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Hey Amarillo Podcast

Hey Amarillo is hosted and produced by Jason Boyett, an author, journalist, and professional writer based in Amarillo, Texas. He's written hundreds of articles for publications including American Cowboy, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, and Paste. Locally, he is the monthly contributing writer for Amarillo Magazine.

Recently I sat down with Jason to discuss how I found my path into wildlife while obtaining my college degree, reflect on my time with Texas Wild and wrapping up the media segments and finally, where I am headed now on my path as a freelancer.

Check out the podcast- http://heyamarillo.com/jessie-story

 

 

The hat that’s seen it all

 

As wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife biologists, Ray and I each have put in our far share of time in the outdoors, sleeping on the ground, eating off of tailgates, trekking through blizzards, extreme heat, tropical storms and now as two gypsy wildlife filmmakers living in an RV traveling throughout Texas. This nomadic lifestyle demands a more downsized life. As a wanderer with limited space you choose a handful of items to keep with you at all times. When it comes to fieldgear, camera equipment or clothing, you will be surprised at how valuable a material item can become to you in the outdoors. A Patagonia hat I picked up in Florida a few years back on a scouting trip to Key West has become a valued item of mine. My hat has been stained by the ink of an octopus, traveled six states, lost in Lake Jessup, worn during my attempted wrangling of a 2.5 ft nurse shark and has been envenomated by a broad-banded copperhead! Last but not least, the hat gives the best advice you could receive. 

-Jessie Story

Photo by Jessie Story 2016

Dan Klepper Scholarship goes to…

Just after returning home from my Rhectorical criticism lecture I recieved some very, very exciting news. What was planned to be a quite night occupied with a cheese tray, Tom Petty radio and preparation for an upcoming test turned into an all out surprise when I received a phone call informing me that I was the recipient of the Dan Klepper Memorial Scholarship!!

For those of you who may not know, here’s a little background on the scholarship.

The Dan Klepper Memorial Scholarship from the Texas Outdoor Writer’s Association is for students who use media of all forms to promote appreciation, conservation and awareness of wildlife to the public.  Applicants were evaluated on their works related to the field of communication, their college transcripts, published works, letters of reference, career goals and more.  If you’ve seen any of our videos, you have seen some of my work. I do all our final edits of video, audio, power our social media presence, photograph, film, host and more.

Not only will I be attending the conference this month but I have been asked to present samples of my work. Words cannot be found to relay my joy, shock and gratitude for being selected as the finalist. Such an opportunity is invaluable! I look forward to what will unfold in the following weeks and will keep you posted!
– Jessie Story

Becoming an “Aransaneian” in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

On the Road: filming for Texas Wild

or those of you who may not know, we have been spending the past month filming in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Aransas is a place Ray has been visitingfor the past 21 years. Needless to say, this refuge holds quite a lot of meaning as well as plentiful wildlife.

The refuge is truly two different places, during the daylight the refuge is a place for viewing pairs of whooping cranes feeding in the salt marshes, family pinics under the live oaks and fishing from the docks. The trails that visitors walk during the day while birding and viewing alligators become wildlife highways; paths cut by feral pigs, raccoons and deer. The visitor center entrance becomes the local hangout for a posse of deer which find their way to the grass at night in numbers upwards of 15 or more.  They make themselves comfortable, lying in the dark, resting just outside the boundaries that the office lights projects across the grasses. A green treefrog perches nightly on the window panes of the center, which has become it’s regular hunting grounds.

Alligators float slightly visible on the swamp top water, the only clue to their presence being the yellow hue of their eye shine in our headlamps. We would like to believe that somewhere in the far reaches of the refuge, in the spaces visitors aren’t allowed to intrude on, stalks the occasional bobcat and further beyond that, a handful of javalina that have not been completed displaced by feral pigs.

I myself have been coming to the refuge for the past 3 years and the ground we once used to stride over in quick fashion while keeping pace with an opposum has now become uneven, up rutted and misshapened by the presence of pigs.

It seems that our trip has just begun despite being 3 weeks into our stay.  Unfortunately the winter break is fleeting and I find that my reasons for returning back are eroding rapidly, minus the missing of family.  I cannot help but feel as though my trip is just beginning and the demands of the university life and work have not left me with complete peace in my unquiet mind. If I only had more time- many months and a few more weeks I could truly find myself free of the daily work stresses that dictate my happiness.

