LET’S GET READY FOR DEER SEASON AGAIN!

Bucks like this one – outside of South Texas, maybe – require careful preparation to outwit. Now is the time to start making your preparations. In fact, if you waited until now, it might be too late. Of course, being able to hunt a property with big bucks in residence is a big plus, but a lot of work on the part of the hunter can help insure the deer are there.

Start looking for good bucks now.

Start looking for good bucks now.

There is a lot written about supplemental feeding programs, but it is not always possible to do this. Hogs, coons, and squirrels will all raid food supplies intended to “grow trophy racks” – and supplemental feeding gets expensive and is not allowed on public lands or even on some leases. Other actions hunters can take to attract deer might be more worth their time and effort – even in summer.

Most bucks on the Texas coastal plain still have velvet on their antlers in July.

Most bucks on the Texas coastal plain still have velvet on their antlers in July.

Does attract bucks, and a good way to attract the does that attract the bucks is to keep a water source in dry weather, along with food “treats” such as corn and various deer pellets.

IN my opinion, the best "buck lure" is a doe!

IN my opinion, the best “buck lure” is a doe!

Salt or mineral blocks also help make deer feel “more at home” on YOUR range!

Salt and mineral blocks are good for deer, short and long term.

Salt and mineral blocks are good for deer, short and long term.

The best sign of a healthy deer population is to see deer of all sizes around.

The best sign of a healthy deer population is to see deer of all sizes around.

While I seldom see deer eating corn on my property, they do like some of the commercial deer supplements on the market

While I seldom see deer eating corn on my property, they do like some of the commercial deer supplements on the market

OK, so we are doing what we can at this point in time to get deer on our selected hunting property, and hopefully hold them there. Now is also the time to be working on new stands, cutting or trimming shooting lanes, and getting food plots ready to plant. And those guys in other states who curse us for using corn think our methods of hunting are easy! Any major changes to the environment such as these should be completed long enough before deer season to let the critters become accustomed to seeing them. It is a good thing to know the distances for a stand you will likely be shooting, and to be sure of your marksmanship at those distances. Your firearms of choice should be sighted in and practiced with at the expected ranges – but also know where they will shoot to at unexpected distances. I missed my first South Texas deer because it was closer than I had prepared to shoot, and I shot over it.

When I was young, most of our outdoor magazines were published in the East, and the more prominent writers hunted either the east, the far west, or northern areas like Michigan. These guys always recommended spending time in the woods before deer season, maybe hunting squirrels with a scoped .22 to get ready for larger game. That is still a good plan, but doing a whole lot of shooting in the area you hope to hunt is maybe not. In Texas we have abundant feral hogs to hunt which we can shoot with our actual deer rifle. This also helps thin down the hog population, which helps the deer herd. Unfortunately, it also is a noisier activity than hunting squirrels with a .22. This is another good reason to have a suppressor equipped rifle for hog hunting. Personally, I hope to get my loud handguns well sighted in far enough in advance of deer season to not need to fire them in practice. My .460 Rowland with the compensated barrel makes enough noise to vibrate all the deer out of the woods for miles around. On the other hand, I’m not sure deer or most other animals are really spooked all that much by gunfire. Still, it makes sense to be careful and take every advantage available. I also don’t night hunt for hogs immediately before or during deer season on the property I plan to deer hunt on. It is not necessary, I don’t think. to try to stay out of the woods altogether, as wildlife becomes at least somewhat acclimatized to human activity. If possible where you hunt, have a backup plan for doing some still hunting, or using a natural “stand” (sitting on a stump behind a screen of brush perhaps”), instead of spending all your time in a box blind. Also, being able to rotate between a few stands might help locate deer, and keeps your attention level up.

Like a good little boy scout, BE Prepared! Have sufficient cooler capacity to handle your meat, plenty of ice, sharp knives, and rubber gloves for cleaning your kill. Make sure you have the proper license and tags, and double check regulations – as some may have been altered from last season. Be prepared to take good pictures, and know the phone number of the taxidermist you want to use should you take a wall-hanger. On slow mornings when I plan to stay in a stand for most of the day, I bring something to eat and drink and usually reading material. I actually have begun to prefer my Kindle for this.

