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BY MARTY MALIN
We are another calendar page closer to the 87th annual OWAA conference in McAllen, Texas and May 2014 is approaching quickly. The conference planning committee had its first meeting and I now find myself working with a couple of legal pages full of scribbled notes. Things are buzzing around here like a tote sack full of rattlesnakes.
While the committee is working on potential speakers and newsmakers, I am concentrating my efforts on pre- and post-conference opportunities for attendees.
In reviewing past pre- and post-conference opportunities we find that there are frequently more trips than trip-takers. With that fact in mind I propose the following. Aside from fishing and photography opportunities, I would like to hear from you regarding your outdoor related activities of interest. What would you like to do when you visit the Lone Star State? To get you started thinking about your dream trip, here are a few suggestions.
With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Laguna Madre on the other and South Padre Island an hour’s drive away, there will be plenty of opportunities for salt water fishing, beach combing and site seeing. Let me know if you are interested in a three- or four person off-shore Blue Water fishing experience at a reduced rate. We also might be able to arrange a three- or four-person day-long fly-in trip to an offshore oil rig.
Every year wildlife photographers from around the world flock to the area to capture images of rare bird species and other wildlife such as whitetail deer, feral hogs, javelin, coyote, badger and other varmints, that frequent the Rio Grande Valley. Our own Tom Ulrich and Jim Foster have spent months at a time on area ranches practicing their trade. Many of these ranches have built enclosed blinds near water holes specifically for the observation of those things wild and free. You can bird watch — and photograph— at these ranches during pre- and post- conference trips.
Other possible day trips include visiting wind farms, wildlife refuges, the Sea Life Center in Port Isabel and the South Padre Island Birding and Nature center. A trip to this part of Texas is not complete without a day-long adventure on the King Ranch which can be arranged through the McAllen Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The King Ranch was one of the most famous ranches in the United States and at one time spanned almost 1 million acres with land in four counties. It is still a working cattle ranch and farm, as well as home to hunting opportunities, a museum, a working saddle shop and exotic animals.
Hunting in the area in May is limited to exotics, which includes feral hogs. A $48 five-day special hunting license is required for non-residents.
Prior to my introduction to the National Butterfly Center in nearby Mission, Texas, everything I knew about butterflies could have been written on a matchbook cover. The acreage is planted with native vegetation to attract butterflies and after two visits at the center I think I have seen them all — Swallowtails, Whites and Yellows, Metalmarks, Brushfoots, Skippers, and lest I forget, Gossamer-wings.
Being close to the Gulf Coast, McAllen is full of hidden treasures. In addition to sporting clays, 5-stand, trap, and a pistol range, the Lozano Shooting Range, our host for shooting day, offers long range shooting out to 1,000 yards. Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen’s wing-of-the-world birding center is a site to behold and that is just what we are going to do. This 1930’s historic adobe home and grounds is a real gem and we will be there for the opening night’s festivities.
There are so many unique opportunities in Texas, the challenge is picking out what to pursue. Let me know what would make this a trip-of-a-lifetime for you, and if there is enough interest I will do whatever I can to make it happen.♦
-A former OWAA board member and president, and an award-winning television producer, writer and photographer, Marty Malin is local chair of the 2014 OWAA conference that will take place May 23-25 in McAllen, Texas. Contact him at email@example.com or at 956-717-1377.