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Texas Hill Country Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Close to Far Away


By Flash Parker                    

 

Uvalde, you have my attention.

 

Any destination that bills itself as being “as close to far away as you'll ever be,” deserves a look. This little West Texas town is one of the Lone Star State's best kept secrets—beloved by locals, and long played close to the vest, Uvalde is a short hop from mythic Texas Hill Country—think dusty two-lanes, postcard-perfect towns, rolling hills, remarkable fishing, crystal-clear lakes sentineled by limestone giants—and the wild, untrammeled expanses of River Country. Just a bit west of center, Uvalde's pastoral graces, hypnotic hospitality and rustic quirks epitomize the ideal of West Texas. But perhaps the best reason of all to come out here is for the world-class dove hunting—an outdoor experience unlike any other.

 

Getting the family together

The thing is, I'm not much of a marksman—it has been years since I've been out in the field hunting with my dad. But I love travel, and when I heard that Uvalde is an ideal destination for group hunting, I asked my father and grandfather if they wanted to check it out. Texas has a storied reputation as a hunter's paradise, but I have always viewed the sport as a solitary endeavor. But that's not hunting in Uvalde; the experience is engaging, family friendly and social. Best of all, hunts are set against some of the state's most beautiful topography in the heart of Brush Country. So with the back-country beckoning, three generations of my family set out to hunt. We queued my dad's favorite Gary Clark Jr. playlist and made for the Country of 1,000 Springs, eager to dip our toes into the cool waters of the Nueces River before really getting at the beating heart of Texas.

 

Practicing our skills

It was apparent from the moment we arrived that we were going to hunt like the locals. Our expert hunting guide walked us through our prep before we set out into the brush; together we crafted blinds from standing grain, corn stalks, and brush, and learned how to make our shotguns blend into the environment. Teamwork became the order of the day, though I must admit that I may have found myself distracted from the hunt—on more than one occasion—by the beautiful brush scenery.

 

As we continued working on our craft as wing shooters, we placed decoys around our flyways, discussed strategy—my grandfather talked flight patterns, the virtues of 7 ½ diameter bird shot, and the subtle differences between hunting water sites and grain fields. Our hunt quickly took on the character of a boy's day out, our time together in the field overshadowing everything else. I realized that this is Uvalde's true drawing power: the ability to bring people closer together while experiencing something seminally Texas.

 

We stirred up thousands of doves as we wandered up and over rugged terrain; my grandfather encouraged me to keep shooting as I routinely fired off a dozen shots for every bird I bagged.

 

“Three shots for every bird is a good ratio,” he said, as we settled in near a small pond just prior to sundown. “But I'll miss a few on purpose if it will make you feel better.”

 

At that moment, a tidal wave of doves, thousands strong, filled the sky; many landed on the muddy banks of the pond, while the majority remained overhead. I took one or two, my father more, and my grandfather more still, each of us thrilled by the spectacle and charged with the energy of the hunt. Later, as we breasted out our doves, we started planning our return visit—without even realizing it. It's remarkable just how much there is to see and do out here in Uvalde, especially when you can do it as a group.

 

More hunting opportunities

Javelina hunts near the Mexican border—which last three days and run from sun-up to sun-down—are thrilling excursions, while turkey and whitetail deer hunts are also popular. Yet nothing matches the thrill of a group dove hunt. There's nothing quite like the sight of a thousand doves flying against the specter of a rising sun, the sound of coyotes singing the evening news, or sun-downing with a blue margarita as tall Texas tales flit throughout the cantina, mixing with the heady aroma of thick, succulent Texas steaks. Hunting out here is somehow rustic and refined at once, and put our small party exactly as far away from the rest of the world as we wanted to be.

 

In recent years West Texas towns have re-imagined themselves as premiere getaway destinations; Uvalde features attractions without the crowds or the weekend traffic—and has largely stayed true to its Texas roots. Dove hunting here offers the best of both worlds—a great town for a home base combined with idyllic seclusion, and I can’t imagine a better setting to spend time with my family.

 

Click to learn more about hunting in Uvalde!


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