By Josh Gowan
Is it spring yet? Now that we have the deer in the freezer, the only thing that’s on my mind is crappie fishing, and maybe a bit of snow goose blasting!
First off, I want to say thanks to everyone who called or emailed congratulating us on FINALLY getting my son’s first deer. It’s comforting to know that some of y’all were going through the struggle with me! If you really want to see a kid (and a dad and papa) extremely happy and proud, go to www.joshgowanoutdoors.com and watch the video. You will understand exactly why I drug my son all over the place, spending time and money to try to give him his opportunity to take his first shot.
I made the mistake of burning him out on fishing four or five years ago, completely unaware that everyone didn’t want to stay in the boat all day, every weekend, regardless if we caught anything or not. He enjoys going hunting with me, but I knew there was only so long I could keep dragging him to the woods without the payoff, which is why I was so committed to getting it done this year. I knew that the excitement of taking his first deer would hook him, and if you watch the video, you’ll see that I was right!
While I’m on the subject of deer hunting, we have the harvest totals in for this past year’s deer season here in Missouri, and you’re never going to guess what happened. We killed 8,000 more deer this year than last year, which is perplexing considering that the Kansas City Star and other doomsday writers put us smack-dab in the middle of a massive decline in deer population. It turns out that the most important factor effecting harvest numbers may indeed be weather.
Another interesting tidbit, is that although the MDC severely tightened restrictions on shooting does due to public pressure, we still took 115,161 does, a little over a thousand less than last year when it was still allowed to shoot as many does as you want in most counties. What could be the reason? Simple, although we were allowed to shoot as many does as we pleased in most of the state, less than 2% of hunters actually killed more than two does. But the “public” is fickle, and the MDC has to operate on a heck of a tightrope.
The duck hunting has been much improved over the last week, and with the weather prediction we have over the next week it looks to remain good. There are a lot of ducks in SE Missouri and W Tennessee and the guys out hounding them should be able to make up for the beginning of the season. January 22-25 marks the 12th Annual Grizzly Jig Spring Tackle Show. This is my favorite weekend of the year to work, and crappie fishermen will pour in from across the country for the show. This is the biggest event in the crappie fishing industry, and the hotels are already near full in the surrounding areas. The top crappie fishermen in the country will be on hand giving free seminars over the four-day event, with 8-time National Champions Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman, Mr. Crappie Wally Marshall, TV host Russ Bailey, past National Champions Charles Bunting, Richard Williams, Wade Hendren and Roy Logan, and crappie fishing superstars Todd Huckabee, Whitey Outlaw, Brad Whitehead, Sam Heaton, and the young gun Kyle Schoenherr, there is no other line-up that comes close in our industry. The Hummingbird guys will be there giving seminars on how to better use your electronics, and I’ll be there telling lies and selling fishing tackle! If you crappie fish any at all, this is the biggest event of the year, and it’s right here in our backyard. At the very least you can show up early and get in on the free coffee and donuts and buy a t-shirt! Everything is on sale, and it really is a great time to meet the pros and pick their brain, which is what I would be doing if I weren’t so busy selling tackle!
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