Family-owned business First Shot Outfitters processes deer a variety of ways offers premiere hunting Page 4 Page 5
Former coach, now 81, still enjoys his hunting
Do’s , don’ts of deer hunting, Page 2 W W W.YOU RGL E N RO SE T X .COM
Glen Rose Reporter
2 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
The do’s and don’ts of deer hunting season
By Ray Sasser Tribune News Service
Most of Texas’ estimated 700,000 white-tailed deer hunters will be afield when the traditional firearms season begins Saturday. They can expect an average season for antlers with average to above-average numbers of deer harvested, according to Alan Cain, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s whitetailed deer program leader. Cain bases his prediction on habitat conditions, which were good when 2017 began. About May, the weather pattern turned dry in most of the state. A buck’s antlers continue to grow through the summer. A dry summer does not produce the best antlers. “Dry conditions were not uniform across the state, and spotty rains left patches of green across the landscape in the western two-thirds of the state,” said Cain. There’s also an age gap in the deer herd because of the 2011 drought. Few fawns survived 2011. Those fawns would have been 6 years old, the age at which bucks tend to grow their best antlers. Most deer hunters don’t care that much about antlers anyway. Their goal is to enjoy deer camp and bring home some venison. Wild game is the original sustainable food. More than 664,000 Texas whitetailed deer were harvested in 2016. That’s 33 millionplus pounds of venison. Cain expects equal success, if not a little better, this year. Texas has more deer than any other state, and the population has crept up since the drought. Last year’s estimate was 4.3 million deer, the highest in 12 years, and Cain said there are similar numbers, if not more, this season. Here are some things to remember about deer hunting: TPWD is asking deer hunters in some counties to voluntarily submit harvested animals to a county wildlife biologist to be tested for chronic wasting disease. An unfrozen brain sample is needed for the test, which is done at no expense to the hunter. Details are at tpwd.texas.gov/cwd. Fill your doe tags as early in the season as possible. The more deer you remove from the range early, the more food is left for remaining animals. Does taken early in the season are in better condition, translating to better venison. Generally speaking, does are better eating anyway. Whitetails prefer the same weather as people — cool and still. They move less when the weather is hot or windy and during periods of extreme cold or rain. The internet’s long-range forecasts help you be in the field when bad weather breaks — when the rain stops, when hot weather turns cool, when the wind dies down or when the sun warms a bitterly cold stretch. Deer bed during inclement weather and get up to feed as soon as the weather breaks. They are most active early and late in the day. Carefully study the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Outdoor Annual (available where licenses are sold or at tpwd.texas.gov) to determine regulations on butchering a deer at camp and transporting a deer taken by another hunter. If in doubt about
White-tailed deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 4 throughout the state of the Texas.
any rule, call the nearest game warden and ask for an interpretation. Regional phone numbers are listed in the Outdoor Annual. Read general regulations as well as specific regulations for the county where you hunt. Rules differ in some counties. Bring plenty of ice chests to your deer hunt. Venison is only good if it’s handled properly. Do not load a deer in the back of a pickup on a hot day and drive hours to your local meat processor. If you don’t have a walk-in cooler where you hunt, most towns in popular hunting areas have locker plants where you can pay to hang the deer in a cooler. Otherwise, you should skin and quarter the animal and keep the meat chilled in ice chests. Rather than ice, which dampens the venison and promotes bacterial growth, freeze water in milk jugs or large soda bottles and use them to keep the meat cold. Big chunks of ice last longer than the same amount of crushed ice. If you have more venison than your family can eat,
consider donating deer to Hunters for the Hungry, a program that distributes ground venison to families or individuals in need throughout Texas. The hunter pays a minimal processing fee, about $45, to cover processing. A list of participating meat processors and other details are at feedingtexas.org/get-involved/ hunt/. Legal shooting hours for deer hunting are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. You can find precise sunrise and sunset times for wherever you hunt at the website sunrisesunset.com/usa/ texas.asp. A white-tailed deer’s first line of defense is its sense of smell. You can do two things to help defeat a deer’s nose. The most important thing is stay downwind of where you expect to see a deer. That means choosing your deer stand based on wind direction. If that’s not possible, at least spray yourself with one of the scentSEE SEASON, 19
Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
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4 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
Family-owned business processes deer a variety of ways By Autumn Owens
JT’s Deer Processing price list
Slightly hidden away just outside downtown Stephenville is a familyowned business that can take care of all your deer and other game processing needs. JT’s Deer Processing is owned by Jesse and Amanda Vann who inherited it from Jesse’s father after he passed. “This is our 12th year in business,” Amanda said. “It was actually (Jesse’s) dad’s business and he had done it for years and we grew up doing it with him and when his dad passed away we just kind of kept it going.” The business is located at 2931 E. Washington St. across from Hay & Feed Ranch and makes everything from sausage to jerky, burgers and cuts. “We offer pretty much any type of exotic large game — white-tailed deer, elk, mule deer, wild pigs — anything you can go hunting for like that and any type of processing,” Amanda said. “We can make jerky, deer snacks, breakfast sausage, chorizo, smoked link sausage, summer sausage and all kinds of good stuff.” People can bring their deer or other game up to JT’s and get whatever kind
Deer: • Straight cut (includes steak & hamburger) - $80 • Bacon wrapping backstrap - $10 per backstrap • Fajita slicing - $20 • Tenderizing - $10 • Stew meat - $10 • Chili meat - $5 • Jerky - $30 per pound • Deer snacks - $15 per pound • Bacon burger - $2 per pound • Breakfast sausage - $2 per pound • Chorizo - $3 per pound • Smoked sausage - $4 per pound • Summer sausage - $4 per pound Ice Chest Deer: • Parts of the deer weighed and charged at $1.50 per pound
PHOTO BY AUTUMN OWENS
Amanda and Jesse Vann are the owners of JT’s Deer Processing located at 2931 E. Washington St. in Stephenville.
of cut they would like. Orders are typically ready to pick up within two weeks unless getting a straight cut. “Generally they come in as a full animal, sometimes it doesn’t. Some
people who hunt out of town bring it to us quartered up in an ice chest, but they can receive the same services that the SEE PROCESSING, 10
Wild Pig: • Processed by weight after skinned - $1 per pound • Breakfast sausage - $1 per pound Exotic Large Game: • Processed by weight after skinned and field dressed - $1 per pound Field dressing - $30; Caping - $25
Information courtesy JT’s Deer Processing.
