Photos in the March 2017 issue
CelEBRATING 75 YEARS
Hold on to your hats as we kick off a year of celebration, culminating in December with the 75th anniversary of everyone's favorite magazine about the Texas outdoors (and the longest-running magazine in Texas).
This Month's Features
Find the middle of nowhere in the middle of everywhere on an urban paddling trail.
By Camille Wheeler
In the fall of 2016, I launched my urban Texas Paddling Trails investigation. As a beginning paddler, I kayaked and canoed 20-plus miles of river, lake, creek and bayou trails in Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Houston, San Antonio and Pasadena, near NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Throughout my metropolitan exploration of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Paddling Trails program, I never left the concrete jungle. Now in its 20th year, the program counts 72 officially designated public inland and coastal trails in rural and urban settings, with its most recent addition in February — the Mission Reach on a restored section of the San Antonio River near downtown San Antonio.
I paddled alone (always a bad idea) and with groups on guided tours. I made boat delivery and shuttle bus arrangements. I tried out equipment, renting or reserving four types of kayaks and one canoe.
I always donned a life jacket, but sometimes neglected to wear a hat or sunscreen. I rarely drank enough water.
I got stuck in shallow-water gravel, scraped my boat on rocks, muscled across a cove in moderate wind conditions, paddled around piles of post-flood woody debris, bumped into other people’s kayaks on group tours and banged my vessel’s nose into shorelines. Repeatedly.
In short, I had a blast.
Hold your nose and offer up praise for the much-maligned but most worthy vulture.
By Dale Weisman
“The vultures are circling.”
Bet you’re picturing an old Western movie, where a thirst-crazed cowboy crawls across a blazing desert while vultures circle slowly overhead, waiting patiently for him to heave his last breath before swooping down for the feast.
Vultures suffer from seriously bad public relations that started long ago. Old Testament verse condemns vultures as “an abomination among birds.” Seeing a “turkey buzzard” in 1835 on his voyage to the Americas, Charles Darwin called the poor creature “a disgusting bird, with its bald scarlet head formed to wallow in putridity.”
Neither sweet like songbirds nor majestic like eagles, perhaps vultures seem too ugly to love. Many of us associate them with death, disease and decay, viewing them as sinister, grotesque carrion-eating scavengers, the bottom feeders of the avian world, too lazy to hunt for fresh meat.
My friend Carol, the “vulture lady,” vehemently disavows these ugly stereotypes. While many neighbors in her posh Northwest Austin neighborhood hang birdfeeders around their homes to attract colorful buntings and cardinals, Carol used to set defrosted chickens out on her hillside deck to feed black vultures and turkey vultures — the only two vulture species found in Texas.
Two major Texas bass tournaments offer rare access for spectators
By Randy Brudnicki
"Well, it’s bass and boats
It’s water and cold
It’s the shout of the adoring crowd
It’s the stretch of the lines
The hundred grand prize
He’ll win in the final round
It’s jigs and frogs, fish under logs
Thumb the reel and then let it go
It’s the braid and the fluoro
The joy and the sorrow
And he’s called a bass pro."
Apologies to Garth Brooks, but every time I hear Rodeo, I can’t help but replace his lyrics about cowboys with my own words about bass tournament anglers. The sentiment is the same; the outcome is the same. Some make it. Most don’t, but many keep trying.
The bass pro will give up his family and a normal life just to pursue the dream of making it as a pro fisherman. As the lyrics go: “He’ll sell off everything he owns just to pay to play her game.”
It’s not an easy lifestyle, nor is it inexpensive. The travel is brutal, and dealing with the ever-changing elements wears you out. It can take five-digit amounts (if not nearly $100,000) per year to “pay to play” the bass game at the highest level.
Despite all this, there’s no shortage of people trying to make it in the world of bass.