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Fish On! Make sure you don’t miss a single bite this fall. Reel in a super low finance rate from Suzuki Marine or hook a select model and get instant savings. Now bring it home with Gimme Six, get six years of protection without paying extra!
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NTER SALES EVENT WINTER SALES EVEN SIX YEARS OF PROTECTION
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Gimme Six Extended Protection promotion applies to new Suzuki Outboard Motors from 25 to 350 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 10/01/20 and 12/31/20 in accordance with the promotion by a Participating Authorized Suzuki Marine dealer in the continental US and Alaska to a purchasing customer who resides in the continental US or Alaska. The Gimme Six Promotion is available for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Instant Savings applies to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki Outboard Motors made between 10/01/20 and 12/31/20. For list of designated models, see participating Dealer or visit www.suzukimarine.com. Instant Savings must be applied against the agreed-upon selling price of the outboard motor and reflected in the bill of sale. There are no model substitutions, benefit substitutions, rain checks, or extensions. Suzuki reserves the right to change or cancel these promotions at any time without notice or obligation. * Financing offers available through Synchrony Retail Finance. As low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new and unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors. Subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on creditworthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR. Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors purchased from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between 10/01/20 and 12/31/20. “Gimme Six”, the Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2020 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.
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A-Team Fishing Adventures I N S H O R E G U I D E S E RV I C E Mobile Bay + Mobile Delta + Dauphin Island
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35 YEARS EXPERIENCE
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 3
HUNTING & FISHING IN ALABAMA & THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE
Using the Jig & Pig for Winter Bass . . . . . . . . 8 by David Strickland How to Build a Hurricane-Proof Roof . . . . . . 12 by Ed Mashburn Late Season Squirrels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 by Charles Johnson Choosing the Best Fishing Cleaning Table for Your Dock. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 by Butch Thierry Deer Hunting Tips for the Southern Rut. . . . 26 by Josh Honeycutt December is the Time to Lime. . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 by William Kendy
Hunting Cabins: What You Must Know Before Buying. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 by John E. Phillips How to Catch Speckled Trout in Cold Water. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 by William Kendy How to Sell Land at the Highest Market Value. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 by Joe Baya
In Every Issue
4 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Best Bets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 by William Kendy Camphouse Kitchen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 by Hank Shaw New Gear for Outdoorsmen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 by William Kendy From the Commissioner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 by Chris Blakenship From the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 by Charles Sykes The Gun Rack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 by Craig Haney Paddle Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 by Ed Mashburn Coastal Outlook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 by Chris Vecsey Pier & Shore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 by David Thornton Regional Freshwater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 by Ed Mashburn Prime Feeding Times, Moon, Sun, and Tide Charts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Pensacola Motorsports Trophy Room. . . . . . 76 Great Days Kids Corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Classifieds & Fishinâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC; Guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Fishing Tips. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 by William Kendy A Great Day Outdoors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 by Jim Mize
PROPERTY PHOTO HERE
PROPERTY PHOTO HERE
Alabama River Uriah Tract
Greene County, Alabama, 490+/-Acres
In Alabama’s fertile Black Belt soil region in Greene County, Ala in the community of West Greene, about 18 miles northwest from the peaceful town of Eutaw. Magnificent fully furnished lodges & living quarters nestled amongst the natural Black Belt prairie landscape w/spectacular views of the stately grounds throughout the property. Improvements include the Main Lodge has semi-enclosed pavilion & outdoor fireplace, additional heated and cooled bathrooms-attached & a stand-alone event pavilion w/electrical hook-ups & lights (approx 7,800 sq. ft. combined); Lodge #2/ Gray House (approx. 3,000 sq. ft.) has 5BRs, 3BAs, & carport; Private owner’s home (2 years old) has 2BR, 2 ½ BA, fireplace (indoor & outdoor), partial glass and screen enclosed porch w/fireplace, lg 2 vehicle garage, safe rm & office consisting of 2,800+/- sq. ft; Horse barn features private guide’s quarters, full l BA, 3 horse stall, cement breezeway, insulated tack rm, wash rack, hay storage & lg closed-in storage rm; the 14’ x 70’ mobile home for employee; 28’x108’ shop, equipment storage bays include 3 separate storage sections w/roll up garage doors & a covered fuel center to include only a 500 gallon fuel tank; a 87’ x 80’ equipment storage barn w/insulated feed storage rm & finally improved all weather roads w/ over 1 mile of crushed rock & paved roads that lead to all of the lodges, main house and barns.
PROPERTY TEXT HERE
Monroe County, Alabama, 44+/-Acres
This diverse waterfront hunting and timber investment is a rare find, with 400+/- feet of frontage on the Alabama River and a huge sandbar. Located between Chrysler and Perdue TEXT Hill, an area well knownPROPERTY for quality fishing, deer, turkey, HERE dove, and duck hunting, just over an hour from both Mobile and Spanish Fort, enjoy easy access using the Bailey’s Creek Road frontage, utilities available nearby, and timber types including mature, unthinned hardwood and pine plantations that are ready for their first thinning. Land of this quality is rarely available in this area, much less with both road and river frontage. ADDITIONAL ACREAGE IS AVAILABLE, UP TO 279+/- ACRES TOTAL.
