By Josh Gowan
That magic time of year is upon us, deer season in the Heartland. The opening weekend of firearms season is considered by many to be a holiday in this part of the world, and missing it is as unheard of as missing Thanksgiving dinner, 4th of July fireworks, and Christmas morning around the tree. It’s just a part of life, and for those of us who use lean, healthy venison to supplement our yearly red meat supply, it’s a vital part of life.
In this day and age, we certainly won’t starve physically without a few deer in the deep freeze, but missing the experience, the reunion of friends and family, the campfires and the stories told, would find many outdoorsmen spiritually and psychologically malnourished. I once heard of a newlywed man who was getting staunch resistance from his wife about leaving for a few days to go “shoot bambi”. He told her that if he were to skip deer season, he would not be the man she married, he would lose his identity and self-respect, and would no longer be a suitable husband! Fortunately I have no such resistance, my lovely wife is helping me wash and pack my clothes while musing aloud about new tenderloin recipes!
The outlook for deer season is still suspect. For those of us bowhunting early this week (last week for some of you) the rut looks to be in full swing for Monday – Wednesday as the first real cold blast descends upon the region. I’ll be in northeastern Missouri, where we have chances of snow and lows nearing the single digits, and I can’t wait! The big bucks may have their does locked down by the weekend, but it’s still sure to be better than last year’s mid-70’s and 30 mph south wind!
For the hardcore waterfowler’s among you, the ducks are arriving! My resident avian pro’s, the Boden brothers, are chastising me daily for being concerned about deer when they are already killing ducks in Missouri’s middle zone. They’re hunting a shallow slough, one and half miles southeast of Otter Slough Conservation Area. The hunters who leased the area last year killed one duck, the Boden brothers are at 64 in the last nine days since the season opened. The key was tearing down the big box blind and using low profile layout blinds, as well as making good use of motion decoys with four Mojo’s and two Higdon Pulsator 2’s. They watch the migration report like a cat watches a cricket, and the good numbers in northern Missouri should get a big push south with this week’s cold front. As soon as I put a few deer in the freezer (and hopefully at the taxidermist) I’ll be out there chasing ducks with them!
The Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic was held a few weeks ago on Kentucky Lake at the Paris Landing near Paris, Tennessee. Crappie USA has two divisions, the Amateur and the Semi-Pro, which I’ve never quite understood, but the Semi-Pro Division crowns a national champion team every year. The fishing was extremely tough this year, with a cold front and high winds through much of the two-day tournament.
The most dominant team in the sport of tournament crappie fishing tends to thrive in deplorable conditions, and this tournament was no different.
The team of Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman of Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee brought home their 8th National Championship! That is absolutely unheard of, and these guys aren’t anywhere close to retirement! They won with a two-day, 14 fish limit of 20.89 pounds. Ronnie and Steve were fishing the Blood River area of Kentucky Lake, fishing in and over manmade cover and large, natural stumps along a steep vertical drop around 15 feet deep. They were using 12 foot B’n’M Poles armed with 15 pound line, pushing Southern Pro lime/chartreuse glow tubes tipped with a minnow. The team caught over 100 fish in the 2-days of competition. Aside from the Championship trophies (which are nice) they won a Ranger V118-C boat with a 150HP Evinrude, Minn Kota Terrova, Talon Shallow Water Anchor, Driftmaster T-5100 trolling rack, Humminbird Electronics, and $1000! There is no team that is anywhere near as dominant as Capp’s and Coleman, and they do a great job representing the sport. Congrats guys!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com