Our Stay at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort

Y’all, I have found a new slice of paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and families! Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri.

Billed as “America’s Premier Wilderness Resort”, BCL is on Southern Living’s South’s Best list for 2019. Brandon and I went there for a wedding this last May and there is outdoor recreation available for all ages and interests.

While there’s plenty to do for outdoor lovers, the accommodations are comfortable enough that the entire family can enjoy it.

  • 10 Hours from Austin, TX
  • 45 minutes from the nearest airport

Big Cedar Lodge was built by owner of Bass Pro Shops, so there are fish everywhere—either painted, welded, or engraved into nearly every flat surface on the property, from the parking lot stripes to the wood clothing rods in the closets.

The drive from the front gate to the main lodge is breathtaking and gets you in the outdoor spirit. It winds through the woods and has big views of Missouri’s lush green hills and the nearby lake. Most people I talk to are surprised to hear about how beautiful Missouri can be, but its very lush and especially charming in the Ozarks. I definitely would put a trip here on your outdoor “bucket list.”

Table Rock Lake

The resort sits on a hill above Table Rock Lake, where there is a marina, small beach, and a pretty walking trail on the edge of the lake.

On the morning of the wedding we booked a lake tour in a little wooden motor boat called the Goin’ Jessi, which was once owned by Waylon Jennings.

You can book it here: Table Rock Lake Marina or by calling the resort.

I was 5 months pregnant at the time, and it was sweltering, (there was no shade on the boat) but it was fun nonetheless. It was very affordable and it didn’t require much time, which was a huge plus given all there is to see and do at the resort!

What Not to Miss

The highest point of the property, “Top of the Rock” is a must-see and has a museum, restaurant, chapel, wine tasting room, and reception area and is absolutely stunning–a place you will not want to miss!

At sunset, they play bagpipes out on the lawn and it is magical. For my friend’s wedding, they fired off a canon as we all came out of the chapel.

Top of the Rock also has a huge Native American artifact collection to see if you’re into history.

Cabins

We stayed with some friends in one of the cutest log cabins I’ve ever seen! It looked like something out of a Ralph Lauren ad.

I can only imagine how charming it is at Christmas time, which supposedly is a great time to visit the resort. It had a fridge and a kitchen and would be perfect for a family to stay in.

(In addition to cabins, there are also rooms you can rent in the main buildings.)

Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve

This is a separate property just a few minutes away from the resort, with a ton of wildlife to see (like elk and bison!) and plenty to do. I would set aside an entire day for this. The highlights would be the wildlife tram tour and the horseback rides. Other offerings:

  • Hiking
  • Trout Fishing (this is supposed to be excellent and EASY!)
  • Fly fishing academy
  • Biking

www.dogwoodcanyon.org/

Walking Trail

We enjoyed getting our morning coffee and strolling along the paved walking trail that connects the cabins and the main lodge. Its not too long and would be doable with a stroller.

Historic bridge on the property
View from the walking trail

Gift shop

The gift shop is pretty good, especially if you are looking for some cute outdoorsy themed things.

Fun Mountain

While the rest of the resort is all about doing things outside, Fun Mountain is the perfect place to go with kids on a hot or rainy day because it’s inside and air conditioned! There are bumper cars, a low ropes course, arcade games, laser tag, a golf simulator, and the most unique bowling alley I’ve ever been to.

Shooting Academy

Everything including the guns are provided!

Other Things to Do

It’s impossible to cover it all in one post! But there is golf, a cave to tour, bowfishing, yoga and other fitness classes, swimming, and archery. Don’t worry–you will not get bored!

How Long to Stay

There is SO much to do–I would allow at least 3 full days not including arrival/departure.

What to Bring

This is a very casual resort and you will be fine in your comfy clothes! I would be sure to bring low top hiking shoes or tennis shoes because you will do a lot of walking.

How to Get There

  • Drive — roughly 10 hours from Austin (we did it in 1 day)
  • Fly — you can fly into either Springfield or Branson. Branson is the closest and Springfield is about 45 minutes away.

We need one of these places in Texas but until that happens I will have to return to Missouri. I can’t wait to take my little boy and do all of these things when he is old enough!

