TEXAS OUTDOOR NATION: GUNS, GEAR AND GRUB – November 2019

THE TF&G REPORT – November 2019
October 24, 2019
TEXAS GUNS by Steve LaMascus – November 2019
October 24, 2019

(Composite Photo: TF&G)

THAT TITLE ROLLED off my lips with the same flair for alliteration as my hero Stan Lee when he developed characters named Peter Parker and Bruce Banner, whom you know better as Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk.

I was assigned to come up with a title for this section. At first, it just sounded cool. Then when I got to work on the actual text, it was apparent I had to make it fresh.

Every issue has articles on guns. Every issue has gear reviews, and there is a cooking column as well. So, I decided to take the unique culture of our state and look at some statistics and historical facts that uniquely marry these three components of the outdoor lifestyle.

Remember the Alamo!

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This is a Texas statement, not a question. Any Texan reading this who does not know about the Alamo needs to go back and think about their Texas citizenship.

For real.

This legendary battle pitted a mighty Mexican army against a collection of soldiers set on Texas independence. Although it didn’t bring independence by itself, it set in motion what happened shortly after that in San Jacinto.

Of course, guns were a key component.

The guns of The Alamo varied, but an interesting historical piece from The American Rifleman cites one of the verified weapons of the mission’s defenders.

“Standing out from an otherwise mostly rag-tag group of men at the Alamo were the New Orleans Greys, named after the matching grey fatigues they sported. The 23 volunteers were armed as a regular company of soldiers would be.

“When they set out from New Orleans, the majority of the men whose lives would end at the Alamo were equipped with the Deringer M1814. Known as the common rifle, these were .54 caliber flintlock muzzleloaders with 36-inch rifled barrels capable of being loaded with paper cartridges. Their angled stock was intentionally reminiscent of the graceful Kentucky long rifle.”

Other guns used in the battle were 1795 Springfield Flintlock Infantry Musket, French Flintlock Fusil and most likely the U.S. Harpers Ferry 1805 First Model Flintlock Pistol, which was popular in this time period.

Guns may have shaped Texas independence, but the culture of gun ownership has not faded in Texas today.

Texas, according to ATF statistics compiled by Huntingmark.com, is the number one overall state for gun ownership with 588,696 registered firearms.

1795 Springfield Flintlock, used at the battle of the Alamo.

The Second Amendment, which guarantees a right to keep and bear arms, has nothing to do with hunting. However, there’s no question the pursuit of game is a big reason for gun sales and ownership in Texas—and for a good reason.

Texas is first in many categories of game animals:

Number One Whitetail State: With a whitetail population of more than 3.5 million, Texas is tops for whitetail deer.

Number One Hog State: Whether we love them or hate them, hogs are here to stay. Some estimates put Texas hog population at more than three million. Interestingly, hog harvest (including trapping) has topped whitetail harvest. About 750,000 hogs are killed annually in Texas according to Texas Agrilife, compared to about 500,000 whitetails.

Number One Turkey State: Turkey hunting is popular here, but perhaps as not as popular as it should be. Texas has more turkeys than any other state with an estimated 400,000 birds. The bulk of these are Rio Grandes, but a growing population of Easterns is being restored in the Pineywoods along with a little-known group of Merriam’s in the Trans-Pecos.

A Rio Grande turkey in South Texas

Number One Exotic State: No state compares to Texas’s exotic hunting opportunities. From blackbuck antelope to more obscure animals such as markhor, Texas has it all when it comes to exotics. Free-ranging herds of nilgai antelope roam the lower coast, and free-ranging axis deer are increasingly common in the southeastern part of the Edwards Plateau.

With all of those game animals present within our borders, it makes sense we have lots of ways to cook them. After all, we should not kill what we do not use, right?

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A recent article in Texas monthly cites a recent study by a statistics outfit CHD Expert. The article says, “in terms of total barbecue places, Texas leads the nation, with 2,238 total restaurant locations and 1,931 independent locations.”

It’s not just barbecue joints. It’s also barbecue pits, grills and smokers used by folks who merely want to cook some grub in the backyard for family and friends. A recent trend is 1,000-gallon smokers made from repurposed industrial propane tanks.

I guess it would take that kind of power to cook all of the pigs we kill.

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In terms of gear outdoor lovers use in the field, Texas is a huge priority in the ATV, boating, and outdoor component (camping, backpacks, binoculars, etc.) industry.

That has much to do with our outdoor diversity.

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Texas has plains. The Gulf Coast near places such as Port Aransas has some of the flattest plains found in the country.

Texas has deep forests. Texas has an estimated 62 million acres of forests and woodlands in the state.

Texas has wetlands. Texas has an estimated seven million acres of wetlands.

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Texas has mountains. Guadalupe Peak is 8,751 feet above sea level’ It’s in the Guadalupe Mountains. We also have the Davis Mountains, Chisos Mountains, Quachita Mountains and other ranges in the Trans-Pecos region of the state.

It takes good quality gear to traverse these diverse terrains. It also takes outdoor lovers who are adept at many styles of hunting and fishing to take advantage of the opportunities here.

Texas, at the end of the day, is about diversity. Biodiversity.

Because of the vast herds of whitetails, flocks of turkeys, coveys of quail and other wildlife contained within our borders we can enjoy hunting at a high level. We also can appreciate the truly unique place we live in.

Even non-hunters would have to enjoy a beautiful barbecue platter. Vegans may balk at the idea, but I doubt anyone reading this would prefer tofu over turkey.

I didn’t think so.

 

—story by CHESTER MOORE

 

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