Categorized | Opinion

Cold Snap Turns on Fish & Game

By Josh Gowan

Sherman Plunkett poses with a 10-point buck from Carter County, Mo.

Sherman Plunkett poses with a 10-point buck from Carter County, Mo.

Well if there were any doubt that fall is upon us, this week’s temps will surely quell it!
Multiple nights dipping into the 30’s, and a light frost for the northern-most parts of the region has us turning on our heaters and breaking out the winter coats.
While we have to make alterations to our garb and light fires to stay warm, Mother Nature’s creatures are more than adequately dressed for the season, and welcome it with open fins and hooves!
I finally saw a big buck taken over the weekend, and as is the case with big bucks, there’s a story to go with it! Sherman Plunkett from Clarkton, Mo, was hunting near his campsite in the Ozarks of Carter County, Missouri this past Saturday. It was still dark when he settled in, 25 feet up in a climbing stand over a well-worn trail in the hardwoods. He had a good wind, and the cold front that moved through the area had his hopes high. Around 7:15, he saw a big bodied deer off in the distance. He couldn’t see horns at first, but as soon as the big whitetail turned his head Sherman’s blood began pumping at a rather accelerated rate! High in the air and with the wind in his favor, he began doing what all deer hunters do when a trophy buck is bearing down on us, talking to ourselves! “Get your stuff together. Relax.” The buck stopped at 24 yards, and his arrow flew true. The monster “hill deer” didn’t go far, and although Sherman was confident in his shot and pretty sure the deer lay dead 40 yards away, he waited for an excruciating 40 minutes, not wanting to chance bumping the buck into the steep, briar thicket-laced hillside just beyond him. Sherman climbed down and followed a highway of blood to a big, slumped over mass with a wide, chocolate, ten-point rack protruding from it!
The fall crappie bite is on, and anglers with the gumption and attire to brave the cold mornings are filling their freezers. Fishermen that do not hunt especially love this time of year because of the lack of pressure on the fish, not to mention the big lakes being void of jet skis, ski boats, and pontoons. I always have a tough time putting my boat up, especially when my favorite, finned species are jumping in the boat, but as my wife so eloquently put it “we’re out of tenderloin, doves, and ducks, go hunting!” It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic!
Reelfoot Lake is turning out some good fish. Slow trolling out in the deep water of the south end has been the most consistent method. One day the fish will be right on the bottom, and the next they’ll be less than six ft. deep. The key is to move sloooooow!
I talked to the resident crappie pro on Wappapello Lake, Slabber Dave Maddux, and he said the fishing has been great. The catfish are being caught with jugs, trot lines, rod and reel, butterfly net, you name it! The crappie fishing is good and getting better with every cold night. The Wappapello Crappie Club held their monthly tournament this past weekend and Maddux and Gaines won with a 7-fish weight of 5.5 pounds and a “Big Fish” of 1.24 pounds. Dave said the best colors were red and chartreuse and chartreuse with multi-colored sparkles.
Of all the constitutional rights we have as Americans, it’s ironic that the Second Amendment is one we have to constantly defend. The primary reason the Founding Fathers put the Second Ammendment in was so that “we the people” could defend ourselves from an overzealous government taking away our rights, so much for that idea!
Fortunately, thanks mostly to the NRA, a lot the country still maintains most of our gun-owning rights, and more and more law abiding citizens are getting licensed to carry a concealed weapon. If you’ve considered getting your conceal and carry license, John Haverstick in New Madrid, Mo teaches a course and can inform you about what’s involved.
You can contact John at his office at 573-748-9143 Monday thru Friday, or look him up on Facebook.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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