Posted in Deer Hunting | 1 Comment

MORE “MOWIN’ IN THE WIND”

I wrote some time ago comparing mowing my rather large “lawn” to offshore fishing. For those who may not have read the original, “Mowin’ In The Wind”, just remember that I have a rather fertile imagination. For this year’s mowing season, my wife and I purchased a new “zero-turn” mower in an attempt to ease the time and trouble spent mowing nearly three acres repeatedly. While I have not been able to confirm all of the claims made by zero-turn advocates, it definitely does make the job easier and somewhat faster. For those new to this type of mower who are having trouble with the turning system, I would suggest getting in your “Way-Back” machine and spending some time in a previous life driving an industrial fork-lift- or a twin engine inboard boat. Fork lifts, despite the name, are NOT used for lifting forks – although they might come in handy for moving pallets of forks. The thing with an industrial “lift truck” is that while they do have a steering wheel, they also have a foot operated “turning brake” on each side like a farm tractor often does. For the sometimes very tight turns they need to make, the drill is to apply pressure to the brake on the side you wish to turn into. This effectively locks the rear wheel on that side, but lets the wheel on the other side rotate normally, turning the vehicle very sharply. A fork-truck can pretty much be rotated on it’s on axis this way.

With a twin engine inboard powered boat, the steering wheel turns a pair of rudders that are positioned behind the fixed propellers to direct the flow of water after it passes through the prop, and thus control the direction the boat will take. Unfortunately, if the rudder is too small – as some are – the steering using the rudder might not be very responsive. The first inboard boat I had much experience in running was a 31 Bertram on which Mike Cryer and I took out both fishermen and divers. Mike was the dive master, I was the licensed captain. This boat – “Parrot Head” – had the original Bertram rudders, which were about as big as my hand. The 31 was, after all, originally a race boat, and large rudders create more drag than smaller rudders, thus reducing speed a bit. We found it much easier to make turns using the engines and transmissions. To turn to the right a bit, throttle back somewhat on the starboard engine while easing the throttle forward on the port engine. To make a sharp turn, throw the starboard transmission in neutral and give the port more throttle as needed, and even use the starboard in reverse if necessary. To turn to port, reverse this process. This method of steering works very well on twin engine vessels – as long as both engines are running. 31 Bertrams have an extreme deep vee hull, and are notoriously difficult to impossible to steer on one engine. Old hands are known to drop a bucket in the water on a long rope tied to the side of the boat they want to slow to create enough drag to allow a turn. My own 31, “Black Sheep”, had been retro-fitted with extra large rudders before I came into possession of it, and would steer nearly as well with only one engine running as with two, but I still used “the gears’ for a lot of turns.

My zero-turn mower is a Cub Cadet model – which my old deckhand, Six-Pack, calls a “Club Cadet”. At least with this mower, there are two transmissions, controlled by the steering lever on each side. Steering is accomplished by manipulating them exactly as one would the control levers on a twin engine boat – except that the much shorter mower responds faster. For those who don’t know, I have begun writing an offshore fishing column for Texas Outdoors Journal magazine, and my most recent submission was on selecting an offshore boat. When I described the maneuverability advantage of the twin inboard boat, I could not help but remember my old Bertram and how sweet it felt to “work” the controls. I had 24″ props on that boat near the end, pushed by Cummins 6 cylinder diesels through 2:1 Twin Disc transmissions. The original controls had been the single lever type that both shift gears and apply throttle, but I finally replaced them with the twin lever (for each engine) type where one is the throttle, the other the gear. In my opinion, the best way to set these up is side by side on your right (for right handed skippers) with the throttle levers on the inside so that both can be controlled with the right hand, allowing both throttles to be controlled as one (gears are worked separately). With the possible exception of the new pod drives, this has to be the ultimate set-up. I could put one engine in forward, the other in reverse, and literally spin the boat on it own axis, with little or no movement forward or in reverse. Holding in position over a rock or wreck or near a rig or the stern of a shrimp boat was easy even when currents were running – and backing into my slip was a pice of cake.

My problem is, although it was fairly easy for me to adjust to the zero-turn mower, having driven both fork-lifts and twin engine boats “for a living”, each time I do – especially after calling up the memories to write than column- I really, really miss my boat!

Posted in Humor/Fiction | Comments Off on MORE “MOWIN’ IN THE WIND”

WEBINAR ABOUT NATIONAL FISHERIES POLICY WEDNESDAY!

This notice was sent out by NMFS. Check their website to register.

WEBINAR July 9th:
Seeking Input on National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy

Good morning,

A friendly reminder to sign up now for a webinar on the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy. All are welcome to join us on this Wednesday, July 9th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm (EDT).

