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Photos shot for the November issue

There are no bad snakes, we learned seven years ago while working on the May 2015 issue of the magazine.

The snake article we were running, which contained some of the usual fear-and-loathing of vipers, "skirts the edge of my comfort zone since there is so much hysteria about venomous snakes," our state herpetologist said.

Certain snakes have developed incredible adaptations — such as venom — to survive and thrive, he said, so we shouldn't hold that against them. If anything, they should be objects of wonder, not fear.

One person who might share that sentiment is Romey Swanson, who wrote this month's article documenting his quest to see as many Texas reptile and amphibian species as he could in a year.

Whether you hunt turkeys in fall or spring, you can use Russell Graves' guide to prepare for the season. And speaking of turkey, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We hope you have a nice, fulfilling holiday, whether it's turkey-filled or turkey-free.

Talking Turkey

Your preseason guide to hunting Texas' wiliest game bird.

I scratch the wand across the slate call, and almost instantaneously, the tom turkey responds with a thundering gobble. For 30 minutes, we play a cat-and-mouse game of call and response. He gets closer each time.

Now, he’s 15 yards away. We are eye to eye.

In the shade, turkeys look dark and drab. In the sunlight, however, they shine with an iridescence not seen in many other Texas critters. Here in the early morning sunlight of the Texas Rolling Plains, this big ol’ tom is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors as the light hits from various angles.

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Watery Wonderland

Wetland center wins land steward award for cleaning river water, providing wildlife habitat.

Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, spelled out his land ethic in stark and simple terms. Land management is done right, he wrote, “when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty” of the land’s plants and animals. It is done wrong, he noted, “when it tends otherwise.”

The John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, 25 miles southeast of Dallas, embraces Leopold’s vision of what is right. The center’s healthy ecosystem supports vibrant populations of animals and plants, serves as a massive water filter and lifts the spirits of visitors who marvel at the diversity.

The wetlands teem with life, providing a wildlife show for those strolling along the meandering boardwalk. More than 270 species of birds, including sandhill cranes and 21 species of ducks and geese, have been sighted here, along with river otters, bobcats, American minks and beavers. The surface of the water constantly ripples as tiny fish break the surface. Blanchard’s tree frogs, the size of a human fingernail, hop across algae mats and lily pads. Blue dragonflies (called Comanche skimmers) and green herons rest on the boardwalk’s handrails.

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Hit the Road for a Toad

A fascination with Texas' reptiles and amphibians spurs a yearlong quest to see them all.

Deep in the gloom of the East Texas Pineywoods, I’m on a hunt for some of Texas’ most elusive creatures. Secretive salamanders are playing out an ancient drama here, and I’ve always wanted to experience it.

Earlier in the week, heavy winter rains filled drainages and depressions throughout the forest, triggering a salamander breeding frenzy. Unique to this region of Texas, these mostly lethargic creatures hide beneath logs or buried deep underground.

When the pitter-patter of raindrops breaks their subterranean trance, the no-longer-sleepy salamanders emerge with a singular focus: Perpetuate the next generation.

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KTW 2011 cover KTW 2011 cover

Keep Texas Wild

It's not just for kids. If you like nature-related topics in an easy-to-read format, you can find three years of our popular Keep Texas Wild issues and the teacher resources to go along with them.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine 
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