By Shane Reynolds
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.
I grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas, hunting with my father and grandfather in a renewable pine forest planted by Kirby Lumber, where my father worked. As we ventured from our vehicle into the pine forest on a cold winter morning in search of whitetail, my father would plant me at the base of a pine tree in a creek bottom before daybreak and say, “Son, don’t leave this spot until I return for you.” For a young boy, this was a challenge. To sit, wait and hope for a deer to cross my path was a life-learning experience that I didn’t realize at the time. I certainly learned patience, perseverance, self-control and many other qualities that hunting bestows upon a youngster.
I also vividly remember running through flooded timber with my father and his friends after an evening of roosting wood ducks, which was and is illegal. We were running from a game warden. He was not as familiar with the property as us, and found himself chasing ghosts in the dark as we headed for a vehicle left at a conspicuous location for this exact scenario. This was yet another experience that began my transformation into a lifelong outdoorsman and the development of my own hunting ethics and traditions.
In today’s society, unlike years ago, youngsters and adults are involved in numerous other activities which compete for their free time and interests. Expansion of youth athletic programs, home video games and the Internet craze are a few of the activities which occupy a large portion of our children’s time today. State fish and wildlife agencies across the nation have reported significant declines in the number of youth hunters.
Here is my call to action! Please consider taking your son, daughter or grandchild on a hunting excursion this year. Texas Parks and Wildlife has implemented special seasons or hunts to provide youth hunting opportunities. The primary objectives of these special seasons are to encourage youth to participate in hunting and to develop an interest and appreciation for the outdoors and our state’s natural resources. In addition, special youth seasons provide an excellent opportunity for adult mentors, while not carrying a firearm, to provide one-on-one instruction to the youth on various aspects of hunting such as proper gun safety, hunter ethics and the development of hunting skills. All of these seasons are established during times when kids are out of school and when ranches are not crowded with other hunters.
As the Outfitter for The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch, I have access to a myriad of resources to arrange 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. I also have a broad range of lease opportunities around Texas, so if you’re looking for a lease, please contact me. 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, Penelope and Rio, 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.
After living in California for 11 years and constantly educating others on the hunting lifestyle and heritage passed on to me through my family, I often struggled to find the right message to convey. Each fall, I would search to find the source of the feelings that arose, as the crisp morning air and the changing colors of the land and sky stirred something deep in my soul. The most often challenge I had when defending my hunting heritage was “why.’ The books below will help in understanding the “why,” our hunting heritage and our obligation to pass along hunting traditions. They are not a collection of “how to hunt” publications; they’re explorations into the things we know — in our souls — about hunting, but cannot always find the right words to describe them.
After reading one or two or three of these you may find it easier to explain why you hunt.
• A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold
• The Sacred Art of Hunting– James Swan
• Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America-David Peterson
• Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting-Jim Posewitz
If I can be of any assistance to our members, I am always a phone call or email away.
Shane Reynolds is the Outdoor Recreation Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at 210.616.6051 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Cordillera Ranch Outfitter Center at 830.336.4823.