Outdoors

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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A number of years, ago I did a grim deer-hunting story on a man that went into the woods and didn’t come out alive. I got a call from a game warden about a guy that left his house one afternoon to go deer hunting at a local club he belonged to that was not far from his house in Jasper. The man packed up his gear and told his wife he would be home shortly after dark. When he didn’t return late that evening, his wife called the sheriff’s department, which in turn called a game warden.

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I’ve spent the better part of the past couple of weeks fishing on Sabine Lake. During that time, we’ve caught everything but the kitchen sink on a variety of lures from Wedgetail Mullets to Bayou Chubs made by Egret Baits. Without a doubt, the most consistent action has been chasing the birds. That’s where lots of anglers are taking specks, reds and some of the biggest sand trout I’ve ever seen.

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As one would suspect, the duck season opening weekend was a good one. Those that hunted spots with water and or food made quick work of limits. By far, teal were the most numerous birds that showed up on the stringers. There were also shovelars, pintail and widgeon also in fair numbers. Since the opening weekend, the last cool front pushed some gadwall and mallards into the area.

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Certainly we are on the edge of “D” day as this article is published, the D indicating the opening of both deer and duck seasons. Much time and expense has already been put forth just getting ready for these annual events. On the Friday before the deer season opener, our local major highways are packed to the gills with vehicles either carrying ATVs or pulling trailers with ATVs aboard. The deer hunters, being confident folks, will also be taking plenty of. The caravan reminds one of mass evacuation that we have witnessed before, except on a smaller scale.

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The first couple of weeks of November are two of the best you’ll experience on the right side of Texas. Deer and duck seasons are open, and fishing on Sabine Lake for trout and reds under the birds is red hot.

The entire month of November is prime time deer hunting in the Pineywoods. There is one reason why – bucks are in the rut and running does all over the place night and day. It’s not easy to get the jump on a mature buck, unless you hunt the rut.

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Just recently, I was kayaking on B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir near Jasper and couldn’t help but notice the number of tent and RV campers in the adjacent Martin Dies Jr. State Park. It was a cool Saturday morning and aside from folks cooking breakfast around their campsites, I saw hikers, bikers and lots of people on the water paddling rental canoes.

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