Field Fashion Friday: Fade to Black Wild Rose Performance Top

Good morning ladies! Happy Friday! As you all likely know by now, I’m in love with Wild Rose Apparel performance gear for outdoor activities. It’s made for Texas women–sun protectant, light, breezy, and yet fashionable enough to be seen in public. Today I want to show y’all one of their latest tops, which I’m kind of in love with.

Wild Rose Apparel Fade to Black Top, www.wildroseapparel.com, $60

  • UPF 50 (meaning it protects your skin from the sun)
  • Quick dry
  • Moisture wicking

You may be thinking LONG SLEEVES?! Are you crazy? But trust me you cannot even feel them, the fabric is so light.

LOVE these faded cuffs.

Just pair this top with Prana’s Olivia Short (my favorite short for hiking…which you also need to get) and you will be good to go!

The Wild Rose Fade to Black top is perfect for hikes, horseback rides, hunts, ranch work, fishing, or a long walk around the neighborhood with your dog. (One of my personal favorite outdoor activities.)

PS. I woke up very early in the morning to take these photos and catch this good light, so I hope you appreciate this. 🙂

PSS. If you’re digging the scenery in these pics here’s where they were taken! The Most Scenic Trail in Davis Mountains State Park

Have a great weekend ladies! I would say “I hope you do something outside” but given that it’s August and topping 100, I’ll give you a break just this once…

 

A Sneak Preview of Texas’ NEW State Park!

A big ranch on the Texas coast has just been set aside as our NEWEST state park, and guess what?! Today you get a sneak preview of it here on Whit’s Wilderness! I’m excited to share it with you because A) it is gorgeous, and B) I have a feeling it’s going to be one of our most popular state parks, and you need to be in the know.

The good news is it’s not coming online for another five years, so you have plenty of time to renovate an Airstream trailer and become a professional outdoorswoman before it opens. 🙂

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The park is called Powderhorn Ranch, and it is located near Port O’Connor, Texas just up the coast from Rockport on Matagorda Bay.

We were there on a camp out with Stewards of the Wild, a group for young people in their 20’s and 30’s who are into the outdoors and conservation. This is a GREAT group to join, they always have fun activities that show a “behind the scenes” look at Texas Parks and Wildlife happenings.

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At 17,000 acres, Powderhorn is pretty sizeable (Memorial Park in Houston is 1,400 acres, for comparison) and it’s right on the beach in prime fishing, hunting, birding, and kayaking territory.

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We got to camp right on the water, with the soothing sound of the waves to put us to sleep and a killer sunrise to wake up to the next morning.

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We felt totally spoiled to get to see this park before it opened to the public, and had so much fun driving around looking at wildlife, kayaking, and fishing on the coast.

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The lodge on the property has a huge wraparound porch, and will be open for group reservations in the future. (You will want to get in on this!)

Panoramic beach views and an entire row of posts just for hammocks make it simply heavenly. Brandon tested out the hammock situation just for you all, and he reports that it is up to his napping standards.

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While a lot of land along the coast is flat and marsh-like, this ranch has such diverse scenery, from freshwater ponds that the birds and alligators love, to oak thickets, tall grass prairies, and beautiful grassy coastline.

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It was seriously so pretty.

In the future, a huge portion of this land will be used for public hunting and about 2,500 acres of oceanfront property will become the state park.

The prime part of the coastline is going to be the heart of the state park, and campsites are going to be strung out along the waterfront.

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I think this is going to be the part of the park that makes Texans fall in love with their state all over again.

The sunrise from this point is simply beautiful and there’s not a building for miles to ruin the view.

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You will want to bring your kayaks (or rent them from the park) because the fishing and sightseeing along the coast is something out of a magazine.

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{This coastline is Stewards of the Wild tested and approved!}

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As a wildlife lover and so was avidly photographing all of the deer, herons, pelicans, and shorebirds.

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Texas is a huge haven for migrating birds, and given how large our coastline is, we are a major part of their migratory route. They love the freshwater ponds and estuaries along the coast, and after a long gulf flight they love hanging out here and refueling on the fish, plankton, and plants in marshes and wetlands before continuing on their journeys.