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Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
First Shot Outfitters offers premiere hunting Coleman County home to guided hunting business
Art Anderson shown here with other hunters, is a repeat customer for First Shot Outfitters based in Coleman County. He is among the many hunters who like to hunt quail on the acreages provided by the guided hunting business owned by Mike and Monica Wyatt. By Celinda Hawkins Runnels County Register
COLEMAN COUNTY When you are talking about guided hunts, those in the know have heard about First Shirt Outfitters — based in Coleman County. Mike and Monica Wyatt, are the husband and wife team who own and operate First Shot Outfitters and cater to all types of hunters — from corporate groups to individuals — and offer hunts from everything from quail to dove to turkeys and wild boar. Right now, they are gearing up for deer season. It’s go time for the Wyatts and they are right smack in the middle of their busiest time of year. Mike Wyatt said this is not a hobby either — this is their way of life. They provide hunts from Sept. 1 to the end of May each year. “We have already had some bow hunters in for deer,” Mike said. The Wyatts build the business by word of mouth — and they have done nothing but grow since 1999 when Mike’s
dream became a reality. Mike Wyatt, a 1989 graduate of Midland Lee High School, worked in the oil business after high school and would go on to own a pest control business which he sold and then started First Shot Outfitters. “I always wanted to do this,” he said. “I told my mom when I was in high school I wanted to do this.” And the rest as they say is history. First Shot Outfitters offers guided hunts to anyone who wants to come out, he said. “I have a lot of repeat business every year,” Mike explained.”Especially on quail.” They offer a variety of hunting packages every year and will cater to the hunters’ every need. First Shot Outfitters offers hunts on 600,000 acres of leased ranch land across the state. They are based in Coleman County where they have a hunting lodge in Santa Anna, which is on 160 acres on the backside of Santa Anna
Mike and Monica Wyatt are the owners of First Shot Outfitters, based in Coleman County, which offers guided hunts on a total of 600,000 acres of leased ranch property throughout the state.
Mountain. The San Angelo lodge is located on a working cattle ranch with 4,000 acres. Then there is the West Lodge on 20,000 acres in Sterling County. They are about to open a lodge in Coleman County, just in time for the opening of deer season Nov. 4. The Wyatts are known for having some of the finest dove
hunting experiences around with most of the hunts occur around Coleman, Bangs, Ballinger, Abilene and San Angelo in fields of sunflowers, milo and wheat where whitewinged and mourning doves flourish. But it was quail hunts that put them on the map. First Shot Outfitters in the beginning was best known for hav-
ing one of the best 100 percent wild, bobwhite quail and scaled “blue” quail hunting operations in the world, but hunters have since come to recognize it produces quality top-notch Texas hunts, Mike said. “Whether it be the excitement of a strutting and gobbling spring Rio Grande tom SEE WYATTS, 17
6 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
Former football coach, now 81, still loves his hunting By Mark Wilson Glen Rose Reporter
He no longer deals with X’s and O’s, but former high school football coach Bernie Hagins is still interested in points. Deer antler points, that is. Hagins has been a hunter since he was a child growing up in West Texas. Back then, he was focused on what was most readily available in that area — quail and dove. He began to notice that deer “started migration into West Texas” as he grew a little older. Now, at age 81, Hagins started focusing on deer hunting about 20 years ago. Each November, he travels to a private deer lease about 14 miles north of San Angelo. It covers about 250 acres, and includes some prize axis deer, Hagins said. The fenced-in lease is surrounded by other deer leases, and is relatively predator-free, Hagins said. “A fellow I coached with owns the lease. He lives in Midland,” said Hagins, who grew up in Jayton and graduated from Snyder High School. “He grew up in Bronte, and he was raised on that (lease) land. It was just me (using the lease) for a long time.” In recent years, another friend has been joining him during his hunting time.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED Bernie Hagins pictured with a buck he harvested.
“I like to be out by myself and just watch the deer come in a lot of the time,” Hagins said. “I just take my binoculars and not even shoot. I really enjoy it. There’s always something to do — fill up the feeders. If I see a good 10-point buck, I’ll shoot it. “I usually take one or two a year, and he (his former coaching friend) will take one or two.” Hagins said his favorite hunting rifle is his .270-caliber Remington, which was
given to him as a birthday gift by some friends. His wife went with him to the deer lease one time only to check out this sport called hunting, but it wasn’t for her. “She said she won’t be back,” said Hagins, who was drafted into the Army as a young man and served in Germany. Hagins and his wife, Lois, have lived in Somervell County since last November. They live on a 3-acre plot in a subdivision just south of Glen Rose. Hagins was head football coach at Ballinger for three seasons (1978-80) before now-legendary Highland Park coach Randy Allen coached there for five seasons. Hagins also had coaching stints at Diboll, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School, Lockhart, Coahoma and Midland High. As an assistant coach at Midland High, Hagins was a member of the coaching staff that was mentioned in the tense threeway coin flip scene made famous by the movie “Friday Night Lights.” Midland High lost the flip that was staged at a truck stop on Interstate 20, denying the team a spot in the 1988 Class 5A football playoffs. As an assistant, however, Hagins was not present to witness what became perhaps the most famous
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coin flip in Texas high school football history. Hagins said the hunting had to take a back seat to his work habits as a coach. He said he usually worked on football seven days a week before his retirement. “(Hunting) usually waited until the football season was over,” Hagins said. When Hagins does bag a deer, sometimes he donates the processed meat to places such as The Soup Kitchen in Midland. “I usually have it made into steaks,” he said. Hagins said he was friends with former Texas Tech University head football coach (1986-1999) Spike Dykes — getting to know each other first as football players and later as coaches. Dykes, who was raised in Ballinger, was highly popular for his good-natured personality and storytelling skills. Dykes died in April at age 79. “We played together at San Angelo Junior College, then at Stephen F. Austin,” Hagins said. “I was his assistant in Coahoma. Hagins said that one of his grandfathers was former Texas State Representative Joseph Hagins, and he was raised on his farm.
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Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
Brownwood’s Good Samaritan Ministries’ Deer Project in full swing Special to the Bulletin firstname.lastname@example.org
A reference to six donated deer and a small two-sentence “thank you” in the Good Samaritan Ministries’ quarterly newsletter. That’s how long-time Deer Project Committee Member Kirk Wall remembers the Deer Project taking hold on him.
