By Josh McGowan
The 10th Annual Grizzly Jig Spring Tackle Show was a huge success this past weekend. There were professional crappie fishermen from across the country on hand all weekend, and thousands of fishermen made the trek from 24 states to listen to the seminars, learn about electronics, and take advantage of some big discounts on fishing gear. I had a great time talking with everyone and helping folks find exactly what they needed to be more successful on the water.
My boat is finally ready (after having a $500 fuel pump put on) and this is the last week you’ll have to read second-hand reports! Duck season is over, and I am chomping at the bit to get back on the water and go after some crappie. Feb. 9 is our first tournament of the year, being hosted by the West Tennessee Crappie Club. The tournament is open to anyone and for $60 per boat it’s a fun and inexpensive way to dip your toe, so to speak, in tournament fishing. Registration is at Keystone ramp between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. the day of the tournament, and the weigh-in is at 2:00 p.m. at Keystone as well. If you’d like to fish the tournament or would like more information, contact the tournament director, Paul, at 731-487-9849 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org by 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7. These tournaments are a lot of fun and you get to meet some great people!
I get to hear a ton of stories from the great outdoors, but recently I heard a great one and had to call the man and get the details to share with everyone. Danny Bright from East Prairie, Missouri is as avid of a hunter as a man can be. Just talking to him on the phone, you can hear the excitement in his voice talking about the outdoors.
Danny worked off at 8 a.m. on Jan. 14 and headed to the woods to hunt some flooded timber near East Prairie. The ducks were falling in through the trees and he finished his limit of mallards in 15 minutes. He took his ducks in and headed out for the next to last day of bow season. He’d already taken a nice deer with his bow, and had recently gotten permission to hunt some land near his spot. He’d seen a huge eight point many times in September coming off the property. He had the deer come close, but was always busted by the deer’s body guard, a smaller buck. Danny said the two deer were always together, and the huge, old deer seemed careless in the woods, and the smaller buck was always on guard. Danny did the smart thing, and killed the smaller buck (which still had an 18 inch spread) when he caught him cruising alone.
Danny got into his climber and was watching does out to his left. He was thinking that killing a limit of ducks and a deer in the same day would be a Bootheel “Grand Slam”, and was prepared to take a doe. He caught a glimpse of horns, and as the buck got closer, he saw that he was small and was going to pass him up. He heard ice busting behind him, and kept looking out to the field on the other side, but assumed it was just limbs falling and normal, “icy woods” noise.
Then he heard a lot of loud ice busting, he eased around and saw the enormous eight point standing in the middle of the field. He said he just kept wondering where he came from, with nothing around to have concealed him. He was coming in with good wind. Danny didn’t want to cut a lot of limbs since he’d just gotten permission to hunt the property, so he began looking at shooting lanes. His heart rate was jacked!
The buck was walking and Danny grunted and stopped him, but too soon, he didn’t have a shot. He stepped out and gave a narrow lane, and Danny let an arrow fly. The fletching caught a limb and flipped the arrow up. He missed. The deer jumped and tried to get through a thick spot heading up into the woods. Danny threw the doe bleat at him and slowed him to a walk as he crossed the logging road and the last opportunity for a shot. He let another arrow fly and made what he thought was a good shot through a six inch hole in the brush. He waited for 30 minutes and couldn’t wait any longer. His arrow had good, pink, lung blood and the trail was obvious. He followed it and found some corn and darker blood, which meant he hit some gut as well. Now faced with the fact that the shot was a little farther back than he would have liked, he backed out and gave the deer some more time. While back at his tree in fading light, he realized that he didn’t have a flashlight, and got out his phone to call someone to come help. His phone was dead. So now he’s driving back to town to pick up a light and some assistance, his uncle.
They trailed the deer 100 yards and lost blood. They searched all over the area, and Danny’s uncle pulled out a “blood light” that he’d never used before. They turned out the other lights, and found a speck of blood. That speck put them back on the trail, and shortly after led them to a huge buck, piled up dead. Danny didn’t score the buck before taking him to the taxidermist, but field dressing 208 lbs, with 10 inch tines and a 25 inch spread, he’s a giant!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoor Columnist, Crappie Angler Magazine field staff, Freelance Writer 573-579-0212