals and the misinformed. Once again, politically correct urban media hacks and naysayers win out against the rural folks who produce the food and fiber everyone needs.”

The Kaput Feral Hog Bait label included warfarin and had been approved by the U.S. EPA, which requires meeting stringent testing and documentation requirements. To meet these high standards, many years of work have gone into developing and proving the safety and effectiveness of Kaput Feral Hog Bait.

SLC had hoped to provide this valuable new resource to the farmers of Texas, whose crops and land have been devastated by the estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in the state. The company also hoped to alleviate the risk posed by the many diseases these hogs carry being transmitted to both the livestock and the food supply of Texas, by offering an alternative solution to current programs that cannot keep up with the quickly growing feral hog population.

It appears feral hogs in Texas are no longer on notice. SLC ended its announcement to pull Kaput from Texas with, “Unfortunately, we have discontinued our attempts to provide this resource in Texas at this time. We are grateful for the support we have received from the agricultural community of Texas.”

TenPoint Renegade Crossbow Debuts

With Spring well under way it’s time to start making new acquisitions for the upcoming hunting seasons. How about a new crossbow? TenPoint Crossbow Technologies’ unveiled its new Renegade crossbow. The bow features a new stock but with a time-tested bow assembly. The Renegade provides consumers premium quality, performance, and safety at an entry-level price-point. That is a definite plus.

TenPoint Crossbow on the Renegade

“The Renegade is perhaps the best rated crossbow at an entry-level price point we have ever designed,” said TenPoint CEO Rick Bednar. “It’s lightweight, narrow, fast, and includes some of the industry’s best safety features. Pair that with TenPoint quality and a perfect price tag and this one has all the makings of being a best-seller for years to come.”

TenPoint Renegade Crossbow Review

The affordably priced Renegade features TenPoint’s new Fusion UltraLite™ stock. Configured with optimal comb-height and length-of-pull, the Fusion UltraLite stock, made from PolyOne OnForce™ LFT long-fiber thermoplastics, employs strategically placed cutouts in the fore-grip and butt stock to reduce weight and provide superior handling and balance.

The fore-grip cutouts also allow shooters to wrap their thumb and fingers “into” the grip. This feature and the glass-reinforced nylon safety wings located on the stock above the grip both help to keep the shooter’s fore-grip hand safely below the arrow flight deck.

Renegade Crossbow Specs

The Renegade’s 165-pound bow assembly measures 18.5-inches when cocked. Its fully machined aluminum riser features two large weight-reduction cutouts and is fitted with 13-inch, tactical black HL Limbs™ powered by XR™ wheels and DynaFLIGHT 97 string and cables – all mounted to a 19.375-inch barrel.

Once assembled, the Renegade is 37.875-inches long, weighs 7-pounds, and shoots up to 335 feet per second. This crossbow has all the makings of a deer thumper.

The crossbow comes standard with TenPoint’s 3x Pro-View 2™ Scope, and, like all TenPoint crossbows, it features TenPoint’s DFI™ (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor) and auto-engaging safety trigger.

Available with or without one of TenPoint’s two patented cocking units, the ACUdraw™ or ACUdraw 50™, the Renegade is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak Break-Up® Country™ camo.

Renegade Pricing

It is available as a complete package that includes the scope, cocking mechanism, three Pro Elite™ carbon arrows, and quiver. MAP: $599 with no cocking mechanism, $699 with ACUdraw 50, $799 with ACUdraw.

The new Renegade from TenPoint Crossbow Technologies would make for a good, safe crossbow for any first-time big game crossbow hunter as well as an alternative bow for an experienced crossbow hunter. There are enough advanced features that make this bow worth owning and shooting. This crossbow can go the distance and has the speed to make good, consistent shots.

Texas Waterfowl Symposium

The Texas Waterfowl Symposium will be held in El Campo for 2016-17. The event is hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI).

The event will discuss duck and goose populations as well as the various aspects that impact waterfowl management in Texas. All hunters, land owners, property managers and anyone else interested in learning more about waterfowl in Texas are encouraged to attend.

Texas Waterfowl Management

Symposium Details

  • When: April 20-21, 2017
  • Where: El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N Mechanic, El Campo, TX
  • Fees: Includes meals and handout materials
    – Pre Registration (before 4/10) – $45
    – Late Registration (4/10 or after) – $60
    – No refunds after 4/10

Waterfowl Symposium – Day 1

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. Topics to be covered the first day include:

  • Changes in Waterfowl Populations and Distribution in the Central Flyway
  • Annual Cycle of Waterfowl: Requirements and Managemet
  • Factors Impacting Waterfowl Populations and Migration
  • Management of Wetlands, Moist Soil Units and Farmland for Waterfowl
  • Migratory Game Bird Regulations Process
  • Harvest Data and HIP
  • Economic Impacts of Changes in Waterfowl Numbers in the Gulf Coast Region
  • Funding Opportunities for Private Landowners
  • Water Sources and Management
  • Managing Leases and Hunting Pressure
  • Wounding Loss and Shotgun Proficiency
  • A Guide and Outfitter Perspective – Panel Discussion

Waterfowl Symposium – Day 2

Field Tour on local property managed for waterfowl.

Lodging in El Campo

  • Days In – 979-543-1666
  • Best Western – 979-543-7033
  • Lonestar Inn – 979-543-7833

Persons interesting in attending the Texas Waterfowl Symposium in El Campo can register online. For more information, contact Clinton Faas at cfaas@texas-wildlife.org or 800-839-9453.

Texas Dove Hunters Associations Offers Scholarships

Texas Dove Hunters Association (TDHA) is offering scholarships to high school seniors in Texas. Pass this on if you have any friends or family that enjoy dove hunting and will be seeking higher education this fall, including tech school, junior college or 4 year university.

Texas Dove Hunters Scholarship

TDHA will be awarding nine $500 scholarships in May! The deadline to submit applications for the 2017 Texas Dove Hunters Association scholarships is Monday, April 3! All electronic essays and mailed applications must be either received or at least postmarked by April 3rd. Time is running out, but there is still time.
Applications are available online at: texasdovehunters.com.

If you have a senior or if you know a senior that enjoys dove hunting and may be interested in some additional money for school then please encourage them to apply for this TDHA scholarship. Questions? Then call the TDHA at 210-764-1189! The TDHA is “Growing the Next Generation of Hunters and Wildlife Ambassadors.”