FL Panhandle Listings
Alabama Listings COUNTY Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Bibb Bibb Bibb Bibb Bibb Blount Blount Bullock Bullock Bullock Butler Chilton
ACRES 545 371 230 189 185 1995 1334 900 735 555 884 342 215 92.7 37 425 416 188 168 152 60 9.3 4000 167 92 85.16 164
COUNTY Chilton Chilton Chilton Choctaw Choctaw Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Cleburne Cleburne Coffee Coffee Colbert Colbert Colbert Colbert Colbert Conecuh Conecuh Conecuh Conecuh Conecuh Coosa Coosa Coosa
146 73 21.65 388 54 620 176 54 41 40 856 128.16 200 33 294 161 133 92.4 80 142 40 40 35 22 430 161 151
Coosa Coosa Covington Covington Covington Covington Covington Crenshaw Cullman Dale Dale Dale Dale Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas DeKalb Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Escambia Escambia Fayette
ACRES 128.5 120 360 72 22 3 0.86 163 876.25 63 63 20 2 1283 860 782 555 463.54 338 282 264 111 97 83 1287 671.6 672
COUNTY Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Franklin Franklin Franklin Franklin Franklin Greene Greene Greene Greene Greene Hale Hale Hale Hale Hale Henry Henry Henry Henry Henry Houston Houston Houston
484 473 344 321 244 234 76.76 10 0.5 2100 490 165 105 38 329 223 80 70 55 200 151 100 47 3 325 66.8 31
Houston Houston Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale Lee Lee Lee Limestone Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Macon Macon
ACRES 17.5 11 633 75 65 20 19.45 373 202 192 142 92 159 108 1.17 0.78 4505 171 53 111 1013 783 656 500 1.6 2370 930
COUNTY Macon Macon Macon Marengo Marengo Marengo Marengo Marengo Marion Marion Marion Marion Marion Marshall Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery
486 483 163 6214 3000 1164 558 551 286 88 80 77 50 535 1800 439 308 299.1 260 790 279 269 150 129 3314 926 858
Montgomery Montgomery Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pike Pike Russell Saint Clair Saint Clair Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter
ACRES 788 768 330 240.75 151 120 116 837 513 450 430 240.36 521.95 112 50 656.08 66 195 159 92 90 80 740 550 530 350 45.7
COUNTY Talladega Talladega Talladega Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Walker Walker Walker Walker Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Winston Winston Winston Winston Winston
320 115 65 500 280 280 203 160 203 100 85 61 1320 455 240 213 120 2365 522 436 310 196 160 140 8.82 2.3 1.3
Escambia Santa Rosa Walton Walton Walton Walton Walton Washington
ACRES 257 95 454 60 45 22.5 22.5 22.5
Over 700 more tracts across over 47 states available...
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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 5
BEST BETS FOR DECEMBER These are our top targets for hunters and fishermen this month! BY WILLIAM KENDY
TIME TO WORK ON INFRASTRUCTURE
With all of the brutal weather Alabama has been having December is a good time to regroup and retrench when it comes to the homestead.
VOLUME 24, ISSUE 12 DECEMBER 2020
We have two articles in this issue that address those issues. Butch Thierry outlines how you can renovate or, if the hurricanes were mean to you, replace your dock mounted fish cleaning station. He interviewed Jay Williamson from KillerDock to get the outline of what you need to consider in a dock fish cleaning station rebuild. For those of you who suffered roof damage from any of the numerous hurricanes and tropical storms, Ed Mashburn’s article on how to build a hurricane proof roof may help you to sleep a little more peacefully.
DECEMBER IN ALABAMA IS DEER HUNTING TIME.
PUBLISHED BY: Great Days Outdoors Media, L.L.C. PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Joe Baya GENERAL MANAGER: Samatha Hester MANAGING EDITOR: William Kendy CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Wendy Johannesmann
Since Alabama is such a large state it’s almost impossible to make any generalizations about when peak rut occurs. What’s happening up in the Bankhead National Forest area isn’t the same as in the Black Belt region.
Josh Honeycutt, in his article “Deer Hunting Tips for the Southern Rut” offers some advice on how you can connect with the buck of your dreams or maybe even the doe of your freezer dreams.
Great Days Outdoors (USPS 17228; ISSN 1556-0147) is published monthly at P.O. Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 Subscription rate is $30 for one-year, $54 for two-years, and $72 for three-years. Periodicals Postage Paid at Mobile, Ala. and additional mailing offices.
Here are some brief nuggets.
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“Hunting anywhere during the rut is all about butt time”. Get in your stand early and hunt late. “Hunt in spots that are close to thick cover, such as bedding or staging areas, but also in locations that allow you to take advantage of a firearm’s range.”
THIS YEAR…CATCH CHRISTMAS DINNER They’re not the most sexy or glamorous fish. They don’t require expensive specialty tackle or presentations. They are plentiful, fairly easy to catch, delicious and fun. Sheepshead begin moving in December and the rule of thumb in terms of locating them is “location”, as in structure. Boat docks, jetties, pilings, bridges, platforms and shallow rigs will attract and hold sheepshead. They will gladly bite on small or medium sized live shrimp and even fiddler crabs but ghost shrimp and hermit crabs will work. Depending on conditions freelining the bait with one or two split shots results in exciting fishing. See all of the saltwater regional reports in this issue along with this month’s “Fishing Tips” for more specific info on cashing in on sheepshead.
6 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
SUBSCRIBERS: All subscriptions begin the first issue for the month following receipt of payment, if payment is received by the 15th. Great Days Outdoors assumes no responsibility for delivery after magazines are mailed. All delivery complaints should be addressed to your local postmaster. CONTACT US: EDITORIAL | JoeBaya@greatdaysoutdoors.com ADVERTISING | SamHester@greatdaysoutdoors.com SUBSCRIPTIONS | email@example.com Great Days Outdoors Media LLC PO Box 460248 Escondido, CA 92046 877. 314. 1237 firstname.lastname@example.org www.greatdaysoutdoors.com All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission from Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC.
