Hunters are also told to be aware that humans may be out of range
EAGLE PASS, Texas (Border Report) — The dove hunting season has begun in south Texas, and law enforcement is warning migrants arriving from Mexico and hunters to watch out for one another to avoid accidental gunshots.
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber recently sat down with Border Report in his Eagle Pass office, urging migrants to wear a color other than black so they can be seen by hunters in the field and in heavy bush.
“I don’t know why, but all the immigrants who come here wear black,” says Schmerber, 70. “Now it’s getting very dangerous because we’ve started the hunting season. People come and shoot deer and whatnot, so I hope they realize that there is a danger, not just of drowning or dying on the farms, but of being accidentally shot by a hunter who thinks it is a deer. So why not wear white, yellow or something so they can be seen?”
Over a thousand migrants are expected to cross daily from Piedras Negras, Mexico to Eagle Pass, Texas.
The area is part of the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector and surpassed all other sectors in the Southwest for encounters with migrants in July.
Encountering numbers for August are expected to be released each day by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the region is expected to lead the nation again.
But now what makes the situation worse in Eagle Pass is the open hunting season.
The pigeon hunt started on Wednesday and it’s open season on Javelina. Quail season kicks off in October, when young hunters can also hunt 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 if they apply for a hunting license to watch migrants.
“We received calls from hunters that they saw large groups of migrants crossing,” Martinez said on Friday. “Most groups wear black.”
Last month, border patrol agents in New Mexico even found three migrants disguised in ghillie suits to avoid detection.
Martinez’s jurisdiction is in rural and desolate terrain, where migrants often get lost in the undergrowth. It’s also an active hunting area, and there are many game farms catering to out-of-town hunters.
There have been about 78 migrant deaths in Brooks County so far this year, Martinez said Friday. None had anything to do with the hunt, he said.
“Hunters coming into Brooks County are warned to be careful before shooting because pedestrians are walking by, so to speak,” Martinez said. “And they need to take extra precautions.”
Black camouflaged water jugs and black bags are among items left behind by migrants in Brooks County, Texas, on July 14, 2022. (Photos by Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File)
Eddie Canales, who runs the South Texas Human Rights Center, a nonprofit that helps families of lost migrants and the recovery of remains, believes many migrants are aware of the dangers of hunters. And that’s why they prefer to cross in the triple-digit summer heat before the fall hunt begins.
“During the hunting season, fewer people come through because the hunters are out early in the morning and also at dusk,” Canales said.
These are the peak times for migrant crossings into South Texas, especially around 7 a.m. when border patrol agents change shifts and smugglers or coyotestry to take advantage of the reduced labor force and get migrants across the border.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com