“I usually just throw things like newsletters away,” Wall said, “but for some reason, I read this one.” On his way to work that day, Wall stopped in to visit at Good Samaritan Ministries and to inquire about the donated deer and the appreciation statement. Wall was told that some hunters had donated venison to the food pantry and GSM wanted to be sure to recognize that donation. “I thought that this (donating deer) might be something that could work,” Wall said. “I promised that by the next year, I would have a dozen deer for them.” The year was 2008. The Great Recession had taken hold on Texas. All Good Samaritan Ministries had for storing frozen items was three donated residential chest freezers. Asking people and businesses for extra funds for a freezer to store deer in such uncertain economic times just did not seem like a good idea. But Wall, with his friend Weldon Wilson and others, did just that. “Not one person turned us down,” Wall said. “Everybody we contacted for donations was excited to be part of this, and the money came in for the deer freezer.” Now in its ninth year, the Deer Project continues to successfully partner hunters, processors and donors together to provide lean protein for the families that are served each month in the Good Samaritan Ministries pantry. One of the most important partnerships over the years has been with the processors. The Deer Project processors for the 2017-18 season are Perks Processing in Brownwood, Santa Anna Custom Processing, M&M Processing in Zephyr, Lone Star Taxidermy and Wild Game Processing in Owens and the
newest processor Fulldraw Wildgame Processing in Rising Star. Heath Means, owner of M&M Processing, has been one of the processing partners since 2008. “It sounded like an interesting thing, something good for community and good for managing the deer population,” Means said. “Lots of people wouldn’t shoot the extra does or use those extra tags without some place to donate. The Deer Project helps get deer numbers at a manageable level.” Perk’s Processing owner Daniel Diaz has been a Deer Project processor since 2009. Diaz believes in the value of the program even though the cost of processing donated meat has cut into his bottom line. “The processors are truly doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,” Diaz said. “I’m an advocate for this because hunters, especially high fence ranches, have big, healthy deer that they want to donate.” Santa Anna processor Ty Cope began processing deer for Good Samaritan Ministries in 2013 because of his commitment to helping those less fortunate. “I like helping people,” Cope said. “I
know that the venison will get to the people that need it. Hunters come in to us and specifically say that they want to donate their deer to this project.” Ethan Jaggers recently purchased Lonestar Taxidermy and Wild Game Processing and decided to continue being a Deer Project processor like the previous owners had been. “I think being part of the Deer Project helps get our name out there,” Jaggers said. “I think the project is good for hunters who want to fill their tags. It manages the deer population and helps people in the county.” Jim Carpenter of Fulldraw Wild Game Processing in Rising Star joined the team of processors in October. Inspired by his involvement with Roughnecks and Rednecks, a non-profit organization who helps people in need, Carpenter did not mind that he had missed out on some of the early promotion for this year’s Deer Project. “Roughnecks and Rednecks fed over 9,000 people during the Hurricane Harvey relief effort,” Carpenter said. “We were so inspired and were looking for the next project we could help. The Deer Project seemed like the natural continu-
ation of trying to help the community.” Thanks to the commitment of these processors, it is simple for hunters to be part of the project. All a hunter has to do is take the legally harvested and tagged deer to one of these five processors and tell them that they want to donate it to the Deer Project. The processors then grind the meat into two-pound chubs. Staff and volunteers pick up the meat and bring it to the GSM freezers to be handed out with regular grocery staples each month. To encourage participation in the project, hunters can sign up to win a variety of prizes that will be given away through a drawing on Jan. 19. Full information about those prices can be found on the Good Samaritan website at www. goodsambwd.org. The highest poundage of donated deer, so far, came in 2015-16 when over 16,000 pounds was donated. Last year was a good year with more than 13,000 pounds donated. The Deer Project’s goal this year is to encourage hunters to donate at least 15,000 pounds. “I’ve seen God do amazing things,” Wall said. “I want to sit on the edge and see what He does next.”
THE HUNTING GUIDE | GAME REPORT
8 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
Trends for whitetails
eer harvests are down in many areas, and the latest data from QDMA’s Whitetail Report shows some states’ buck harvests have decreased by as much as 40 percent over the past decade.
The report notes one of the biggest issues facing hunters in the Midwest is a significantly reduced deer harvest. “Harvest declines of this magnitude are extremely noticeable by hunters, and state wildlife agencies are bearing the brunt of their frustrations. Unfortunately, communication between the agencies and hunters is not at a productive level in many states,” Kip Adams of QDMA said. “Even though I’m an optimist, I’m not naive to the current challenges and threats facing whitetails and our hunting brethren.”
‘COMPLEX PROBLEMS’ The report noted these whitetail trends dovetail with other problems facing the hunting industry, from hunter access and recruitment to retention issues. “These are complex problems, and private land access programs, mentored youth programs and adult apprentice hunting programs are steps toward solving them,” Adams said. “Other challenges are newer, like proposals to legalize the sale of venison and create commercial hunting licenses. This concept has been discussed in professional circles for the past few years, and the first legislative bill allowing this was proposed in 2014. The bill
failed last year, but it’s already back on the table in 2015.”
Southeastern and Midwestern states declined approximately 4 percent. The report points out 20 of 37 states (54 percent) in MORE DETAILS the Midwest, Northeast and The report notes the antlered Southeast shot fewer antlered buck harvest (those 1.5 years or bucks in 2013 than in 2012. older) in 2013-14 was steady in In total, the Midwest, the Northeast, though the over- Northeast and Southeast all buck harvest in regions tagged over 2.7 million
bucks. Texas led the charge ahead of every other state, harvesting 330,535 antlered bucks — more than half as many bucks killed in the entire Northeast.
BEST STATES TO HUNT The Whitetail Report found
Texas (330,535), Michigan (203,057), Wisconsin (143,738), Georgia (137,025) and Pennsylvania (134,280) at the top of the list. The top five for buck harvest per square mile, per the report: South Carolina (3.8), Michigan (3.6), Maryland (3.3), West Virginia (3.1) and Pennsylvania (3.0).
Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
Texas Brigades v1.5 & 2.0: My Journey Continues By Winston Lagergren Glen Rose High School Sophomore
Some background is needed to understand my journey. Texas Brigades is a leadership and team building camp with conservation at its core. It was started 25 years ago by Dr. Dale Rollins, whose objective was to educate youth 13-17 years about wildlife conservation and turn out young ambassadors for conservation. The first camp back then was the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade. Since then a total of eight summer camps have evolved in Texas. Those camps are two Bobwhite, two Buckskin, Waterfowl, Bass, Coastal and Ranch Brigades. In June of 2016 I attended the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade in Coleman County, then returned in June 2017 as an assistant covey leader. I also attended Texas Waterfowl Brigades in Tennessee Colony in July 2017. I had no idea how hard I would work, how much I would learn and how much fun I could have in five days of camp! Brigades has accelerated my interest to know more about wildlife and habitat. I’ve had opportunities that I would not have been able to take advantage of without having attended these camps. Birds! Switching gears from upland to waterfowl at Waterfowl Brigade Camp 2017. I found my passion for bird hunting and bird dogs in 2015 when I got to go on a dove hunt and then later that year two youth duck hunts sponsored by Delta Waterfowl. My first quail hunt was in February 2017 because of Texas Brigades. If you have a passion for hunting you have to have a passion for maintaining this long-term and passing the heritage on to the next generation. It is up to us to maintain, reclaim and support the needed habitat for these birds. Bird hunting is “about” so many different layers and textures and not just harvesting game. It’s about the dogs, the love of outdoors, camp fires, stories of the past, family, friends and so much more. In the past year in my journey to return as a leader at Bob White Brigades, I had to compete for 5 positions available that were sought by 80% of the cadets that had attended in the past. It is required that you spread the “word” about brigades and educate others on the need for well-planned conservation methods be deployed and then document this in your “Book of Accomplishments.” The structure of the Brigades is 4-5
ABOVE: Glen Rose High School sophomore Winston Lagergren is pictured with other members of the Waterfowl Brigade. BELOW: Glen Rose High School sophomore Winston Lagergren has taken part in several different aspects of the Texas Brigades.