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Using the Jig & Pig for Winter Bass BY DAVID STRICKLAND Photos by David Strickland
In 1921 two friends walked into a butcher’s shop and bought a slab of pork fatback. They were having trouble finding live frogs for bass fishing. They cut various shapes from the cured pork skin while leaving a small piece of fat where the hook would go. After many tries, they created a chunk that resembled a swimming frog. It worked so well that the next year these two fishing buddies started the “Uncle Josh Bait Company.” Around 1960 an Arkansas angler named Bob Carnes made crappie jigs that he sold to local bait shops. One owner asked him if he could make a good bass jig. He designed one and then experimented with rubber strands instead of deer hair for the skirt. Carnes found that the elastic in girdles worked well. He tracked down the girdle supplier and bought a 50-pound roll of elastic that he used for his first production run. After negotiating with the supplier to dye his rolls, the “Arkie Jig” was born. Many trace the moment a piece of Uncle Josh’s pork skin was threaded onto an Arkie jig as the birth of the term, “Pig-n-Jig.” It didn’t take long for the secret to get out that this combination would catch a lot of bass, even in cold water. In 1995 “Uncle Josh” got out of the pork rind business. This caused considerable anxiety and created a dilemma for many. Those pieces of dyed pork skin graced the hooks of bass fishermen PORK STRIP ALTERNATIVES Silicone, rubber, and plastic are now the most common substitutes for those once-famous pork skins, and every good bait store has a variety of jig trailers. There are a few companies that offer variations on pure plastic replacements. One company is Fishbites, based out of St. Augustine, Florida. For it’s baits, Fishbites incorporates a tough mesh sandwiched between layers of a rubber-like material infused with a fish attractant. Their trailers are the result of decades of research and made in the U.S.A. We know that the pig-n-jig works in warm weather. I used a pumpkin Fishbites scented bait strip on my jig during a recent float trip and caught several good fish. Before my trip, I talked to guide and seasoned tournament angler, USCG Capt. Mike Carter, about his experience with these scented trailers and their effectiveness in cold
8 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
weather. He uses Fishbites scented frogs as a trailer for his winter jigs when fishing tournaments and furnishes them for his clients. Carter grew up on one of the premier bass lakes in the country, Lake Guntersville.and began his guide service in 2005. His tournament experience has allowed him to hone his skills on some of the country’s most famous bass waters. He fishes year-round, and I spoke to him about his use of the pig-n-jig and his favorite equipment to maximize its effectiveness in cold weather. EQUIPMENT • Rods - Carter prefers a seven-foot three-inch Hammer extra heavy graphite rod for wintertime jig fishing. Bass will often pick up a jig and remain stationary, so a rod that transmits this soft bite and still has the leverage for a good hook set is crucial. • Reels - “Sometimes a bass will pick up a jig and head straight to the boat, and you need a reel that can quickly crank in that slack to set the hook.” Carter said. He uses a Lew’s high-speed bait caster with 6:3, 6:8, or even a 7:1 retrieve because of this. A smooth, strong drag is also necessary to handle those potential trophy fish. • Line - Jigs are often fished in heavy cover, so a strong, tough line is required to pull a lunker out of weeds or brush. Winter water is frequently very clear, and Carter prefers Vicious Pro Elite 20-pound fluorocarbon. It has low stretch, near invisibility, and the strength needed when a trophy inhales a jig in thick cover. • Jigs - Cold water usually dictates heavier jigs, but there are times when downsizing both lure and line can be effective. A black/blue or pumpkin skirted jig is a reliable winter pattern, but Carter prefers a Choo Choo Rocker jig in royal red or cardinal when he fishes over Lake Guntersville’s winter grass beds. Typical Guntersville winter lake fishing is in 8 –10 feet of water, and it’s a similar depth for both Wheeler and Lake Martin. • Trailers - Many cold-weather anglers go with the traditional chunk shaped trailers. A trailer that simulates a crawfish profile is crucial to successful cold-water fishing. MODIFYING JIGS The beauty of the jig-n-pig is that you can vary the weight, color, and trailer to mimic baitfish or crawfish. The hook thickness, skirt size, and trailer options are so numerous that it can be fished in open water to resemble baitfish or in the thickest treetops, rocks, or weeds yearround. There are subtle variations on jig shape, hook angle, and weed
FISHING guard that determine the best jig and trailer combination for any fishing situation. Jig Skirts - Jigs skirts often come out of the package too long. Many pros take scissors and cut within 1/4 inch of the hook either straight across or following the hook curvature. Color choice is dependent on water conditions. Black/blue or pumpkin are the traditional first choices. Weed Guards - When fishing heavy cover, many anglers leave the weed guard intact or make a slight cut off the top of the bristles in line with the hook point. In open water, anglers may cut a few bristles, spread them, or even remove them. A stiff weed guard can lead to missed hook sets, but insufficient bristle length, numbers, or stiffness can lead to hang-ups. Many anglers make subtle adjustments to the weed guard as they fish various situations. The goal is consistent hook sets while avoiding hang-ups. Trailers - Wintertime bass slow down and don’t expend lots of energy chasing food. They depend on high protein crawfish as one of their primary winter foods, so it makes sense to make that jig appear as close as possible to their winter coloration. Crawfish love rocks and structure. They grow new shells and molt several times a year. Knowing the correct color of the crawfish where you fish can have big rewards. CRAWFISH The jig-n-pig shines as a crawfish imitator. This imitation in size, coloration, movement, and even sound is well known to tournament anglers. Crawfish love rocks and crevices. They prefer to spawn among boulders, rocks, and gravel and often make a clicking sound as they move around the rocks. Their claws scraping on the rocks is mimicked by rattles attached to a jig and the subtle bouncing action as the jig contacts hard surfaces. For winter fishing, a slow retrieve with varied pauses and an occasional twitch closely matches crawfish movement. Crawfish coloration varies as they grow, molt and mate. Their colors can vary significantly but are usually a deep moss green with touches of brown or muted orange. There are regional variations, and some pros have been known to set crawfish traps baited with cat food in the waters they plan to fish. This is surely the best way to get the trailer and skirt color right. WINTER PATTERNS Location and presentation, along with color, are always key factors. If you target creek channels with sharp breaks or turns on the main lake, you don’t have to fish as deep as you might think, as long as deeper water is nearby. Shallow flats with scattered wood or riprap on the edge of a channel are great places to cast a jig. Carter makes his living by consistently finding good fish for his clients and to help him win tournaments. His pattern for winter fishing in Lake Guntersville is fishing 8–10 feet over weed beds and pointed out that his pattern consistently produces good numbers and larger fish. “If the weather warms for a few days, don’t hesitate to throw a swim jig in a flat with two feet of water,” he said and added that the fish will move from the depths to those areas to actively feed with just a slight increase in water temperature.
