I see hundreds if not thousands of people watching wildlife in Texas every year. Many of these love to take pictures of Turkeys, Deer, Javelina, Waterfowl, Quail and many of the other game animals. Did you know that by the 1900s much of the Wild Game in Texas was in trouble are already gone from the State? Some had been completely wiped out and others were at such low numbers the populations would never recover. The days of the Buffalo, Bear, Bighorn Sheep, Wolf, White-tailed Deer, Antelope, Turkey, Alligator and many others were numbered. Most people say they were wiped out by hunters but that is not the whole or real truth. Many were shot but by settlers and those that lived in the wildlife habitat. In those days you did not go to the store and buy meat you had to shoot it to bring home the bacon. Also much of our wildlife was killed by professional shooters that shot food for the Railroad crews and for sale on the open market. There were no game laws back then and wild game was sold on the open markets in the cities and towns. Many were killed simply for hides or feathers to be used in products for American consumers in a growing State. Thousands upon thousands died of diseases brought in by domestic livestock to which the wild game had no resistance or immunities.
On the bright side there are more white-tailed deer and turkey today than there have ever been in Texas. These are the good ole days for wildlife in Texas. The Bighorn Sheep once again can be found in the High Mountains of West Texas. One Bighorn Sheep permit sold at auction in Texas will bring more than $100,000.00 to be plowed back into the Bighorn Sheep Restoration project. A breeding population of Black Bears now roams the Trans Pecos and is expanding their range. Turkeys are enjoying habitats where they have never roamed in our States history. How has all this come about? It has come about because of Hunters. It is hunters that put up the license fees that are used in wildlife restoration and management. Once an animal is made a game animal it has seasons or if need be closed seasons, funds for management, in some cases funds for restocking to former ranges. Game animals are provided habitat and protection while being managed to provide a renewable sustainable harvest. Hunters also provide funds through such organizations as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and other organizations to preserve habitat. Hunters and Sportsmen pay an 11% percent excise tax on all ammo and hunting supplies which is allocated to the states for support of wildlife. In truth it is hunters that put up the bulk of the money so you and yours can enjoy wildlife today.
If you enjoy taking pictures or just watching the wildlife of this great State then buy a hunting license and put back a little into the wildlife of Texas. You can help make sure that there is wildlife in the future for those that come after us. Buying a hunting license is not just for hunters anymore it is for everyone.
PS: A purchase of a subscription to the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine is also an excellent investment in wildlife and will keep you informed on Texas Wildlife.