Higher Calling Wildlife founder Chester Moore won big at the Southeast Texas Press Club awards held Sat. Nov. 13
He won first place for an individual blog for this blog“Higher Calling Wildlife” in a category rarely that included blogs from many genres ranging from news to art.
The awards which recognize media based out of Southeast Texas is a prestigious organization covering all facets of electronic, print, and broadcast media.
Moore won first place in radio talk show for “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI for his interview with “Wild America” creator and host Marty Stauffer.
Moore also won for investigative radio program for his special program on human dangers in the woods including examining the “Missing Texas 40” cases around the Sam Houston National Forest that aired on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.
Additionally, he took first place for radio public service announcements for his ongoing “Wildlife Journalist Chronicles”.
He took second place for specialty publications for his “Turkey Revolution” tabloid and his “Higher Calling Wildlife” story in the Pet Gazette for the news release category as well as taking third in social media for his work on Instagram.
“It’s an honor to be a member of the Press Club of Southeast Texas, much less win these awards. It’s always exciting to be recognized for the hard work I put into my wildlife journalism career. This year’s entries were especially important to me as I have been on a certain trajectory with mountain and forest wildlife, turkey, and the whole human dangers in the outdoors topics,” Moore said.
“It’s such a privilege to see my name popping up alongside other great journalists and media professionals in these awards. There are some truly great people in this profession in Southeast Texas and I’m blessed to be able to live and work in that area.”
Last year Moore won the “Adovcatus Magni” award for his work with wild turkeys from the National Wild Turkey Federation-Texas and in 2017 was given the Mossy Oak Outdoors Legacy Award for his work with wildlife and children.
In my home state of Texas, hundreds of thousands of hunters will take to the field in the morning for the opening of the general whitetail deer season.
That includes yours truly who is excited about the prospect of killing a whitetail or feral hog for the freezer. Venison has nearly sacred status in the Moore household.
Since 2018 I have been writing extensively on what I call Deep Woods Dangers, which are human threats in the great outdoors. The number one in my opinion is encountering unsafe hunters.
Most hunters are smart, ethical and sober-minded but annually upwards of 1,000 hunters are shot in incidents in the United States and Canada annually with around 75 of those fatal. This is according to the International Hunter Education Association.
Considering there are millions of hunters in the woods those numbers are low but in my opinion one is too many, much less 1,000.
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to wear blaze orange. It is required on most public land but it is not required for example in Texas on private land. Wear it anyway.
I know it’s not fashionable and the boys at deer camp might give you grief, but deal with it.
Blaze orange shines through the woods like a beacon and someone wearing a full jacket and cap is easily seen. The chances of someone shooting you and think you’re deer or some other game go down dramatically when wearing blaze orange.
I hunt on a private lease and still feel the need to wear orange.
After a close call where the man next to me in a duck blind was hit with a pellet while duck hunting under the eye, I made a commitment to take hunting safety even more seriously.
He was shot by a young person in another blind not being careful and thankfully did not loose his eye. That’s a different issue than a situation where hunter orange is applicable but it made me think.
If you are shot by a deer rifle you could lose your life. Wearing orange doesn’t guarantee safety but it greatly reduces your odds of becoming a statistic.
Something else to keep in mind (especially on public land) is to keep a cool head. If someone has camped out at the spot you found and beat you there or tries to dispute an area with you let them have it before things get heated.
Tempers flare and there is no hunting location worth losing a life.
Enjoy the hunt. Only take ethical shots and share the venison with the less fortunate.
The first time I went into this location I got the creeps.
You know that feeling you get when you think something might be watching you?
Well, that’s what I had.
So I do what this inquisitive wildlife journalist always seems to do. I pressed on.
I found some large feral hog tracks. They were 3.5 inches long and were the only hog tracks in area.
This location is a piece of property I have access to in a local city. It’s close to homes and areas used for a variety of recreation so I decided to put my Moultrie Mobile XV-6000 that sends photos to an app on my cell phone when photos are taken.
The first photo taken Oct. 7 clearly shows the boar which judging by the tracks and its height measured next to the vegetation in the area is a big boy.
I’d say it weighs 200 plus pounds. It’s not a monster but a legit big hog.
The second shot comes three days later and is the same hog. Between this time and for an additional four days there were no other animals on this trail.
And when I scouted the area-even in a wide patch of open dirt the only trucks were this guy’s tracks. There were no rabbit, raccoon, other hog, opossum, armadillo or any of the tracks of animals common in this area. In fact, just 1/4-mile down from here there is plenty of other animal sign.
