THEY HAVE A BAD REPUTATION, but they are really docile animals. They won’t bother you unless they are attacked. When I was in the Air Force at Laredo AFB we would practice off road driving and the trucks would get really muddy. We would wash them off and there was a mama skunk with her kittens that would come out every night. It was like a duck with all her ducklings walking in a straight line behind her. From time to time we would feed them. They were as cute as can be. I think it would be a great to hear about the misconceptions about different critters. For example, the alligator gar. It is an air breather. It also will not attack people even though they have a mouth full of teeth. They go back to before the dinosaurs.
Editor: I will have to write up something on animal misconceptions. It is something we try to put into many of our pieces but doing an in-depth piece on the subject would be lots of fun.
Social Media Q&A
HERE ARE SOME recent questions Chester has answered on social media regarding the great outdoors and TF&G.
Q: What do you think is the least reported outdoor issue in Texas?
A: The wholesale slaughter of a native animal, the collared peccary, more commonly known as the javelina. Ranchers routinely tell people to kill all they see. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials their range has declined from the Red River in the 1930s to south of San Antonio now. If whitetail, mule deer, turkey or any game animal saw that kind of decline the hunting industry would be up in arms. But the javelina is decreasing dramatically and there is silence.
I had someone recently share a story they were told they would not be invited back onto a ranch because they refused to kill javelinas.
They are a game animal and there is a bag limit. Our Guns columnist Steve Lamascus first brought this to our attention and wrote on the issue a few years back and I penned an editorial called The Texas Javelina Massacre on the topic in 2017.
The bottom line is “managing” for deer has been bad for javelina. People should stop slaughtering them and obey the law.
Q: Is it true there have been hyena sightings in Texas?
A: There have been reports of hyena type-animals but there are very few hyenas in zoos and even fewer in private facilities in Texas, so it is doubtful there are escapees. I believe the animals people are referring to as “hyenas” are the same things getting labeled as “chupacabras”. They are coyotes with severe mange, which gives the animals a hyena like appearance although they are much, much smaller than a hyena. I got to interact with hyenas last year and they dwarf coyotes.
Q: Do you think Texas will ever see the long-standing 13-pound flounder record broken?
A: Yes. I am pretty sure we will see that at some point. Current regulations allow more flounder to make it to spawning age and restrict commercial harvest, which means more opportunities for flounder to grow to maximum size.
Q: What is the best part about working with Texas Fish & Game?
A: The ability to actually cover the outdoors and wildlife scene with a journalistic perspective. We don’t just report on where to catch fish but why fish bite and why they don’t bite. And the conservation ethic of the owners giving much ink space to issues of at risk species and at-risk habitat is inspiring.
Q: Do you think the price of deer hunting will ever go down?
A: No and in fact it will continue to rise. I foresee a time when the average person will not be able to afford it at all. It is sad but true. There will of course be exceptions, but for the most part deer hunting access is decreasing due to finances.
Wild Wildlife Sights in the Wake of Harvey
AFTER HURRICANE HARVEY, my daughter Catherine visited us from Colorado and we went fishing by airboat in Vinson’s Slough. We spotted this buck swimming between Matagorda and San Jose Island and Catherine snapped this picture. Nice catch—strictly catch and release.
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