Outdoors Briefs: Big Time Texas Hunts Entry Deadline Closing in Oct. 15

October 6, 2017 - The Oct. 15 deadline to enter the Big Time Texas Hunts contest is just around the corner.

Run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, BTTH is a lotto-style program that offers hunters the opportunity to buy chances to win premium hunting packages in as many as nine different categories for a variety of game animals and birds including white-tailed deer, mule deer, alligator, exotics, waterfowl, bighorn sheep, dove, turkey and quail.

The guided hunts take place on some of Texas' top private ranches and wildlife management areas, and many of them are all inclusive with lodging, food and other amenities. Many of the hunts allow the winner to bring a hunting guest.

Chances are sold for $10 by mail, through license retailers and $9 online (tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/btth/). There is no limit on the amount of times you can enter and it isn't necessary to have a current hunting license to purchase chances. However, if selected, you must be licensed when the hunt takes place. All winners will be selected by random computer draw and notified within two weeks following the Oct. 15 entry deadline.

While the BTTH program provides hunters the opportunity to enjoy extremely high quality hunts they might not otherwise be able to afford, it also has proven be a lucrative cash cow for TPWD.

TPWD public hunting program specialist Kelly Edmiston says there were 79,000 BTTH entries sold in 2016 that generated about $737,000. Edmiston said the funds are used to support public hunting opportunities and wildlife observation projects all around the state.

For a full list and descriptions of BTTH's on tap for 2017-18, check out pwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/btth/index.phtmlp.

Combs grabs win on Mille Lacs

Huntington's Keith Combs finished out the 2017 Elite Series season with an impressive wire-to-wire win in the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship on Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minn. The personable Ranger pro weighed in 72 pounds, 5 ounces of thick-shouldered smallmouth to top second-place finisher James Elam by more than a pound.

The victory is Combs' second Elite Series win since joining the top level circuit in 2011 and his 21st Top 10 finish through 78 events. A six-time 'Classic qualifier, Combs has racked up $901,635 winnings in Bassmaster events.
He ended the season ninth in the AOY points race.

Fishing gaining popularity nationwide

Participation in recreational fishing has increased nearly 20 percent over the last 10 years and fishing-related expenditures have jumped 2.4 percent over the last five years, according to results of the 2016 National Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife survey conducted by the U.S. Wildlife Service and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Conducted every five years, the survey shows that fishing participation has increased 8.2 percent among individuals 16-65 years old, the highest level of participation since 1991. Additionally, the survey shows that revenue generated by fishing has increased from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Castledine grabs third AOY title

Nacogdoches bass pro Todd Castledine notched a 20th place finish in the final Costa FLW Series event of the season on Lake Texoma to grab the 2017 Costa Southwestern Division Angler of the Year title with 722 points.

Castledine's season included a win on Sam Rayburn and a 10th-place finish on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He also won the AOY title in 2011 and 2014.

Russell Cecil of Willis finished second in the AOY standings with 705 points. Both pros along with the Top 40 pro and co-angler qualifiers from four other divisions will compete in the Costa FLW Series Championship on Nov. 2-4 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.

Lampasas County man indicted in deaths of bald eagles
From TPWD Reports

A Lampasas County grand jury has returned an indictment against a Bend, Texas, man on two counts of killing bald eagles, a protected non-game animal. Jackie Brister, 82, also faces additional charges alleging he captured and killed numerous other non-game birds, including black vultures and turkey vultures.

Texas game wardens launched an initial investigation after responding to a call regarding a wounded bald eagle discovered near Bend on Jan. 11, 2017; the bird did not survive. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wardens determined the eagle had been shot by a rifle. Further investigation uncovered evidence of additional taking of protected non-game animals.

With help from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, cases were made and filed with the Lampasas County District Attorney’s Office.

In addition to citations for the taking of a state threatened species and non-game birds, Class C misdemeanors punishable by fines of $25-$500 for each case, Brister also faces a Class A misdemeanor violation for hunting without landowner consent. That charge carries a possible fine of $500-$4,000 and/or up to a one year state jail term. Brister could also face civil restitution for the eagles in an amount to be determined exceeding $10,000 each.