I believe I was in the area this hog stakes as its home base of operation and it keeps a lot of other animals, especially other hogs out.
In a 2017 article I did for The Wildlife Journalist, I quoted a study conducted by Dr. Jack Mayer of the Savannah River National Laboratory.
The study documented 412 wild hog attacks worldwide impacting 665 people. During this time there were four fatal hog attacks in the United States.
Of the 21 states reporting hog attacks Texas led the pack with 24 percent with Florida at 12 percent and South Carolina 10. Interestingly when examining worldwide shark fatalities hogs actually beat them out in deaths some years-including 2013.
Here’s where it gets interesting about our solitary boar. Check out these stats.
In his study, hogs that attack are described as solitary (82 percent), large (87 percent) and male (81 percent) and most attacks occurred when there was no hunting involved.
The boar in these photos checks off all of those boxes.
Someone like me who has an idea what he is looking for and knows to take precautions going into a spot like this is one thing.
But how many people in urban and suburban areas will have surprise encounters these kinds of hogs as their populations grow?
We need to start educating people about hogs in urban and suburban areas. And as whatever means are used to take out hog numbers in these zones (usually trapping), specifically targeting some of these lone boars might be wise.
Yesterday we announced that we created our own conservation outreach Higher Calling Wildlife. Everyone who joins for FREE gets this very special edition Higher Calling Wildlife “Wildlife Of Israel” e-mag.
It’s the first of its kind magazine focusing solely on Israel’s wildlife and we chose to debut it today as the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets) begins this evening.
This is the New Year on the calendar God gave to the Hebrews and since supporting Israel’s wildlife is one of our pillars, we thought this would be a good way to celebrate and also a new beginning for us.
Higher Calling Wildlife founder and award-winning wildlife journalist got his first honors for wildlife conservation work when he was 19 years old.
The Sportsman’s Conservationists of Texas honored him with their “Youth Conservationist Of The Year” award and the following year he became the group’s first and only back to back winner when he won their prestigious “Conservation Communicator Of The Year”.
Since then he has been honored by Field & Stream magazine as a “Hero Of Conservation” and in 2020 was presented with the “Advocatus Magni” award from the National Wild Turkey Federation-Texas for his work with wild turkeys.
Moore who spends much of his time working with you who have critical illnesses, have experienced traumatic loss or are in the foster system has decided to start his own conservation outreach.
“We’re calling it Higher Calling Wildlife and it’s centered on forest and mountain wildlife and stream fisheries,” he said.
“It’s free to join and the concept is simple. By using investigative journalism we uncover issues with conservation in these particular fields of interest and empower you to use this information to raise awareness,” he said.
All blog subscribers will get the download option monthly. You can subscribe at the top right of this page or by , emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and putting “membership” in the subject line.
Members will get a bi-monthly e-magazine that is produced by Chester and young people in his Wild Wishes® program as well as special access to Moore and his team.
“Wild Wishes® grants wildlife encounters to children with a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling. We’ve granted 110 of these so far and over the course of six years some of the kids as they’ve gotten older want to work in conservation so we are mentoring them. The first issue of Higher Calling has three of the articles as well as some artwork done by these young people. As we go along the goal is for me to do one piece per issue and them do the rest. We are not giving lip service to raising up young people. We are actually doing it,” Moore said.
Moore said one of the keys to this is Texas Fish & Game owner’s Roy and Ardia Neve’s desire to give back and help and willingness to support their kids’s outreach by distributing through fishgame.com and their e-newsletter.
“They have been amazing giving me space to push the envelope on conservation but also give me a chance to talk about some of the wishes we’ve granted and things we’ve been able to accomplish by God’s grace. And it has been amazing seeing that happen and then the young people wanting to get deeply into conservation. Working for the Neves and TF&G is an honor,” Moore said.
One of the young ladies, Reannah Hollaway shares her story in the first issue as the Texas Tech student got to participate in a desert bighorn capture at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
Anyone who signs up this month gets an additional free e-mag special edition called The Wildlife Of Israel that gives a unique look into the abundant wildlife in the Holy Land.
“We’re small and grass roots,” said Reannah Hollaway.
“But we’re passionate and excited to do something unique for wildlife conservation.”
This summer has been a fun one here at Higher Calling as we have been on a three month long quest called “Summer of the Bear”.
The goal has been to raise awareness to bears and bear conservation around the world.
