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Wild Times July 2024

The right gear in the right place at the right time turned out to be a life saver for a man recently stranded in Lake Kickapoo near Wichita Falls.

The man had been jet skiing with a friend after sunset, and when one of the jet skis malfunctioned, one of the men slipped into the water. The friend searched for him, and not immediately finding him, headed to shore for help.

Archer County Sheriff’s Office called for assistance from a local Texas Game Warden, who had a thermal camera on hand. The thermal camera was provided by Gear Up for Game Wardens, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) program that provides specialty gear for game wardens through private donations.

Archer County Game Warden Richard Key used the thermal camera to search for the missing man in the direction the other jet ski came from. He spotted the heat signature of the jet ski in the water and found the man in the water nearby. As he approached him, he could see that he had no life jacket on and was struggling in the darkness. He was rescued, literally in the nick of time. The man was exhausted and said he was about to go under for good.

Key’s supervisor, Captain Brandon Rose said Texas Game Wardens are grateful for the support they receive through Gear up for Game Wardens.

“This man’s life was saved thanks in a very large part to the new thermal cameras that were purchased from donations to Gear Up for Game Wardens by the Dillard Family Foundation,” said Captain Rose. “We are extremely thankful and we want to let these generous donors know that this specialty gear is being used to save lives."


  Story #2: Fishing for the Future  

For more than a quarter-century, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens has brought together avid anglers, curious school children, dedicated conservation professionals, and many generous supporters in their passion for Texas’ freshwater resources.

With over 300,000 gallons of indoor and outdoor aquariums, and exhibits featuring fish, alligators, and other native species, TFFC showcases the diverse inland waterways that connect all living creatures. 

TFFC’s fish hatchery is a visitor favorite, and it plays an important role in the conservation of one of Texas’ most sought-after sportfish. In addition to producing 3 to 4 million Florida largemouth bass annually for stocking in Texas lakes, the facility is home to the renowned Toyota ShareLunker program.

The 106-acre site came to life in 1996 through the generosity of many organizations and individuals who supported the landmark project. After 25 years of operation, TFFC’s aquariums and exhibits are due for an update, and TPWF is once again raising private funds for the project.

“Our fundraising goal is $4 million, and we’re closing in on buttoning it up, with $250,000 left to raise,” said TPWF Philanthropy Director Phil Lamb. “Every donation makes a difference, and we’re hoping Texans who appreciate Texas freshwater resources will chip in to complete this fundraising campaign."

Funds raised will be used to renovate outdoor aquariums and tanks and add new features, including a 10,000-gallon ShareLunker tank. Looking forward to the next 25 years, these enhancements will ensure that newcomers can catch their first fish and learn about and enjoy healthy populations of bass, trout, and other freshwater fisheries resources for generations to come.


  Story #3: Stewarding the Future of Conservation  

Stewards of the Wild, TPWF’s young professionals’ organization is inspiring the next generation of conservationists through mentored hunting and fishing opportunities.

The experiences offer young people the opportunity to learn about conservation and ethical hunting and fishing while advancing Texas’ proud outdoor traditions and conserving our state’s wildlife, habitat, and natural resources.

Stewards of the Wild is partnering with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas Wildlife Association, Spoke Hollow Outfitters and SITKA Gear to provide mentored hunting and fishing opportunities for our members who have little to no experience. Participants come away from the experience with the skills and knowledge to continue hunting in Texas, growing the number of knowledgeable and ethical anglers and hunters in the state.

Only Stewards of the Wild members are eligible to participate.

The Mentored Hunting and Fishing Applications for the 2022-2023 season are now live. If you or anyone you know are a new or novice hunter, we encourage you to join Stewards of the Wild and apply.

Apply here for Mentored Hunting

Apply here for Mentored Fishing
  Story #4: Join TPWF and Win a Paloma Blanco Dove Hunt!  

As the dog days of summer kick into high gear, Texas hunters are starting to anticipate cooler days ahead and time in the field. Of course, dove season is a beloved Texas tradition that marks the beginning of the hunting season in early September. We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador John Dunaway marks the occasion with an annual event that has become a coveted invite: the Paloma Blanco Dove Hunt in Brownsville.

One lucky TPWF member and guest will be entered to win a golden ticket to the annual Paloma Blanco Dove Hunt in Brownsville on September 16-18, 2022, thanks to We Will Not Be Tamed Ambassador John Dunaway and the El Capitan Hunt Club.

By joining or renewing your TPWF membership* between January 1, 2022, and July 22, 2022, you are automatically entered to win the giveaway.

Join TPWF today and help support the wild things and wild places of Texas!

Join Now

 *The price of membership pays for TPWF membership only and not for the chance to win the Paloma Blanco Dove Hunt. Members who join or renew between January 1 and July 22, 2022 are automatically entered in the drawing. The dove hunt is scheduled on September 16-18 in Brownsville, Texas. Lodging and transportation are not included.
  Story #5: Go the Distance for Texas’ Wild Things and Wild Places  

TPWF is thrilled to partner once again with our friends who have organized the Texas Distance Challenge to benefit the wild things and wild places of Texas!

You can walk, run or ride miles and miles across Texas, and every mile logged from July 1, 2022- April 30, 2023, is eligible. A portion of every registration will benefit TPWF. This year, there’s a new coastal route to celebrate all there is to love about Texas beaches. 

You can choose to run or ride the equivalent distance between Texarkana to S. Padre Island (800 miles), or you can really go for it and do the equivalent of the full loop around the Texas borders, which is 3,612 miles.

Let’s go!


  Story #6: Save the Date for Gear Up for Game Wardens Auction!  

We had such a good time putting together an online auction to support Gear Up for Game Wardens last year that we’re going to do it again this year!

Thanks to an amazing array of auction items, last year’s auction raised close to $130,000 to support the program. We’re in the process of gathering fabulous items for this year’s auction, and we hope to meet or exceed that amount.

Gear Up for Game Wardens supports Texas Game Wardens by providing specialty gear to help them do their jobs more effectively. Since 2017, generous donors have helped provide equipment ranging from thermal search and rescue drones to side-scan sonars and more.

Proceeds from the online auction will provide program support and ensure that Gear Up for Game Wardens can continue its work to get much needed equipment in the hands of your Texas Game Wardens.

The online auction will be held Sept. 27-29. Stay tuned for details coming soon and save the date!


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