Flounder, ducks, deer going strong in the cold weather

Buddy Oaks photo of three men holding flounder fish

Flounder are some of the wackiest fish we’ll ever catch, but more often than not, they can save the day. That was the case last week during our first good blast of cold air. A few days ago, I was talking to guide Buddy Oaks across the border at the Hackberry Rod and Gun Club. That’s about 30 minutes east of Sabine Lake. He got to talking about their great catches of flounder and sent me a photo. Three guys at the club fished jigs at the mouths of bayous to catch a box full of flounder to four pounds.

That’s pretty much the same story on Sabine Lake. Guide Jerry Norris says he’s fishing white curl tail Berkley Gulps on the lake and along the Texas side of Sabine Pass. His best catches are on the lower end of the lake at the mouths of bayous on falling tides. Those tides are moving finger mullet and the last of the shrimp out of the marsh, and the flounder are there to get in on the easy pickings. With this week’s second shot of cold weather, there will probably be one more good run of flounder before things slow down.

Duck hunts improve with cold fronts

Our last few cold fronts have been perfectly timed for moving lots of ducks down the Central Flyway. As expected some of the best hunts here in Southeast Texas are in flooded fields, crawfish ponds and the marsh along the coast.

Hunts at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Port Arthur are best for teal and gadwall. Hunters there are averaging about 3.7 ducks per hunt.

On the middle Texas coast, thousands of ducks moved with last week’s weather. Most are red heads, along with scaup and lots of pintails.

Hill Country bucks are still in the rut

While deer hunting up around Lampasas last week, I saw several bucks running does. But that will come to a halt any day now. The deer processors I’ve talked with say Hill Country bucks are in excellent shape thanks to good acorn production. The acorns are still falling, and that’s what most deer are feeding on.

Deer in the Pineywoods are coming to feeders a little bit better than they were during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Deer hunters can’t fool the game wardens

Harris County game wardens monitoring a development property for illegal hunting activity recently encountered two guys coming out the woods on an ATV. It was readily apparent to the wardens that the suspects had been hunting, as both carried rifles and blood was visible on their clothes and the utility vehicle.

During initial questioning, wardens determined neither suspect had written consent to hunt on the property, and both claimed the bloodstains were from a feral hog they had shot earlier.

As is common during law enforcement interrogations, the duo was questioned separately to establish consistency in their story. While pressing one of the subjects to clarify the time of day the hog was killed, the individual opened his cell phone to display a text message string with the other suspect. While thumbing through texts looking for the time of day his buddy had notified him about the kill, he unfortunately scrolled upon a photo of a large 8-point buck his friend had sent at the time he claimed the “hog” had been killed. At that point, both confessed to poaching the deer, and taking it home for processing without tagging or logging it on the shooter’s license. The deer head and meat were seized at a nearby home.

Whether from a guilty conscience or simply feeling he may have pushed his luck, an East Texas man recently tried to avoid getting busted for hunting deer without a license by purchasing a permit after the fact.

Game wardens got wind of a big buck with an impressive 19-inch antler spread possibly being harvested illegally, they started looking into it. It didn’t take long to find the hunter responsible, and wardens learned he harvested the trophy at 7:40 a.m. on Nov. 12. Problem was, according to dispatch, the guy didn’t purchase his license until three hours later. When wardens confronted the man later that evening, he confessed to hunting without a license. He was also found in possession of another deer he admitted to taking the previous week.

During the second weekend of deer season and the opening weekend for duck season, Trinity County game wardens had their hands full. Among nearly two dozen tickets issued, they had game law violations on four illegal bucks, untagged and improperly tagged deer, and illegal possession of lead shot, no migratory game bird stamp, no hunter education, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Trinity County wardens also located a heavily baited area, an abandoned ATV, and a substantial number of violations in the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Robert Sloan is the outdoors editor for The Examiner. E-mail your favorite photos or hunting and fishing experience to sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com for possible publication in the paper.