Texas Hunting & Fishing | Lone Star Outdoor News 2016-12-10 06:37:28

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Dec 102016

By Craig Nyhus

Last year, Lone Star Outdoor News wrote about an effort headed by several Rio Grande Valley individuals to establish a nearshore reef off of South Padre Island. The reef would serve as a location that does more than attract adult fish, but would be a true brood location where red snapper may be born and live to adulthood.

After more than two years of work at a hectic pace, last week two ships were dropped to the ocean floor.

“We sunk the Gulf Explorer, a shrimp boat and The Sting, a tug boat,” Bob Glick, of Pharr, said.

While the ships were relatively easy to sink on the calm and perfect day, the effort to get to that point was substantial.

“We got permitted in 16 months, and it usually takes three years,” Glick said. “The Coast Guard had to prove the vessels were seaworthy, etc.”

Daniel Bryant of Bryant Industrial Services worked to “make ready” the vessels.

“We cleaned them up, and basically anything that’s not steel needs to come off of the boat,” Bryant said.

The goal of the reef supporters was to get ships in place on the 1,600-acre reef this year.

The reef is approximately 7 miles offshore and it’s 14 miles from the jetties to the shrimp boat. Protection of fish from juvenile to adult is the goal of the project, as well as serving as a model for future reefs.

The concept is based on the notion that red snapper juvenile survival is primarily habitat limited, and the fish need the right size hide-holes and rocks for avoiding predation. Then, the size of the material graduates up to accommodate the main 2-year growth cycle of snapper.


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 Posted by at 6:37 am

Hunting adventure with the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation

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Dec 082016

By Craig Nyhus

Kara Deolloz of Austin grew up around hunting, but was never invited to tag along.

“My grandparents hunted, and I had asked them to take me but they never did,” she said. “They went with friends and the invitation didn’t extend to the kids.”

The 23-year-old college student got the chance in November with the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation.

“I dated a hunter, and I would get excited every time he would go. When I heard about this chance, no one had to convince me,” Deolloz said.

On her first hunt, two bucks were seen in the distance. The next morning, a 6-pointer showed up.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Deolloz said. “He dropped right there.”

There was still one hunt left that evening.

“Five hogs came out and I shot one at 160 yards with a .243,” she said. “I wanted to get the biggest one. It was frustrating, the hogs kept moving around and changing places. Finally he stopped, and I shot him.”

Deolloz attended Texas State and plans to finish her business management and accounting degree at the University of Texas.

When looking at her buck while photographs were being taken, Deolloz made an unusual observation.

“He has really pretty eyelashes,” she said.


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 Posted by at 10:34 pm

Inshore Expo to showcase latest fly rods

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Dec 072016

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

A limited number of the new G. Loomis/Shimano rods along with Shimano reels will be showcased by Fishing Tackle Unlimited this Saturday at the Inshore Expo in Houston.

The first production Asquith fly rods just shipped this week to select tackle shops nationwide from G. Loomis’ Woodland, Washington, manufacturing facility. The product is a joint venture featuring Shimano technology and G. Loomis design and performance expertise and will be on hand at FTU.

Also at the FTU event on the reel side, Shimano will be featuring its new Stradic CI4+ spinning reels. Also, Justin Rackley, of LakeForkGuy YouTube fame, will be at the Shimano display to talk fishing.

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 Posted by at 9:12 pm

Video of second-grader shooting a deer with modern rifle goes viral

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Dec 062016

Staff Report

A 7-year-old girl from Jacksboro shot her first deer using an AR-15 about as big as she was.

That might have been news enough on a local level, but the video of the girl, Lilly, breaking out into a happy grin was shared and ended up going viral in early December.

The girl’s father, Cody Klapper, posted the video on his Facebook page with a cautionary note saying the video may not be for everyone.

The video was viewed by nearly 2.5 million people and shared thousands of times, with both praise and criticism.

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Rain and sleet and a cool Jeep in west Texas. It’s Muley Monday! #lonestaroutdoornews #hunting #deer #muledeer #sickforit #jeep #nikonsportoptics #photooftheday

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Dec 062016

The post Rain and sleet and a cool Jeep in west Texas. It's Muley Monday! #lonestaroutdoornews #hunting #deer #muledeer #sickforit #jeep #nikonsportoptics #photooftheday appeared first on Texas Hunting & Fishing | Lone Star Outdoor News.

 Posted by at 2:55 am

Weekend update

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Dec 062016

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

This weekend LSON’s newsroom dog, Dakota, got to spend the weekend with Craig Nyhus after completing his retriever training at Landmark Kennels. Nyhus hopes to have Dakota afield soon. Mike Hughs went target shooting with his compound bow to sight-in his new TRUGLO Range Rover Pro sight. Meanwhile, David J. Sams guided three mule deer hunters at the Delaware Mountain Ranch in West Texas. They successfully shot bucks before the fog and sleet rolled in Saturday morning. Visibility was down to 100 yards all day. The Chronic Wasting Disease check station delayed Sams’ return trip by more than 2 hours and having to meet the 24-hour check-in for the other bucks caused the hunting party to spend a whole day driving into Van Horn.

