Outdoors

 The latest report that I’ve received concerning the drought in the Texas Hill Country has been spotty, at best. The ranches that are in similar areas have different reports, at times. What seems to be the difference is that the ranches may be only a few miles apart and one has gotten a little rain while the other hasn’t. There is also the element of natural creeks or rivers and the presence of water tanks that are not dried up. No matter whether a ranch contains all of the water positives or none of them, it is super dry in the Hill Country.

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It’s been a long hot summer and it’s not nearly over yet, but hunting is on the horizon and Sept. 1 is the opener on doves, with teal up shortly after that. And before you know, it we’ll be getting up at 4 a.m. to make a duck hunt. With that in mind, it’s time to think about how the statewide Texas drought is going to impact duck hunts.

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Tarpon fishing along much of the Gulf Coast usually comes to life in June and gets better as we head in the hot months of August and September. Many are caught in October, or until the cool fronts begin to chill the water. In fact, the Texas state record tarpon was caught on Oct 4, 2006.

So where is the best place to fish for tarpon along the Gulf Coast? Based on personnel experience, you can’t go wrong out of Venice, La. Along the Texas coast, tarpon fishing can be pretty darned good from the Sabine jetties and on down the coast around Port O’Connor.

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I was discussing the upcoming archery deer season with Gary Cox, owner of Trophy Hunter’s Archery in Lumberton last week. Cox indicated that each year more and more folks were becoming involved in not only the deer hunting, but also all sorts of other hunting offerings. Feral hogs have become really a top-notch challenge for archers. There is an overabundance of the feral pigs, and archers are chomping at the bit to go after them.

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August is right here upon us, and that is normally the month when all sorts of outdoor activity is either happening or right around the corner.

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I have not abandoned writing about freshwater fishing. Normally by mid-summer, the saltwater action has taken precedence. That doesn’t mean that the sweetwater action has ceased. According to Rayburn professional guide Will Kirkpatrick, the topwater action is really good. The secret is to be on the water when first light appears in the east.

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The bass fishing club that I belong to is not looking too good. A few days ago I went out to check on the water level and had to blink a couple of times to believe my eyes. The boat shed was almost high and dry, and there was nothing under the hull but dried mud. On one of the nearby trees, there were several buzzards surveying the scene and feeding on dead carp. An alligator was laid up in the reeds with only its toothy snout showing. Fishing on that particular lake has been sucked dry by the continuing drought.

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As we open the month of July, keep in mind that the booklets for lottery hunts are about due. I contacted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin and was told the Special Drawing and Regular Permit Hunting Opportunities booklets would be in Austin either the last week of June or the first week of July. If you entered the drawings last year, a book will be sent to you. Otherwise they should be available at the local TPWD on Eastex Freeway in Beaumont.

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I know we’re only into the first official week of summer amid triple-digit temperatures, but believe it or not now is a good time to plug into this year’s deer and duck hunting adventures. A little forward planning often goes a long way when opening day finally dawns.

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There has been much concern about the drought and our fish and wildlife. Sure we will get some showers and even possibly some heavy rains, but it will take several days of that to break the dry spell. Since there were so many folks concerned, I went to the most knowledgeable resource of information that I’m familiar with.

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