The Friends of Migratory Bird/Duck Stamps (friendsofthestamp.org) remind conservationists that they are not required to be waterfowl hunters to buy the $25 federal stamp required of all waterfowl hunters 16 and older.
Created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934, the duck stamp is America's oldest conservation program. It has generated more than $477 million to buy and improve National Wildlife Refuges across America.
An estimated 90 percent of duck stamps are bought by hunters because of the mandatory requirement. Some hunters buy multiple stamps. Other stamps are bought by collectors and conservationists. Refuges suitable for waterfowl also benefit hundreds of non-game species.
Duck stamps are available at NWRs, many post offices and many sporting goods stores that sell hunting licenses. A valid duck stamp serves as a season pass to refuges that charge an entry fee.
Friends of the stamp are working to protect the 2,000-acre Santa Ana NWR in the Rio Grande Valley from intrusion by the border wall. The unique habitat is considered critical to more than 400 species of birds that have been identified at the refuge. To locate an NWR, look at fws.gov/refuges.
Popular lip grip can cause tissue damage
A bass study reported by Walker Smith on the Wired2Fish fishing website explores the damage done to the soft tissue of a fish's mouth when the fish is held in various fashions.
The study was designed by fishing biologist and lake manager Steven Bardin and two veterinarians. They used a radiograph to photograph fish weighing 2 to 6 pounds, held in the usual ways. The images look like X-rays.
The exaggerated lip grip that many bass anglers use caused damage to soft tissue in larger fish. No jawbones were broken in this study, but you wouldn't expect that kind of damage with fish weighing 6 pounds or less.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department guidelines came from the Toyota ShareLunker program, which deals with bass weighing 13 pounds or more. The grip that many anglers use to make the catch look bigger may damage the fish, even without jaw damage. The fish swims away, apparently healthy. A big fish with a broken jaw dies, but nobody knows what happens to a fish that's suffered soft tissue damage.
Complete study results are online at Wired2Fish.com.
Trout stocking begins at 33 D-FW sites
Winter rainbow trout stocking has begun with 33 Dallas-Fort Worth area sites scheduled for stocking. Details, including the stocking schedules, are at tpwd.texas.gov/troutstocking.
Most of the fish are about 9 inches long. Catching them is as easy or as challenging as the anglers choose to make it. You can catch them on a hand-tied fly or on a cane pole with kernels of corn suspended beneath a bobber.
Texas ranks low in camping popularity
A startup company called Hipcamp did a survey of 2,000 Americans and determined that Texas is ranked 45th in camping popularity. Hawaii ranked first with 49 percent of those surveyed responding as campers. Delaware was second at 48 percent and Utah third at 47 percent. The Texas response was 15 percent.
Hipcamp (Hipcamp.com) connects campers with private land access and nature opportunities.
SATURDAY, DEC. 16 -- Sandhill crane season begins in Zone C.
MONDAY, DEC. 18 -- Second split of dove season begins in North and Central Zones.
MONDAY, DEC.18 -- Woodcock season begins statewide.