Outdoors Notebook — Red snapper update, Hagerman deadline and local DU dinners

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

If you’re a saltwater angler who loves making a run to the Texas Gulf Coast for tasty red snapper, don’t forget that the private recreational angler red snapper season in federal waters closed for Lone Star State anglers yesterday on Thursday, Aug. 5.

But if your late summer vacation plans take you to the saltwater anytime soon, TPWD reminds anglers that state waters out to nine nautical miles will remain open with a four fish daily bag limit and a 15-inch minimum.

The agency says in a news release that under an agreement between TPWD and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), TPWD can establish the opening and closing of the red snapper fishery in federal waters off Texas. Using a combination of data from creel surveys, historical landings and the iSnapper app to calculate the state’s red snapper landings each year, TPWD is able to monitor red snapper harvests in a timely manner.

This system was designed to monitor harvests in such a way and was approved by NMFS under the Exempted Fishing Permit in 2018. TPWD also notes in its news release that as part of this agreement, Texas must close the red snapper fishery when the state’s allotted poundage is reached for the year.

Incidentally, TPWD says that results from the Harte Research Institute’s The Great Red Snapper Count estimates that there are 23 million red snapper in Lone Star State coastal waters. This is significantly higher than previous estimates and according to TPWD, illustrates that the state has robust stock abundance while the agency seeks to better manage and sustain red snapper populations in Texas’ Gulf of Mexico waters.

Hagerman Deadline Nears — As noted in recent weeks, TPWD’s drawn hunts system is up and running and applications are now being accepted for upcoming fall and winter hunts across the Lone Star State. The first such deadline passed last weekend on August 1 and additional application deadlines occur from now into November on the 1st and 15th of each month.

That includes this year’s 2021 Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge bowhunts for whitetail deer, hunts that have an application deadline of Wednesday, Sept. 1 this year. It costs $3 to enter the drawing, $80 to hunt if you actually get drawn, and the application process is completely online at https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/public_hunt_drawing .

The units open for whitetail bowhunts this fall are good ones indeed, including Big Mineral, Sandy, and Godwin, spots where some of the refuge’s biggest and best bucks have fallen down through the years. Hunt segment dates this year include Segment A from Nov. 5-7, Segment B from Nov. 19-21, and Segment C from Dec. 3-5.

The TPWD website indicates that there will be 202 bowhunting permits available this year; that drawn hunters must provide proof of successful IBEP course completion, and that anyone drawing a permit will have to provide an archery proficiency test score of 80% or higher.

For information on obtaining a 2021 Hagerman NWR whitetail bowhunting permit, contact the refuge office during business hours at (903) 786-2826 or visit the TPWD drawn hunts web page.

Hunter Extravaganza Shows Begin — This weekend marks the beginning of a three-week run of 2021 Hunters Extravaganza Shows across the state of Texas as the Lone Star State’s original hunting show opens up the doors for the 45th time.

Last year’s 2020 shows, put on annually by the Texas Trophy Hunters Association, were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Despite increasing concerns over the delta variant making headlines right now, this year’s edition of the Extravaganza is scheduled to go on as planned.

At all three shows, many of the event’s marquee attractions return this year including Joe Martin’s Snakes of Texas rattlesnake exhibit, hunting seminars by the likes of Dr. James C. Kroll and Jim Miller, and of course, a chance for hunters to get all of the gear that they’ll need for upcoming fall hunting seasons.

The show will be a good place to try and track down things that are in limited supply, along with securing camo clothing, hunting blinds, feeders, ATVs, hunting optics, game calls, and more. There will also be contests for whitetails taken in Texas, giveaways and promotions, and a chance to visit with — and book hunts with — some of the region’s top guides and outfitters.

Dubbed the “Granddaddy of all Hunting Shows!”, the 45th edition of the TTHA Hunters Extravaganza will open up in Houston this weekend at the NRG Center from Aug. 6-8. Next weekend, it’s Fort Worth’s turn as the show moves to the Fort Worth Convention Center from Aug. 13-15. And finally, the year’s final TTHA show runs in San Antonio at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall from Aug. 20-22.

Ticket prices are $5 for a one-day kid pass (ages 5-12), $12 for a one-day adult pass, and $15 for a weekend pass. Also note that parking costs vary per venue. For more information on the TTHA events, including the local Hunters Extravaganza Show in Cowtown, visit www.ttha.com.

Local DU Dinners — Fall is just around the corner and that means that the annual run of Ducks Unlimited fundraising banquets starts later this month for chapters all across Texomaland.

First up is the Whitesboro DU chapter, which will hold its 2021 dinner on Thursday, Aug. 26, at Ranch 82 near the western Grayson County community.

A couple of days later, the Celina DU chapter gets into the act with its 2021 dinner scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28 at Rock Creek Ranch in McKinney. Do note that tickets are going fast for the DU dinner in Bobcat Country and a sell-out is expected, so act fast if you want to attend that event.

While no local DU events are on the September calendar as of now, things heat up again in October with the Bryan County DU dinner slated for Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Choctaw Casino Complex in Durant.

And a few days later on Tuesday, Oct.19, it's time for the area’s marquee DU dinner each fall as the Texoma Chapter of Ducks Unlimited hosts the local quacker backer group’s 46th annual fall fundraising dinner in Denison at Loy Lake Park’s Mayor Arena.

For information on these and other DU events across Texomaland, stay tuned to this space or visit www.ducks.org.