NEWS FROM THE 2014 TOWA Conference

This year’s Texas Outdoor Writers Conference is being held in New Braunfels, Texas. It began with a COC meet and greet Thursday night (2/7/2014) at the Gristmill Restaurant in Gruene. Those who have not visited Gruene should really make a point to do so, it is well well worth a trip. Funny thing about Gruene, they pronounce it “green”. Seems like “Groin” would fit that spelling better? Neat place, though.

On Friday the meat of the program began, starting with a report from the Dallas Safari Club during breakfast on the troubles surrounding their recent auction to allow a hunter to take a “nuisance” Black Rhino, proceeds to benefit Rhino conservation. If you have followed this case, you can probably guess the story was about hunter harassment and death threats.

Another speaker talked about water problems, and how the lower Colorado River watershed lost” 50,000 acres of rice land last year due to drought and upstream water diversion – which is generally to blame for very low numbers of geese on the Texas coastal prairies this year.

We were told pronghorn antelope numbers are very low, also due to drought. on the other hand, mountain lion numbers and sightings are up, statewide – also black bear.

The chance to meet with TP&WD Directors usually yields some interesting info. Did you know it is illegal to kill game animals – such as squirrels – with an air rifle or handgun? Do you care? Evidently this rule is left over from the days when air rifles and their projectiles lacked the power to cleanly kill such animals. With modern air guns, this is not the case. There are specialized air rifles capable of killing deer, hogs, and even larger game. (Again, while such a gun might be able to kill a deer, it would only be legal to use on non-game animals in Texas, such as feral hogs and exotics.)

This may change at the next Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioners meeting, in March. Commissioners are expected to approve allowing Texas hunters to use air rifles of at least .177 caliber with a velocity of 600 fps or higher on small game animals. This might be welcomed especially by those who wish to shoot squirrels in areas where gunfire would not be safe – or welcome.

I have a pellet gun that meets those requirements, and have dispatched raccoon and ‘possums pests with it, so I am sure it would do the job on squirrels.

By the way, even though there is no closed season on squirrels in Brazoria and many other counties, they are still considered game animals, so are not legal air gun targets yet. Rabbits, however are not game animals anywhere in the state.

No word yet on larger air rifles for big game, but if the ruling for small game passes, it would take effect September 1, 2014.

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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