A Sipsey River spotted bass with the jig-n-pig 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 9
Using the Jig & Pig for Winter Bass
Colors and combinations are almost unlimited and all can benefit with the addition of a Bob‘s Frog
A good Sipsey River spotted bass courtesy of the pig-n-jig Another of Capt. Mike’s trophy winter bass caught with a Choo Choo rocker jig in Royal Red
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10 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Wheeler Lake, northwest of Guntersville, is well known for its rocks, weeds, and creeks. Fishing its ledges, drop-offs, depressions, the mouths of creeks, or where the Elk River enters are great places to find winter fish. Be sure and try the shallows if there are a few consecutive warm, sunny days. Located not too far from Montgomery, Lake Martin offers some deep rocky structure, and the lower winter water level causes many bass to move near deeper water. They hold near points, ledges, islands, rock bluffs, and boulder-strewn banks. These bass will be near deeper water and migrate along the structure to feed. A few warm, sunny days can push them into the 2–5-foot depths to feed. Don’t let cold weather be your excuse for not fishing. The winter months consistently produce trophy fish that many fishermen only dream of. The waters are less crowded, and in Alabama, cold usually means a light jacket. It’s a slower fishing method that’s not as strenuous as the summer flipping or pitching techniques. So, don’t put that boat away just yet; you could miss out on some hot fishing during the cold weather
Important Contact Information Fishbites (Carr Specialty Baits) 164 Nix Boat Yard Road St. Augustine, Florida 32084 877-840-Bait (2248) www.fishbites.com
BY JARED, THE HESITANT CHEF
Recipe and image courtesy of www.thehesitantchef.com and www.yummly.com
Pan Fried Largemouth Bass with Roasted Potatoes with Wilted Arugula For this dish my inspiration came from my childhood fishing trips with my family. When we would go camping, we would go fishing and would try to catch enough fish for our dinner. I have fond memories of those trips because I always loved sea creatures and fish, so catching them would peek my fascination and let my imagination run wild. This included when we got back to camp and my Dad would scale, gut and fillet the fish. I remember being both upset and intrigued by the process: sad because the fish died, but also fascinated by how fish are biologically designed. Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 45 mins • Total: 1 hour Ingredients
• • • • • •
1 lb Largemouth bass filleted and with the skin removed 1 medium potato large diced 2 cups fresh arugula 3/4 cups flour 1 tsp garlic powder 1 clove of garlic minced
• • •
Peanut oil Olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, toss potatoes in salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 45 min or until the potatoes are golden brown. While the potatoes are cooking, season the fillets with salt and pepper. Make your flour dodge by mixing garlic powder and flour together. Dredge the fillets making sure that it is well coated. When the potatoes are 25 minutes away from being done, turn on your pan, add the peanut oil, and heat to medium high, making sure that it is hot before cooking the fillets. Once the pan is up to temperature, place fish in the pan and cook for about 3 min a side. Once the fish is done, take out the pan and season with salt and pepper. In the same pan add garlic and cook until lightly browned, add arugula and wilt, season with salt and pepper. Take potatoes out of the oven and plate. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 11
After a few years, shingled roofs are prone to serious wind damage from hurricanes.
12 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
HOW TO BUILD A HURRICANE-PROOF ROOF BY ED MASHBURN
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 13
How to Build a Hurricane-Proof Roof
Once again I am sitting and watching my neighbors’ roofs blow away in a hurricane. First, the asphalt shingles on my neighbors’ houses start to flap., As the wind grows stronger, the shingles start to break and fly away. And then, as the strong winds grow even stronger, the shingles start to lift in sections and the tar paper underlayment of the roofs show. At this point, my neighbors see their interior ceilings start to dampen and then get totally wet. After the storm finally passes, my neighbors have to deal with interior damage and lots of exterior roof damage. No doubt about it, residents on the Gulf Coast must deal with weather, tropical storms in particular, which other parts of the country just don’t have knowledge of. And that means that roof materials and construction which works just fine in other parts of the country don’t work so well here when a bad storm comes. There is a solution to this annual worry about whether the roof over the family’s head is going to hold up or blow away. Metal roofs for residential structures are a very storm- resistant solution to the problem of shingles flying away. And metal roofs are quite cost effective. IMPORTANCE OF FORTIFYING A ROOF AGAINST HIGH WIND Traditional roof coverings, asphalt shingles in particular, provide good low-cost service in many parts of the country, but shingles on Gulf Coast houses face problems shingles in other parts of the country don’t. Our long hot season and high humidity conditions make asphalt shingles wear out and get brittle in a shorter period of time. When these worn-out shingles are presented with hurricane force winds, they tend to break and fly away. Water damage to the home is the result.