If you would like to join the discussion, please register in advance HERE. Following registration you will receive an email from messenger@webex.com with instructions for connecting to the webinar, as well as the phone number dialing information for the audio portion.

If you are unable to join us on Wednesday, you will have another opportunity to participate later in the month when we’ll host a second webinar on July 28th.

Also remember, you can view our remaining in-person meeting schedule, review past meeting summaries, and share your thoughts anytime until September 12th through our website.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | Comments Off on WEBINAR ABOUT NATIONAL FISHERIES POLICY WEDNESDAY!

RED SNAPPER NEWS FROM THE GULF COUNCIL

The record nine-day red snapper season in the Federally regulated waters of the Gulf of
Mexico has not been the only snapper related activity to come from the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council recently.

In late June, the state of Mississippi announced it will open state waters out to 9 miles off it’s coast for red snapper fishing for weekends in July, weekends being Friday through Sunday. With a similar announcement by Alabama, all five Gulf states have now gone non-compliant with the Federal snapper regulations. In each case, the state fishery agencies do not feel Federal regulations are justified, and are making a case for management of the Gulf by the states.

A new Advisory Panel to the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council has been selected for the proposed For-Hire Red Snapper Individual Quota system. This would mean that charter boats would operate under a quota system for snapper similar to what is in place for commercial snapper fishermen. Permit holders would be issued their very own quota, supposedly based on past catch histories (which do not officially exit for recreational for-hire boats). Twenty members were chosen, from the 5 Gulf States and Rhode Island. The breakdown is: Florida – 9 members, Mississippi – no members, Alabama – 4 members, Louisiana – 3 members, Texas – 3 members, and Rhode Island – 1 member.

Of the 3 Texas representatives, I know Mike Nugent of Port Aransas and Johnny Williams of Galveston. Both have long been active in recreational for-hire fishing. I do not know Troy Williamson, the other Texas member. The member from Rhode Island is named Seth Macinko. He holds some sort of position at the University of Rhode Island, is from Alaska, and was involved in commercial fishing there. I have no idea why he was appointed to an Advisory Panel to the GULF OF MEXICO FISHERIES MANAGEMENT COUNCIL, but perhaps he has special knowledge of red snapper charter fishing in the Gulf I am not aware of? Or perhaps he was picked simply to annoy Gulf Fishermen. I doubt it was because no one else in the Gulf States was interested, as I applied myself.

Now comes a good one. NMFS is considering a proposal to allow as many as 90 charterboats in Alabama to participate in a pilot program that would exempt them from having to follow Federal Red Snapper regulations – including seasons and size and bag limits. This means they could begin taking customers snapper fishing on January 1, 2015, and fish all year, while boats in other states could not begin until possibly June 1, 2015 for their week or so of allowed snapper fishing. The purpose of this plan to to gather data in the snapper fishery – in Alabama, I assume. The fish caught in this program WILL count as part of the Total Allowable Catch for snapper from the Gulf, so there is a real possibility they could catch ALL the snapper NMFS allows the Gulf for 2015 BEFORE JUNE – and no boats from any other states, including private vessels, would be allowed to snapper fish for that year (or 2016, as the proposal is for a two year program).

Public comments on this proposal will be accepted by NMFS until August 4, 2014. Use the link below to voice your opinion, and read the details for yourself.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-07-03/html/2014-15708.htm

NEWS on Alabama proposed charterboat EFP:

It appears now that although as many as 90 Alabama boats will be allowed to participate in this program, over 60 Federally permitted vessels in Alabama will not be involved. At this point, it is not known of these vessels “opted out” of unrestricted fishing, or were not offered the chance , for whatever reason.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | Tagged | Comments Off on RED SNAPPER NEWS FROM THE GULF COUNCIL

NEW FAWNS LEARN EARLY

Fawns learn to eat and drink independent of their mother's milk pretty early in life.

Fawns learn to eat and drink independent of their mother’s milk pretty early in life.

This is the first fawn I’ve seen on my property this year – probably (and hopefully) won’t be the last. Momma has obviously taught it to drink, probably to eat corn and other “foreign” foods.

Even at such an early age, this fawn is trying, at least, to lick the salt.mineral block provided for it's elders.

Even at such an early age, this fawn is trying, at least, to lick the salt.mineral block provided for it’s elders.

It is also enjoying the taste of the combined salt and mineral block in the same “pen” – which has only three sides remaining from an attempt to fence hogs out a few years ago, when I had oats planted here.

