This is the last call for the 2011 Texas Brigades. Whether you are hearing about the Brigades for the first time, or whether you have previously considered attending a Brigade, now is the time to act. Do not let the chance to participate in a Buckskin Brigade, a Bobwhite Brigade, or a Bass Brigade elude you.
Seven years ago my older brother attended the South Texas Bobwhite Brigade when the eye of Hurricane Claudette passed over the 74 Ranch lodges. My parents and I attended the flooded awards ceremony to pick him up, and ever since then I had desired to attend the Bobwhite Brigade. Last summer my opportunity to attend the Brigade was granted, and I jumped on for the ride. With my interests in rangeland stewardship and wildlife conservation stimulated from having just completed the Youth Range Workshop, I was ready to learn everything the camp offered so I could bring the knowledge back to my community. At the completion of the first day, I realized I had a problem – I had already been taught so much information, I could never remember it all. However, because of the hands-on experiences, field training, the expertise of the personnel, and fun style of learning, I managed to assimilate more than I had anticipated.
The South Texas Bobwhite Brigade expanded my knowledge of wildlife and rangeland far beyond the boundaries I thought possible. At the Brigade, I learned key principles about a quail’s habitat such as interspersion, edge effect, and limiting factors. Leopold’s five tools of conservation were discussed as ways to achieve proper rangeland and wildlife habitat. The camp was not completely centered on wildlife and rangelands, however. The environment of learning provided a week of fun and lasting friendships that can never be forgotten. Leadership, critical thinking, and the political aspects of wildlife conservation were also studied. The lessons to be learned from the "Silver Bullets" are a key part of the Brigades. These Proverbs-for-Life inspire ingenuity, perseverance, and other characteristics necessary for good leadership. Possibly the most beneficial part of camp, though, is meeting and interacting every day and most of the night with the professionals and other cadets. The encouragement of others and our growth together through challenges and competitions was an integral aspect of my Brigades experience.
The fun I had at the Brigade I attended will never slip from my memory. Just as I wished for my chance to attend a Brigade, I now hope that I can attend as an assistant covey leader this summer. To fulfill this role at camp, I will help lead a group of five cadets (first year campers) called a covey. Additionally I have applied to attend a Buckskin Brigade this coming July. I believe it is paramount to the future of wildlife and hunting that my generation be knowledgeable about true conservation. Since the public’s ideas of agriculture, wildlife, and rangelands are often skewed, the well-educated and capable leaders that the Brigades are training are critically important to the future of wildlife conservation. Before attending The South Texas Bobwhite Brigade, I had focused only on livestock and ranching as career opportunities. Now, however, I realize that greater diversity, which must include wildlife and better stewardship for our rangelands, is a necessity not only for ranching, but also in today’s society. Because of the challenges and opportunities offered by the Brigades, I have continued my Brigade experience and have further developed leadership skills. With the knowledge I have gained through the Texas Brigades, perhaps one day I will play a role in helping society understand true conservation and the value of hunting.
If you are interested in hunting and wildlife, consider attending a Texas Brigade. The ages for cadets are 13-17. Camps are held in June and July. Exact dates and more information is available at www.texasbrigades.org. The applications can be downloaded and mailed or submitted online. Feel free to contact me (Gabe Jennings) at 325-429-6249 for any other information. The application deadline is April 1, so apply today.