MOORE COLUMN: The truth about crappie, canvasbacks and more

Published 11:11 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The public response to the wildlife articles we have published and to the “Critter Cam” has been phenomenal.
In the 23-year history of my outdoors journalism career, the recent response to wildlife has been the strongest outpouring of public interest.
This week, I am answering reader questions involving wildlife-from the kind we hunt and fish for to the kind we prefer in front of a camera.
Here we go.
Q: Settle this argument at our duck camp please. Which is faster a teal or a canvasback?
A: It’s not even close. A canvasback can fly up to 72 miles per hour while teal clock in somewhere in the 30s. Their small size and erratic flight pattern create an illusion of supersonic speed.
Q: Why is a crappie (white perch) called a “sac-a-lait”?
A: That is a Cajun French name meaning “sack of milk”. In other words the delicious taste of crappie is like a sack of milk.
Q: Is it possible I saw a Mexican gray wolf near Alpine when on a recent hunting trip?
A: It is within the realm of possibility. New Mexico has been a part of the federal captive breeding and release program and although its success has been limited, there are Mexican wolves out there. As we have found out with wolves from Minnesota ending up in Missouri, they sometimes travel long distances so wolves from that area could very well make it to the Trans Pecos.
Interestingly, I did a speaking engagement where a veteran trapper told me flat out he saw a Mexican gray wolf while trapping in that general areas last year this man has caught and killed hundreds of coyotes so he knows the difference.
Q: Pound for pound, what do you think is the meanest animal in Texas?
A: I would probably have to go with the shrew, which is tiny but has to eat its weight each day to survive. They are obsessive, little killing machines!
A close second would be the mink. Mink are notorious killers of muskrats and chickens in coastal Texas and have been known to wipe out a chicken coop while only biting them in the head and leaving the rest to waste.
Q: Are wild turkeys smart or wary? They seem hard to kill.
A: They are definitely not “smart” like I would consider a mature whitetail or a coyote but they have supersonic hearing and incredible vision so I would call them “wary”.
Q: Why aren’t there nilgai antelope much further north than Baffin Bay?
A: I am not sure. I have always heard it was because they cannot tolerate cool temperatures so they only hang in extreme south Texas. There could also be some habitat issue s as well because they aren’t really found very far off the coastal prairie and scrub brush areas. I know some exotic ranches in the Hill Country have nilgai from time to time but those animals are always eating at corn and protein feeders.
Q: Is it true there are orcas (killer whales) in the Gulf of Mexico?
A: Yes. A few years back stunning video of a pod of orcas feeding in the Gulf made national news. It is believed there is a small group of them that feeds in Gulf waters periodically.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at

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