Getting ready for the gun season on deer

It’s been a slow season for bow hunters, but things will pick up big time once w

Bow season on deer is in full swing across Texas and will continue through Nov. 6. The regular gun season in most Texas counties will run from Nov. 7 – Jan. 3. The South Texas season runs from Nov. 7 – Jan. 17.

I’ve heard from quite a few bow hunters lately, and many aren’t seeing too much movement of deer. That’s mainly because of dense vegetation thanks to so much rain. Plus, we’re still locked into summer-like weather. When we finally do get a dose of cold air, movement of deer will increase big time. Meanwhile, most hunters who have tagged deer are setting up on well-used game trails, or spending a lot of time watching feeders. During the last two weeks of October, bucks in Southeast Texas and the Pineywoods go into rut. Combine that with a little cold weather, and you’ve got the perfect situation to get a shot at a good buck.

Even with gun season closed, there are always a few outlaw hunters that can’t wait to take a shot at deer. And more often than not, game wardens are right there to write tickets and confiscated illegally game.

Just recently, East Texas game wardens caught two men road hunting with a spotlight near Sam Rayburn Reservoir. When the wardens inspected their vehicle, they saw the truck bed had been power washed, but the men missed a tiny spot of blood and hair. When the wardens pointed out this evidence, the men confessed they’d killed a deer a few days earlier. Both men face charges of hunting from a public road, possession of deer in closed season and unlawful possession of a handgun.

In the Pineywoods up around Henderson County, a game warden received an Operation Game Thief call about a person who had shot a deer at night and tossed it into the woods near his own residence. The warden contacted the individual, who claimed he didn’t shoot any deer. His friends were just mad at him and making false reports, he said. The warden searched the area but was not able to find a deer or any evidence of hunting activity. However, the next day, the warden got a call from another person who overheard the suspect say he was “too good for the wardens to catch.” The warden requested the help of another warden and his K9, who quickly found a fresh deer carcass near the suspect’s house. Once the deer was brought back up to the patrol units, the suspect admitted to killing the deer a few days earlier.

Anglers are in the hunt for monster largemouth bass

The 30th season of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Toyota ShareLunker program began Oct. 1.

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between Oct. 1 and April 30 can enter the catch in the Toyota ShareLunker program.

ShareLunker entries that genetic testing shows are pure Florida largemouth bass are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Offspring from ShareLunkers that spawn are stocked into each water body that produces an entry during the season. Some offspring may be used for research, while others may be retained by the hatchery system for use as future brooders.

“The angler catching each fish decides what will happen to it following its use by TPWD,” says Larry Hodge with the ShareLunker program. “Most anglers choose to return the fish to the water body where it was caught. Some donate the fish to TPWD for display at TFFC.

“Fish that are intergrades, or hybrids of Florida and northern largemouth bass, are not used for spawning and are returned to the water body where caught as soon as possible. Genetic testing of ShareLunker entries shows that pure Florida largemouth bass have as much as 18 times greater chance of producing a 13-pound offspring as intergrades do. Limited capacity at TPWD hatcheries requires using all available pond space for the offspring of pure Florida fish.”

Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing, and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The person who catches the season’s heaviest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis of a top-of-the-line rod, Shimano reel, PowerPro line and G. Loomis hat. If the Angler of the Year is a Texas resident, that person will also receive a lifetime Texas fishing license.

Prizes and funding for the banquet are provided by Toyota, which also provides a Tundra pickup truck for use in picking up and returning lunkers and their offspring.

ShareLunker catches can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the season by calling (903) 681-0550. If poor cellphone service prevents use of the voice number, anglers can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600. That number is also monitored 24/7 during the season.

“Most anglers who catch ShareLunkers are unprepared to catch and care for large fish,” says Hodge. “Yet catching a 13-pound bass is possible almost anywhere you fish in Texas. Taking a few simple steps can help ensure the survival of ShareLunkers. Carry a landing net, preferably a rubber one or a net with unknotted mesh, to avoid damaging the fish’s slime coat. Always handle big fish with two wet hands, one gripping the lower jaw and the other supporting the tail. Fill your livewell before you begin fishing. Program the ShareLunker numbers into your phone before the season begins. If possible, take the fish to a bait shop or marina with a minnow tank for holding until pickup. Locate a place near where you will be fishing that has a certified scale and will weigh fish, such as a feed store, grocery store or bait shop.”

Official ShareLunker weigh and holding stations equipped with certified scales have been established at a number of reservoirs; a list is at www.tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding.

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