Posted in Picture Of The Week | 1 Comment

RED SNAPPER CATCH DATA COLLECTION EFFORTS

NFMS has finally decided to pretend to be improving red snapper data collection, as it was mandated to do by Congress seven years ago. The call for public comments on data collection, however, was only published in the Federal Register, so you might not have noticed it. What they are proposing, in a nutshell, is more telephone “surveys” of anglers, and an improved system of trip reports and catch logs in the for-hire industry. All of this, of course, can be done at little cost to them, and also with little effort – meaning they still have no intentions of getting out of the water where the fish actually live, and instead intend to continue using flawed data and computer generated “estimates” to determine the length – or lack of – the red snapper open season.

The following is my personal comment on this subject. You may feel free to email your own comments to this address:

ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental
Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th
and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet
at JJessup@doc.gov).

For the record, I am an outdoor writer and former for-hire permit holder from Oyster Creek, Texas. In addition, I have served on advisory panels to the Gulf Council, and as a board member of The National Charterboat Operators Association (NACO). My boat was destroyed by hurricane Ike, and I did not deem it practical to replace it, considering the restrictive regulations put in place by NMFS, so I should rightly be classified with the many other charter operators put out of business by NMFS.

Due to my situation, and that of others, I feel rather insulted and demeaned that the main focus of this “new” data collection effort seems to be that it not cost the agency anything. Logbooks and trip reports are a step up, if they are used properly, but amount to having the for-hire industry collect the data themselves. Most still in the business that I know of might be happy to provide actual data to an agency prone to “estimate” numbers that suit it’s pre-determined agenda – IF they felt that the data would be correctly and honestly evaluated. Unfortunately, I do not see how anyone could have those expectations. When red snapper are so numerous that they are eating triggerfish into extinction, yet NMFS holds the recreational sector to a NINE DAY SEASON, we have to conclude that a.) We are dealing with idiots or b.) “The fix is in”!

Telephone surveys are a poor idea because they often do not reach the individuals they should reach, and many anglers are reluctant to share information with someone on the phone. It is impossible for us to know for sure if the information is actually being “logged”, or for what purpose it will be used. Given the history of Federal Red Snapper regulation, many are suspicious that a report of good catches will result in accusations of recreational catches exceeding the quota – and even shorter seasons. Reports of poor catches, on the other hand, might mean an assumption of overfishing, with the same results.

To sum it up, fishermen do not trust NMFS, nor do they have any reason to. What I would like to see personally – and I really suspect others would agree – is an actual effort from NMFS to collect REAL data. Not telephone hear-say and not “estimates” generated by a faulty computer model and evaluated by personnel with little or no actual knowledge of red snapper, their biology and life history. We have heard the term, “best available science” thrown about a lot – but phone calls and computer estimates do not come close to being within that definition! In the past, I and others have volunteered to take government observers on trips into the Gulf of Mexico – where red snapper live and where the regulatory problems are most serious. This would only require the time of the personnel, and I assume they currently draw a paycheck for doing less effective tasks? It would be impossible to do an accurate population “survey” of snapper from such trips, but data concerning catches: size of fish caught, by-catch and by-catch mortality, where the fish were most likely to be caught, what they were feeding on, the effect of inclement weather on the fishery, and other needed data could be gathered.

In my own experience, I know of a “spot” off the Texas coast where several years ago hundreds, maybe thousands, of large red snapper were caught in a very short time by recreational anglers. There was no noticeable structure or other obvious reason for so many snapper to be there, but they were, and they were very hungry. These catches never were reported to NMFS, and there are other spots like this “discovered” by industrious snapper fishermen each year. The “scientific community” might have gained some needed insight about snapper from studying this spot, instead they seem to have no idea such incidents occur.

Another problem in the current and proposed data collection systems comes with by-catch. Only looking at recreational by-catch here, if a fisherman takes every precaution to return an undersized red snapper to the water safely, there is an excellent chance it will be eaten by a porpoise before it can reach the safety of structure. I have watched this happen many, many times, as these intelligent marine mammals have learned that head boats, charterboats, or any other boat seen bottom fishing can create easy prey. Yet nothing is ever mentioned about this occurrence in connection with by-catch mortality. Instead, NMFS mandates all sorts of dubious equipment be carried by fishermen to safely release undersized snapper to the far-from-tender mercies of “Flipper” and friends!

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing, Uncategorized | Comments Off on RED SNAPPER CATCH DATA COLLECTION EFFORTS

SAN BERNARD RIVER FLOODING

Thus is the San Bernard River mouth after heavy rain in the watershed above.

