Shane Reynolds, Outdoor Recreation Director and Outfitter
Spending time with family and friends during hunting season is a tradition in Texas that many people enjoy. One of the services that we provide to our members at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch is helping to set up that special hunt for members, their family and guests. We also guide members on hunts each year.
Hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation have been a way of life for many Texans since the beginning of this great state. With each new hunting season, hunters flock to the fields and forest in pursuit of their favorite quarry. Whether you hunt to put food on the table, for the excitement of the chase, or for the relaxation and pleasure of being in the field on a crisp autumn day, hunting continues to be a popular pastime for many Texans.
With hunting season opening on September 1, 2023, we are excited to get this hot dry summer behind us and look ahead to the fall and winter. We have a strong outlook for dove this year, with mourning dove counts coming in 44 percent up over 2022 at 28.3 million dove, and white-wing dove up 20 percent over 2022 with 11.7 million doves. Teal season kicks off next in mid-September. Most waterfowl outlook reports are not out yet, but we do know the breeding numbers of ducks counted in May of 2023 is up slightly over 2022, which was a really good year. The drought conditions in the Hill Country and other parts of the state will continue to be an issue for wildlife but the late winter, early spring rain that much of the state received has helped the whitetail deer populations and conditions this year over 2022-2023, which was a really bad year for whitetail.
Texas has a long history of hunting and it can be argued that Texas is the birthplace of modern wildlife management and conservation. Texans can be proud of the fact that our state has long been a visionary with farming and ranching techniques, and throughout the past 100 years, Texans have managed the land to be productive while conserving and nurturing vital habitat for wild game. Abundant wild game is almost taken for granted in modern-day Texas, but there was a time when the bounty of Texas wildlife was at serious risk. Throughout the 19th century, wild game was abundant in South Texas, but by 1910, deer and wild turkey populations were almost completely eliminated. Thanks to pioneers of game management like Caesar and Alice King Kleberg, who were instrumental in developing the first policies of wildlife management in Texas, future generations of hunters will benefit from ample quarry throughout the state.
As the Outfitter for The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch, I have access to a myriad of resources to arrange hunts and guided hunts. From a network of leases and properties to personal relationships with guides for dove, duck, hog, quail, turkey, sandhill crane hunts and a lot more, I can help arrange any type of native or exotic hunt in Texas. Most importantly, I’m available to take your children or grandchildren on hunting trips. If life is too busy or if the thought of organizing a hunting trip is daunting, this is a service offered to our members with the Club. I have enjoyed passing on my hunting heritage to my own children, and the time I spend with them in the field is some of the best quality time I’ve shared with them.
We have some amazing hunters at Cordillera Ranch. If you’ve lived here, you are bound to know a few. Tap into their vast knowledge of experience, and ask them what their hunting interests are and how they became hunters. We all have different experiences and interests, but there is a common denominator with us all and that’s the love of getting outdoors with others who share our interests.
When it comes to preparing for hunting season, here are a few tips:
Preparation for hunting can be bucketed into three different categories; mental, physical and gear preparation. Although there are some types of hunting that require strenuous physical conditioning, a lot of the hunting I do in Texas focuses more on native animals where habitat and gear are the most important types of preparation to focus on. Successful hunters are typically those who put in months, weeks and days of practice and training. Get out there and practice with whatever equipment you plan to use during hunting season. Know your gear and know it well! Know your abilities using that gear as well. That’s a big part of the mental preparation — knowing your own limits. Whether this is a rifle, bow or shotgun, you should be shooting regularly. Ensuring you are comfortable with your weapon of choice, groups you are shooting, and distances you are accurate from is very important prior to getting into the woods, on the mountain or in the blind or field.
I typically wing shoot a lot more than rifle or archery so I will go over my routine prior to hunting season. I will service my shotgun prior to and after any shoot. It’s important to know your limits when it comes to choking your shotgun and the distances you feel comfortable shooting at a given species. Shooting clay targets at our Gun Club is the perfect way to practice for any type of wing shooting.
Mentally you must focus on many things while practicing shooting. Not flinching, breathing, not gripping the bow or gun too tightly, making sure the bow is level, steadying your bow or rifle, etc. Prior to any release or shot, I ALWAYS take a deep breath, expel around 80 percent of the air, then I release or shoot. This mental checklist helps me prepare for the opportunity during season when I have a big animal in front of me and my adrenaline is pumping. Calming down and going through each step will help lead to a clean and successful shot.
The last part of mental preparation is not second guessing your game plan. If you’ve prepared for the hunt and done your scouting, you should have faith in yourself. If you are not finding the animals you are after, keep at it. Not doubting yourself is huge when in the field. When you hunt solo, it is even more difficult to not second-guess yourself.
To work on this, you must put the time in to scout the land for animals or use your mapping systems to help assist on your hunt. Knowing where the water sources are, feed sources and where the animals are getting the least amount of pressure will help keep your spirits up and overcome the mental game of doubting your strategy.
I hope these tips I use are helpful in your upcoming hunts and reward your efforts with success in the field.
Finally, get your Hunters Education Certificate if needed. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Online Hunter Safety Course, required for all hunters born after September 1, 1971, is offered at Bass Pro Shops at the Rim.
Onward in preparation!
Shane Reynolds is the Outdoor Recreation Director and Outfitter at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 210.616.6051, or at the Cordillera Ranch Outfitter Center at 830.336.4823.