In our month here we have coveted much great photography, video and observed rare behaviors of animals we least expected to see let alone exhibit such acts. We are overjoyed to be compiling videos to give everyone a brief look into what we’ve experience here as we explore and come to know the refuge more intimately   We hope you enjoy what is to come.

– Jessie Story

It’s beginning to look a lot like trapping season

The thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner. As customary to each thanksgiving season, I as well as project volunteers make our way back down to Bastrop TX.

For many years now,  I have been working a fire ecology project in Bastrop. The project focuses on studying the effects of catastrophic fire on wildlife. The area of study is the remains of a Loblolly pine forest destroyed by fire. The regrowth has gotten so thick, it is hard to see a person just yards in front of me or to see fallen trees and sharp, protruding branches in the pathway.  This lack of sight and overgrowth leads to many falls resulting in a huge accumulation of scars and bruises.

These conditions coupled with the array of weather we’ve experienced while trapping(tropical storms, heat and a case of hypothermia) leads us to refer to our time spent in Bastrop as “The Bastrop Beatdown!” The name implies it all. Despite being in great shape, I never leave without bruises to show that I earned my keep. The other volunteers show similar markings.

Each time I venture into the park, I go in with the expectation of high numbers of rodents ( in the hundreds) that we will collect data on, some out of the blue weather event and of course new film.

It was at Bastrop several years ago, that a late night jaunt post trapping, to a pond, lead to Ray and I finding the endangered Houston Toads calling in amplexus, for the first time in years. You can watch our short PBS segment over the Houston toads here. Since then, there haven’t been any reports in the park of Houston Toads calling in such high numbers.

Last trip, we caught a Southern flying squirrel in one of our live traps! Proof that you will truly never know what you will find or film when in Bastrop.

Here I am holding a cotton rat  Sigmodon hispidus

Here I am holding a cotton rat Sigmodon hispidus

Listen to Texas Wild on “PM in the AM” radio show!

Posted on November 13, 2015

 

Recently, I was invited onto KWTS 91.1, West Texas A&M University’s very own radio station. I shed some light on my life as a full time 4.0 GPA graduate student and full time wildlife filmmaker.

Payton and Malcolm certainly make it easy to be yourself in front of the mics while providing plenty of laughs. Listen to the link below to hear a few stories from my days filming wildlife including getting wacked by a beaver while swimming with alligators, me dishing on Ray’s barefoot teaching theories and where I see the show in the future.

Listen in as one of the DJ’s, Payton, opens up about bats drinking from a
pool while he was swimming and his preference to not be near a snake, or see a snake, or look at a snake. . .

Payton Northrup and Malcolm Montgomery of PM in the AM wake you up at 7am and keep you glued to your radio until 9.

Visit wtamu.edu/kwts, WTMobile app, or tune your FM dial to 91.1.

Cardinal in the mirror

During a recent stay at my second backyard (Caprock Canyons State Park) I managed to capture a rather perturbed cardinal by Lake Theo. The cardinal was rather occupied with the mirror of a TPWD truck, jumping around on top and  pecking at it. This provided not just a photo opportunity, the bird remained in the location for a duration of time, but a look at animal behavior.

The male cardinal caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and was alerted to a rival male’s presence in his territory. What we are seeing is a bird in the throws of a territorial battle! Check out his fancy foot work!

-Jessie

A scorpion’s sting

Most people are terrified of scorpions. This fear can be from the possibility of finding one in your sleeping bag, sheets or boots. Despite all the fear, scorpions aren’t waiting for such opportunities, lurking in the corner for the chance to crawl into your boot or bag. I have spent a considerable amount of time sleeping on the ground in vast grasslands and in buildings dominated by scorpions. Only once have I been stung. Contrary to belief, the sting wasn’t as painful as many would have you believe and it lasted only a short period of time. No more painful than a wasp sting. I received my sting from a bark scorpion. In fact, there is only an estimated 25 species of scorpions who’s venom is lethal to humans.

Now isn’t that less than scary?

 

Tip: Wanna make sure your space is scorpion free? Grab a UV flash light and glance it around to see if anything florescent catches your eye. Due to a pigment in their exoskeletons, scorpions "glow" under UV light. Have a jar and tweezers ready to scoop the arachnid into the container and release outside of your domain.

-Jessie

Bark scorpion made its way up my boots and into my shirt

Bark scorpion made its way up my boots and into my shirt