The Park Cities Quail Coalition will be presenting Martin F. “Bubba” Wood of Dallas with its 2021 T. Boone Pickens Lifetime Sportsman Award at its annual banquet this week in Dallas.
PCQC is the preeminent conservation organization when it comes to preserving Texas’ bobwhite quail and the hunting tradition around it. It is the Ducks Unlimited of the quail world. Started in 2006, the organization raised more than $4.45 million to support various programs the last three years.
If you have never heard of Wood, that is the way he would like it. I have known him since 1983 and I can tell you he deserves this award and any other hunters and fishermen in Texas would bestow on him.
A life-long hunter and shotgun shooter extraordinaire, I first met Wood when he was the face for hunters and fishermen pushing for passage of the Wildlife Conservation Act. Before 1983, there were 116 Texas counties where county commissioners or state legislators set game laws. The result was often described as a patchwork quilt of regulations that varied from county, and resulted in such oddities as different fishing regulations on lakes covering multiple counties or bans on Sunday hunting.
Wood traversed the state educating the public on the benefits of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Commission control. He promoted lobbying efforts, and as the owner of Collectors Covey art gallery he used friendships with wildlife artists to get prints donated as fundraisers.
If you are a duck hunter and enjoyed collecting Texas duck stamp art, you can again thank Wood. It was his brainchild, and was year after year the vendor for the program because his bid consistently benefitted TPWD and its waterfowl program.
However, quail hunting has always been his passion and, of course, he has been a supporter of Park Cities Quail, both as a quail hunter and as someone helping procure auction items since its beginning.
Those were just three instances where Wood’s fingerprint on efforts to improve hunting and fishing for Texans could actually be found. It does not include all the behind-the-scene things he has done in lobbying legislators, the state’s most influential citizens and rank-and-file hunters and fishermen to evoke change.
OK, I am biased because I have long considered Wood a friend and a hero. I know he is a reluctant recipient who only accepted the award hoping it would help raise interest in quail and money for research. I also know how much he deserves it.
In fact he deserves a lot more, and he is not alone. Texas has an embarrassment of outdoor riches, most of which would not exist without those who have built a solid foundation through the years. While most have been honored one way or another through the years, it has never been on the statewide basis.
TPWD does have its Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Lone Star Land Steward program, but even those come up short in recognizing everyone that hunters and fishermen owe a tip of the cap to for what they enjoy.
I will throw out five other names as examples, Al Brothers and Murphy Ray, Murry and Winston Burnham, and John Sweeney. All are names from a different generation, but there is a good chance most hunters have benefitted from their efforts.
If you like the quality of deer hunting in Texas today, Brothers and Ray wrote the book on it. There have been many others who have tweaked their ideas since Producing Quality Whitetails was first published in 1975, but they got the whole thing going.
From Marble Falls, the Burnham brothers commercialized predator calling in the 1960s with a mouth call imitating a distressed rabbit for attracting coyotes, completely changing varmint hunting. That call evolved into a portable record player call, then a cassette player caller and today’s digital versions.
Sweeney did not invent deer and fish feeders, but he perfected the timer to make them work in the 1960s. One can only guess what that has meant to deer hunting through the years, and they have made a difference in fish management and fishing as well.
That list is a start. I can think of dozens more involved in hunting, fishing, management, education and conservation deserving of recognition.
TPWD has a blueprint of how to do this with its Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fall. All is needed is a panel of volunteers to vote on the honorees and a place for a hall of fame to call home.
I realize both hunting and fishing are in-the-moment activities, but it would not take much to recognize those that make those moments special in Texas.