WSI ENewsletter July 8, 2020

A Year to Forget...or To Remember?
Musings from a Professional Javelina Skinner
I think most people around the globe will agree that 2020 has been a year that will live in infamy. It would be very easy for us to simply say, “This is a year I’d like to forget!” But, is it really? History should serve as a reminder of mistakes that have been made and triumphs that have been achieved, and therein lies the irony of 2020, in that so many people seem to want to erase our American history at all costs. Dismantling, destroying, and defacing statues, landmarks, and American flags, it all seems so counter-intuitive to Americana. Our American history is replete with events that have shaped the successes of this country, many that make us beam with pride, and some not so, but all that define who we are as a country and how we got here. From a standpoint of learning from our past mistakes, George Santayana summed it up well through his, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And from yet another perspective, Martin Luther King, Jr. provided great context through his observation of, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” We must also forever remember that there are many men and women who made great sacrifices, including some that gave up their lives,  to provide us with the freedoms, liberties, and qualities that we have today and we should never intentionally erase those parts of our American history for any reason, at any price.

So, 2020 has indeed been a funky year on many fronts. In our last WSI ENews, my editorial focused on the challenges and silver linings of COVID-19. At the risk of coming across as a redundant purveyor of information, I am going to cover some similar territory in this editorial, as this has been such an extraordinary year and some things warrant re-mentioning.

When it comes to conservation funding, it cannot be overstated how travel restrictions, cancelled trips, and cancelled seasons in some locations – it simply cannot be overstated how the ripple-effect of all of this will result in reduced funds for conservation practices. There are many international locations that lost an entire season of safari revenue, which includes monies that are normally dedicated for conservation practices such as anti-poaching and water development. Reduction of hunting license fees will come straight off the bottom line of state agency operating budgets here in the US, not to mention the eligible matching PR funds that are available through federal excise tax. There are private landowners who will also take it on the chin through lost hunting revenues and those landowners may not be able to reinvest as much back into the resource as they would during “normal” years. Then you have the plethora of sportsmen/conservation groups and their hundreds of chapters who annually host their fundraisers, most of which have been cancelled this year. Not only will there be less funds available for these NGOs to apply to natural resource education, field projects, and public policy work, but many of these organizations are being forced to lay-off many important staffers, resulting in reduced horsepower of those groups. In recent days, National Wild Turkey Federation laid-off over 50 employees – that’s huge! The broad consequences that these accumulative impacts will have on wildlife and conservation capacity is immense and it is almost beyond comprehension regarding the scope and scale of this hit. From a humanitarian aspect, these crippled economies related to hunters’ spending will cost thousands of people their jobs across the globe, while also resulting increased poverty and hunger in third-world countries where dollars from hunting are important to their meager lifestyle. There will be some outfitters and safari operators who will be forced to going out of business. The ripple-effect is almost endless.

Speaking of NGOs, as some of you know, I have been actively involved with the Texas Wildlife Association for many years, currently serving as President of our TWA Foundation Board of Trustees. Normally, we would be having our annual TWA convention this coming weekend, but we had to cancel the event due to the pressures of C-19. In-lieu of the in-person convention, we are hosting a virtual online event this week. In the body of this WSI ENews, you will see additional details regarding our online convention, including a tremendous online auction. This event is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we are hopeful that we will be able to come close to matching our normal net profit, but it goes without saying that there is some serious hand-wringing going on right now. The rest of the conservation NGO community would be wise to be watching how this event goes, as this may be the “new norm” on how some of these fundraising events are held in the future. Please check it out.