new cadets in a Covey (Bobwhite) or a Flock (Waterfowl) with an assistant leader (a returning cadet) and an adult leader. Through the camp they work as a team in their studies and friendly competitions. The cadets study anatomy, embryology, entomology, plant ID, wetlands, habitat, flyways, duck ID. Activities include shotgun skeet & trap, duck calling, marching, decoy painting and team building games. They also learn about public speaking, debate, writing articles and working with radio and TV media. The first day we are all given a “Silver Bullet,” which is a famous saying. We are to memorize it and explain what it means to us as an individual. The brigade camp motto is “tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” So as cadets we got lots of hands on experience. For me this continued after Brigade camp. So many doors have been opened to me for opportunities I never imagined. In the past year, I have given 21 presentations to various groups, from SEE BRIGADES, 16
10 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
2017 Sunrise, Sunset (Brownwood-based)
CONTINUED FROM 4
other people can,” Amanda said. “They don’t even have to call. Once season starts we’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and past 8 p.m. we’re open for drop-offs.” JT’s busiest time of year is deer season and they get about 1,200 deer between November and January. “We are here the beginning of October all the way through February,” Amanda said. “We would love to hit 1,500 deer this year. Some people don’t know that we’re here so we’re trying to work on that.” Amanda and Jesse enjoy their business and have plans to expand in March 2018 to offer other cuts of meat for purchase. “I like all the cutting part, I like to cut up meat. I’ve done that almost my whole life,” Jesse said. “Our goal is to have a full meat market.” Amanda added, “We’ll offer pretty much anything, fresh grind, steaks, sirloin, ribeye, strips, chicken, pork chops.” They are also planning to build a smoke house to sell smoked meats. “We have a lot of our solid customers that say they wish we would do that,” Amanda said. “So we’re going to do it. We’re going to try to get through deer season first and then get all of it going before summer hits when people start to cook out.” The official deer season is from Nov. 4 - Jan. 7 with a bag limit of four deer. For more information on hunting restrictions visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website at tpwd.texas.gov.
• Friday, Nov. 3 7:52 a.m., 6:43 p.m. • Saturday, Nov. 4 (full moon) 7:53 a.m., 6:42 p.m. • Sunday, Nov. 5 6:54 a.m., 5:41 p.m. • Monday, Nov. 6 6:54 a.m., 5:41 p.m. • Tuesday, Nov. 7 6:55 a.m., 5:40 p.m. • Wednesday, Nov. 8 6:56 a.m., 5:39 p.m. • Thursday, Nov. 9 6:57 a.m., 5:38 p.m. • Friday, Nov. 10 (last qtr.) 6:58 a.m., 5:38 p.m. • Saturday, Nov. 11 6:59 a.m., 5:37 p.m. • Sunday, Nov. 12 7:00 a.m., 5:37 p.m. • Monday, Nov. 13 7:00 a.m., 5:36 p.m. • Tuesday, Nov. 14 7:01 a.m., 5:35 p.m. • Wednesday, Nov. 15 7:02 a.m., 5:35 p.m. • Thursday, Nov. 16 7:03 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Friday, Nov. 17 7:04 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Saturday, Nov. 18 (new moon) 7:05 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Sunday, Nov. 19 7:06 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Monday, Nov. 20 7:09 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Tuesday, Nov. 21 7:10 a.m., 5:33 p.m. • Wednesday, Nov. 22 7:11 a.m., 5:33 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 23 7:12 a.m., 5:33 p.m. • Friday, Nov. 24 7:13 a.m., 5:33 p.m. • Saturday, Nov. 25 7:13 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Sunday, Nov. 26 (1st qtr.) 7:14 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Monday, Nov. 27 7:15 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Tuesday, Nov. 28 7:16 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Wednesday, Nov. 29 7:17 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Thursday, Nov. 30 7:18 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Friday, Dec. 1 7:18 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Saturday, Dec. 2 7:19 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Sunday, Dec. 3 (full moon) 7:20 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Monday, Dec. 4 7:21 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Tuesday, Dec. 5 7:22 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Wednesday, Dec. 6 7:22 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Thursday, Dec. 7 7:23 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Friday, Dec. 8 7:24 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Saturday, Dec. 9 7:25 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Sunday, Dec. 10 (last qtr.) 7:25 a.m., 5:32 p.m. • Monday, Dec. 11 7:26 a.m., 5:33 p.m. • Tuesday, Dec. 12 7:27 a.m., 5:33 p.m.
• Wednesday, Dec. 13 7:27 a.m., 5:33 p.m. • Thursday, Dec. 14 7:28 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Friday, Dec. 15 7:28 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Saturday, Dec. 16 7:29 a.m., 5:34 p.m. • Sunday, Dec. 17 7:30 a.m., 5:35 p.m. • Monday, Dec. 18 (new moon) 7:30 a.m., 5:35 p.m. • Tuesday, Dec. 19 7:31 a.m., 5:36 p.m. • Wednesday, Dec. 20 7:31 a.m., 5:36 p.m. • Thursday, Dec. 21 7:32 a.m., 5:37 p.m. • Friday, Dec. 22 7:32 a.m., 5:37 p.m. • Saturday, Dec. 23 7:33 a.m., 5:38 p.m. • Sunday, Dec. 24 7:33 a.m., 5:38 p.m. • Monday, Dec. 25 7:33 a.m., 5:39 p.m. • Tuesday, Dec. 26 (1st qtr.) 7:34 a.m., 5:39 p.m. • Wednesday, Dec. 27 7:34 a.m., 5:40 p.m. • Thursday, Dec. 28 7:34 a.m., 5:41 p.m. • Friday, Dec. 29 7:35 a.m., 5:41 p.m. • Saturday, Dec. 30 7:35 a.m., 5:42 p.m. • Sunday, Dec. 31 7:35 a.m., 5:43 p.m.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
New rules for 2017-18 Texas Big Game Awards season San Antonio – Celebrating its 27th year, the Texas Big Game Awards (TBGA), a partnership of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), continues to be the leader in recognizing the contributions that landowners, land managers and responsible hunters make to managing and conserving wildlife and wildlife habitat on Texas’ private and public lands. To kick off the 2017-2018 hunting season, the TBGA has re-established the program’s objectives and modified entry requirements. The purpose of the TBGA is to make everyone aware of the important role ethical hunting and habitat management play in the lives of our young people, and to the ecosystem over which we must be responsible stewards. To do that, the TBGA’s objectives are to recognize: 1. The importance of our hunting heritage.
