Texas hunting, fishing pursuits again highlight wealth of outdoor opportunities

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Turkey hunting in Texas can be tough, with the success rate sitting at about 40 percent statewide
Turkey hunting in Texas can be tough, with the success rate sitting at about 40 percent statewide

It was a good year in 2013 for those of us who took part in all the hunting and fishing pursuits that Texas has to offer. And not simply because Dick Cheney didn’t shoot anybody — that we know of.

With that in mind, here are 10 things hunting and fishing seasons in Texas and elsewhere reaffirmed in my mind as we continue in a new year:

Alaska remains too spectacular to put into words: The Last Frontier long has been Mecca for hunters and anglers looking to chalk up big memories — and bigger game. But until you actually see humpback whales breaching, orcas chasing after seals or any of the other amazing wildlife, you can’t quantify the amazing scale of things in this grand landscape.

As far as the fishing in the summer, it’s is in a league of its own whether your pleasure is dapping a fly pattern in riffles for salmon and trout or cranking up a chunky halibut or tasty rockfish from 300 feet below, and hitting the water that time of year is well worth the effort.

Turkey and goose hunting can be a lot of work: When it comes to turkeys, the birds are relatively easy to locate and to pattern. But that’s not to say a mature gobbler won’t defy logic at every turn almost as if he planned it that way and is toying with you. Seasoned turkey chasers will tell you having a plan for intercepting an old bird is great — until the turkey throws it back in your face and sneaks out the opposite direction. For geese and waterfowl, pulling the trigger is the easy part. Toiling over decoys is another story, especially on frigid early mornings when your fingers don’t want to cooperate. However, that chill soon fades when the honkers pile in to your setup. Man, that’s an awesome sight.

Calling in a mature gobbler should be on your list of resolutions.
Texas turkey hunting is a pursuit unlike any other.

Sandhill cranes are the most impressive things with wings: A mature sandhill cuts a wide swath through the air with as much as a 7-foot wingspan, and when a flock of the birds decides to come swooping into your decoy spread, there’s no hunting experience like it. The distinct cackle of the birds also is something to behold, especially when they’re thousands of feet in the air and you can still hear the flying dinosaurs as if they were right on top of you. They’re also dubbed the “ribeye in the sky” for a reason — great eating critter.

Rain always comes at the most inopportune time: It’s not that getting a little wet is that big a deal. It just makes for tougher sledding. Attempting to tie a fly or another fishing lure onto your line with slick hands can be somewhat irritating. So can putting the sneak on a turkey or any other quarry while trekking through a half-foot of mud. Then again, the challenging outings make the ones that come together easily all the more worthwhile.

Lightning is impressive, just not when you’re on the water with a graphite fishing rod in your hands: As the old saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The same could be said for thunder and lightning. I’ve heard stories of anglers flipping out a plug and their line hanging in the air due to the surrounding static charge in a lightning storm. I’ve also heard of fishing rods starting to sizzle in a fisherman’s hands. I was on the water a couple of times when Mother Nature put on a show, but I’d rather keep lightning stories in the third-person, so my rod and I ended up as low as possible in the boat for a while.

When you live in our huge state you get used to driving a little — or a lot — to get places: Texans have never been shy about adding to the odometer. When I was younger, a four-hour drive was a draining experience. Now, a half-day trip to a great fishing hole or hunting spot is well worth the go-juice.

And sometimes, it’s the most fun to get off the beaten path. There’s nothing better than finding a new spot that you didn’t know was there.

Nothing smells quite as sweet as a sunflower field in September: There’s not much you have to say about this one. It’s like potpourri for the soul. Having plenty of doves zipping around is just a bonus.

The white-tailed deer is the most amazing animal in our state: This is kind of a no-brainer, but these rascals continually find new ways to bust you in any kind of setting. They are at the top of their game, and that’s what makes it fun to spend time in the woods in the fall and winter.

There are great leaders in our state who are helping educate youngsters: People such as Dr. Dale Rollins, who founded the Bobwhite Brigade, and others involved with state wildlife resources are doing great things when it comes to educating future generations about the roles they will play in conservation and habitat improvement, among other things. There are not enough good things to say about people like Rollins and others who aren’t after glory, but who so deserve it.

Texas is tops for any outdoor activity: From hunting and fishing to hiking and biking — and everything in between — Texas boasts an impressive amount of things to do outdoors. The best way to ensure it stays that way is to share all the outdoors has to offer with a youngster. Showing a youth that there’s more to the world than computers, video games and TV will forge a bond that will last a lifetime. You also might be helping a future leader who could pass it on to another generation.

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Will Leschper is founder of The Texas Outdoor Digest. He has been recognized for Excellence in Craft by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He is Conservation Editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Journal of the Texas Trophy Hunters, in addition to writing for plenty of of now-defunct publications.

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