Business for WSI has been surprisingly good this year. We started off with a tremendous January, February, and early March. The wheels about came off in late March and April, but we were able to work through a difficult and painful process in being able to keep much of our spring business in-place. By early May, we were booking hunts for clients who had international and Alaskan trips cancelled but were looking for other trips in the Lower 48 to replace those cancellations. Plus, there were many people who were tired of being cooped up through much of April and were ready to take to the field. Thus, we ended up with the biggest May we have ever had. I absolutely hate that some of this business came at the expense of some of our fellow outfitting colleagues, but the bright side is that hunters’ appetites to carry-on with hunts remained wet. Except for some of our whitetail hunts, our fall schedule is almost brim-full, which is again a great sign of hunters spending money during such times of chaos, uncertainty, and a depressed economy. None the less, it seems like I have never worked harder to make a buck during the 33 years of being in this crazy business, so I’d like to think that some of my layers of leathered-skin that has been accrued in the hunting business over the years has allowed WSI to be more adaptive and react more nimbly than we may have if this hand would have been dealt to us 20 years ago.

So, back to the intro of this editorial. Despite the unfortunate acts of people wanting to destroy many of our historical American landmarks, and despite disillusioned people wanting to erase and deface the history of our amazing country, and despite how much many of us would like to forget that 2020 even happened, the reality is that 2020 should be a year that we should keep vividly clear at the tip of our mind so that we can allow the painful experience of this year to be a reminder that we should never allow a year like this to happen again in the US. The year of 2020 will be an important part of our American history, just like the rest of our remarkable past has been, both good and bad. And with that, I will close with another quote in Thomas Jefferson’s, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” So, lets dream for coming days of peace, freedom, opportunity, and prosperity, for all.

Please let us know if we can assist in any way.


Greg Simons
WSI, Co-owner
The Big Book of Wildlife & Nature Photography
Russell Graves

Two years in the making, this new eBook is finally out. The  Big Book of Wildlife and Nature Photography   ranges from technical advice for beginning photographers to practical advice for the more advanced practitioner and draws on the author's years spent in the field and observing wildlife up-close. Readers will learn everything from the best gear package to carry for their outdoor excursions to advanced techniques like using technology to scout animals. In addition, there are case studies on how photos were made, practical advice on gear and equipment, and tips on setting up your own wildlife photography locations.

In all there are:
60,000+ words
300+ photos with technical info
3-1/2+ hours of video

That's why it’s called the Big Book.

There are two versions of the PDF ebook:

  1. The Standard Version (bear cover) covers a range of wildlife and nature photography topics.
  2. The Outdoorsman Edition (elk cover) has all of the info the standard edition but also includes a bonus chapter for those who want to better capture their hunting and fishing adventures.

Both are priced at $14.99 each and you can find them at

As a bonus, those who purchase the book will receive a coupon code for 10% off any Backcountry Journeys Photo Adventures trip (valued up to a $1,900 discount).

Whether you are a hardcore photographer or simply like cool pictures of nature, be sure to pick this up.

Use the discount code WS10 for 10% off your purchase of the eBook.
JULY 6th-11th

Due to the pressures of COVID-19, TWA was forced to cancel its annual convention in San Antonio.

However, the TWA staff has done a remarkable job in assembling a tremendous online event that is currently taking place, this week. Please see details...

In an effort to adapt and keep our members safe and healthy, join us virtually July 6th-11th. Events include the  Private Lands Summit: Conservation Efforts in the Time of Uncertainty, one of a kind online education seminars from top-notch experts, an outstanding lineup of auction items, and more. 

Our website is now live where you can explore the schedule of events, learn about our speakers, preview the online auction and most importantly during this time, support us as our annual convention serves as our major fundraiser for the year. 

We invite you to share this event with your friends and family and be on the lookout for more updates via email and our social media outlets.

Thank you for your continued support and we hope you will join us to impact Texas and remain TWA proud. We look forward to continuing to carry out the mission of TWA to advance healthy land, water, and wildlife in our wonderful state. 
Normal is an Illusion
Terry Anderson (WSI Co-owner)

Normal is an Illusion- What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly. 

On one hand, I suspect we have all felt a little, or maybe a lot, like the fly so far in 2020. On the other hand, I was happy to note today that my recently planted hardwood and pine seedlings are growing nicely. I also watched a bachelor group of young bucks happily browsing on those same succulent seedlings, all sporting the classic velvet headgear that one would expect to see in July; just another day in the neighborhood. 

