Categorized | Opinion

Warm December Weekend

By Josh McGowanOutdoor column 12-13

Well, this is tough, the ducks are nowhere to be found, the deer are only moving under the full moon, and the wind is blowing most folks off the lake. This must be what it’s like to be a Chicago Cubs staff writer in mid-October!

I went to downtown Cape Girardeau Friday night for my wife’s Christmas party with the fine folks from NewWave Communications. Celebrations hosted the event, and afterwards we visited some of my old watering holes along the river front, and we had a great time. So great in fact, I found myself mentally and physically incapacitated for the rest of the weekend. Getting old is rough!

The one (and only) successful story I heard from the dozens of outdoorsmen I talked to was Shane Dudley from Caruthersville, Mo. Shane deer hunts on a lease across the river in West Tennessee. He was sitting in a two-man ladder stand over a food plot late Saturday evening and a doe popped out of the woods with a buck hot on her tail. He said it was a split second decision, but the tall tines on the mature buck made it an easy one, and he made a clean shot. The buck didn’t go far, and scored 135+, which is great on a main-frame eight point.

The fishing at Reelfoot became quite a bit tougher since the warm front moved through. Although the wind kept most people off the water, there were a few breaks here and there, and the die-hard fishermen that got out all said the same thing, the bite was light to non-existent. The big jigs and 1/8 oz. heads that have been working up and down the exposed stumps were not getting the hard hits, forcing the fishermen to down-size considerably. 1/32 and 1/64 oz. jigs tipped with a nibble or fake waxworm were the most effective. With these smaller baits, even extremely light bites usually find their way into the fish’s mouth. The concept is the same for a man after Thanksgiving dinner, if you’re not really hungry, you’re not going to scarf down a double cheeseburger, but a sliver of chocolate pie, sure.

The ducks on Reelfoot were as tough as they were across the river in Missouri. This warm weather and lack of water is really making it difficult to do much killing. We just don’t have the birds, and the ones we do have, have been here for the entire season and are wise to our tricks. Hopefully within the week we’ll get a shot of cold weather from up north and some more ducks will come down with it.

The one thing we do already have plenty of, is snow geese. My hardcore waterfowler friends the Boden’s have already put a dent in the population. They’ve killed more ducks than anyone I know this year, and do it without owning or leasing land. They start in Missouri’s middle zone hunting the conservation areas, and work their way south as the season opens down here. Hunting the conservation areas can be very successful if you have the gear and are versatile, not to mention being able to get up at 2:30 a.m.! This past Sunday they did not “draw out”, which means they couldn’t hunt at the conservation area, so they headed south to do some scouting and found a few thousand snow geese. They put the stalk on ‘em through a ditch from a half-mile out, and rose up a few inches away. They took 20 snows out of one volley!

Like the grand majority of folks in Southeast Missouri and West Tennessee, I don’t mess with bass all that much. However, as I’ve done before in the name of mediocre journalism, I broke down and called someone! Captain Dave Stewart, a prominent Kentucky Lake guide said that largemouth bass fishing is spotty right now. Most fish are being taken primary points on the main lake and secondary creek channel points. The fish are being caught on suspending jerk baits, tube jigs, finesse jigs, and shaky heads Well, there ya go!

As always, there are videos, pictures, and more info at www.joshgowanoutdoors.com.

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