Open Carry March Madness During Texas Spring Break

Getting off the beaten path is one of the reasons why we love this lifestyle so much. Not a day goes by when we don’t feel gratitude that we can roam far from civilization and still earn a living in places like this:

boondocking, free camping, Texas

The natural areas where we set down temporary roots don’t see a lot of traffic for most of the year. Wherever we look, it’s apparent that we are the invasive species.

free camping, boondocking, Texas

However there comes a time every March when the weather gets nice and there’s just no way to escape the throngs of happy families headed out on vacation and cramming into places like Big Bend National Park. It’s the other version of March Madness: Spring Break.

free camping, boondocking, Texas

Even down along the Rio Grande (you know, where Trump thinks he’s going to build a wall) we had company. And this time the neighborhood got quite interesting.

In one state park campground, we met a guy who was camping with about seven of his own young kids. As he spoke to us with his mini-bus door wide open, we could clearly see he was carrying a pistol underneath the driver’s seat.

Texas, boondocking, free camping

But oh, it got better later on. After relocating to another area near Big Bend National Park, our only neighbor apparently also decided to take advantage of the new Texas Open Carry Law.

After he showed up, we heard “Pop! Pop! Pop!” and a lot of ricochet noise happening outside our rig. We looked out to see our only neighbor, showing his kids the fine art of being a redneck moron. He was shooting at a target just about 20 feet away from the campground perimeter and 40 feet from our front door. Close enough to freak out our dog Wyatt and cause us to flinch whenever we heard a bullet ricochet.

Edited to clarify: He had been partying with friends and yes, he was shooting (and allowing minors to shoot) from his spot inside the campground. He was standing in his campsite, shooting out toward the target—expressly indicated as a Prohibited Act, according to the WMA Rules…


In our nine years of full-time RVing, we’ve never seen such a reckless act of idiocy by a fellow camper.

Black Gap WMA Texas Spring Cacti

Even though we were out of cell range, our RV Datasat system gave us the ability to use our Voice Over Internet Protocol to make a phone call. “Call the sheriff!” I said to Jim.

And tell them what?” he said. “Call a Texas sheriff and say that there’s a guy shooting a target at a campground in Black Gap? Right. They’ll laugh their assess off.

Unfortunately I had to agree. After all, we’re in Texas. So we put up with the “Pop! Pop! Pop!” until nightfall, when the idiot had the good sense not to shoot in the dark.

If you saw a campground shooter, what would YOU do?


16 thoughts on “Open Carry March Madness During Texas Spring Break”

  1. Obviously, what the guy was doing was wrong and in violation of the law. What I don’t understand is why you were trying to tie it to the open carry law. It had nothing do with the new open carry law. I’m afraid your title and comments regarding Texas and the open carry law made this a political post instead of just pointing out someone violating the law.

    • Well, based on how many more people we’ve seen lately who are displaying/using guns in Texas, I think it has everything to do with the law’s recent passing. Is it a political post? Maybe. Obviously you know where I stand. But hey isn’t that the great thing about this country? The freedom to say what we want? And it is my blog after all.

      • You are absolutely right… is your blog. We are just used to you being a little more accurate with facts in your blog. Hopefully you already know this but Open Carry applies to handguns and, you can only Open Carry under the new law if you already possess a Concealed Weapons permit.

        Just thought that the comments about Open Carry obscured the real point that the guy shooting in the campground was wrong and illegal.

        • Thanks Colleen, totally see your point and appreciate your clarification of the law. We appreciate your reading, sometimes we’re never sure if people really do come here to read our blog!

  2. I find it most interesting that, on one hand you seemingly lament the fact that “we” are an invasive species. A few sentences later you then apparently mock the notion of a wall separating the legitimate (and lawful) borders of two countries.
    I, for one, believe people crossing international borders by any other than the legally prescribed method (anywhere, and anyone, not just those crossing at the Rio Grande) to be committing an invasive act. Apparently, you do not subscribe to this notion, but at the same time you believe that a human in a desert region of his native country is “invasive.”
    Interesting and totally incongruent.
    As far as the gun toters go, I would agree with you that they were out of line. I also believe it to be reasonable that they should suffer some form of punishment for their illegal actions.
    However, I do find your utilizing the term “redneck moron” completely uncalled for, divisive and intolerant.

