By Josh Gowan
Well, I suppose it is par for this time of year, but the temperature swings still seem to catch me off guard. Apparently there is another “polar vortex” on its way, and man am I stoked… Polar vortex, what a way to describe a cold front, more sensationalism I suppose. I know it’s a real term, but it’s a technical term for meteorologists, unnecessary when delivering the weather, unless of course the technical term sounds way more malicious and frightening, and will in turn attract more viewers, in which case it becomes completely necessary!
After my rant last week on Missouri’s deer harvest and the alleged downfall of the whitetail deer, the rest of the numbers have come in, and numbers rarely lie. The five-year total harvest average is 285,000, this past year we rung up 250,000. This is a variance of 35,000, and to find where this number comes from it takes but to look.
The five-year, 11-day firearms average is 186,000, and in this past year’s season we only took 157,000, accounting for 29,000+ in those 11 days, during gale force winds and storms. The next largest portion of the harvest is archery season, which runs from mid-October to early January. The five-year archery average harvest is 50,486, this past year’s archery total was 50,507. The next largest portion is the youth season, and without further ado, the five-year average is 17,902 and last year’s numbers were 19,859. We lost the last couple thousand during antlerless and alternative methods season, which would have been unnoticeable with a normal firearms season.
Here is the other number that’s very important to our state’s deer herd, 90 percent, this is the amount of land in Missouri that is owned by private citizens. It is as much, if not actually more, up to us to regulate our deer population, rather than the MDC. If your numbers are down on your property, stop shooting mature does for a few years. If your property isn’t big enough to regulate the deer traveling through it, talk to your neighbors and formulate a plan. The ability to shoot every doe you see does not mean that you should, it is a liberal policy designed to allow landowners the ability to regulate local deer population as needed, and it’s dependent on landowners making the right decision for their own property. Tennessee’s numbers are still not in.
As if I didn’t have enough friends named Josh, a while back I became acquainted with Josh Laird from Dexter, Mo. Josh is an eccentric (probably the first time he’s ever been called that) hillbilly (definitely not the first time he’s been called that), and spends most of his time on the water at Wappapello Lake.
The Wappapello Crappie Club had their first tournament of the year this past Sunday, and Laird took first place fishing by himself. The illustrious Jines brothers won second, and Guiling and Carrier finished in third.
Josh pre-fished the day before and had 4.5 lbs in seven fish, which wasn’t bad considering the wind. He was supposed to fish the tournament with a friend of his, but the friend had a very late night and bailed. Josh rolled up to Slabber Dave’s and paid his entry fee and headed out early to do a little scanning before the 7am start. He lowered his baits, spider-rigging in 9 ft. of water, and caught two keepers within ten minutes. He stayed in that spot until he had his seven in the livewell, and moved down a bit where he found a bait cloud on the screen. In a matter of seconds he had a “pounder” on to cull out one of the smaller fish. He never caught another keeper after 8:45, and the wind got worse throughout the day.
His winning stringer weighed 4.6 lbs, which was light compared to normal late-winter weights in the WCC, but on a tough day it was enough to win, and that’s all that mattered! Josh was using 16 ft. B’n’M BGJP’s and pushing Midsouth tube jigs. He was using a color that lies somewhere between faded aqua and putrid green, it resembles a Formica countertop in a 1970’s dentist office. I’d actually given him some crap about buying them because it was so darn ugly, but apparently he knew exactly what he was doing, or he’s color-blind and got lucky, either way, a win is a win! Congratulations buddy!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com