Outdoors

Searching for the perfect saltwater fishing boat can be downright confusing. The top two questions center on two problems. First, do you want to have a boat with shallow running capabilities? Second, are you in the market for a boat that will fish two to four fishermen comfortably on the open bays, in the surf and at the jetties?

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The South Texas whitetail deer season will close on Jan. 15. There are 30 Texas counties that are affected by the season closing. After that, the spike and antlerless season will continue in 209 North Texas counties. The antlerless and spike season will be from Jan. 16 through 29 in 30 South Texas counties.

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“Committing to a healthier lifestyle continues to be one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions for millions of Americans,” said Bryan Frazier with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “And this year, Texas State Parks are providing more than 40 places where folks can do just that—many of which are located close to major metro areas.”

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Where the outdoors is concerned, 2011 has really been an unusual year. Even back into latter 2010, there was a definite shortage of rainfall. That situation has continued until even now. Sure, we have enjoyed some good showers in Southeast Texas, but the big lakes are all still at a very low level. But all in all, there have been many more positive things that have taken place than negative ones.

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Just before the duck season began, I talked with Jim Sutherlin, Upper Coast Wetland Ecosystem project leader, at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Port Arthur. Thanks to the drought, he wasn’t too sure how good the public duck hunts were going to be at this Southeast Texas hotspot. His thinking was that the ducks would get here but leave in short order due to an acute lack of food. Come to find out, big time numbers of birds are here, and duck hunts at the J.D.

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With the cold fronts beginning to reach our area in greater numbers, the waters in our inland lakes and bays have cooled. The hoards of baitfish and shrimp that the north winds push from the marshes and bayous have mostly all gone out by now. With that situation, the anglers that are knowledgeable about fishing the cold water will be exposed to some really big fish. Speckled trout and redfish are the more available varieties, but the flat fish do show up from time to time.

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We easily had over a thousand geese circling the decoys Sunday morning, Dec. 11, and there was no doubt that they we’re coming on down, so it was no surprise when guide Evan Botsford, yelled for us to shoot ‘em.

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I don’t know if it’s possible to have a better duck season than what we have experienced so far. The first split came to a close on Nov. 27, and based on what I’ve seen and heard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was dead on when they advised duck hunters to get set for a better than average season. The second half will run from Dec. 10 through Jan. 29 in both the north and south zones.

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it seems as though most folks around our area fared well. Certainly there are exceptions to that, but for the most part things locally in the outdoors are good. Even with the drought curtailing food growth for the deer, they continue to feed mostly at night. That has been the case, in my experience, no mater the moon phase. Even so, there have been some really fine bucks taken in East Texas, which is nothing unusual. Their body condition is not as good because of the drought, but all in all they are not in bad shape.

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As we are getting into the Thanksgiving mood and then comes Christmas, most of the outdoor folks are deeply involved in hunting. There are many seasons now open, with the majority of the hunting being either waterfowl or deer. But we are now also into some of the better inland saltwater fishing action of the year.

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