    • When I wrote this post I was simply thinking about the invasive plant species we noticed in the area, not people or border politics.

      But since you aim to turn this into a political rant, I’ll indulge you. Let’s begin with the simple fact that America itself was an “invasive species” back in 1846 when it chose to declare war on Mexico. Imagine! Call me crazy but building a wall along a border we once violated seems totally “incongruent” to me.

      As for “redneck moron,” why is it that Jeff Foxworthy can say a similar phrase and get paid (and laughs) for it?

      Turn off Fox News, Peter. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

      • Ho hum. Yet another personal attack from a liberal thinker. Your Fox News reference and the insulting of one’s intelligence, is so predictable, but sadly, not surprising..

  3. Akecheta needs to re-read your post.

    Even here in Texas it is illegal for the 1st camper to have a pistol under the seat, plainly visible, within easy reach of about 7 children. Open carry laws do not give anyone the right to break the laws protecting children.
    Responsible gun owners HATE idiots that endanger others.

    The 2nd camper – it is a miracle no one was hurt. Have you ever had any gun safety courses? Do you think practicing your target shooting in that manner is teaching respect and safety awareness to anyone?

    Akecheta, you are wrong. West Texas is for everyone with a desire to enjoy all its natural beauty. There is no room for those that mix unsecured firearms, children, alcohol, and law breaking.

  4. I am 100% for our American right to keep and bear arms but if that guy is so stupidity he should have had his guns confiscated. I do not know how an adult can think that it is OK to drink and drive or use a gun. I am sorry you had to put up with that it must have been very stressful.

  5. wow! aren’t there any rules about distance from campground?? What about random hikers safety?? Sorry you had to deal with that & thanks for the heads up..I don’t know how I would have handled it (being a New Yorker I would have no doubt pissed off a Texan though!)

    • Yes, there are gun rules clearly specified in the Texas Parks & Wildlife website. This is a big hunting area, but rules still don’t allow campers to carry a loaded weapon or shoot inside an established campground. Had we been boondocking in a dispersed camping area, that would have been totally different. Dumb, but different.

  6. Oh, my! Was he shooting towards your campsite? Was he drinking? Target practice doesn’t make one a “campground shooter”—Now, if someone HAD come in to the campground with the intent to harm it is a different story. At that point I would think you would want a responsible gun owner in the immediate area, after all, where you were the Sheriff is at least an hour away.
    I think it was great that a father was showing his kids how to handle guns safely. I suggest you research what the open carry law actually refers to and means. As long as shooting was not prohibited in the area, this man seems to be completely responsible.
    If just seeing a gun freaks you out I’d suggest you do more camping in Connecticut or Massachusetts. West Texas isn’t going to make you happy.

    • Perhaps I should have been more specific in my post. To answer your question:

      1) yes, he was drinking.
      2) yes, there are rules saying no carrying OR shooting IN the campground.

      We too think it’s great when a parent shows a kid how to handle guns responsibly. My own dad did the same for me. However, that was not the case. This man was shooting in the campground, standing in front of his picnic table, shooting at a target while bullets ricocheted around us and his campsite. That’s as dumb as it gets.

      I’ve been a gun owner in the past, and I know what responsible behavior looks like. This was not it. We love West Texas and have friends there who agreed, the guy was being a moron. Sadly, it’s behavior that’s tolerated in these parts and as temporary residents of the area, we had to suck it up and hope we didn’t get hit.

    • >> I think it was great that a father was showing his kids how to handle guns safely.

      I am all for that too akecheta! But the point is, this family was not being safe, and they were teaching their kids how to illegally discharge firearms within a designated campground, when there is hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife less than a mile away. (See the WMA Rules we’ve added above indicating this Prohibited Act.)


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