Thus is the San Bernard River mouth after heavy rain in the watershed above.

This aerial photo of the mouth of the San Bernard River was taken by Bert Smith, on 5/30/2014, after the recent heavy rains in Brazoria County. Note that several inches of rain could not wash open the clogged outlet – again! Also note the heavy cover of sea weed on the beach, which is plaguing the entire Texas Coast right now.

For more pictures, go to www.sanbernardtx.com. Picture provided by Janice Edwards.

In sharp contrast to the flooding on the coast, we were in the Wichita Falls area recently, where water is very, very scarce. Lake Arrowhead, where my in-laws live, is almost dried up, and many people who depended on the lake for water have been forced to haul large quantities – or move.

Posted in Conservation/The Environment | Comments Off on SAN BERNARD RIVER FLOODING

HOPE ON THE MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT FROM CONGRESS, MOSTLY FROM FLORIDA’S STEVE SOUTHERLAND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2014
Contact: Matt McCullough
(202) 225-5235

SOUTHERLAND TAKES LEADING ROLE IN FISHERIES REAUTHORIZATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II took a leading role today in the House Natural Resources Committee’s approval of legislation reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law governing America’s fisheries. The committee approved on a bipartisan basis five Southerland amendments injecting common sense into fishery data collection and fishery disaster declarations.

“Today’s votes in committee were the first step in ensuring our fishermen have a voice in establishing any new catch share programs, while addressing inflexibility in rebuilding plans and moving us closer to a data collection solution,” said Southerland. “At a time when our coastal communities are suffering due to flawed fishery management based on inadequate science, I am pleased this bill puts us on a path to a more common sense approach that addresses the problems we currently face in the Gulf of Mexico. I look forward to ensuring our fishermen’s interests are addressed as I work with members of both parties to pass a Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization in the House this year.”

The Southerland provisions approved by the committee would:

· Direct the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to issue a fishery disaster determination within 90 days of receiving a request;
· Ensure that the tens of thousands of red snapper killed by rig removal explosions, also known as “Idle Iron,” are not counted against the annual catch limit for Gulf fishermen;
· Ensure that red snapper confiscated from illegal foreign poachers are not counted against the total allowable catch for American fishermen;
· Prohibit the harvest rights of fish allocated for public consumption to be traded away from the commercial sector by sale or lease.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | Comments Off on HOPE ON THE MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT FROM CONGRESS, MOSTLY FROM FLORIDA’S STEVE SOUTHERLAND

BOOKS BY MASSAD AYOOB

Massad Ayoob has been a law enforcement officer, trainer of law enforcement officers, pistol collector and authority, competition pistol shooter – and more. He writes very well about these subjects in books covering concealed handgun carry, Handguns of the World, combat shooting, and similar subjects. All of his books I have read have been very informative, yet written in a style that is also entertaining. To demonstrate that there is not much about handguns he doesn’t know or hasn’t had experience with, in his second volume of “World’s Greatest Handguns”, in with all the combat pistols and “Western” revolvers is a thorough chapter on Thompson Contender single shot handguns. Also included in his books are detailed references and lists of other books the reader might find of interest. These are the Ayoob books I’ve read (so far), but Amazon lists many others.

Posted in Book Shelf | Comments Off on BOOKS BY MASSAD AYOOB

GALCO “BELLY – BAND” HOLSTER

The "belly-band" elastic wrap-around holster conceals beneath a loose shirt or light jacket, will carry two handguns, extra magazine, and cell phone - if needed.

The “belly-band” elastic wrap-around holster conceals beneath a loose shirt or light jacket, will carry two handguns, extra magazine, and cell phone – if needed.

The Galco belly-band holster is comfortable, easily concealed, and will carry a compact sized semi-auto in one holster, and/or ma small revolver in the other. It also has “pockets” suitable for carrying extra magazines or a cell phone – securely. Even non-shooters might like one of these for carrying their phone, wallet, keys, or other items while jogging or whenever shorts or workout clothing are worn that do not have suitable pockets for these items.

Either one or two pistols can be carried in the belly band, shown here with a Para Compact .45ACP on the left and a Colt Police Positive .38 Special on the right.

Either one or two pistols can be carried in the belly band, shown here with a Para Compact .45ACP on the left and a Colt Police Positive .38 Special on the right.

Posted in Product Evaluations | Comments Off on GALCO “BELLY – BAND” HOLSTER