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 Posted by at 2:53 am

Public deer hunters happy with harvest

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Dec 012016

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

Those lucky enough to be drawn for public deer hunts are reporting successful harvests across the state – with some bagging or spotting sizable deer.

Jason DeNunzio, who hunted Kerr Wildlife Management Area last week, said that his experience was far better than at his deer lease in Medina County.

“I had the hunt of my life,” said DeNunzio, of Brazoria. “I shot a buck. He’s almost 140 inches.”
DeNunzio said this was the first time he’d been drawn, but it was worth the wait. He has hunted in other states and considered the Kerr public hunt first-class. His buck marked the 100th he’s harvested in his lifetime.

DeNunzio and another hunter were assigned 630 acres to hunt. His partner passed up two harvestable bucks because he was waiting on something bigger. DeNunzio said he didn’t see a lot of deer, but those that showed up were nice.

The experience made him a fan of Texas public hunting, which he would highly recommend to hunters.
“I would tell them they need to try it,” he said.

Evan McCoy, a biologist who helps with Kerr WMA hunts, added that many of the hunters were complementary of the hunts. A 3-day hunt like the one DeNunzio participated in costs $80.

Hunters on public hunts go through an orientation and are required to wear orange. They are allowed to use bait corn at Kerr and can bring their own portable blinds although there are blinds on the property.

Ryan Reitz, area manager at Kerr WMA, said the goal is for the hunters to be successful. So far, that’s been the case. Reitz said 16 hunters were out the second week in November and harvested 15 whitetails and one Axis deer. Also, hunters help provide valuable research information on how the rut, habitat and hunting pressure affect deer, he added.

The top end of deer at Kerr is around 150-160 inches, but 170-inch class deer aren’t out of the question, Reitz added.

In East Texas, the news was also good.

Aaron Friar, who lives in Austin, was thrilled to get a buck that scored just shy of 130 inches during a 5-day drawn hunt at Alazan Bayou WMA that set him back all of $130.

“Actually, I harvested the biggest buck I’ve ever harvested in my life,” Friar said. “It was definitely a great trip.”
Friar likes to use tree stands, so he brought his own for the hunt. “He walked right under me,” he said, of his buck. He added that the guy next to him got a nice 8-point buck as well.

Friar said this year marks the first time he has been selected for a drawn hunt, although he has been hunting on public lands with the $48 public hunting permit for the past 6 years. Friar has never hunted on a deer lease.

“Here’s my theory on that – there’s hunters who have money, and there’s hunters who have time,” he said. Public land hunting requires hunters to study the area and means long periods of not seeing game, but it’s inexpensive.

The only concern with hunting on public lands is it’s impossible to know who’s out there or gage his/her level of experience. Because of that, Friar said he’s always careful.

“Safety is definitely a concern,” he added.

However, drawn hunts are a different story. They are controlled with hunters being given a designated area to hunt, which lowers the risk, he said.

Allen Pride, another hunter who was drawn for the Alazan hunt, is an old hand at public hunts. This marked his fifth drawn hunt.

“The Texas special hunts are the best kept secret in Texas hunting. I’ve been very happy with every hunt I’ve been on,” he said.

Pride, who spoke while hunting in the field, was anticipating having a good hunt after seeing a buck estimated to be 140-150 inches and perhaps 10 points. He and his wife saw the buck 60 yards out, right at dark.

Bill Adams, leader of the Piney Woods Ecosystem Project, which includes the Alazan WMA, said most people are pleased with their public hunting experience regardless of success.
Statistics show that last year, 65-75 percent of hunters saw deer in the Piney Woods lands, while 10-24 percent were successful in harvesting one.

The eight WMAs that make up the Piney Woods Project include: Alabama Creek, Alazan Bayou, Angelina Neches Dam-B, Bannister, Blue Elbow Swamp, Moore Plantation, North Toledo Bend, and one within Sam Houston National Forest.

Combined, the eight WMAs offer public hunting opportunity on 282,803 acres of land managed in whole or in part by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners.

“We’re fairly unique in that we offer public hunting permits on all but one of the eight WMAs,” he said. The number of people applying for the public hunting permits has gradually increased over the past 5 years.

To the west, Chaparral WMA’s recent management hunt for youth reported good harvest numbers.

Stephen Lange, area manager, said the WMA had two antlerless hunts over two November weekends. Of 104 youth hunters, about 50 percent successfully harvested game. The results were 38 doe, 12 spikes, 13 javelinas and 2 feral hogs.

Colby Whitton, 14, was one of the youths who got a doe during the free hunt. It was his second deer since he began hunting, according to his dad, Billy Ray.

Billy said they were allowed to use corn, but the deer weren’t used to eating it. Some deer were spotted far off the first evening of hunting, but nothing was close enough to make a shot. When they returned the next day, coyotes were barking all around them in the dark, which made Colby a little nervous. Once in the blind, they waited about 30 minutes and then noticed a doe eating corn behind them. Colby was shaking with excitement. With some coaxing from Ray, he took a breath and shot the doe through the shoulder.