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One morning I watched about a dozen pelicans dive-bomb their breakfast of fish just under the surface.

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Later that day I made everyone apple cobbler on the dutch oven and it hit the spot.

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We had a big bonfire on the beach that night, and I was reminded how much I love beach bonfires.

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Beach bonfires are the best.

But of course, not every camping trip is perfect. Ha. A huge thunderstorm pelted us with rain and wind Saturday night and we made a fun little discovery that our tent was not “waterproof” at. all. Water came through the roof and puddles formed around the edge of our tent, soaking our belongings. We layed awake from about 2am to 5am as the thunder and lightning passed overhead.

But despite it all, we had such an incredible time and I once again was wow-ed by the natural beauty of our state. We are so lucky to have places like this to enjoy and I am so excited for the many Texans who will get to visit this ranch and make memories in years to come.

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One day I’ll get to tell my kids, “Your father and I came here before it was a state park, before there were restrooms, roads or any of these fancy amenities!” We’ll tell them about how we got stuck in a thunderstorm and how we had sticker burrs in our sleeping bags. I’m sure they will roll their eyes. But I still can’t wait to share this slice of pristine Texas coastline with them.

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How YOU Can Go to This Park Before it Opens!

  • If you are between 21 and 45, and live in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, or Dallas, you can join Stewards of the Wild. They will be making one last trip to Powderhorn next year and you can join them.

Things to Know

  • Location:

powderhorn-map

  • 3 hours from Austin, Houston, and San Antonio
  • Lots of sticker burrs, beware! Bring a tarp to put under your tent. We had sticker burrs and thorns poking through the floor of our tent.
  • Bring bug spray
  • It can be windy

A Bit About the Public Hunting

I personally can’t wait to sign up for public hunting down at Powderhorn. Public hunting will open in 2018, before the rest of the park is open to the public. Those of you looking to put wild game on your table can look forward to that! See my instructions for how to hunt Texas park land here.

Where the Name Comes From

A “powderhorn” is what they used back in the old days to hold gun powder, and was typically a cow or buffalo horn with the ends sawed off and stoppers at both ends. It was worn around the waist/cross body. The lake near Powderhorn Ranch is shaped like a powderhorn, hence the name.

What to Do in the Area

Thanks to PBS’ The Daytripper for these tips!

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy this beautiful park some day! Until then check out our many great state parks on the coast, like Mustang Island and Galveston Island.

Field Fashion Friday: Fishing Like the Duchess

The Duchess of style is at it again, folks. As you may recall, last week I wrote about what she wore hiking in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. Well, there’s more. The next day she went fishing in a leopard print headband. Leopard print while fishing is kind of, like, MY thing…but okay, Kate, you can share in it. You do a better job anyways.

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Kate, Why are we not friends?!

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We both wear leopard print and make the same expression when touching fish!

ANYWAYS.

What She is Wearing

A field friendly version of it, down to the life jacket.

Leopard Print Headband

Jacket

Sweater

Pants

Boots

Lifejacket

May we all look like Kate when we go fishing…or at least, may we look half as good.

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The Great Outdoors in Austin’s Backyard

One of the things I love about living in Austin is our proximity to the great outdoors. I can scratch the outdoor itch just about any time I want at a number of the nearby parks, swimming holes, and hiking trails within an hour’s drive.

One of my favorite nearby getaways is McKinney Falls State Park, a place that will give you a dose of real nature only 20 minutes from downtown. McKinney Falls is most popular during the dog days of summer, thanks to its swimming holes. But it’s equally nice–or even better in my opinion–in the Fall. Fewer people, cooler weather, and some Fall colors. So if you’ve got a spare afternoon this year and haven’t checked out McKinney Falls, put it on the calendar!

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The best thing about this park is that it’s easy–easy to get to, easy to park, easy to find an available campsite. Why make life difficult when there’s McKinney Falls at hand?

There’s a little something for everyone there so here’s a quick overview.