Division or First Big Game Harvest category entries, subject to all other TBGA Rules. About the Texas Big Game Awards:
2. The landowners who work to achieve healthy habitats. 3. The quality of big game animals in Texas. 4. The achievements of young and new hunters. 5. The hunters who harvest these animals. In an effort to re-focus on the TBGA’s objectives, the program will no longer accept “scored entries” from release
sites for five (5) years following the last release date. This will affect all properties with pen-raised, Trap/Transport/ Transplant (TTT), and/or Deer Management Permit (DMP) deer released after March 1, 2017. Also new for this season is the addition of the javelina to the Texas Slam award category. This does not affect those wanting to enter the Youth
Under the Texas Big Game Awards (TBGA) program, awards are given to all “Scored Entries” that meet minimum regional requirements, and there are no entry fees. Deadline to enter is a postmark date of March 1, 2018. Hunters who harvest a white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, javelina, or desert bighorn sheep this season meeting the minimum Boone and Crockett (B&C) net score requirements for their respective Region may be eligible to receive recognition in the “Scored Entry” category, as well as the landowner of the property from which the trophy was taken. Hunters of any age who harvest their first big game animal in Texas are eligible for
the “First Big Game Harvest” category. Hunters who harvest a white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, or pronghorn antelope are eligible whether they harvest a buck or doe, regardless of score of the animal in this category. And, any youth hunter (under 17 years of age when they purchase their hunting license) with a Special Resident Hunting License who harvests a white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, or pronghorn antelope is eligible for the “Youth Division,” whether they harvest a buck or doe, regardless of score. For more information on the Texas Big Game Awards, certified scorers list, entry rules and minimum scores are also featured on the TBGA website at www.TexasBigGameAwards. org. The website also features photos of entries, links to great TBGA Sponsors, and Trophy Search.
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HUNTING GUIDE | TURKEYS
12 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
Tactics and Decoys T
he right turkey decoy spread can mean the difference between a miss and a kill. While turkeys aren’t the smartest creatures, they will think twice about entering a spread that feels unconvincing. Creating an attractive spread requires proper prepa-
ration, research and the right decoys.
SETTING THE SCENE Know the “seasons.” A well-positioned jake over a laying hen is a very attractive position to real turkeys — in the first few weeks of the season. Paying attention to how turkeys, especially mature toms, react to this “lover’s position” will help you on your hunt. It is also good to recognize how real flocks behave, and set decoys accordingly. Turkeys tend to move togeth-
er in the same direction. When you set up your decoys, be sure to face them the same way. Be cognizant of how far you stake your decoys in the ground. Turkeys have short legs and understand how tall they are: Turkeys will spot a decoy immediately if your fake friend is too tall.
TURKEY DECOYS With decoys of any kind, it is well-known the more realistic it is, the better. Remember, the point is to dupe as many gobblers as possible. Form,
paint and pose all play an important role when choosing a turkey decoy. Consider adding the following models to your decoy collection:
Banded Laydown Hen Cost: $70 This decoy position is a staple in any decoy collection, and the GreenHead Gear model offers realistic features at an affordable price.
Jekyll & Hyde Cost: $100 Another GHG model, this
decoy does more than provide double visibility, it attracts all personalities — from reticent toms to more aggressive challengers.
MAD Spin-N-Strut Cost: $150 Don’t underestimate how important movement is when trying to dupe turkeys into range. This model by Flambeau Outdoors provides the hunter unparalleled control, with 90-degree rotation at the pull of a string and a fan tail that raises and lowers — with a 30-second setup time.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
Deer hunting has changed for the better
By Luke Clayton Outdoors Writer
As a youngster growing up in northeast Texas in the late ’50s and ’60s, I can remember the years when deer numbers were very low in our area and, throughout much of the state. Thanks to restocking programs and enlightened management practices, deer numbers rebounded quickly and with the increased hunting opportunities, many landowners discovered there were additional dollars to be made by leasing their properties to hunters. Today, we deer hunters are truly living in a time of plenty, both for numbers of deer and quality. I was reading a post on Facebook where a ranch owner was discussing the benefits of introducing good genetics into a deer herd and then properly managing the habitat. This gentleman is a deer breeder with a large tract of high fenced property where the herd is intensively managed. His post was immediately hammered by folks condemning the practice of building high fences to contain wildlife. The “low fence” proponents made statements such as “high genetic, deer stocked and bred inside a high fence aren’t “native” deer and hunting them is just not sporting. Others commented that the high fenced ranches are fencing “in” deer that belong to the people of Texas and thus taking away their opportunity to hunt them. While reading these posts, a smile came over my face as I wondered just what would happen if one of these 200 inch bucks escaped from a high fenced ranch and showed up at a corn feeder on an unmanaged piece of adjacent property. Did the writer of this post not understand that much of the deer herd in Texas can be traced back to “stocked” deer? Chances are pretty good the hunter on the tract adjacent the high fenced ranch would instantly know this buck wasn’t one of his “native” bucks but would he shoot the deer? I would bet dollars to donuts the answer would be a resounding YES! As a lifelong deer hunter and outdoors writer for almost three decades, I’ve had the opportunity to hunt deer extensively not only here in Texas but across the country and in Canada and Mexico. I’ve hunted low fenced ranches and high fenced operations. My conclusion about the “sporting” aspect of deer hunting has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the property is high fenced. It has everything to do with cover on the property and how the deer herd is managed. A good case in point is a hunt I enjoyed on a big low fenced ranch out on the
PHOTO COURTESY OF LUKE CLAYTON
This trail camera photo taken from one of Luke’s cameras near his home shows a couple of bucks still running in their “bachelor herd.” The buck in the front, although not fully mature, shows potential of becoming a “wall hanger.” The smaller buck in the rear, if given the opportunity could also bloom into a trophy in a few years.
