Special to the Review

If attempting to put up a tent or cook over a campfire or identify that thing that just walked across the trail has ever made you feel like, well, a fool, then Outdoor Fools Day is for you.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department park rangers, wildlife and fisheries biologists, game wardens and representatives of various civic and conservation groups will gather at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center April 1 to acquaint you with the outdoor recreation opportunities East Texas has to offer and teach you some skills you can use to enjoy them.

Landowners seeking to increase their knowledge can attend seminars on managing private ponds and property for fish and wildlife or visit with a representative of Quail Forever about bringing quail back to East Texas. Young people interested in attending a summer wildlife camp can talk with students who’ve done just that.

Storytellers will entertain young and old with East Texas tales. Guided bird and plant walks along TFFC’s Wetlands Trail will introduce native East Texas species. Members of the East Texas Herpetological Society will display a selection of creepy-crawlies.

Anglers can learn to tie flies and cast them, or they can use traditional rods and reels to fish in the center’s 1.5-acre pond, which is stocked with channel catfish, rainbow trout and sunfish. Half-pint anglers can “fish” for cutouts of fish with magnets attached.

Meanwhile, TPWD wildlife biologists will teach waterfowl identification, how to estimate shooting distances and how to score deer antlers and age deer. A wildlife identification trail will allow you to test your knowledge of native game species, and a “please-touch” display of skins, skulls and bones will let you learn about animals from the inside out. A glass-bottom stream will show what a river looks like from the bottom up, and you can handle a variety of saltwater species in a touch tank

Budding detectives can learn how game wardens solve outdoor crimes and see displays of confiscated game. Four-legged detectives will demonstrate how dogs can be used to track and recover game, and qualified instructors will teach how to shoot bows and arrows. Kayaks will be provided for rowing.

And all the while there will be those tantalizing smells coming from the outdoor cooking demonstrations. Don’t resist temptation. Taste-testing is encouraged, and samples are free.

Participating in Outdoor Fools Day will be representatives from Tyler Audubon, East Texas Arboretum, Dogwood Chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society, Lone Star Bowhunters Association, Texas Wildlife Association, Quail Forever, Texas Cooperative Extension, East Texas Herpetological Society, Boy Scouts of America, East Texas Medical Center, Texoma Hatchery, Spring Creek Outdoors, East Texas Storytellers, Lake Waco Wetlands and Heart of Texas Master Naturalists, in addition to personnel from various divisions of TPWD stationed in East Texas.

For a map and schedule of the event, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/visit/specialevents/foolsday/. For directions to TFFC, call (903) 676-2277. Admission to Outdoor Fools Day is included with regular admission to TFFC: $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors 65 and older, $3.50 for children ages 4 to 12.

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