Picnicking and Fishing

One of the most beautiful spots in the park are the picnic tables along Onion creek. The tables near the big swimming holes can be pandemonium on a busy weekend, but follow the path away from the falls at Upper McKinney Falls and you’ll find some peaceful tables with creek access, which are much more pleasant.

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Pack a picnic and let your kids run around in the flat open area while you fish or read a book. This would be a great place to bring a hammock, as there are plenty of trees. There are taps with running water every fifty feet or so, which is an added convenience.

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Follow the path in the picture above for some secluded picnic tables.

Swimming

Swimming is definitely the most popular activity during the summer. I mean, can you blame everyone? Look at these swimming holes.

Lower McKinney Falls

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Upper McKinney Falls

Texas should be the swimming hole capital of the world, if it’s not already.

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Can we start a petition? If there’s a state that’s willing challenge us, I’d be very curious to know.

Hiking

The hiking is great because it’s easy and flat, but the trails are long enough to get your step count in.

Well, at least some of us get our step count in. The others get carried the last half mile.

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Painted buntings are one of the prettiest things you can look for on your hike, as their colors are so vibrant and their songs so sweet. Their call is one of the most lyrical I’ve ever heard and will catch your attention even if you’re not listening for it. (Listen to this Youtube video to hear their lively melody.)

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Painted buntings and Roseate spoonbills are some of my favorite Texas birds. Next to roadrunners and quail.

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We love the creekside loop at Upper McKinney Falls in terms of ease. (Moms: this can definitely be done with a stroller.) However there are many other trails worth exploring so I advise checking it all out for yourself.

One trail plus a picnic is the perfect combo in my opinion for a quick afternoon getaway from the city.

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Camping (or Glamping!)

After scoping out the campsites I have decided this would be the perfect camping destination for the following reasons:

  • Close to town
  • Flat
  • Plenty of privacy
  • Not highly trafficked

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Airstreams get me every time. They are just so darn cute.

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Reserve campsites online via Texas Parks and Wildlife Department here: TPWD Reservation System.

See my tutorial on how to reserve campsites online here: How to Make a Reservation at a State Park

There are a lot of grand places to visit in this world, but some of the sweetest are the ones at home. If you live in Austin, whether you own property or not, McKinney Falls State Park is YOUR backyard, so get out and enjoy it.Save

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How to Go Fly Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

This is part of my Girl’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park! Everything you need to know, from the best day hikes to the best places to eat. Check out all my posts by clicking here.


Fly fishing is one of the most popular activities within Rocky Mountain National Park during the summer. I would definitely make time for this during your trip!

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The cool water is refreshing on hot summer days and I’ve never found a fly fishing spot that wasn’t beautiful. Why not have a little A River Runs Through It moment on vacation?

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I would recommend getting a guide to take you. This is actually pretty affordable, and they know where to go to catch the best fish, plus, they provide all of the equipment you need. You don’t have to lift a finger.

For this topic I’ve called on my friend Liz Curtis, who fly fishes every year in Rocky Mountain National Park, for her thoughts. She says,

“We go fly fishing almost every time we go, and use Kirk’s Fly Shop.  It’s on the main square, and they guarantee a catch each time.  We have gone on a 5 minute drive down the canyon, and have driven into the park and hiked with our gear if you prefer that.  They are excellent teachers if you have never held a fly rod in your life.  There is a maximum of 3 fisherman to a guide, so there is plenty of one-on-one instruction.”

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Obviously, she was successful!

One time I met a couple in the park that were on vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park as one of their first trips together, and they caught their limit. It looked like they were having a blast.

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River Guides

What to Wear

  • Quick dry top
  • Quick dry pants
  • Water shoes such as Tevas or Salomon Techamphibians, or old tennis shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses with croakies (you don’t want your glasses to fall off in the drink)
  • From Liz: “The water has always been pretty chilly, so I’d recommend a light pair of hiking pants to go under the waders in the summer, or a heavier pair of pants in the early spring or late fall.  Sometimes you are hip deep in water, and sometimes on ankle deep!”