western edge of the Edwards Plateau 20 plus years ago. The manager of the ranch invited me out to do a muzzleloader hunt and said I should have multiple opportunities to harvest a good buck. While driving around the many corn feeders/hunting blinds, he stopped and ran a group of deer from the feeder and ground the butt of his cigar into the soil near the feeder. “I don’t want my deer to be afraid of human scent.” It was obvious to me they were not! The deer trotted off into the scrub oak brush and I could see them watching us, obviously ready to return to the feeder the minute we drove off. I shot a good buck within 10 minutes of when the rancher dropped me off at my stand the next morning. I wasn’t complaining, I had spent hours on stand on previous hunts where I did not even see a deer, buck or doe. But even though this was a low fenced property, the real challenge of hunting had been diminished because of the way the native deer had been conditioned. My point here is that regardless if the property is high fenced of low fenced,
deer can be conditioned to interaction with man and when this occurs, some of the “wildness” that is hard wired into whitetail is removed. I have enjoyed many challenging hunts on both high fenced properties and low fenced, because I mostly hunt with a bow, these hunts are even more challenging. So, it matters little to me whether the ranch I am hunting is under a game proof fence or not. What does matter is the way the manager/ranch owner manages the deer on his or her land. Introducing good genetics, planting food plots and keeping high protein feed available insures the deer herd will achieve it maximum potential and these practices can take place regardless the height of the fence. Would I hunt deer if my only opportunities would be to shoot a goat horned spike on overgrazed property down in the Hill Country? You bet I would! I simply love hunting deer, processing and cooking the meat and everything else that goes with the hunt. But thank goodness we “modern day” deer hunters have options, and a lot of them. Deer hunting oppor-
tunities have never been better than they are today and I am in full support of the fellow that leases 125 acres in East Texas or the ranch owner that owns an 11,000 acre ranch in South Texas. This coming week, I am making plans to join a new friend, Alan Walker on his ranch, “Next Trip Whitetails,” up in Lamar County. Walker and his partner Jason Bolen’s ranch is high fenced and intensively managed. Although I’m sure there are some monster bucks on the place, my goal is to simply take a mature animal and when visiting with Walker, I stated that if there was a fork horn on the place with 24 inch main beams, that would be my buck! The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t kidding. At this stage of my deer hunting career, it’s all about killing a mature buck and I could care less if I’m hunt a high fenced or low fenced ranch, just as long as the deer are wild! Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or anytime online at www.catfishradio. com.
14 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
Carryover birds expected to bolster prospects for quail season By Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN — The 2016 Texas quail season served as a renaissance reminder of how good hunting can be when all the right elements converge. Specifically, weather and habitat aligned to create a “super boom” year for quail production that led to exceptional hunts the likes of which had not been seen in many years. Quail enthusiasts are hoping some of that magic will carry over this fall as the season began Saturday, Oct. 28. For that to happen, a sizable percentage of last year’s birds will have to carry over as well, according to wildlife biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, This year’s quail production, although not as robust as last year’s, is expected to be adequate to sustain populations in areas having suitable habitat. Heading into 2017, average amounts of late winter and spring rainfall set up sufficient nesting cover, winter forage and enough insects to trigger nesting. A lack of timely rainfall during the summer, however, may have hurt chick survival. “Portions of South Texas and the Rolling Plains regions were in moderate drought during mid-summer, which may have negatively impacted brood survival,” said Robert
Perez, quail program leader with TPWD. “Hunters will likely see more adult bobwhites in the bag compared to more productive years.” TPWD projections are based on annual statewide quail surveys that were initiated in 1978 to monitor quail populations. This index uses randomly selected, 20-mile roadside survey lines to determine annual quail population trends by ecological region. This trend information helps determine relative quail populations among the regions of Texas. Comparisons can be made between the mean (average) number of quail observed per route this year and the long term mean (LTM) for quail seen within an ecological region. The quail survey was not designed to predict relative abundance for any area smaller than the ecological region. A regional breakdown of this year’s TPWD quail index survey, including highlights and prospects, is available online. Quail hunting season runs through Feb. 25, 2018. The daily bag limit for quail is 15, with 45 in possession. Legal shooting hours for all non-migratory game birds are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The bag limit is the maximum number that may be killed during the legal shooting hours in one day.
Prospects extremely bright for waterfowl hunting season By Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN – All things considered, this year’s Texas waterfowl hunting season is looking pretty favorable, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Currently, and potentially surprisingly, we are looking pretty good regarding the upcoming waterfowl season,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD waterfowl program coordinator, “and that is really the entire state. Good rainfall late this summer and even more recently has conditions in the High Plains playas, Rolling Plains and Oak Prairies stock ponds and reservoirs, and even far eastern Texas habitats in better than average conditions.” The general duck hunting season resumes Nov. 3 through Jan. 28, 2018. In the South Zone, duck season runs Nov. 4-26 and resumes Dec. 9 through Jan. 20, 2018. Duck hunting in the North Zone opens Nov. 11-26 and resumes Dec. 2 through Jan. 28, 2018. Hunters are reminded that “dusky ducks” are off limits during the first five days of the season. Goose hunting also kicks off Nov. 4 statewide and runs through Jan. 28, 2018 in the East Zone and Feb. 4, 2018 in the West Zone. With the Texas gulf coast serving as winter home to 25 percent of the Central Flyway waterfowl population, habitat conditions in the wake of Hurricane Harvey were an obvious concern for waterfowl biologists. “The Texas coast obviously endured some extreme weather recently and we surprisingly saw decent early teal hunting in many places this past month,” Kraai noted.
