The reports are starting to trickle in. Not a lot of them, not the real big ones, but some crappie are being caught.
On the warmer days, some of the knowledgeable crappie anglers are beginning to pick up a few fish, especially on Percy Priest.
During the 20-year period when I was running or helping to run whitetail guide services, a great deal of my time was spent scouting.
Post season, spring, summer and pre-season. I was in the woods looking, learning, making notes. As many as 70-days a year were spent in scouting.
What an educational period that was.
Too cold and nasty to go fishing. Hunting season closed for anything I care to hunt.
Perfect day to just consider stuff over which I have no control and in many cases, little interest. Truth is, most of it confuses me.
I get a second chance at Christmas. When the one here is over, I go to White Oak Plantation for a second one.
We gather every year, the Pitman family and a couple adopted members like me to share three or four days of hunting, fishing, storytelling and just, kicking back with friends.
Always, the weather dictates what we do most.
This is a special column for me.
This column marks 40 continuous years of writing an outdoor column in Wilson County. I asked Lisa Snuggs, executive director of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) to do some research for me. As far as she could determine and the best we could tell, this is the longest continuously running outdoor column in the United States and maybe in the world.
Providing I survive another Christmas with the G-kids, I'll be leaving early Sunday morning. It is once again time for the Christmas gathering at White Oak Plantation, in AL. Just a few years ago, the lodge would be full of the Pitman family and a scattering of paying hunters.
Sometimes, I wish I was hi-tech. There are so many toys for outdoorsman that are super hi-tech and would make nice Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, hi-tech and I don't mix well. I still have no idea how you "share" on Facebook.
Hey, it is the season to be eatin, right? Just past Thanksgiving and quickly approaching Christmas, food is important.
It is around this time of year, as a boy and young adult, we would make excuses to go to the hunting camp and do some cookin and eatin. (Actually, we did it year-round.)
I got an email last week, like I get just about every year.
Guy has shot a deer, can't find it, could I help.
Unfortunately, not every deer that is shot, is recovered.
I was early. Early for me.
By the time I got my safety harness hooked up and settled in the ladder stand, it should have been near dawn. It wasn't quite there. In fact, it was still black dark. I could still see a piece of moon. Looked like maybe God had clipped his finger nails and one of the clippings was hanging in the sky, maybe flicking the stars around a little.
Our rifle season opens this Saturday. You know all that.
You know the limit is three does per day and no more than two bucks for the entire season. You know you have to have the right license and wear a minimum of 500-square inches of blaze orange on your head and upper body.
Was the sun ever going to get above the trees? I thought I was properly dressed. I broke a light sweat walking in.
But now, after 45 minutes sitting in the stand, I was chilly. My fingers were cold and I could have used one more layer on my legs.
My favorite big buck season is about to begin. When the TWRA set the muzzleloader season in early November, before the rifle season, I became a happy camper and had I known how, I would have done my happy dance. It is possible, I did it anyway.
I like shooting a front-stuffer, always have. My first one was a kit gun and was a genuine piece of recycled hay. I never knew where it would shoot or if it even would shoot.
When I first met Judge Bob Hamilton (ret.), he was an up and coming lawyer with a penchant for reloading rifle bullets and running good bird dogs. We hunted quail together and he reloaded some Nosler Partition bullets for my deer rifle. They shot great and now and then, we killed a few quail.
He stretched hugely, The Old Man, scratching a chigger bite on his left ankle with the nail of his right big toe.
He had scratched chigger bites that way for over 60-years. He stretched again, making the springs on the cot twang and his bad back, pop comfortably. He liked the sound.
Each year, as deer season progresses, hunters argue about and discuss the TWRA management plan for Wilson County and surrounding areas. The management of whitetail deer is not complicated or even difficult. In this column, I'll simplify it even more.
The first step is always to set a goal. Then, outline a feasible plan. So, let me start with that.
Sixty-three degrees and on the wet side of damp. My 61st opening day of deer season.
Not many people ride a lawnmower to the woods. But I do. Not many people throw up out of their treestand. But I do. Not many people quit the woods, after only three hours on opening day, because they are bored. But I do.
Not long ago, there was a tremendous hue and cry because a lion was killed in Africa. Not much was said about hundreds of humans that are killed there every month or the fact that not long before that, a lion jumped in a car and killed a woman.
Also, it was not mentioned that the natives were delighted a lion was killed.
I felt this was an appropriate time to talk about ethics. Our archery deer season opens next Tuesday (Sept. 29) and many youngsters will be hunting for the first time. You might suggest they read this or better yet, read it to them. Then, maybe discuss it. Start them off right. JLS --
This column may have little relevance to most readers. For some reason I can't fathom, I have been almost compelled to write it for quite some time.
Step back about 60-years with me. See if you can see what I see.
Ground fog gathers in the low spots. Dew glistens and their feet leave trails. I adjust the focus on my binoculars and watch closely.
I know where they came into the field. What I want to know is where they will leave. I don't know why I bother, I have been hunting this same place for 15 years. I'm not going to change anything now.
For two weeks I counted my shotgun shells and made sure my 20-gauge, Winchester, single shot was clean. My game bag had the pockets neatly filled with shells-#7 shot. I did not sleep well.
The moon was so full, looked so close, I thought I could hit it with an arrow.
Maybe before I die, I'll try. Could be, it just looked close because I am at 10,650 feet on the side of a mountain. There is just a touch of frost.
I adjust the pack and slide the bow sling over my head. There is just a touch of frost and the aspens have started to turn.
It is not as it once was. Times have changed and I, reluctantly, have changed with them. Glasses help tired eyes, ladder stands replace fixed position or climbing stands and the requirement of being prepared to hunt with the bow is a totally different deal.
It has been a quite a while since I caught a limit of smallmouth bass out of Percy Priest. It use to be common. Back when the limit was 10 and there was no size limit, it was pretty easy. I did not keep a limit this year; you would have a heck of a limit with five smallmouth over 18-inches.
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