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Firewood and Foraging In Fall  

by Laurie Sheppard

Fall is here and the first heavy frost is coming soon. It’s time to get ready for cool crisp evenings, fall harvests, and shorter days. Whether you might be planning a camping trip, or an evening curled up by your fireplace at home, you may have a need for some firewood. Consider this, excerpted from the Featherless Flyer, printed in April, 2019:

In most cases, we are all encouraged to ‘take only photographs, leave only footprints’ at all National Wildlife Refuges. We have learned that resources must be left for the use of the wildlife. A brush pile can be a home or an escape for a small bird or mammal. A shed feather from one bird may be used in the nest of another. However, federal law does allow limited collection of some natural resources, such as food for human consumption and non-commercial gathering of firewood by individual visitors.

Anyone wishing to gather wood at the refuge must apply for a permit from refuge staff. The process is simple, quick, and most importantly, free. Any wood gathered must be for personal 
use – this is not the place to collect wood for sale to others. You may not cut down any trees but can break up dead wood laying on the ground. Much of the deadfall is easily accessible from the roadways but be careful of poison ivy.”

Gathering, cutting, and trimming firewood is not your thing? How about harvesting some of nature’s bounty? The article went on to describe other items available for the taking.

Without a permit, any individual can forage for food on the refuge, including mushrooms, berries, and nuts. Some obvious and well-known examples would be pecans, dewberries, or persimmons. You may have to compete with squirrels, birds, and deer, but there should be enough to share. Timing is everything. The only limitation is that you may not dig something up, so tubers are off limits.”

The article also mentioned collecting the seeds of the giant American Lotus that grows in abundance at Meadow Pond. The lovely large, white flowers of summer have given way to an upright seed pod that when dried, may be featured in flower arrangements. Between the flowering and the dried seed pods is a stage where a nut-like seed can be extracted and enjoyed. Lotus nuts were prized by Native Americans because of their flavor and high 

American Lotus by Alan Daniel

energy content. Refuge Manager Kathy Whaley says, “even with the dry year we are having fruits, nuts, mushrooms, and berries can still be found. Most people leave the oak acorns and hickory nuts for the deer, turkey, birds, and small mammals, but the native pecan trees on the refuge produce some of the best tasting pecans to be found anywhere. If you are lucky enough to run across pecans on the ground pick one up, crack open the shell, and try it for yourself.”

Dewberry by Laurie Sheppard

Collecting flowers and plants, such as purple Eryngo to be dried and used for decoration may be tempting, but that activity is not permitted on the refuge. Most seeds, berries, and other plant parts are a local food source for wildlife. Even “horse apples” (the fruit of Bois d’Arc trees) which when combined with acorns and dried leaves make a nice fall centerpiece, are readily eaten by several small mammals. Collecting anything other than seasonal nuts and berries for personal consumption should be restricted to non-

federal lands, and then only with landowner permission.

Happy foraging!

Refuge Update:

The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday 9-4, Sunday 1-5.  It's a great time to visit the refuge!


Nov 04, 2022 – Nov 06, 2022

Nov 18, 2022 – Nov 20, 2022

Dec 02, 2022 – Dec 04, 2022 

Areas closed for the hunts:

Sandy, Godwin and Goode

Trails closed for the hunts: Haller's Haven 

As the season of feasting approaches, we all face a familiar problem: what to do with all that leftover turkey and green bean casserole. Unfortunately, food waste is a bigger issue than the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. According to Melissa Scheef, who is presenting a program on food waste at Hagerman on November 13, food waste accounts for 70% of what ends up in landfills. On a global scale, it is the 3rd largest source of greenhouse gases.

Although the problem seems overwhelming, there are many things we can all do to have an impact.  Melissa breaks it down into three options:

1) Reduce waste by buying less up front, like trying to right-size that Thanksgiving turkey;

2) Composting food scraps;

3) Using food waste in your garden, if you have one.

Melissa is uniquely qualified to advise on this issue. Originally trained as a Registered Dietician, she is now a practicing RN at Texoma Medical Center. She is committed to good nutrition for her family, and as a Texas Master Naturalist, she is concerned about the impact of food waste on the environment.

“My family eats a lot of vegetables,” she says. “They’re nutritious, and they compost well.”

For much more information on food waste and the environment, join us on November 13 at 2pm at the Hagerman NWR Visitor Center meeting room. If you are a Master Naturalist, this program will also count as Advanced Training credit.

The Friends of Hagerman Online Auction was a tremendous success. 

Thank you to all who participated.

Nestboxes will be put up for adoption on December 1st!

New Self-Guided Activity: Virtual Cache Hunting

Created by Roberto Garza

What is a Cache?

Pronounced cash.  It is a hiding place/location for items.