“Habitat conditions are in fair to very good shape across much of the coast just a few weeks after the storm. Recovery of these habitats has been more rapid than many of us envisioned. Waterfowl foods are abundant and improving by the day.” Wintering waterfowl supplement their diet on second growth rice crops on the coastal prairies and fortunately, much of this year’s rice crop was harvested just before the storm. It, too, is recovering and starting its second growth, which will be very beneficial to wintering ducks and geese. Planted acres of rice have once again rebounded in the Lower Colorado River drainage now that restrictions have been removed after the filling of the Highland Lakes. While habitat conditions across the coastal region are much-improved, hunters will be looking to weather forecasts of cold fronts to help push the birds southward heading into the season. “This scenario of abundant fresh water and foods across most of the state make me confident that Texas duck and goose hunters will have the opportunity to see lots of fowl this winter,” Kraai predicted. “Now we just need Mother Nature to give us a few good cold fronts and make sure our wet spots stay wet.” Hunters are encouraged to review hunting rules and requirements in the 2017-18 Waterfowl Hunting Digest before heading afield. Printed copies of the digest are available wherever hunting licenses are sold and for download online from the TPWD web site.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunting Seasons Javelina • North Zone: Oct. 1, 2017 - Feb. 25, 2018 • South Zone: Sept. 1, 2017 – Aug. 31, 2018 Mule Deer General Season • Panhandle: Nov. 18 - Dec. 3, 2017 • SW Panhandle: Nov. 18 - 26, 2017 • Trans-Pecos: Nov. 24 - Dec. 10, 2017 • Archery Season: Sept. 30 - Nov. 3, 2017 Quail • Statewide: Oct. 28, 2017 - Feb. 25, 2018
Dove • North Zone: Sept. 1 - Nov. 12, 2017 & Dec. 15 - Dec. 31, 2017 • Central Zone: Sept. 1 - Nov. 5, 2017 & Dec. 15, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 • South Zone: Sept. 22 - Nov. 8, 2017; Dec. 15, 2017 - Jan. 21, 2018 Duck • North Zone Regular Season: Nov. 11 - 26, 2017 & Dec. 2, 2017 - Jan. 28, 2018 • South Zone Regular Season: Nov. 4 - 26, 2017 & Dec. 9, 2017 - Jan. 28, 2018 Goose East Zone • Light goose: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 28, 2018 • White-fronted goose: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 28, 2018 • West Zone Light & dark geese: Nov. 4, 2017 - Feb. 4, 2018
Turkey Fall Season • North Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 • South Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 21, 2018 • Brooks, Kenedy, Kleberg & Willacy counties: Nov. 4, 2017 - Feb. 25, 2018 • Archery-Only: Sept. 30 - Nov. 3, 2017 • Fall Youth-Only • Early: Oct. 28 - 29, 2017 • Late: Jan. 8 - 21, 2018 White-tailed Deer General Season • North Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 • South Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 - Jan. 21, 2018 Special Late Season • North Zone: Jan. 8 - 21, 2018 • South Zone: Jan. 22 - Feb. 4, 2018 Youth-Only Seasons • Early Season: Oct. 28 - 29, 2017 • Late Season: Jan. 8 - 21, 2018 Archery Season • Sept. 30 - Nov. 3, 2017 Muzzleloader-Only Season • Jan. 8 - 21, 2018
Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
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16 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
CONTINUED FROM 9
a couple dozen to 3,000 people. Five projects involved predator evaluation, habitat enhancement and wildlife surveys, and I wrote two newspaper articles and two magazine articles and was interviewed on a nationally syndicated outdoor radio show. My presentations were to such groups as Wildlife Management Associations, ranchers, 4-H, Boy Scouts, Bird Watchers, Master Naturalist Organizations, Texas Parks & Wildlife Wing Ding, Home Schoolers and the 2017 graduating class of the statewide QuailMasters Program. I found when you have to answer questions and explain topics to someone you tend to understand them much more.
Waterfowl Brigade 2017 was on the beautiful property call â€œBig Woods on the Trinityâ€? near Tennessee Colony, TX. It is 7500 acres that has been reclaimed back to its natural habitat. So the property is a haven for waterfowl and deer. The owner has won the Lone Star Land Stewardship and Leopold Conservation Awards for the effort and money it took to bring this land back to its natural habitat. Wetlands are essential areas needed for a balanced ecosystem. A few of the reasons they are important are: water purification, flood protection, shoreline stabilization, groundwater recharge, and streamflow maintenance, they provideÂ habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered species. Some of my memories of the Waterfowl Brigade Camp are: Walking (and falling) through marshes, ponds, puddles, and congealed bodies of water, shooting clay birds
and haranguing the other guys about missing, marching and screaming cadences, painting decoys, blowing duck call â€˜til your flock leader screams â€œENOUGH!!!!â€?, meditating on an early morning pond, arguing over who takes the first shower, who vacuums and who gets which bed (or the floor), taking water samples from questionable sources and watching bird dogs at work, loving what they do for a living. Yes, itâ€™s a 10 day camp rolled into 5 days! I gained more knowledge about wildlife and conservation. With new eyes that â€œseeâ€? the outdoors differently. I also got a healthy dose of confidence and leadership skills and made some new friends with the same interests in preserving our wildlife and hunting heritage. You can find out more about the Texas Brigades at www.texasbrigades.org. Home of delicious hot sandwiches served on our famous Baked Fresh Daily buns, your choice of Rye, Sourdough, Wheat, and JalapeĂąo Cheese, and individual sized Sourdough Crust Pizzas
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Friday, November 3, 2017
Central Texas Outdoors
ABOVE: Mike and Monica Wyatt are the owners of First Shot Outfitters, based in Coleman County, which offers guided hunts on a total of 600,000 acres of leased ranch property throughout the state. LEFT: First Shot Outfitters offers fine cuisine to the hunters. Here, Abbigail Wyatt prepares Almond Layered Bread Pudding a recipe which is featured in “Grazing Across Texas: Rod, Gun and Ranch Cooking” by Tosh Brown.
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being called to you by an expert guide, a trophy whitetail making your heart race during a free roaming spot or stalking fair chase trophy whitetail buck, you are sure to have a Texas hunting adventure worth coming back for year after year,” Mike said. And, their return hunters always sing their praises. “Texas Quail Hunting with Mike Wyatt and First Shot Outfitters is the best I’ve seen in 30-plus years of quail hunting,” said Art Anderson. “All wild birds are expected in Texas, and Mike has ranches with unusual amounts of quail on them. We usually just hunt coveys, and maybe follow up one or two singles so we aren’t too hard on the numbers. Frequently I hunt the last days of the long Texas season with Mike, and we still put up 20-plus coveys of bobwhites a day, and easily take our limit. Mike has his own lodge to house hunters, and hunts guys in groups of 2-3 to a guide. This is the real deal, and very hard to find these days.” Anderson added that “Mike also does wonderful spring turkey hunts, and whitetail (deer) in the fall.”
