Photos in the October 2016 issue
The Year of state parks
Welcome to our 2016 series: The Year of State Parks. Each month’s cover and lead story will feature one of Texas’ iconic state parks. An accompanying State Parks List will focus on parks across the state that offer similar attractions and activities. This month, we feature Ray Roberts Lake State Park and a list of parks with great fishing.
This Month's Features
Just an hour away from the Metroplex, Ray Roberts Lake lures lunker lovers.
By Melissa Gaskill
A few clusters of people scatter along the grassy bank of a pond, some enjoying the shade of a sizable pecan tree, others soaking up warm sun. Several youngsters stand at the water’s edge, fishing poles in hand, earnest expressions on their faces. When one gets a tug on the line, excitement erupts.
The kid fishing pond at the Johnson Branch Unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park contains stocked rainbow trout, channel catfish and sunfish. Given last year’s extensive flooding, though, which lifted Ray Roberts Lake well over the berm between it and this pond, park rangers have no idea what could currently be swimming around here. Not that these kids care. Like countless hopeful anglers before them, they just want to catch something.
Catching a fish represents a rite of passage, an accomplishment harkening back to our hunter-gatherer days and one often passed down through generations. Most people clearly remember their first — mine was a tiny panfish, caught from a dock with guidance from my grandfather — and many spend countless hours and more than a few dollars trying to recreate that thrill. Ray Roberts Lake’s 29,000 acres offer great chances for both.
A weekend’s pursuit of deer and hogs culminates in a mouthwatering wild game feast.
By Reid Wittliff
Solana Ranch is the kind of place that makes you feel blessed to call Texas home. Nine thousand acres of Central Texas beauty, purposefully stewarded for over 50 years by one family — the Michauxs — to enhance native habitat and benefit the creatures that live there.
Turkey, white-tailed deer, quail, dove and even the endangered Salado salamander thrive on the ranch, largely due to the efforts of Kirk and Julie Michaux and their children, Lisa and Mike. The Michauxs manage an extensive but thoughtfully restricted hunting and nature tourism operation on Solana designed to ensure that every hunter, bird watcher and visitor has a superb experience.
So when I was invited to join Marcus Paslay, the award-winning chef and proprietor of Fort Worth’s Clay Pigeon Food and Drink, for a bow hunt and eat-what-you-kill dinner (prepared by the chef himself), I instantly knew the right place to go — Solana Ranch.
Young hunters find adventure on an outdoor club’s mentored hunt
By Eric M. Morris
Excitement crackled in the frosty air as four young hunters loaded guns and gear into the pickups.
The temperature had dropped from a comfortable 60-plus degrees down to a bone-chilling 25 degrees, but nobody seemed to notice or care. The Black Wolf Hunting Club was on the prowl at Proctor Lake, northeast of Brownwood.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to hunt and go out with my grandpa,” Sean Lopez of Corpus Christi told me.
At 12, Sean was the youngest in the group. He and Gregory Larks, 14, of Austin were on their first hunt. The others — Deion Teague, 14, and Jaylan Ridge, 15, of Waco — had harvested their first deer a few months earlier on another hunt. Black Wolf members were serving as mentors on this trip, passing along a tradition of being “country” — self-reliant, able to provide for ourselves and our families from what nature provides.
Less than an hour after sunrise, the reports started coming in. Three deer had already been harvested — the first-time hunters had brought beginner’s luck.