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Metal roofing is much less likely to fail due to wind damage from hurricane-force wind. Metal roofing is screwed down to the sub-layers of the roof structure, and there are fewer seams and edges on a metal roof for the wind to lift and pull away. Jason Norton, president of Baker Metal Works, a major Gulf Coast supplier of quality metal roofing, says when asked about fortifying roofs here on the Gulf Coast, “Very important. High sustained winds occur during hurricanes common to the Gulf Coast. The first thing that someone seeking fortification should do is get with a local engineer/architect to see if the product you are interested in fits all the criteria for your specific location. Some products might meet or exceed requirements in certain areas but not in others. Many factors go into calculating if a specific metal roofing product will work. Roof slope, wind exposure category and design wind speed for the actual house location must be considered.” WHAT GOES INTO A WIND-RESISTANT ROOF Roof design makes a big difference for houses built in potential hurricane regions. Where a specific house is located on the coast is also important. Pricing for both material and installation of residential roofs vary greatly according to specific location. There are many variables which make best roof design and material choice difficult. A study done in France in 2007 showed some general tendencies. First, houses with “hip roofs”(four slopes) performed better than houses with “gable roofs” (two slopes). A thirty- degree roof slope gave the best wind resistance results. Also, this French wind-tunnel study showed that certain areas of a building such as the ridge of the roof, corners, and eaves are subject to higher wind pressures. Working with a professional contractor who is current with legal requirements and building codes is very important. “Follow all local and state building codes. Getting your house (and any other buildings) fortified is a great way to protect your home from the harshest of elements. It will cost the homeowner a little more in upfront costs, but it is worth every penny to know that your house is fortified, and it could very possibly save you money on insurance,” Norton said. WHAT ARE BEST ROOF MATERIALS A wide range of roofing material exist for homeowners facing roof repair after storm damage to choose. Picking the best and most storm-resistant roofing material will take some time and study. Traditional asphalt shingles are cheaper, and they can be applied to most roofs by unskilled crews. In low-wind situations, asphalt shingles are a good choice. On the other hand, metal roofs will cost from a third to a half more than shingles upfront at the time of application. Metal roofs require skilled and trained crews to properly apply the material to the home. Unlike traditional shingle roofs, the installation of a metal roof must always be carried out in an accurately measured and highly precise manner.
We can help...
2100 Halls Mill Road • Mobile, Alabama 36606
251-473-3176 14 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
On the face of it, shingles might seem the best choice. However, most shingle roofs will not last in good storm-resistant shape for much more than ten or twelve years. Then re-roofing must be done to keep the home safe from wind and water damage. Metal roofs are often guaranteed for fifty to sixty years. Once a metal roof is applied, it should not require replacement or repair for a long, long time.
How to Build a Hurricane-Proof Roof
Metal roofs provide hurricanewind proof protection, and metal roofs come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and designs.
The lower up-front cost for homeowners who choose asphalt shingles will be evened out over the long run by the metal roofing’s strength and security from storm damage. And another advantage of metal roofing on residential buildings is lower insurance costs. Quite often when a homeowner applies a metal roof, the insurance carrier will lower premiums and deductibles because the house is much less likely to suffer roof damage from hurricanes. In short, metal roofs don’t deteriorate in the sun, they don’t corrode, and they withstand strong wind. HOW TO SAVE MONEY IF REBUILDING AFTER SALLY Gulf Coast homeowners who suffered roof damage from Hurricane Sally, or any of the many other tropical storms we’ve experienced this season, are in position to make their homes much less likely to see storm damage in the future. Metal roofs can be applied to most existing residential roofs. Licensed contractors can evaluate individual homes and give good estimates of cost and time required to re-roof a storm-damaged home. Working with an experienced and fully-certified contractor is crucial. Metal roofing requires skilled crews to apply correctly. “Existing homeowners that had damage and plan on installing a metal roof can contact a local fortified inspector to guide them through the process of Bronze Fortification (roof only), Norton said. Again, verify that the product you are interested in meets or exceeds your wind exposure category. If the homeowner/contractor follows all the steps laid out by the fortification process, you should be able to receive a discount (verify with your specific insurance carrier).”
ON A PERSONAL NOTE Four years ago we noticed that our house’s original shingle roof was looking worse for wear. We checked prices for re-roofing, and even though the initial costs were considerably higher than a re-shingling job, we decided to put down a metal roof. At this point just weeks after Hurricane Sally and just as Hurricane Zeta comes in, we have had no problems with roof damage from any of the many tropical storms we’ve experienced since the metal roof went down. And all of the other houses in our neighborhood which have shingle roofs have suffered damage- some quite severe. For us, a metal roof was the best decision we’ve made concerning our home’s security and our safety.
Important Contact Information Jason Norton, President Baker Metal Works and Supply 5846 Hwy 189 Baker, Florida 32531 850-537-2010 www.bakermetalworks.com
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 15
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16 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
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Late Season Squirrels BY CHARLES JOHNSON
A squirrel hunt can be fun while scouting for deer and turkeys A mighty oak stands tall in the late winter chill, its bare limbs and branches an indication of changing conditions. Even though the oak appears lifeless, there is life inside and nearby. The mighty oak still provides refuge and rest for wildlife. Nestled in the joint of a branch and the trunk, a gray squirrel was napping in the mid-morning sun. The scaly bark and shadows from above camouflaged the squirrel almost completely. The long hairs of its tail flittered in the light breeze. Near the base, another squirrel scoured the leaf litter for more acorns. A hunter, stealthily stalking a few yards distance, picked out the sound of rustling leaves. His head turned and his eyes focused on the movement. Slowly raising his rifle, the crosshairs of the scope
settled across the squirrel. With the crack of the rifle, the squirrel dropped lifeless on the forest floor. In a scurry, the napping squirrel rushed out on the limb. A slight hesitation and another rifle crack, found him next to his cousin. The hunter remains motionless. Only his eyes move in search for another bushy-tailed target. Slowly he moves to retrieve his game.Â A squirrel hunt in the late season can provide many opportunities for hunters. This is a great time to get outdoors and take a kid hunting. Also, deer hunters can use the time to scout and locate new areas for next season. Savvy turkey hunters might also locate the hangouts of an old tom.
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Late Season Squirrels
STALKING SQUIRRELS Most older hunters cut their teeth on squirrel hunting. Some younger hunters today moved from a squirrel hollow to a deer stand, but both recall the tactics and skills developed from hunting bushytails. While squirrel hunting may not be as popular as other species, it can still be a training ground for young and old hunters alike.
Don’t overlook edges of pine thickets for squirrel hangouts.
