EAGLE PASS, Texas (Border Report) — Dove hunting season has begun in South Texas and law enforcement are warning migrants who cross from Mexico, as well as hunters, to be mindful of one another to avoid accidental shootings.
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber recently sat down with Border Report at his offices in Eagle Pass and urged migrants to wear a color other than black so they can be seen by hunters in the field and thick brush.
“I don’t know why but all the immigrants coming over here are wearing black,” said Schmerber, 70. “Now it’s getting very dangerous because we’ve started hunting season. People come and shoot deer and so forth so I hope that they realize it’s a danger, not only the drownings or dying on the ranches, but to accidentally be shot by a hunter thinking it’s a deer. So why not wear white, yellow or something like that so they can be seen?”
Over a thousand migrants are projected to cross daily from Piedras Negras, Mexico, into Eagle Pass, Texas.
The area is part of the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector, and in July it surpassed all other sectors in the Southwest for migrant encounters.
Encounter numbers for August are expected to be released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection any day and the region is once again expected to lead the nation.
But now compounding the situation in Eagle Pass is open hunting season.
Dove hunting began on Wednesday, and it’s open season on javelina. Quail season begins in October when youth hunters also may begin stalking white-tailed deer and turkey, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Brooks County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez told Border Report that hunters in his South Texas county are warned when they apply for hunting licenses to watch out for migrants.
“We have gotten calls from hunters that they’ve seen large groups of migrants crossing,” Martinez said Friday. “Most of the groups wear black.”
In New Mexico last month, Border Patrol agents even found three migrants camouflaged in ghillie suits to try to avoid detection.
Martinez’s jurisdiction is in rural and desolate terrain where migrants often get lost in the brush. It also is an active area for hunting, and there are many game ranches that cater to out-of-town hunters.
So far this year, there have been about 78 migrant deaths in Brooks County, Martinez said Friday. None was hunting-related, he said.
“The hunters who come into Brooks County are warned to be careful before they shoot because there are pedestrians, so to speak, walking by,” Martinez said. “And they need to take extra precautions.”
Black-camouflaged water jugs and black bags are among items found in debris left by migrants on July 14, 2022, in Brooks County, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photos)
Eddie Canales, who runs the South Texas Human Rights Center, a nonprofit that assists families of lost migrants and for retrieval of remains, says he believes that many migrants are aware of the hunter dangers. And that’s why they select to cross in the triple-digit summer heat before fall hunting begins.
“There are less numbers of people coming through during hunting season because the early morning hours is when hunters are out and also around dusk,” Canales said.
Those are the peak times for migrant crossings into South Texas, especially around 7 a.m. when Border Patrol agents change shifts and smugglers, or coyotes, try to take advantage of reduced manpower and move migrants across the border.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com