Geocaching is a game that you can participate in to find a hidden box.  When found you can exchange an item in the box for your own.  Because of the potentially destructive nature of the game, parks and refuges do not allow physical caches on their lands.  To solve this problem, Hagerman is allowing virtual cache hunting.

What is a Virtual Cache?

Virtual caches are more like points of interest.  A location that may show a particular event, item, or interesting destination.

The Friends of Hagerman NWR Photo Club Presents:

Tales from the Trails - Art of Visual Storytelling

Saturday, November 19th at 1:00 PM in the Visitor's Center

Ananth Thiagarajan (Kiran Photography) is a consultant by profession and driven by passion for photography. He has been practicing travel photography for over a decade and has traveled across India and Europe to document special moments of people and places. Over the past year, he has developed an interest in bird photography and has been a regular visitor to the refuge and other parks around DFW, spending his weekend morning hours on the trails. He is passionate about observing and learning bird behaviors, which helps him document stories through his images.

Also at this meeting: view the winning photo contest photos and congratulate the winning photographers as the awards are presented.

The Little Sit

Join Us for our Sunrise Bird Count

Note the time change:  Beginning December 3rd, the

Little Sit will be held on the First Saturday of every month

Photo by Melinda Hill

Come and enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Lake Texoma while learning how to identify the birds of North Texas! Modeled after Cornell's national "Big Sit" event, a group of dedicated birders invite you to join them at sunrise to perform a bird count as multiple species fly in to feed. They meet on the water's edge at H-Pad at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

This event begins 30 minutes before sunrise and lasts a couple of hours, but all are welcome to come and go as they please. Participants are advised to bring a chair, binoculars and water.  

Map to H-Pad

GPS Coordinates: 33.734961, -96.780582

Please register so we may inform you of changes or cancellation:

Come and enjoy the sunrise with us!

Photo by Pam Rendall-Bass

Click Here for details

Early Birding with Jack Chiles

Master Naturalist Jack Chiles will lead our Early Birding event, weather permitting. Bring binoculars or borrow ours.  Meet at the Visitor Center and return in time for the Second Saturday program.

Free and open to the public; funded by Donations and powered by Volunteers.

Please Register so we may inform you via email of unforseen changes/cancellations.

Second Saturday:

Painted Buntings with Dr. Wayne Meyer

Saturday, November 12th at 10:00 AM in the Visitor Center 

Photo by Win Goddard

Come and learn about the beautiful Painted Buntings who spend their summers singing in the trees of Grayson County every year.  

Dr. Wayne Meyer is Associate Professor of the Biology department at Austin College, where he has been teaching for 29 years. He started birding at 13 in Connecticut. In 1993 he finally achieved his life’s dream of being paid to look at birds when he joined the faculty of Austin College. He has birded both coasts of the U.S. extensively and now has spent a quarter century birding in Texas and Oklahoma. The proximity of Austin College to Hagerman NWR has made research on prairie birds easy and convenient and he has been studying song learning and singing in Painted Buntings for over a decade. Meyer is also a sought after speaker for Master Naturalist groups and a frequent speaker at the Friends of Hagerman NWR second Saturday programs.

Future Programs

The Refuge Rocks! Programs for Children

    • September 21, 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Hagerman NWR Visitor Center
    • 20

    We’re diving into the extraordinary lives of beavers; those adorable, yet fiercely independent, builders of the wild. Beavers, nature’s master builders, create entire worlds with their incredible skills. Without tools or machinery, they use their ever-growing front teeth to chop down trees, one bite at a time. Can you imagine having teeth that never stop growing? Beavers do, and that’s their secret to felling trees and creating dams.  Come out and join us for this youth program to learn about these amazing builders!  We’ll be learning about beavers through a short mini lesson, fun activities, and a craft.  Come join us on September 21 for a free class for youth ages 5-10.  

    Free and open to the public, registration is required.  Donations are accepted to support this and other events and programs sponsored by the Friends of Hagerman NWR.

    Join us with membership today to receive the monthly Featherless Flyer newsletter with nature articles, program information, updated events and other important refuge information.

    Photo by Kitta Weinkauf Dory

    • October 19, 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Hagerman NWR Visitor Center
    • 22

     Bats are often called creepy, scary and spooky, but they often get a bad rap. They’re an important species that impacts our daily lives in ways we might not even realize. From pollinating our favorite fruits to eating pesky insects to inspiring medical marvels, bats are actually heroes of the night. 

    Come join us on October 19 for a free class for ages 5-10 to go a little batty for bats through games, activities, and crafts!  

    Free and open to the public, registration is required.  Donations are accepted to support this and other events and programs sponsored by the Friends of Hagerman NWR.

    Join us with membership today to receive the monthly Featherless Flyer newsletter with nature articles, program information, updated events and other important refuge information.