It started with reporting on greatly increased bear sightings in my home state of Texas and has seen us doing lots of giveaways including plush bears for kids and special edition Texas Bear Aware tokens.
This week ends our summer bear project and we’re doing it in a big way publishing this podcast I recorded with Jack Evans of Bear Trust International.
Listen to the show below as we talk about that organization’s great conservation education work.
Thanks to everyone who participated by sending emails, social media interaction, photos and videos.
The “Summer of the Bear” was a big success thanks to you.
“You see it on social media all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Someone shot and killed our horse last night in his pasture in Port Mansfield. If anyone has any leads please let us know. I am completely devastated R.I.P Seabiscuit.”
Those heartbreaking words showed up in my Facebook feed just a day after I started looking into mysterious horse killings in Texas, Florida and Louisiana.
I was able to interview the horse’s devastated owner Jessica Neu, who said the horse was shot in the chest, head on and no meat was taken.
“This was in a pasture right outside of Port Mansfield, TX. It’s the navigation district property where local kids can keep livestock and show animals..”
There is no known motive and as she noted in her post, these killings are showing up all over the place. If you have any information for Neu, contact her here.
The podcast also addresses three similar killings in the Liberty County area from 2017-2018.
The Pearland killings involved the harvest of meat. Like the death of Neu’s horse, the ones in Liberty were shot and left to die with no meat harvest.
These are both bizarre situations and ones that I believe deserve attention here as horses are such an important part of the lifestyle of outdoors lovers.
There is in my opinion two different situations happening regarding horse killings.
The Pearland killings along with a similar situation in central Florida most likely is tied to some sort of black market horse meat trade.
As my friend and fellow researcher Jeff Stewart noted in order to butcher a horse and load it up it would be like skinning and packing out a large bull elk.
One hind quarter would possibly weigh over 100 pounds. There’s a good chance this would take more than one person and the risk level of taking the horse, killing and taking the meat is far higher than a drive by shooting of sorts.
The second situation is what we will focus on here which is the killing of horses for seemingly no gain other than to kill the horse or perhaps terrorize the owners.
An Aug. 5 story at Spectrum News details a July killing of a little girls’ horse in Caldwell County, TX. where a horse was shot in the head and left to die. Caldwell County is a four hour drive straight up Highway 77 from Port Mansfield.
Two of the killings were the same little girls’ horse-one two days before Christmas in 2017 and the other in February 2018 after someone gave her a new horse. Another child’s horse was killed in the same area Nov. 2017.
Is there a pattern here?
We have just hit the tip of the iceberg and will cover more in future editions but here are a few similar reports from other states.
While conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in West Texas on Saturday, Aug. 8, three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees died in a helicopter crash on TPWD’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County.
TPWD reported the victims include Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White, and State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar.
The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director.
“These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication, and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine. Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains. We will miss Dewey, Brandon, and Dr. Bob deeply and dearly. All of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Stockbridge, White, and Dittmar families in the wake of this devastating tragedy and continue to pray for the health and recovery of the pilot.”
We are deeply saddened after hearing about the tragic and unexpected loss of Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar, and Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White on Saturday in the Brewster County helicopter accident. These three respected Texas Parks and Wildlife employees have dedicated their life to desert bighorn and wildlife conservation. Their commitment and expertise have given us the knowledge we need to succeed in restoring desert bighorn sheep in Texas. We will always be grateful to these men for their hard work and sacrifice, and we give our sincerest condolences to their families.
Make no mistake these three men were conservationists in the truest sense of the word. Wild sheep require a higher level of management than any other game species in North America and what they did for these great animals will help ensure viable populations in the future.
Of the three, I only briefly knew Stockbridge who was knowledgable, generous and passionate about the topic of sheep conservation and all wildlife management, especially at Elephant Mountain WMA which he oversaw.
Wild sheep are special animals and the people who work toward their conservation are special people. These men and women work in some of the most inhospitable environments in America and put in countless hours in extreme heat, extreme cold and at extreme elevations.
They are worthy of our respect and in this tragic case, worthy of memorial as an example of deeply committed conservationists.
Our prayers here at Higher Calling Wildlife are with their families, co-workers and the extended family of wildlife conservationists in the Trans-Pecos of Texas and beyond who were impacted by their dedication.
These men helped Texas’ rarest and most regal game animal, the desert bighorn sheep reclaim and sustain habitat lost during much of the 20th century.
Their death saddens us but the actions of their very dedicated lives should serve as inspiration.
The Inspirational Voice Of Mountain & Forest Wildlife Conservation