“I started out squirrel and rabbit hunting with my uncles,” mentions Tyler Ponder of Cleburne County, Ala. “After learning how to hunt squirrels I moved on to deer.” Ponder said that they hunted squirrels either by sitting and waiting on them to move or by stalking or slipping slowly along creek bottoms. After spotting squirrels, they would move in closer if needed to get a shot. The tactic is similar to a spot and stalk on deer. Late season squirrels can be more skittish than in early October. In some areas, there has been plenty of hunting traffic in the woods. Even though squirrels weren’t the primary target, they were scared enough to become better hiders.
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18 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Late Season Squirrels
Usually a squirrel’s first defense is to scamper up a tree. They can flatten out on a limb or curl up into a ball of fur in a fork of a tree. Late season hunters can use this to their advantage. Picking out a bushytail in the branches of a 40-foot tall oak is not as simple as it sounds. “Don’t look for the whole squirrel,” Ponder advised. “Try to pick out an ear, a hump or something that does not look natural in the tree.” One trick some old squirrel hunters use is for one hunter to remain still and watch the tree while another hunter circles around to the other side. Sometimes the squirrel will shift position slightly, but enough for the first hunter to pick him off. HANGOUTS FOR LATE SEASON SQUIRRELS Because of the diverse habitat throughout the Cotton State squirrels are plentiful and these wily bushytails can make their home almost anywhere. However, in the winter months, certain areas will harbor more squirrels than others.
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“Creek bottoms with a few oaks are good spots to locate squirrels,” Ponder reported. “Sometimes there are left over acorns in these areas.” Ponder believes that stalking squirrels along creek bottoms is a little easier in the damp leaves. Also, these spots are more likely to have water oaks, which tend to drop their nuts later in the season. Small branches and creeks running through a pine plantation are usually left standing for stream management zones. Another area squirrels are likely to feed is along agriculture fields. Edges along hedgerows or forest borders may have some remaining soybeans, corn or peanuts. There could be remnants of some grain that was not harvested. Weather can be a major factor for late season squirrels. Cold, blustery days will have old Mr. Bushytail curled up in a hollow tree. He won’t be much inclined to venture out and play. Windy conditions make it difficult for squirrels to detect danger. Also, a hunter will have a challenge to see a squirrel in dancing tree limbs. Crisp, still mornings are probably the best time to bag a limit of squirrels. As the sun peaks over the horizon, squirrels begin foraging along the ground for acorns and seeds. The scratching of little feet in the frosty leaves will give away their position. Ponder advises not to shoot the first squirrel that shows itself. Be patient, and watch for other squirrels to join in on the breakfast party. Sometimes after the first shot from a .22 or .17 rifle, the other squirrels will freeze motionless. They will attempt to locate the direction of the sound and a ready hunter can pick off another bushytail. An accurate rifle with a quality scope will offer longer shots in the bare, winter woods. Shots at 40 or even 50 yards are not uncommon. Squirrels are a small target, but with practice and an accurate rifle, the long shot challenge can pay off. SCOUT WHILE SQUIRREL HUNTING Another advantage of hunting squirrels in the late season is the opportunity to scout for deer and turkey. With squirrel season open until March,
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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 19
Late Season Squirrels
Fresh turkey scratchings are a sure sign birds are in the area.
the lookout for rubs, tracks and trails that indicate deer are using the neighborhood. In some sections of the state, deer may still be making scrapes. Deer trails along the forest floor will stand out fairly well in the fallen leaves, especially a regularly used trail. Hunters may want to backtrack up or down the trail to determine where the deer might be coming or going. It’s possible to locate a feeding or bedding area. Hunters will want to mark the spot on a map or use a GPS unit. Surveyor’s ribbon is another option to mark a candidate spot for additional scouting. This will be the place to set a stand for deer season in about seven months. Late season squirrel hunting provides another opportunity for adult hunters to get a kid in the outdoors. This is the perfect time to introduce a youngster to hunting. Squirrels are plentiful and they provide the perfect scenario to teach kids and novice hunters about stalking, tracking and shooting. The hunting and “woodsmanship” skills passed along to newbies will never be forgotten by either teacher or student. Each will treasure the memories of a simple squirrel hunt and a great day outdoors.
that’s only 10 days before spring turkey season opens in most counties around the state. Hunters will want to listen for any gobbles on those cool, still mornings. “Don’t try to call to the turkeys,” advises Bob Phillips of Lincoln, Ala. “Your calling will only educate that turkey before the season arrives.” Phillips mentions hunters should listen and note the location where the turkey is gobbling. Old toms like to hang around the same area, especially if there are some hens around. Chances are he will be close to the same spot on opening morning of turkey season. Even if the turkeys are not gobbling, hunters can watch out for other signs that turkeys are using a certain area. Look for turkey tracks around mudholes or along old logging roads. Remember those creek bottoms for squirrels? Search for turkey tracks in sandy spots or washed out areas. Turkey scratchings are another sign that squirrel hunters might run across in hardwoods and mixed pines areas. Turkeys love to scratch up the forest floor to feed on acorns, nuts, seeds and insects. These raked out areas can be several yards across. By observing the fluffed up the leaves or pine straw, hunters can tell how fresh the scratching sign is. “In the winter months turkeys usually will roost in pines,” Phillips mentioned. “Look for a group of large pines off the side of a ridge.” Hunters will also want to be observant for deer sign. Your squirrel hunt may take you into a new area where few hunters have ventured. Be on 20 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of Great Days Outdoors. Since that time Charles Johnson has passed and this article is reprinted with permission. His hunting expertise, exemplary writing and presence is much appreciated and greatly missed.)
Recipe and image courtesy of www.allreceipes.com
Slow Cooker Squirrel and Veggies This slow-cooked squirrel is a no brainer for a first-time cooker of squirrel. My husband and 2 sons were very impressed as if I had been making this dish my entire life. The meat will fall off the bone.