How Much Time to Allow

  • 1/2 – 1 full day

FYI

  • From what I’ve read, trout don’t survive very long out of water, so once you catch one be ready to snap that Instagram picture quickly! That is, if you don’t plan on having it for dinner. 🙂 #gonefishin

And if you don’t go fishing, be sure to try trout at one of the restaurants in town. You won’t regret it.

Happy fishing, ladies!

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Lazy Day on the River

My house needs to be cleaned, I need to exercise, and I should probably read and expand my vocabulary, but I spent last Saturday in a chair in the Guadalupe river. Because what is summer without a lazy day on the river?

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Brandon and I headed out to the Canyon Lake area, and we were joined by several of our Austin friends. Left to right: Lane, Eric (in Baylor gold and green), Blake, Erin, Becky, Mike, Shana (in the fabulous hat), Aaricka, and finally Brandon.

If you look closely, you can see Becky is holding a chocolate pie.

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Most manners are thrown out the window when you spend all day on the river with someone. That day was no different. Everyone grabbed a plastic fork and passed the pie around, eating straight out of the pan.

My friends Shana and Mike had never met the rest of the group, but this is how I knew they would fit in: they actually were the ones who brought the pie down to the river. Hi, I’m Shana. Want some pie?

They can stay.

We have a history of doing this. Last time we passed around a tray of oreos. What will it be next time? Please feel free to make suggestions.

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We also discussed important world issues. We analyzed climate change, zero waste, whether Adnan killed Hae (from Serial), and whether the Chris Farley documentary would be good. (We decided that yes, it would.)

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Shana and I also discussed the important issue of hats, agreeing that they are completely underrated and need to make a comeback. Who’s with us?

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Brandon got some fishing in too.

Over the past couple of years, my husband’s interest in fishing has really taken root. Whenever we go to a body of water, he packs the fishing poles and waders. (I pack food and a chair.)(We have our priorities.) When he caught a trout last summer during his first attempt at fly fishing, his face lit up. He was hooked. (Pun!)

I completely support him in his fishing endeavors. Most of the time, it means we get to enjoy pretty water, and one day, when we have time, fish for dinner.

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This weekend, Brandon had some luck on the river. He was dragging his line in the water as he walked upstream to find a new fishing hole, when he heard his line take off behind him.

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I heard him holler, “Whit, I got something!” and turned around to see a striped bass splashing its way towards him.

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Way to go Brandon!

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I must admit I was shocked, having fished this stretch of river since I was a little girl and having never caught a thing. But, I was glad to know that there actually were fish in the river…I had started to doubt it.

Catching this fish was a cherry on top of a great weekend, the icing on the cake. Or should I say, pie!

P.S. All of this excitement wore Trooper out. 

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This right here is the sign of a good weekend.

How to Buy a Hunting or Fishing License

In my book, August means the imminent arrival of good things! Namely, Fall, Aggie football, a relief from the heat, and excuses to wear boots. It also means hunting season is upon us, just in time to restock the freezer with more venison.

Every August, hunting and fishing licenses go on sale and if you want to hunt or fish in Texas, you will need to get one.  If you’ve never purchased a license before, I know it may seem daunting, as there are dozens of different types of licenses, but don’t be intimidated–getting a license is as easy as going to the grocery store.  I will explain A) What I Get and B) What you will most likely need.

fishing lake whitney, girls fishing, children fishing, how to go fishing,

What You Need a License For

Any hunting or fishing except for what’s listed below…

What You Don’t Need a License For

  • Hunting coyotes, feral hogs (these are not native to Texas and are damaging to our native plant and wildlife populations), and furbearing animals. But Whitney, don’t most animals have fur? What they mean here is animals like rodents. Deer to not fall under this category.
  • Fishing on the first Saturday in June
  • Fishing in state parks. (Woo hoo!) Once you’ve paid the park entrance fees, no one needs a fishing license or stamp, whether freshwater or saltwater, adult or child, as long as they’re inside the state park. However, bag limits, length limits, and other regulations will still apply, and be enforced.

If you plan to hunt, there is one more requirement: all hunters must take a Hunter Education Class. I did this in one day at the San Antonio Gun Club. Brandon did it in a few hours online the week before his first hunting trip. You can read the details and sign up here: Hunter Education. If you don’t have time, you can defer this for up to a year for $10.