“He was jumping up and down,” Billy said. “Oh yeah, we’re going to do it again next year.”

Chaparral plans on holding a trophy hunt in mid December, Lange said. Last year a 172-plus class deer was taken — the second largest recorded at Chaparral WMA. The property is high fenced, but without introduced genetics or supplemental food.

“We have some real quality deer coming off public property,” Lange said.

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Walleye, bluegill stocked at Lake Meredith

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Nov 302016

By Craig Nyhus

Lake Meredith may be on its way back.

The Panhandle reservoir formed by Sanford Dam on the Canadian River at Sanford was once known for its numbers of bass and walleye, but a combination of drought and golden algae blooms sealed its fate.
Lake levels were at near-record lows when the blooms came.

“The lake probably had three golden algae blooms from 2011-2013, and it killed most of the fish,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist John Clayton.

The rains returned, though, the water conditions improved, and stocking efforts are underway.
“In April, right around 3 million walleye fry were stocked,” Clayton said. “In October, we stocked about 24,000 bluegill.”

Clayton said stockings of other fish are being delayed.
“We don’t want to stock too fast and we don’t want the walleye fry to have a lot of competition,” he said. “We do plan to put smallmouth bass back in Meredith, but our hatchery wasn’t able to produce any this summer. We’re hopeful we can get them in next summer.”

Anglers may recall the lake being listed as “empty” before the rains returned a few years ago.
“It wasn’t empty,” Clayton said. “The listing is called ‘below dead pool,’ meaning the lake is so low that officials can’t pump water out of the lake.”

Fishermen shouldn’t fret that Meredith is still listed as 64.980-feet below full pool, since the lake rarely nears its capacity. For reference, the lake is 34 feet higher than it was in October of 2013.

“Meredith is now 64-percent full,” Clayton said. “The lake has never been completely full, although it got close in the 1970s and in 1993.”

While few fish survived the low period, one species managed to pull through.
“The channel catfish population has been outstanding — they weren’t wiped out by the golden algae,” Clayton said.

Other species didn’t make it.
“After the blooms and the low water levels, we couldn’t electrofish because the salinities were so high,” Clayton said. “In our surveys, we didn’t catch any largemouth or walleye.”

In October, electrofishing efforts did show a few largemouth bass made it, and one walleye was observed but not caught.
“I presume those fish went upriver and got in a deep hole,” Clayton said.

Officials are hoping the golden algae blooms don’t return, and the lake returns to its former status as a prime fishery. The lake record largemouth is 12.25 pounds (March, 2001), the record smallmouth is 7.93 pounds (March, 1998) and the walleye record is 11.88 pounds (February, 1990).

“A few of the walleye stocked may reach minimum size (12 inches) by the end of next summer,” Clayton said. “But you’re probably looking at the summer of 2018 for most of them to reach minimum size.”

Clayton hopes the walleye return, along with the people who catch them.
“When people heard we were stocking them, most of the questions I received were the same,” Clayton said. “They ask, ‘”What’s a walleye?”’

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 Posted by at 9:10 pm

Devil’s River proposal

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Nov 292016

By Craig Nyhus

Many Texas anglers want to make the trip down the Devil’s River with a canoe, whether for a few days or a week or more.
With improved access and launching areas, more and more are making the trip, prompting fisheries personnel to suggest catch-and-release only areas along the river for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
“Smallmouth bass are on the increase in the river,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s director of information and regulations Ken Kurzawski. “The overall size of the largemouth bass is down slightly.”
Kurzawski said the department has been talking to riverside landowners and outfitters on the river about the increased traffic and fishing pressure on the river.
“The pressure has increased over the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “In 2013, we began requiring access permits from any TPWD property. In the first year, we had 780 permits. This year, we expect at least 1,300.”
The proposal made to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Nov. 1 would designate an area of the river as catch-and-release only for the two species.
“What we are proposing in January (of 2017) is to institute catch-and-release for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Devils from Baker’s Crossing to Big Satan Creek, a distance of 38 miles,” he said. “This is where the river becomes wider and more lake-like, it is the downstream boundary of the State Natural Area.”
If the commission agrees, the formal proposal would be made at the January, 2017 commission meeting, and then opened for public comment to potentially take effect on Sept. 1, 2017.

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 Posted by at 4:12 pm

Weekend update

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Nov 282016

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

Thanksgiving weekend offered much needed hunting time for some and downtown for others. Mike Hughs saw a few deer while celebrating the holiday in the Hill Country, but didn’t take any. He got rid of a few raccoons and resorted to doing a little trout fishing with the kids. David J. Sams opted for downtime with family cracking pecans on the porch. Craig Nyhus went duck hunting in Limestone and Comanche counties, but most of the ducks that were there previously had moved on — a sad, but frequent occurrence for Nyhus. Happily, he did get a mallard, his first in a few years. Darlene McCormick Sanchez practiced shooting the crossbow, but had a hard time cocking it. Weights to develop upper body strength are now on her Christmas list.

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 Posted by at 11:16 pm