Cold fronts set the stage for great hunting, fishing

Deer are in good shape in most regions of Texas.

Thanks to our latest cold front, all kinds of good things are happening. Plenty of ducks have started their migration down the Central Flyway, dove hunts have improved, bass fishing is excellent and best of all, we had an excellent season opener for bow hunters.

The bow season that opened last Saturday across the state was perfectly timed with cool temperatures and clearing skies in most areas of Texas. The cool air definitely had plenty of deer on the move, especially in the Hill Country.

Jerry Wiggins has been bow hunting up around Lampasas for years and said this was the best opener he could ever remember.

“First of all, it was cold enough to wear a jacket,” he said. “That was great. I hadn’t been on my tripod stand more than about 30 minutes when a group of does came down the game trail. Not long after that, a nice 9-pointer came by, and I didn’t hesitate to fill one of my buck tags with him. The deer are looking good, and the antler quality seems to be a lot better than the past couple of years.”

Mike Campbell was hunting up around Jasper and got a shot at his best buck ever.

“I was on a tripod stand overlooking a feeder at daylight on Saturday when a fine looking 8-pointer came in to check out three does,” says Campbell. “He had a 19-inch spread. It’s definitely the best buck I’ve ever killed in the Pineywoods. While hunting on Sunday, I had two young bucks come to the feeder, and later in the morning, seven does came by. I’ve never seen that many quality deer moving on opening weekend. I guarantee you it was the cold front that had them moving.”

The bow season is limited to archery equipment only. Hunting prospects are expected to be good across the state. The gun season opener is still more than a month away on Nov. 4. A special youth-only weekend season is set for Oct. 28-29. The general season runs through Jan. 7, 2018, in North Texas and Jan. 21, 2018, in South Texas. A late youth-only season is also slated for Jan. 8-21, 2018. For additional late season deer hunting opportunities and county specific regulations, check out the 2017-18 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations that’s available wherever you can buy a hunting license.

Bass fishing is good and getting better on T-Bend

One thing we can count on in East Texas is a definite improvement in bass fishing with the cooling water temperatures of October. Our first “real” cold front moved through last weekend and dropped surface water temperatures a few degrees on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend.

“That was good enough to jump start the topwater bite on Sunday morning,” says Todd Mason, who fishes on Toledo Bend about three days a week thanks to his recent retirement. “I used a buzz bait along the edge of grass beds to catch several bass to about 6 pounds before 8 o’clock Sunday morning. After that I went to a Stanley frog and caught bass along a creek channel drop in about 5 feet of water with lots of brush. I think our next cold front will really set up some fine bass fishing here.”

Sam Rayburn crappie fishing guide Bill Fondren says he’s still catching lots of big crappie over brush piles.

“Before the front we were using live minnows,” says Fondren. “But by Sunday afternoon we were using Wedgetail minnows. As the water temperatures slowly fall the crappie generally hit the jigs rather than a live shiner. The best bite has been in about 14 feet of water.”

Watch out for snakes

Since the hurricane floods here in Southeast Texas, lots of snakes have been seen, including water moccasins and copperheads. Dove hunters south of Winnie have been seeing lots of nasty moccasins in rice fields. Don’t forget that there are plenty of poisonous copperheads in Beaumont. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for snakes while doing yard work.