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Where to Buy a License

What to Do When You Get to the Store

Look for the desk towards the front of the store where there is usually a sign saying “Hunting Licenses” or ask a salesperson. You will not purchase the license off a shelf. Rather, you will walk up to a person at the desk and provide identification, (drivers license sufficient), and tell him or her what you would like to buy. He might ask you whether you hunted last year and if so, how many of certain animals you took. There is no shame in saying “No” and “Zero!” He will then take down your information and print your license right then and there. Et voila!

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What Type of License To Buy

In short, there are base-level licenses that cover most hunting and fishing, and you add packages, called “stamps” on to them if you are hunting special categories of animals such as ducks or fishing in certain types of places (more below.) It’s kind of like ordering a latte, and then adding a pump of hazelnut and a pump of vanilla!

What I Get: Resident Combination Hunting and All-Water Fishing (Type 505):$60

Explanation

  • There are two basic categories of licenses: non-resident and resident. I am a proud Texas resident, thanks and gig ’em.
  • A combination license (also called “Combo”) consists of both a hunting and fishing license, and gives you a discount on both.
  • Included in this combo are all my favorite hazelnut and vanilla pumps, if you will, such as the migratory bird stamp (so I can hunt dove) and the Upland Game Bird Stamp (so I can hunt turkey and quail.)
  • All Water Fishing means that I can fish in both saltwater (the Gulf) and freshwater (Texas rivers).  So, if I ever go fishing on Lady Bird Lake or in the Guadalupe, I am set. And, if I ever fish on the coast, I am set.

This particular license allows me to hunt a number of things, most importantly, dove, quail, and Whitetail deer. And, it allows me to fish in both freshwater and saltwater. It covers all of my needs!

Ask yourself, do I plan on hunting and/or fishing this year? Where and what will I be hunting?  I rarely know the full answer to this question , which is another reason I go for this license.

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What You Will Probably Need

Ask yourself the following questions,

Am I going to hunt this year?

If Yes, ask yourself, What am I going to hunt? If the answer is deer only, buy the simple Resident Hunting License.

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If the answer is dove or ducks, buy the simple Resident Hunting License and add the Texas Migratory Bird Stamp. If the answer is turkey or quail, add the Upland Game Bird Stamp. The “stamp” is only called a stamp, it’s not actally a “stamp.” I’m sure once upon a time it was an actual stamp, but now everything’s printed on the computer.

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Also ask yourself, Am I going to fish this year? If the answer is yes, ask yourself, Where am I going to fish? If the answer is “a river”, get a fishing license plus the freshwater endorsement stamp. If the answer is “the coast”, get the salt water stamp.

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An Important FYI

Keep the license with you when hunting/fishing. Just like you would have your driver’s license when driving.

Now All You Need is….

A good wild game recipe!  Check out the Chickwagon Cooking section of this blog. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Teach a Girl To Fish, and You Feed Her For Life

Wardrobe Staple: My Favorite Water Shoes

solomon techamphibian womens, salomon techamphibian women's, women's water shoes, river shoes women

Salomon Women’s Techamphibian Shoes, $50-$70, Amazon.com

I’ve had these shoes for many years, and can recommend them confidently. They’ve gotten me through a Pecos river canoe trip, multiple Guadalupe river excursions, and most recently, a hike along Barton Creek in Austin. I’ve categorized them as “Wardrobe Staples,” as they are comfortable and practical for any excursion involving water.

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Like a tennis shoe, they have tough rubber soles and laces, but unlike tennis shoes, they are mesh, allowing water to flow through the shoe but keeping out pebbles. The mesh allows them to dry quickly.

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The laces are a cable with a drawstring and lock feature, which you simply cinch down until snug.

Wearing a full coverage shoe like this as opposed to Chaco or Teva sandals protects the top of your feet. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have unknown objects brushing the top of my feet as I wade through a river.

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The most handy feature for overnight canoe/kayak expeditions is the back of the shoe, which is made to be folded down, turning the shoe into a slip-on. I found this handy when camping alongside the Pecos river several years ago and needing to go in and out of my tent regularly.

