Writing this weekly outdoors column has always been one of the highlights of my week. After 30 years of sharing the outdoors with you, this column never seems like work. But some weeks, I have to ‘dig deep’ to settle on a topic that I think you will be interested in.
If you’ve read this column long, you are aware that it’s not filled with news from Texas Parks and Wildlife; TPWD news releases are widely available on the internet. My goal is to hopefully supply you with some entertaining and helpful information that might lead you to a fun spot to hunt or fish or give you some tips that will help you be successful.
So, let’s ‘scattergun’ a bit this week and let me tell you about what I’ve been up to and some outdoor adventures you can do right now!
HOG SEASON NOW
If there were an ‘official’ hog hunting season in Texas it would be kicking off about right now, at the close of firearms season for deer. I spent the last weekend of the season hunting with my friends Jeff and Demi Rice on their ranch situated on the upper end of Lake Fork, adjacent some very remote land owned by the Sabine River Authority. For several years, I have used a digital scope for all my night hunting. I began with the Sightmark Photon XT several years and when the XT was replaced by the Photon RT, I was quick to put one to work. The XT was pretty basic but worked great for night hunting hogs or, used as a day scope. The RT model added a built in camera/sound which I found very helpful for recording my night hunts. A couple weeks ago, I mounted Sightmarks current digital scope, The Wraith, on my .223 rifle that I use for hog hunting. This scope is smaller and more advanced in many ways. It has a built in video recorder but also displays color for daytime hunting.
Many folks equate thermal scopes to night hog hunts and thermal is, hands down, the most advanced tool for night hunting but thermal scopes come with a pretty hefty price tag. The digital scopes I use cost about 500 dollars and are perfect for the type hunting I do. Rather than target running sounders of hogs, I much prefer to shoot one hog at a time and the digital scope does a great job out to 150 yards, probably a bit farther but I like to do my night shooting much closer for safety reasons.
Jeff and I used our digital scopes on the hunt this past weekend and were targeting deer during daylight hours and we just stayed put when the sun went down and stayed for some night hog hunting. We didn’t see the deer we were looking for and with all the acorns on the ground; hogs were not really patterning to corn feeders. We did spook what sounded like a big boar as we left our stand. He was on a trail about 40 yards from the feeder we were hunting over, but as they say, that’s hunting. We were able to video some great footage of the night woods with the Wraith while working on this week’s “A Sportsman’s Life” video on YouTube.
DALLAS SAFARI CLUB CONVENTION THIS WEEKEND
My longtime friend Larry Weishuhn aka. ‘Mr. Whitetail’ does a great deal to help promote the Dallas Safari Club and is always on the floor every day of the convention. He has me scheduled to do an outdoor cooking seminar this year. I will have 1.5 hours to visit with the crowd about camp cooking. I decided that was a bit too long for any one person to talk about anything. I recruited a couple of great friends, David Hanson (big catfish guru at Tawakoni) and retired fishing guide Billy Kilpatrick to share the stage with me. Both these guys served as camp manager/cook for our high country elk and bear archery hunts and will share not only some great recipes but some stories of our times in the mountains as well.
MUZZLELOADER SEASON AT HAND
Many Texas deer hunter overlook the late muzzleloader season (Jan 6-Jan 19) but this is a great time to go after that big buck that eluded you during the general season or to put more tasty venison in the freezer. Much of Texas has experienced the heaviest acorn crop in recent history and hunters that strictly hunt over corn feeders have had limited success. In many areas, acorns are so plentiful that deer all but abandoned corn feeders. The bountiful acorn supply should begin to diminish soon and during muzzleloader season deer should be patterning again to feeders and especially winter food plots. Today’s inline muzzleloaders are capable of shooting groups that rival the accuracy of center fire riles. Misfires that used to be a common occurrence when shooting muzzleloaders is almost a thing of the past. Rather than the relatively small #11 caps of yesteryear’s smoke poles, most all modern inline models use 209 primers, the same size primer used in shotgun shells. These primers develop a lot of fire which insures the powder charge will ignite.
LET THE STARS GUIDE YOU
If you happen to be out hunting in the afternoon, about sunset, Venus appears brightly in the western sky. I’ve used Venus to stay oriented on many a winter’s night hunt while tracking game after dark.
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via email through his website www.catfishradio.org. Here you can listen to his weekly outdoors radio show.