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Prep: 25 mins • Cook: 8 hours • Total: 8 hours 25 mins Ingredients
• • • • • • • • • •
1 onion, cut into chunks 2 cups baby carrots 4 large potatoes, cut into small chunks 1 large green bell pepper, cut into chunks 2 cloves garlic 4 cubes chicken bouillon Salt and pepper to taste 3 squirrels – skinned, gutted and cut into pieces Water to cover 2 tablespoons flour
Instructions Place the onion, carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, garlic, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker. Lay the squirrel meat on top of the vegetable mixture. Pour enough water over the mixture to cover completely. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours. Stir the flour into the mixture and cook for another 2 hours. Enjoy
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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 21
Choosing the Best Fish Cleaning Table for Your Dock BY BUTCH THIERRY
22 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
LIFESTYLE There is no doubt that 2020 will go down in history easily as one of the most challenging weather years that the Southeast and Gulf Coast has ever experienced. It has been one hurricane and tropical storm after another, and among the casualties of all that brutal weather, were many docks. The beloved fish cleaning stations and tables that held fond memories of past fish caught and battled are now history. On the other hand, there is a silver lining in every cloud and this presents an opportunity to step up a notch when it comes to rebuilding and installing fish cleaning stations. To that end we interviewed Jay Williamson, KillerDock Vice-President on a recent GDO Alabama Saltwater Fishing Report podcast to bring us up to speed on things you need to consider when rebuilding your dock and choosing the best cleaning table or station to make your dock great again. KillerDock is a family owned business based in Mobile that manufacturers six different high-quality fish cleaning units, utilizing marine grade aluminum and state-of-the-art components. Williamson emphasized that one of the criteria for people to consider when determining what type of fish cleaning station to install is whether the manufacturer is constantly upgrading and improving its products. “First off we are constantly improving our products to make them perform better and deliver more value,” Williamson said. “For example, we are now using SG Marine ceramic coating that allows the water, blood and guts to bead up and not stick to it, doesn’t show watermarks and keeps a really nice shine on the aluminum.” “Another thing we’ve done is improve our canopies with just little design changes that actually make a big difference on performance and appearance,” he said. “For example, we used to use round expansion poles on the top where the canopy lays but we changed that to an airfoil design, which adds to the strength of the unit and it looks really nice.” Williamson pointed out that KillerDock recognized that there is a corrosion situation that exists between dissimilar metals. For example, stainless steel used with aluminum will make the aluminum
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Choosing the Best Fish Cleaning Table for Your Dock Managing Wild Turkeys Through Teamwork
the money spent on turkey permits, which is part of the licenscorrode quicker. ing requirement to hunt turkeys in Florida, goes into that fund.
“We use 5052 marine grade aluminum and 316 “Many hunters and NWTF members are heavily involved in grade stainless steel hardware, and we use a nyraising funds for the wild turkey and its habitat by participating lon washer to separate the two dissimilar metals. in NWTF hunting heritage banquets, whereby a portion of These high-grade materials alone give strength those funds raised goes into the cost-share program,” Nicholand longevity to the product, but we go beyond son said. “Hunters’ purchases of hunting equipment also helps that to ensure product integrity for as long as support wildlife conservation through the Wildlife and Sport possible.” Williamson said. Fish Restoration Program, which brings federal grant funding to state wildlife management agencies such as the FWC.” Since a fish cleaning station is not something you replace often, it makes sense to determine exactly Through this combined effort from the NWTF, FWC, FFS and what your needs are presently and factor in what Florida turkey hunters, the wild turkey population is healthy they may be in the future. You also need to baland flourishing in Florida. And, if you’re a turkey hunter, then ance that out against how much space you have you must be getting excited because spring turkey season on your dock (or the new one you will be building) and the youth turkey hunt weekends are just around the and what are the options you want to incorporate. corner. KillerDock has two different styles, the Slam and Upscale, available in five, six and a half, and Contactthe Information eight feet sizes. Depending on the models, customers can choose options for the water manifold Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program Florida State Chapter of location, the National Wild Federation location, drain sink or Turkey no sink, hose loca(NWTF)tion and type of mounting base. The Upscale line Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is the Service table itself with options while the Slam line Florida Forest (FFS) incorporates canopy toArea protect you from the Green Swamp Wildlife the Management (WMA) elements. Of course, customers can add all kinds Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration of several options to bestProgram meet their needs.
24APRIL DECEMBER // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237 42 2020 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Choosing the Best Fish Cleaning Table for Your Dock
“The eight-foot model offers a lot of space for big fish and if you anticipate having two guys clean fish side by side,” Williamson said. “A lot of it depends on what the anticipated use is and the budget.” “We have a- five-foot models, six and a half foot models and then eight-foot models and in the canopy versions the canopy is actually two feet wider than the tables,” Williamson noted. “So that with a five-foot table, you are going to have about a seven-foot canopy and on an eight-footer, you will have a ten-foot canopy which is plenty of shade and protection.”
“THERE WILL BE BLOOD”
“While the canopy is large enough to keep you in the shade, it is low profile and so we haven’t had any complaints from people installing them on their docks and it blocking their view and, in most cases, it is lower than their boats on the boat lifts,” Williamson said. Williamson pointed out that as important as the budget considerations are, the size of the dock is also a major concern when determining what fish cleaning station to install. “You may only have a narrow area like a finger pier and don’t have space for much. We have a table model that will fit,” Williamson said. “The nice thing is that our table models only take eight inches of dock space because they hang over the water. You’re freeing up the maximum amount of dock space and because they hang over the water by 19 to 21 inches. According to Williamson one of the major benefits of having the KillerDock cleaning station extended over the water all of the fish cleaning waste is drained out below the deck. The cleaning table has a front lip designed to prevent spillage on your feet and the table itself is angled 2 degrees front to back and drains through the legs. In addition, hose stations are built into every model. “The lip keeps everything from coming off the front and it all drains around the King Starboard cutting surface, and goes down the drains which are in the legs,” Williamson said. “If you’re a high-volume fisherman, or just prefer the classic slotted draining table approach, we offer that option on all of our models.”