And so goes the world of Conservation Equity Partners, LLC (CEP). Social distancing, zooming and coronacations; all concepts or slang terms I was not consciously aware of or using in the not-so-distant past. Canceled meetings, limited and complicated travel options, distressed financial markets, and a world full of disillusioned and disheartened people have all been harsh realities for most of the current year. The challenges of keeping positive forward-momentum in a business have been significant and sadly, in many cases, impossible. But like the seedlings and the whitetails, many aspects of life have not really changed at all, particularly for those of us blessed to live and work in rural environments. And for those of us able to think and execute more like the spider than the fly, there have been opportunities at hand, successes to be savored, and blessings to be thankful for. 

There is definitely an improved and elevated appreciation for many of the great qualities of life associated with the outdoor world and rural environments. We see weekly evidence of this through the lens of Wildlife Systems, Inc. People seeking to create iconic family memories, harvest healthy organic protein or temporarily escape from the chaos of urban existence, are booking recreational experiences in unexpected quantities. 
There is little doubt that social distancing and self-isolation have reinvigorated many landowners, in some cases causing them to reconnect with generational family lands or in other instances, to fall in love with new properties. Projects that were on the back burner or even pipe dreams, are now significant priorities for many of us in the land ownership realm. This amplified atmosphere has allowed CEP to develop some great new partners with outstanding projects, including restoration of post oak savannas, native grass prairies, and shortleaf and longleaf pine stands.  

Historically, economic downturns have always resulted in new real-estate opportunities entering the marketplace.  Working with the great folks at Republic Ranches, CEP has been fortunate to be able to capitalize on some of these opportunities. We will soon be showcasing some new properties acquired for wetland and stream restoration purposes. 

“Good People, Good Projects and Good Outcomes.” Try to be the spider and not the fly. In the end, it’s a lot less stressful and a lot more satisfying.  

Terry Anderson is co-owner of WSI. He and Greg Simons also own Conservation Equity Partners, LLC, a company specializing in environmental mitigation, timber management, and financial investment activities involving high conservation-outcome properties

S Ranch
Our country’s most popular game animal, white-tailed deer has served as the centerpiece for big-game hunters for decades. Texas, with some 4 million whitetails, has long been considered one of the top destinations for hunters who are interested in pursuing these iconic species. Big, unspoiled country, high densities of deer, big antlers, cactus, Mexican cuisine, Texas drawls, cowboy hats, and warm personalities are some of the Texana features that make the Lone Star State such a popular destination for traveling hunters.

WSI has long been considered one of the top whitetail outfitters in the nation. Hunting several properties around the state, our specialty is native, non-introduced deer, on both high-fenced and low-fenced properties. Our packages are typically 3-4 days in length and include meals, lodging, guides, and game care. Prices vary depending upon ranch and type of hunt. With the strong spring that we enjoyed this year, we are anticipating great antler growth, so 2020 will undoubtedly be one of the stronger seasons in recent years to pursue big whitetails in Texas. We still have some openings on these properties, so please check in with us to discuss dates:

  •  S Ranch Lodge- $3,995
  • Rocky Creek Ranch- $4,295
  • Longbranch- $3,995
  • Yturria Ranches- $2,500 - $5,000
  •  La Rucia- $6995

These hunts are well-suited for families, friends, corporate groups, or individuals. Hunting license is over the counter with no age limit. With pleasant weather and low-physical demands, this is a hunt that can be comfortably done by all hunters. 

Longbranch Ranch
Rocky Creek Ranch
La Rucia Ranch
H. Yturria Ranch

For those hunters who are planning on attending a WSI hunt, please know that our normal rebooking policy generally provides our clients with a 30-day window after their hunt to pay a $300 rebooking fee. This holds their spot for the following season/year and as soon as we know our dates, prices, and details for the next year, we then circle back to those hunters and provide them with the opportunity to formalize the booking at that time. So, it is important to get on our radar through this payment process to avoid losing your spot for the following year.

Greg Simons
(325) 655-0877