    • November 16, 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Hagerman NWR Visitor Center
    • 23

    Even though animals don't speak like us, they still communicate with each other using their own language. They use many clever and creative ways to communicate with each other, from head-turning howls to jaw-dropping dances!  For many animals, communicating is as important to their life chances as finding food and water.  This program will explore the variety of innovative ways animals “talk” to each other.  We’ll have a howling good time learning about animal communication with a short lesson, some fun games and activities, as well as a fun craft!  Come join us on November 16 for a free class for youth ages 5-10. 

    Free and open to the public, registration is required.  Donations are accepted to support this and other events and programs sponsored by the Friends of Hagerman NWR.

    Join us with membership today to receive the monthly Featherless Flyer newsletter with nature articles, program information, updated events and other important refuge information.

    Photo by Lisa Hendricks Walsh

Puddles' Craft Corner

Animals: Master of Disguise!

By Cindy Steele, Master Naturalist

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Have you ever been exploring in the woods or walking around your backyard and reached down to pick up a leaf and realize that it’s not a leaf at all…it’s alive!? Animals have amazing ways of making themselves almost invisible. This ability is one of their best ways to protect themselves from predators and danger. Let’s learn all the fantastic ways animals truly are the “Masters of Disguise!”

In nature, every advantage increases an animal's chances of survival, and therefore its chances of having babies. This simple fact has caused animal species to develop a number of special adaptations that help them find food and keep them from becoming food. One of the most common adaptations is natural camouflage, an animal's ability to hide itself from predator and prey.

In this story, we'll see how animals blend in with their environment so that others might overlook them. We'll look at a few sophisticated hiders who can change their camouflage with a change in their surroundings. In addition to these expert hiders, we'll look at some animals who don't hide at all but throw predators off by disguising themselves as something dangerous or...

Come, Take a Tour on the Wildlife Explorer!

Enjoy a ninety minute tram tour of Wildlife Drive aboard our open-air Wildlife Explorer.  Learn about the fascinating history of the displaced town of Hagerman while watching for an abundance of wildlife.

  • Lots of stops for bird-watching and photography.   
  • Guided tours are weather permitting and seating is limited. 
  • Standbys are accepted if space permits. 
  • Recommended for age 6 - adult. 
  • Bring your binoculars or borrow ours.
  • Meet at the visitor center 15 minutes before departure. 
  • Free, funded by donations and powered by volunteers.

Register for a Tram Tour Today!

Birding with Jack

Updated, Weekly Census Results

By Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick and

Dr. Wayne Meyer (Pictured Right)

Each Tuesday a team of experienced birders, including Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, traverse 35 miles of refuge roads and hiking trails, documenting every bird they encounter. This Bird Census is reported to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in research, and each week we will bring you a link to their actual bird count, and a summary of their adventures.

 See Jack's notes and latest  Census Results       

Shop Amazon Smile to Support the Friends of Hagerman

Amazon SmileDid you know that you can support the Friends of Hagerman while shopping on Amazon? If you shop on Amazon using this Amazon Smile link, the Friends will receive 0.5% of eligible purchases. Simply go to smile.amazon.com and sign in with your Amazon account. Under "Your Account" select "Change your Amazon Smile Charity" and enter "Friends of Hagerman" in the charity search box. Once your results appear, select the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Foundation. Every time you make a purchase on Amazon Smile, the Friends will get a donation. Thanks for helping us make Hagerman a great wildlife refuge!

Kroger: Stop by the customer service desk at Kroger and link your Kroger Card to the Friends of Hagerman: the Friends will get rewards for every dollar you spend, at no cost to you.

Thank You

To Our Contributors:

Jack Chiles,  Laurie Sheppard, Cindy Steele, Alan Daniel, Roberto Garza, Melinda Hill, Pam Rendall-Bass, Win Goddard

Refuge Manager: Kathy Whaley

Deputy Refuge Manager: Paul Balkenbush

Visitor Services Manager: Spencer Beard 

Editor: Patricia Crain

Friends of Hagerman NWR Foundation

6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, TX 75092

Phone: 903-786-2826

Contact Us  



Friends of Hagerman NWR

The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year, drive on any road unless gated.

Admission to the refuge, parking and most events/activities are funded by donations and powered by volunteers. 

6465 Refuge Road

Sherman, TX 75092

Contact Us


Kroger: Stop by the customer service desk at Kroger and link your Kroger Card to the Friends of Hagerman: the Friends will get rewards for every dollar you spend, at no cost to you.

Please add friendsofhagerman@gmail.com to your contacts to ensure delivery of registration confirmations, account information and the Featherless Flyer 

Special thanks to Nancy Miller for the amazing photo of the Visitor Center

See you at the refuge! 

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