Outdoors Digest

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Calendar

Through Dec. 14 – Oklahoma woodcock season.

Through Dec. 29 – Oklahoma dove season second split.

Through Jan. 2 – Texas North Zone general whitetail season.

Through Jan. 2 – General whitetail season in Grayson and Collin Counties with the means and method of take restricted to lawful archery and crossbow gear.

Through Jan. 15 – Oklahoma archery deer season.

Through Jan. 16 – Texas South Zone general whitetail season.

Through Feb. 15 – Oklahoma quail season.

Through Feb. 27 – Texas quail hunting season.

Dec. 3-5 – Segment C archery deer hunt at Hagerman NWR.

Dec. 4-Jan. 30 – Texas North Zone duck season second split.

Dec. 4-Jan. 30 – Oklahoma Zone 2 duck season second split.

Dec. 14 – TPWD trout stocking at Pottsboro Lake.

Notes

As Oklahoma’s gun deer season winds down towards its Sunday, Dec. 5 conclusion this weekend, the agency continues to urge hunters, that as regulations allow, to follow ODWC’s deer management slogan in recent years. That slogan is simply “Hunters in the know, take a doe!” According to ODWC, last year, hunters answered the Wildlife Department's call to help manage the well-being of the state’s white-tailed deer populations by doing just that, increasing their harvest of antlerless deer. The agency notes that for the Sooner State’s deer harvest last year, some 43-percent were antlerless deer, which marks the greatest percentage of antlerless harvest since 2010….ODWC also notes that last year’s antlerless harvest marked the first time since 2015 that the Sooner State’s antlerless deer harvest met the state’s goal of 40 to 45-percent set by ODWC biologists…Why consider taking a doe as regulations allow? Because the agency says that in addition to a freezer full of delicious and healthy game meat, there are other reasons to harvest a doe than just a cooler full of venison. For one example, ODWC says that doe harvest plays a critical role in improving the overall health of the state's deer herd and buck quality… Adequate doe harvest also gives additional nutrients for the state’s whitetail herd, which can mean healthier deer, better trophy buck prospects, and a more balanced buck-to-doe ratio. The latter can lead to a more condensed rut period, which means that bucks will spent less time traveling and fighting. That can help with an even fawn drop, which makes it more difficult for predators to keep up with the numbers available…And finally, taking enough does can help produce less late-born fawns. ODWC says that late born fawns, specifically buck fawns, are at high risk to suffer from developmental challenges which can take late-born fawn bucks three years to recover…So again, in the Sooner State, “Hunters in the kno, take a doe!”…

Hunting Reports

It’s been a week of more big buck action, including at least two really good bucks taken here in Grayson County. From a look at the photos, one could be a B&C caliber typical while the other is a sizable Pope & Young non-typical…There has been another good run on big bucks out in northwestern North Texas and south-central Oklahoma on properties hunted by clients of Dakota Stowers and North Texas Outfitters. Several bucks will score very well in the Texas Big Game Awards Program or the Cy Curtis Program, depending on which side of the Red River the bucks were tagged on…The first split of the 2021-22 duck season came to a close on both sides of the Red River last weekend. As the second split gets ready to reopen up this weekend and run from Dec. 4 through Jan. 30 in both North Texas and Oklahoma’s Zone 2, ducks aren’t plentiful in the area because of the mild weather gripping the Great Plains during this La Nina fueled winter season…

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma,  water is lightly stained; water temp is 57 degrees; and the lake is 1.41 feet low. TPWD says that the fishing is similar to what was experienced last month as local anglers enter the month of December. Their report from John Blasingame of Adventure Texoma Outdoors says that striped bass continue to be good all over the lake, with bird action leading the way to the fish. Limits are coming in around 1-10 feet of water for striper anglers who are using slabs. When the wind gets up, try casting Alabama rigs and/or swimbaits…On the Oklahoma side of Texoma, ODWC reports that striped bass are good on Flukes, live shad and Sassy Shad fished along creek channels, coves, in the main lake, and around points. Blue, channel and flathead catfish are fair on chicken liver, cut bait, dough bait, hot dogs, live shad, punch bait and sunfish. ODWC says to fish those whiskerfish baits along creek channels, coves, docks, points, and the river channel…At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 51st Bassmaster Classic this past summer, water is lightly stained; water temp is 60 degrees; and the lake is 0.58 feet low. TPWD says that white bass, or sand bass as many call them, are moving quickly in 20-28 feet of water on main lake points. Sandies are biting on one-ounce silver and chartreuse slabs, with anglers having better luck on smaller slabs because the smaller size is most similar to what the fish are feeding on. Largemouth bass are also possible on jerkbaits, jigs with soft plastic trailers, crankbaits, and even Alabama-rigs. Crappie are good on main lake brush piles in 20-30 feet of water on minnows, with bigger fish still being caught in the Buck Creek area in the standing timber around 20 foot depths. When you get there, to find the slabs, suspend your bait in the 10-12 foot zone…At Lake Fork, water is lightly stained; water temp is 62-64 degrees; and the lake is 2.86 feet low. Guides Jason Hoffman and Marc Mitchell indicate that largemouth bass are good on Viper jigs in 4-6 feet of water when fished along creek bends and drop-offs. There is also success with Carolina-rigs in 7-10 feet of water around ditches and creeks. Crankbaits are also good at midday on points and humps in 3-6 feet of water…At the Blue River near Tishomingo, Okla., ODWC reports that the river elevation is below normal, water temp is 58 degrees, and the water is running clear. Rainbow trout are good on in-line spinnerbaits like those made by Mepps, on PowerBait, and small spoons. For fly angling success, fish nymphs or midges along channel seams and near the rocks…Down on the saltwater, at the Bolivar Peninsula on the Upper Texas Coast, TPWD says that there are many reports of bull redfish, smaller redfish, and jackfish being caught to the east of Galveston. Most catches are coming with live finger mullet, fresh cut bait, or squid…At Port Aransas on the Middle Coast, Capt. Doug Stanford of Pirates of the Bay Fishing Charters says that bull reds are in the jetties and are biting on cut menhaden, cut mullet and cut sand trout. Black drum are biting on free-lined shrimp while sheepsheads are good on live shrimp…And finally, on the Lower Coast at South Padre Island, Captain Lou Austin reports that the fishing at SPI was great over the Thanksgiving weekend despite the inclement weather in the area. Water temperatures dropped off and most of the trout and redfish followed suite, dropping deep into the Intracoastal Waterway from marker 38 to the mouth of the Arroyo. Austin says that as the weather warms back up, look for fish to migrate to the Gas Well Flats…

Tip of the Week

Looking for a unique Christmas gift for someone on your list who really loves the great outdoors in the Lone Star State? Then consider a gift from the new Texas State Park Online Store. The store, which is found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s reservation website, features the official 2021 Texas State Park ornament, plus ornaments from previous years, magnets, hiking stick medallions, stickers and much more. According to TPWD, for 20 years now, the annual state park Christmas ornament has featured some of the most recognizable Texas State Parks landscapes from around the Lone Star State. The metal ornament features photo-quality artwork in stunning color with rich, laser-etched textures and detail. This year, TPWD says that the ornament features a longhorn from the official state longhorn herd at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. The annual Christmas ornament can be purchased exclusively online for $19.95 each, with free shipping. Purchase by Thursday, Dec. 10 for likely arrival before Christmas. TPWD says that taxes will be applied at check out. To purchase one of the ornaments, visit https://texasstateparks.reserveamerica.com/posProductDetails.do?id=186667&contractCode=TX&_ga=2.134859569.178505451.1638423539-155824077.1584011076 .