- List Your Courses
- Manage Your Schedule
- Get Access to New Students
- Teach at a Local Retailer
For the past 70 years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has managed a phenomenal public land program known as the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). With habitat preservation and wildlife conservation at the epicenter of the program, NWRS manages 553 refuges and 38 wetland management districts on approximately 150 million acres; about one-third of the acreage is under water, yet 85 to 90 million acres of land is open to public hunting opportunities. In fact, according to NWRS, at least one huntable property is currently being managed in each of our 50 states; many states possess more than one; in fact, Texas is home 10 17, soon to be 18, with at least 13 of those open to public hunting.
Many of our NWRS managed tracts here in Texas offer a smorgasbord of hunting opportunities from squirrels to whitetail deer and from feral hogs to waterfowl. While all are managed heavily for deer, turkey, and even a few for alligator, a few also offer walk in opportunities for upland birds or waterfowl.
“I don’t have a place to hunt.”
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times. The truth is, at least here in God’s country, opportunities abound for those willing to commit to a little homework — how bad do you want it? My dad once told me, “Son, if you ask a thousand girls to dance, one of them is going to say yes.” The real problem is people often don’t ante up when it’s time to put forth a little effort, but for those who do, the offerings are significant and surely remove any excuses about a lack of property to hunt. And, when you do hunt NWRS land, you truly are supporting the program’s mission.
Part of hunting, especially on federally managed lands, is a result of wildlife studies and concerted efforts to conserve our nation’s renewable resources. You, as a hunter or angler, have more to do with conservation on every federal and state level than any other organization in the country. So, take advantage of the benefits! Our Lone Star State is waiting for you to jump on the conservation bandwagon while pursuing your trophy of a lifetime!
Hunting and Conservation — A Marriage That Makes Sense
Financially, hunters contribute to the overall NWRS program through the purchase of a Federal Duck Stamp. Each year, approximately $25 million in revenue is collected from stamp purchases with 98 percent of those funds going to NWRS. To date, over $750 million has been raised through the Federal Duck Stamp program to benefit NWRS through conservation, habitat preservation and the purchase of over 5.3 million more acres of land. It’s worth noting here that at least one refuge in each of our 50 glorious states purchased waterfowl habitat using Federal Duck Stamp funds.
In our own Lone Star State, 100 percent of our hunting and fishing license fees are used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) specifically for conservation efforts. When our license fees and Federal Duck Stamps purchases are combined, it’s obvious that we as Texas hunters not only contribute to conservation in our own state but contribute to conservation efforts nationwide!
As hunters we also assist in conservation efforts by improving the overall health of the population of animals we hunt on NWRS lands. In Texas, our feral hog problem is widely known. As many as 2 to 3 million feral hogs ravage our state, costing over $400 million in damages annually. We would be naïve to think this problem doesn’t exist on NWRS land as well; consider also, the impact feral hogs have on our whitetail population; our habitats cannot sustain both. Feral hog hunting is available on many NWRS properties, so hunters can contribute to positive conservation measures even during the “off season” and not just at the state level; hunting NWRS tracts makes a difference nationwide by contributing to the conservation efforts of the entire program.
Population control is not just important to reduce competition for habitat between deer and hogs; it is also an invaluable tool to ensure our wildlife populations do not exceed the capacity of our habitats. Excessive numbers of wildlife contribute to disease, starvation, outright depletion of habitat we work to preserve and even contribute to an increased number of road-kills and property damage; agricultural and environmental impacts are also realized as a result of unmanaged wildlife. Hunting works hand-in-hand with conservation; one without the other leaves both destined for catastrophic failure — historical data has proven the case repeatedly.
Understanding and embracing a true sense of stewardship means maintain consistent awareness of where and how you can help in conservation efforts both here in our own Lone Star State and nationwide, standing shoulder to shoulder and being counted among our fellow sporting brothers and sisters in a collective effort to protect the big three — wildlife, habitat and our outdoor heritage. What better way to make a stand for conservation than to spend some time in our outdoors knowing that simply buying a license, affixing a Federal Duck Stamp and stepping into the majesty of the NRWS lands Texas has been entrusted with, makes a difference that is simply priceless.
Your Outdoor Roadmap To Conservation, NWRS Style
Access and Hunting – Many NWRS properties require permits, some by drawing. Spend time studying the land you are interested in hunting. Give yourself plenty of time to understand walk-in opportunities versus permit drawings. Click Here to see a list of National Wildlife Refuges in Texas and great information to get you headed in the right direction.
Attitude of Gratitude – Appreciate the ability to hunt and enjoy our outdoors and renewable resources because of those who have gone before you, our armed forces and great programs like NWRS.
Stewardship = Responsibility – Pack out everything you pack in. Use non-invasive methods to hunt. Do not install permanent stands and blinds. Good stewardship also requires four things:
How-to articles for hunting, shooting and archery
Comment on articles and join the ORM Community
Latest Gear News
Access to Our Online Outdoor Training Courses
Latest Outdoor News and Events