Blast of cold air will help hunters and fishermen

deer are set to be moving and looking for food in this week's cold front

Our first good blast of cold air arrived this week, and that will guarantee that both hunters and fishermen will be getting the jump on game and fish across Texas.

It’s no secret that cold air will have deer on the move and looking for food. The only drawback is the combination of wind and cold. Deer definitely don’t like to move around in windy conditions. Conversely, on the cold, calm and sunny days following a cold front, lots of bucks and does will be moving around, and that is a golden opportunity to fill some tags as we move into the last month of the regular gun season on deer.

The duck season opens in the south zone this Saturday, Dec. 9. That means both the north and south zones will be open through Jan. 28. The cold front this week will bring down an excellent push of ducks and geese – probably the best we’ve had so far this season. Some of the best hunts in the north zone last weekend were on rivers and lakes from East Texas and on over toward the Hill Country. A friend of mine hunted a two-acre pond on his Central Texas deer lease last Saturday and came away with limits of mallards, widgeon and pintails. Another group I talked with last weekend hunted a river slough and had 13 mallards, five pintails and a few woodies.

Something that a lot of duck and goose hunters are noticing is that we’re seeing more pintails than we’ve had in years. Denny Copeland says he was on a river hunt last weekend and had hundreds of pintails landing in their decoys. Hunters on flooded rice fields near Wharton and Bay City are having flocks of pintails landing in goose spreads. With so many pintails, a lot of us are wondering why the limit was reduced from two to one for this season. But one is better than none.

Along the coast, water temperatures will be plummeting this week on the backside of two cold fronts. On Sabine Lake, it’ll be a great time to set up and fish the mouths of bayous and canals for flounder. With tides falling on a north wind, flounder will be moving and feeding big time this week, especially this weekend. Something else you might consider is bumping jigs while drift fishing on the lower end of Sabine Lake. That’s where trout and reds will bunch up after a hard-cold front.

Deer hunting season is a busy time of year for Texas game wardens, and there are days and nights when they run across some pretty crazy situations.

Hunters rely on camouflage clothing to mask their appearance and avoid detection in the field, but an Upshur County man recently took “going commando” to the next level. He was arrested by a Gregg County game warden while hunting naked along a state highway. Obviously, he did not have a hunting license on him. The well-known nudist/activist later contested the charges. During the trial, his case fell apart when the warden’s body cam footage was played to the county judge. After hearing testimony and viewing a few seconds of the undressed violator in action, the judge abruptly stopped the video and walked out after ruling in the state’s favor. The activist promptly canceled all appeals and settled the tickets that included hunting without a license, shooting across a property line and disorderly conduct.

Trinity County game wardens were patrolling Alabama Creek WMA opening weekend of deer season when they noticed a truck parked on the side of the road with three hunters standing next to it. As the wardens approached, the three hunters jumped in the truck and started driving away. The wardens made contact with the hunters and noticed a deer carcass in a game carrier on the back of the truck.

While one warden checked the deer and licenses, the other warden walked back to where the truck was originally parked, walked down a trail about 30 yards, and found a dead white-tailed buck hidden in the brush. The three hunters were interviewed and denied shooting the buck, which did not meet the minimum antler restrictions, and further claimed they did not see the deer. The wardens instructed the hunters take them to the area where they were hunting. A K-9 game warden was called to assist and, with the dog’s help, wardens were able to track to where both deer were shot. Evidence of the shootings was found at two of the hunters’ stands, along with the path used to drag out the dead deer. The wardens also found photos of the harvested animals on the hunters’ cellphones. After three hours of investigating, lots of tickets were issued, including restitution.

Comal County game wardens investigating a complaint about the possible illegal killing of a white-tailed deer on the west end of Canyon Lake discovered the animal’s abandoned carcass. An area resident walking his dog had spooked an individual who was in the process of cleaning the deer, and the suspect fled the scene with just the deer’s head and tenderloins. The resident recognized the man cleaning the deer and was able to provide a name and the location of the suspect’s RV.

The wardens made contact with the man and after a few questions, the individual admitted to killing the deer from his RV using a .22 caliber rifle; it is unlawful to hunt deer with a rimfire cartridge. The man denied keeping the deer’s head and antlers, but during subsequent interrogation, confessed to having stashed the head in a nearby tree. The 63-year-old man stated he had never seen a deer that big, and felt compelled to shoot it before someone else did. The man was cited for hunting deer with illegal means and for waste of game. The man also faces civil restitution on the 14-point white-tailed buck.

The week prior to deer season, a concerned citizen reported seeing deer legs sticking out of the back of a pickup truck. The caller knew the owner of the vehicle and provided Hardeman County game wardens with an identification. Upon arrival at the suspect’s residence, the warden observed a man take off running with a set of antlers in each hand. The warden caught up to the suspect after a short foot pursuit.

After detaining and securing the subject, the warden discovered a second suspect behind the residence washing blood out of the back of a pickup truck that fit the description given to him by the complainant. During interviews, the suspects admitted to shooting six deer the previous night, and selling five of them to a local deer processor. They planned to keep the sixth deer for themselves. The two subjects offered to take the sixth deer back to the processor and attempt to sell it.

A Childress County game warden was called in to assist with the sting operation since the processor was located in his county. The subjects sold the deer to the processor for $50 as planned and, once the transaction was complete, the wardens made the bust. During questioning, the processor admitted these illegal sales were common and had occurred in the past. A total of 60 citations and warnings were issued to all involved, including hunting for hire, buying/selling game animal, possessing illegally taken wildlife, possessing without wildlife resource document, improper cold storage books, and possession in closed season. Several more cases are still being investigated. Tickets and restitution are pending.

You thought your job was crazy? Try being a game warden.