The fourth annual Ellis County Wildlife Expo got off without a hitch as children and adults ventured out to the Waxahachie Civic Center for a day of fun and excitement. The event, sponsored by Ark Country Store, featured wildlife management experts, the latest hunting gear, an indoor fishing pond and many chances to win door prizes.
The Heli Hunters are no strangers to the expo. They were on hand to talk about the importance of aerial hog hunting. Chris Meier of Ennis and Terrell Coleman of Marshall have partnered to take on the overpopulated species of feral hogs.
“We are an aerial eradication company,” Meier said. “We take clients up in our helicopter and let them shoot pigs.”
However, Meier said it’s about more than just shooting pigs. He said they used to kill hogs for farmers and charge them for the services, but the state passed a law in 2011 called the Porkchopper Bill that has allowed them to become an aerial outfitter and take on the financial responsibility of controlling the hog population.
“The farmers in this area know how devastating it can be to have pigs on their land,” Meier said. “We killed 3,157 in a three month time period, and although that may sound like a lot we still have a long ways to go.”
Coleman said there is a need for farmers to control the hog population, and they wanted to come up with an idea to help them do that.
“We’ll never eradicate the pigs, we know that,” Meier said. “We have proven that we can keep the numbers under control where a farmer can actually grow crops on their land. I’ve got an area that wasn’t able to grow corn for about 12 years, and now they are able to do so because we’ve cut the hog population down in that area.”
The Heli Hunters also have an upcoming reality show to debut in 2014 on the Sportsman Channel. The show will be about aerial hog eradication
“It’s going to be about the damage pigs can do and us showing the pig,” Meier said. “Also it will show what we do with the meat after we kill the pigs. We don’t let the meat go to waste, but we donate the meat from the hogs to needy families.”
Coleman added that they would have several celebrity episodes, including Ted Nugent and several others.
Another familiar face of the expo was Kerri Jenkins and her 4-year-old cattle dog Tess. Jenkins, who works for a veterinary supply company, has spent the last three years competing in agility contests all over the state of Texas.
“When I’m not working, I run agility with Tess,” Jenkins said. “Today she will be doing a jump sequence intermixed with other obstacles.”
After several years of competing with horses, Jenkins said she wanted to maintain a competitive edge without the major expense and found this to be the way to go.
“It’s not as expensive to compete with a dog,” she said. “Tess can travel in the car and stay in hotels with me, and I love the camaraderie that has been built among this sport.”
New to this year’s event was Patrick Talbot of Midlothian and co-owner of Extreme Tactics and Training Solutions, a private gun range in Waxahachie that focuses on strategies and tactics of firearms.
“We are a private gun range and club,” Talbot said. “We host tournaments and trainings with firearms. We started it in January and our goal is to establish a world class shooting facility here in Waxahachie.”
David Compton also works at the range and he said the good thing about this gun range is the variety of things they offer.
“We have everything from basic NRA safety courses to all the way to advance tactical shooting,” Compton said. “It’s family oriented and a family owned business.”
He added that there would be women only classes available.
The majority of the children spending time at the expo weren’t very interested in visiting vendor booths because they all had their eyes on the indoor fishing pond stocked full of fish. Grabbing a fishing pole and bait, each child was given five minutes to catch as many fish as they could, with the hopes of walking away with a trophy.
Kyle Aldman, 13, of Midlothian wasn’t as inclined to visit the fishing hole. He was too preoccupied with manning his booth and informing people about the Texas Brigade. He said it’s vital to teach others about the importance of conserving wildlife.
“I’m new to the Texas Brigade, but I love it,” Aldman said. “They teach you a lot of neat things about wildlife.”
He said one of the things he’s learned this year was quail don’t rely on lakes, ponds and streams for water. They get their water from the foods they eat.
Candice Jones, co-owner of Ark Country Store said this year’s event was great, but they are already planning on how they can make next year’s bigger and better.
For more information about Heli Hunter, visit helihunter.com. For more information about Extreme Tactics and Training Solutions, call 972-921-0432 or visit extremetacticsandtrainingsolutions.com. For more information about Ark Country Store, call 972-937-8860 or visit arkcountrystore.com.
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