Youth Hunt in the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area

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Oliver is one lucky little hombre. He wasn’t drawn once, but five times to hunt various state parks and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).  In Texas over 700,000 acres are divided into 47 different WMAs. Controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife, these acreages are representative of nearly all ecological regions in Texas. Biologists use each area to study wildlife. The public can use it to hunt, and that’s what Oliver did.

The Las Palomas WMA, specifically the Arroyo Colorado Unit, is in a region known as the “brush country” of south Texas. It is a veritable sea of thorns. I’ve hunted in it before, but this area is a little wetter.  There is abundant wildlife due to the large amounts of cover and food.  Further west water is a rate limiting factor, but not here.  Cameron County has these things called resacas. Either coming from a contraction of rio seca meaning “dry river” or from resecar meaning “to dry out”they are naturally occurring diversion channels off the Rio Grande.  Except they are usually dry.   The brush around the resaca is dense and blood thirsty.  It’s not hard to imagine the blood shed when old General Zachary Taylor fought his disorganized and bloody battle in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma against Mexican General Mariano Arista on May 9, 1846 in the Mexican American War.

The picture shows where we hunted and the aerial photo was taken during much wetter time.

Snow melt from Colorado used to cause the Rio to flood and fill these with water.   The Rio Grande doesn’t swell much any more and so what’s left over is a big dry river bed with only a few areas of marsh and fresh water.  These and the senderos make for animal highways.   All kinds of critters make their way up and down and across the resaca, like turkeys:

and this bobcat I called up by kissing my finger:

and a whole lot more.   A scorpion visited us, fiddler crabs burrowed just outside the door to the blind, and we almost ran over a blue indigo snake.

The success of this hunt started with my efforts back home. I applied to as many hunts as possible in the “youth” category boosting our shot at getting drawn. It will make for a lot of travel, but I dig travel hunting.

The next and most important thing I did was give Jimmy Stout, the head biologist for the unit, a call. He gave us lots of info and seemed like a swell dude. He verified the hunt was an assigned blind hunt, because the Arroyo Colorado Unit is only 700+ acres and answered all my queries.  There hasn’t been a wild pig killed since 96, but deer and javelinas were plentiful.  Oliver and I were both pretty stoked about his chance to shoot a “stink pig.”

When we arrived Jimmy guessed it was us despite having not met. He went through the rules and regulations, assigned our blind, off we went. A nice fella close to retirement named Alex took us to the blind and got us tucked in.

This is the view of the blind from where I spread a little extra corn. 

 

A circle of corn, hopefully to attract a whole herd of collared peccary, aka Javelina.  

 

After spreading the additional corn, we were quiet and in the blind at 9:45. Then, at 10:02 this happened:

I’ve been bear hunting, I’ve chased elk, and I kill a bunch of birds, but this is by far my favorite hunt to date.  .

Earlier I made up scenarios of a javelina coming from the left, right, behind us, etc.

TPWD has a nice cleaning station, and the guts are just thrown over to the alligators in the arroyo. But don’t fall! 

We drove back to the check station and they guys thought something went wrong, because we were back so quickly.  Nope things went really well.

A couple of admirers came and offered up there opinions and congratulations. 

Next weekend we are hitting the Chaparral WMA looking for some more javelinas, a fat doe, and possibly Pumbaa.  Stay tuned.

 

Oh the things you learn public land hunting…

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Hunting public land in Texas is new to me. My first waterfowl hunt is at a local wildlife management area (WMA). This place is a first come first choice, so you line up outside the gates in advance of the 4:30am gate opening . I was in line camping with my son, Oliver 6, and since we were getting up early we turned in about 7:45.

Around 11:30 it got real for the fellows three spots ahead. First, there was celebration. When the coyotes started howling, so did they. Then, apparently, a rattlesnake joined the fun. This led to the sounds of crashing lawnchairs, I believe a BBQ pit fell onto some decoys, which would explain the faint burning plastic smell. Crisis resolved, but they soon ran out of the good stuff, bud light, and had to crack into the Natty. Around 12:30, two of the party turned in.

At this point, the conversation turned rather dour. See, the first fellow was apparently a good family man. Which had been celebrated ad nausea in the prior hour.

Though once married the second chap apparently had trouble maintaining monogamy and apparently he now only sees his kids on the weekend. At this point he was sobbing loudly, uncontrollably, and with a strangely guttural moan sprinkled in at times. Even in my dark camper in a sleeping bag, I felt really awkward.

I’m no Frasier Crane, but maybe the married friend shouldn’t have stated, “You know your ex wife was such a beautiful, sweet girl before you were married. You really screwed that up.” There was now angry shouting, then SLUT repeated in decreasing volume, about 50 times. The sobbing grew more intense. At this point I made sure my BB’s were handy, I thought 4s might be a bit light if I needed to intervene.

As luck would have it, they apparently hugged it out and everything was copacetic. UNTIL THE BIG DIESEL TRUCK SPED PAST THEIR CAMP.

This put the sobber in a state of rage and he cursed the speedster with a flare really only fitting at an SEC football field. This lasted a good 10 minutes. By now the previously bedded companions of theirs rallied after their 15 minute nap and managed to stoke the flames a little by commenting on the overall lack of civility of today’s drivers.

There was a little hushed mumbling, and this gem was sprung: “that’s the thing with you man, why I don’t like drinking with you, you’re always getting drunk always making homosexual advances towards me.” I’m not passing judgment, I just didn’t predict this sort of conversation taking place while waiting to get a good duck hunting spot. I can’t verify this, but my son claims he heard the sound of a fleshy slap.

Then some yelling ensued.

I’m not sure what the sobber’s role in the latent homosexual behavior was, but someone in the group noticed he was gone. Apparently he left to straighten the speeding truck guys out and it was mentioned how he always looks for a good fist fight after drinking. It was agreed he had to be stopped and the sound of stumbling, swerving running could be heard outside of my popup. I didn’t hear gunshots, so I assume everything was fine.

When they returned it was almost 2, and now the natty light was gone and they decided they should get to bed. So they went. And I was asleep soon after.

Strangely, I awoke at 3:30 fresh and ready to hunt. So no harm, no foul.

Anyways, it was an interesting prelude to a great hunt. We limited out on ducks within 15 minutes, missed some specklebelly geese, and added 6 pouldeau because we’ve heard they eat well.

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