Texas Monthly and Shiners Beers present Texas Barbecue Week. Check out the list of all participating barbecue joints, including six Austin spots: Blue Ox, Franklin, La, Lamberts, Micklethwait, and Stiles Switch.
from the press release:
There are plenty of benefits to Texas Barbecue Week – not only do you get to indulge in some delicious meats, but you’re supporting local folks who put their time, energy, and love into their craft. Additionally, each participating restaurant will donate part of their proceeds from their Barbecue Week Plates to Foodways Texas, an organization with a mission to “preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas.”
In other Texas news, Deer Breeders prepare for a showdown over the matter of who owns Texas deer. The North American Wildlife model is based primarily on the idea that wildlife is held in public trust. In the case of deer, or, better yet, deer in Texas, the deer belong to the people of Texas and are managed by a state game agency . In recent years, deer breeding, mostly within the confines of high fences, has become a booming business, particularly within the state of Texas. Critics of the deer breeding industry, of which I am one, often cite that deer breeding is basically a pyramid scheme business model with a finite amount of customers unless the business model supersedes the North American Wildlife Model. Deer breeders can and do make money off of hunting. Individual hunts are “sold” to those willing to pay, sometimes for a specific deer. Prices can range anywhere from a daily rate of $150, to a $30,000 or more to kill a specific trophy deer. Hunters critical of this type of high fence hunting refer to it as “canned” hunting, which would be the opposite of Fairchase principals where hunting is defined as “the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”
While deer breeders do make money off of hunting, the core of the business model is selling the semen of their “breeder” bucks, or the deer themselves, to other deer breeders in need of a “trophy caliber” gene pool. As a result, the business model is dependent upon new breeders setting up shop. Another common criticism of high fenced deer breeding includes the potential for disease, particularly Chronic Wasting Disease which can be spread to neighboring wild deer. Yet another criticism to deer breeding is that these animals are often pumped full of growth hormones to produce exceptional antler growth, which, in turn, can result in questionable health conditions when humans consume the meat, or even make the meat entirely unsafe for human consumption.
These aspects have recently come to a head in Texas as a deer breeder intends to challenge the state over the matter of ownership of captive deer. The Dallas Observer picks up the story. Here are some highlights:
In a lawsuit filed on his behalf by Dallas attorney Steven M. Griggs in April, Anderton is seeking the return of his breeder permit and compensation for his deer. His complaint attacks the foundation of TPW regulatory authority over deer breeders — the Texas statute that says all wildlife belongs to the state. “… A person’s legally obtained property may be seized at any time by the state, without due process of law and without any administrative or legal remedy,” he argues. This, he claims, violates his constitutional rights.
…Now wildlife conservationists can’t help but wonder if this isn’t somehow a creeping return to the bad old days. “We recognize that wildlife is a public trust, and it belongs to all people in the state, held in trust and managed on behalf of the people by private landowners,” says Doug Slack, director of the Wildlife Society’s Texas Chapter. “[Breeders] consider me old-fashioned, but they’re promoting new legislation that’s promoting ideas and concepts that came up in the 1800s.”
…But because game species like whitetail deer are no longer in danger of extinction, the industry wonders whether the prevailing public trust model is outdated.
“There’s a lot of religious zeal and elitism in my profession that hangs tenaciously to that old belief that wildlife belongs to everybody, and that wildlife in commerce is an evil thing,” says Dr. James Kroll, a deer breeder and director of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Institute for White-tailed Deer Management and Research. “They’re looking at the days of market hunting, but those were days when there was no regulation.
“Academicians and wildlife scientists still have this attitude that is good in many ways but needs to evolve with the times.”
Since this development has the potential to reshape the North American Wildlife Model, have potential effects on the long term health of free ranging deer, as well as the cost and ethics of deer hunting, we will be updating this story as it develops.