These are not meant to be worn with socks.

My only complaint was that after hiking several miles in these yesterday and wading in the creek, I had a blister on the back of my foot. But I assume that can be expected when hiking with wet feet and no socks for several miles.

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Fishing Like a Girl

When I was a child, I was a very girly girl. My hair was long, blond, and tidy, and big brightly colored ribbon bows were a regular fixture on my head. My mother dressed me in smocked searsucker dresses, each of which she made by hand and adorned with ruffles and dainty buttons. On my feet I wore socks with big ruffles around the ankles  and Keds, typically pink or white with rhinestones.

Picking these shoes out every season was an event I looked forward to with an enthusiasm that can only be interpreted as the beginning stages of shoe addiction.

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Around the time I was 8 years old, we obtained our first dog. Her name was Lucy, and she was a corgi with short legs and ears that were so large I’m certain they could pick up life in outer space.

One afternoon shortly after bringing Lucy home, a friend of my mother’s invited all of us—Lucy included—over to her sprawling Monte Vista home, in a beautiful and historic neighborhood. She wanted to meet Lucy and introduce her to her gaggle of corgis, which were about 6 in all. We were new to the dog-owning world, so my mom welcomed the chance to tap Molly’s brain about caring for a corgi. She dressed me in one of my nice dresses and probably gave me instructions about behaving.

That afternoon, my mother and her friend strolled around her impeccably cared-for garden chatting with Molly’s corgis following tightly behind them.

Meanwhile, Lucy and I became intrigued by a gurgling fountain on the other side of the yard. We made our way over to it and found that the pond was full of little orange and tan goldfish. There was such an abundance of them and they swam so close to the surface, that I felt a desire to try and catch one. Where on earth this desire came from, I have no idea.

I knelt down on my hands and knees. Spotting a goldfish swimming alone near the edge of the fountain, I plunged my hand under the surface towards him, but he slipped out of my grasp. I spotted another, and plunged my hand down into the water again, but I still wasn’t quick enough. Lucy, who had never seen a pond in her life and had been trying to figure out what this glassy green liquid was, decided to walk out onto it. She took a step onto the surface of the water and fell immediately into the fountain, creating a huge splash that soaked both of us. “Lucy!!!” I shrieked. I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to swim with such short legs. But shockingly to me, she was a great swimmer.

Realizing fishing with my bare hands was not going to work, I started scanning the yard for a container in which I could corner the fish. I saw nothing. Then I looked down at my feet, and an idea hit me—I’ll use my shoe! Where on earth this idea came from, I have no clue. Without even hesitating, I slipped off my pink Ked and plunged it into the water. In no time, I had a fish writhing about in it. SUCCESS!! I pulled myself up to my feet and ran across the yard with my arm oustretched, holding the shoe up like I was about to win a fishing tournament. Water was running down my arm and onto my dress and Lucy, sopping wet, was trailing behind me. I had a huge smile slapped on my face. Mom!!! Mooomm!!!! Mom!!!! I shouted with a tone of joy in my voice that I still remember to this day. Look what I’ve got!!!!

When I reached my mom and her friend, I shoved my little pink shoe in front of them so they could see my treasure. The poor little goldfish lay in my shoe, writhing and flopping. I stood there, Lucy and I side-by-side dripping with water, arm oustretched clutching my prize, and breathlessly retold my story of conquest.

Their faces conveyed pure shock.

My mom’s friend couldn’t have been nicer about the situation, and helped me return the poor fish to its proper home in her pond. My mother made me put my shoe back on even though it was soggy and stinky, I’m sure as an attempt to teach me about “consequences” or something like that.

As my mother recounts the story, in the moments before I ran across the yard, she had been expressing to Molly her nervousness about owning a dog. She had been saying she didn’t know if we were “dog people.” As we were pulling out of the driveway that day, Molly peered into the car and said with a smile, “I think you’ll do just fine.”

To this day I am both a slight germophobe and a shoe addict, and it positively blows my mind that I ever, ever, EVER would have taken a perfectly good shoe and used it to catch a fish. But owning a corgi brings out whole new side you never knew existed!

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