Hunter Bill Hale has hunted quail and turkey with First Shot Outfitters. “My friends and I make quail and turkey a yearly event. Growing up in the South, quail hunting is an institution,” Hale said.”I don’t get to shoot wild quail like my father did; but First Shot takes care of that problem for me. They are incredibly serious about their hunting. They take great pride in true “wild” hunting. I’ve hunted hundreds of thousands of acres with them, never hunting the same acreage twice. The guides and dogs perform like clockwork, but with wild bobwhites/blues the challenge is great and my shooting sometimes lacking. That’s why I love it. Wild birds, awesome dog work and flushes, and taking some birds while missing others. Their intense focus on habitat/game/hunt management translates into the turkey hunts as well. I’m an avid Turkey hunter. I hunt all up down the East Coast and have taken many a wild Tom, but hunting Rio’s with First Shot is special.” The hunting packages come with guides, comfortable accommodations and delicious food. Monica is famous for her home-cooked cuisine. They offer three meals a day for the hunters — they don’t provide alcohol, but hunters can bring their
own, Mike said. They have welcomed hunters from North Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, New York and Alaska, as well as hunters from Africa and Argentina. “We built this business by word of mouth,” Mike said. First Shot Outfitters has been the location for G.O. Heath’s outdoor show called “Rugged Nation TV,” which is a hunting show that is on the Sportsman Channel. And, Monica’s delicious recipes are featured in “Grazing Across Texas: Rod, Gun and Ranch Cooking” by Tosh Brown. The hunting outfit is also featured in “The World’s Best Shoots” by Alex Brant. “In the book we have recipes such as almond layered bread pudding with Amaretto sauce, quail poppers, beer bread with honey butter, fried quail, venison stew and turtle cheesecake - all things we make and serve our hunters,” Monica said. First Shot Outfitters is also a family affair - the Wyatts’ kids help too. His son Aspin helps on the guided hunts and his youngest daughter Abbigail, who is 14, helps Monica in the kitchen. Daughters Ashley, 23, and Addi, 21, worked on the hunts before they went to college, Mike said.
18 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
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hunt from a vehicle on private property, and this promotes riding around with loaded rifles. Do not ride around with a loaded rifle. Load the magazine and don’t chamber a cartridge until you see a target animal and the rifle is pointed in a safe direction, outside the vehicle window. Handling a rifle is awkward inside the vehicle, which is what makes riding with a loaded rifle so dangerous. Aside from rifles and driving to the hunting lease (you’re far more likely to be injured by a car wreck than a hunting accident), the most dangerous part of deer hunting is climbing into an elevated blind. It’s easy to lose your balance and fall, particularly in the dark, encumbered by a rifle over one shoulder and a pack over the other. If your ladder is the least bit difficult to climb, carry your rifle (unloaded) up first and place it safely in the blind. Then climb back down for another load. Don’t forget to load the rifle once you’re situated in the blind and unload it before starting down. Metal stairways that replace vertical ladders are the best deer hunting safety development in years. Stock up on ammunition before heading for a rural hunting lease. If you have a rifle problem that requires resighting, several shots may be required. You cannot rely on a local hardware store in rural Texas to stock the brand of ammunition, bullet design and bullet weight that you prefer.
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killing sprays so popular with archery hunters. An elevated stand helps to keep your scent above the animals. Whitetails may look delicate, but it takes a well-placed shot to humanely bring one down. Even if the deer runs away, seemingly unhurt, always follow up on every shot. Get a good mark on where the deer was standing when you shot and where it ran, wait 15 minutes (longer if you’re hunting in the morning), then check thoroughly for blood or any sign that the deer was hit. A deer may run more than 100 yards despite a mortal wound. If you know that you’ve made a bad shot, back out and leave the animal alone for as long as possible — overnight if the weather is cold and you’re not hunting in an area with a lot of coyotes. Follow the trail the next morning. Shot placement is more important than bullet size, construction or speed. The best shot on a whitetail is a broadside shot that places the bullet in the crease behind the deer’s shoulder, about midway down its body. This shot dispatches the deer quickly and humanely, damages less meat and offers the widest margin for error. Since a deer doesn’t always provide a perfect angle, study whitetail anatomy charts to learn where to shoot a deer facing you or quartering toward you or away from you. Unless the animal is already hit, do not shoot at a moving deer. Wear latex gloves when you field dress or skin a deer or hog. The odds of contracting any disease from handling a white-tailed deer are extremely small, but it’s best to err on the safe side. Hogs do carry diseases that are communicable to people. Wearing gloves also makes the cleanup easier. Most Texas deer hunters use automatic corn feeders to bait deer near a hunting blind. The feeders scatter a few pounds of corn at prime movement times and are usually set to go off 30 minutes or so after daylight and an hour or so before dark. It doesn’t take long for multiple deer, and hogs or turkeys, to clean up the corn. You can keep animals near the blind longer by hand-feeding or using a tailgate feeder on a vehicle to put out more corn before entering the blind. If a target buck sees other deer around a feeder, he’s more likely to consider it safe. Use a daypack to organize your hunting gear so you always have a flashlight, spare batteries, sharp knife, binoculars, extra ammunition, functioning ink pen
Common deer hunting violations PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
for filling out your tag and the harvest log on your license, hearing protection, rain gear, warm gloves, latex gloves, snacks, water, tape or some other means of attaching your deer tag to the deer, and anything else you consider necessary for a deer hunt. Bring a good digital camera on every hunting trip. Use it to take photos of the camp, campfire and your hunting companions, especially if there are kids in the hunting party. A good photo of a child’s first deer is a keepsake to cherish for generations. If a hunter is lucky enough to take an outstanding buck, spend some time setting up the photograph. It will take almost a year for a taxidermist to do a good job on a mount. Hunt as much as possible during the rut (deer breeding season). Bucks are more active during the rut, and even mature bucks that have survived six or more hunting seasons can act suicidal. TPWD has done studies that pinpoint
when deer breed in each region. The results can be found at TPWD’s website. Cold weather results in more daytime breeding activity. Regardless of weather, deer breed about the same time every year. In warm weather, breeding activity mostly occurs at night. If you have a problem sitting still in a deer blind, take along a book, an electronic device with ear buds so you can listen to music, or maybe a small radio with ear buds to catch a weekend football game. Deer hunting success means being in the right place at the right time. The longer you sit still in a good place, the luckier you get. Carry your cellphone for safety or entertainment but turn the ringer off. Understand that rural Texas still has many places with no cell service. Tell hunting companions where you intend to hunt so they’ll know where to look if you don’t show up at camp. Be careful with guns, especially in and around vehicles. In Texas, it’s legal to
No hunter education certificate: Every hunter born on or after Sept. 1, 1971, must take and pass a stateapproved hunter education program. A one-time deferral costing $10 is available for hunters 17 or older who have not passed the course. Improperly tagged deer: Use a knife or scissors to cut out the date of harvest and an ink pen to write the appropriate information on the tag. Harvest log violation: Use your pen to duplicate the tag information on the hunting license harvest log printed on the back of your license. Untagged deer: The deer must be tagged with the appropriate hunting license tag as soon as it is recovered. Your hunting gear should include tape, wire or some other means of attaching the tag to the carcass. Hunting without a license: Every hunter, regardless of age, must have a hunting license. 2017-18 white-tailed deer season dates • North Texas: Nov. 4-Jan. 7 • South Texas: Nov. 4-Jan. 21
20 Central Texas Outdoors
Friday, November 3, 2017
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