Customers can order KillerDock units and they arrive crated up. Williamson says that they aren’t difficult to install. “We say that if you can hang up a tv mount on the wall, you can definitely put up a KillerDock fish cleaning station,” Williamson said. “The tables go up very simply, just a couple of bolts, lay it up, lag it in and it’s done. Obviously, with a canopy model there are a couple more things involved but it’s not too bad.” Just a reminder…Christmas is just around the corner and a KillerDock for Christmas is the perfect gift that will last a long, long time.
Important Contact Information Killerdock Killerdock.com 251-207-1743
www.HOGRUSH.com 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 25
Deer Hunting Tips for the Southern Rut BY JOSH HONEYCUTT
While some aspects of the whitetail rut are different in northern states, not all of them are Bloodshot eyes roll back in their sockets. Gray-tipped ears pin back against the neck. Flaring nostrils cut loose one of the gnarliest snort-wheezes you’ve ever heard. Then, two titans clash in an epic battle for dominance. That anecdotal scene is common during the rut, even in parts of the South. Going about witnessing it isn’t easy, though. It takes knowledge, skill and a little good fortune to make it happen. Here is some advice from pros who fill tags on big southern bucks every season. RESEARCH PEAK BREEDING DATES NEAR YOU The northern half of the country enjoys a rut that generally peaks within the first two to three weeks of November. It’s slightly different from one place to the next, but it’s consistent from year to year. Consistency holds true for the South, too, but peak rut dates range from July in Florida to March in Louisiana, and everything in-between. Obviously, knowing when the big dance cuts loose near you is extremely important for success. Mike Mayfield is a diehard deer hunter, and spends much of his time in the South, especially in Alabama and Georgia. In these states, peak rut dates span months, location depending. He encourages hunters to drill down on these timeframes, and it’s easy enough to call state wildlife biologists to get them. Kevin Knighton, co-host of Backwoods Life, agrees. “Most of the Midwest looks forward to early November as the best time to see rutting activity,” Knighton said. “However, in the South, those times vary drastically. If you went by the popular magazine
26 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Realtree Pro Staffer Mike Mayfield admires an Alabama buck he tagged with archery equipment in 2019. Photo courtesy of Mike Mayfield
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 27
Deer Hunting Tips for the Southern Rut
Backwoods Life Co-Host Kevin Knighton shows off a nice southern buck taken during the rut. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knighton
articles and planned your vacation time strictly for November, you’d possibly miss the best hunting time in your area of the Southeast.” UNDERSTAND THE WEATHER’S ROLE Some people think that cold weather triggers the rut, but that’s just not true. Research doesn’t support it. As previously mentioned, in each given location, the rut occurs at almost exactly the same time each year, plus or minus a day or two. That said, temperature might influence how much breeding activity hunters see during daylight hours. “Cold weather allows deer with fur coats to be more comfortable while moving around,” Mayfield said. He also shares that if it’s 98 degrees in the house, the air conditioning is broken, and you and your spouse are wearing fur coats, no rutting activity is likely to happen there, either. That said, don’t let warmer weather discourage you from hunting. Deer are still moving, and even breeding. It might mean changing up tactics, or sticking with the original plan. “In the Midwest, if temps get a little warm, daylight deer activity may come to a screeching halt,” Knighton pointed out. “Meanwhile, in southern Florida, their rut is kicking off in July when temps are pushing 100 degrees outside. Don’t let warm weather keep you out of the stand in the South.” FOCUS ON FOOD SOURCES The rut is all about finding the does, but to do that, you have to know where they are. That is generally around food. 28 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
“You have to be where the girls hang out,” Mayfield says. “Food plots, agriculture, acorns, know your food sources and when they are available. Identify trails where these deer access the food, and where deer are coming from, especially bedding areas.” We all have those treestand locations where we’ve had nothing but does on camera all season. While those weren’t solid spots to hunt prior to the rut, that’s quickly changing as these gals trickle into estrus. “If you have a stand you’ve avoided early season because your camera showed nothing but does, that’s a great place to be in the rut,” Knighton said. “The more does the better. We’ve got a few food plots like that on our property. Zero shooter bucks on camera until the rut, then new visitors show up on camera every day. The big boys will cruise where the girls are. Be there.” INCREASE VISIBILITY AND LINE OF SIGHT During the rut, if hunting with a gun, it’s important to get your money’s worth. Hunt in spots that are close to thick cover, such as bedding or staging areas, but also in locations that allow you to take advantage of a firearm’s range. At least, Backwoods Life Co-Host Michael Lee encourages it. “We have fields, power lines and gas lines to hunt,” Lee said. “We can see a long ways. Rutting bucks cross these regularly looking for does. Chances are you can see him cross and get a shot, especially when rifle hunting. If you only have woods to hunt, sit where you can see.”
Deer Hunting Tips for the Southern Rut
Once you’ve identified open areas to try, make sure these are located near well-used doe bedding areas. Lee stresses focusing on food sources that does are hitting hard,” “The bucks will come in looking and following. It’s simple. Go where you could shoot a doe each sit, and the bucks will come,” he noted. INVEST SOME BUTT TIME Finally, it’s important to understand that the rut doesn’t guarantee success. Sure, it can be magical, but it can just as easily be a dud. To be successful, it’s crucial to invest time in the stand or ground blind. Slade Priest, co-host of Hunt United, agrees. “Hunting anywhere during the rut as all about butt time,” Priest said. “Find the does and get in the stand. Usually, I say hunt smart, not hard. But during the rut, hunt hard. Slade Priest, co-host of Hunt United on Realtree 365, gives the camera a big grin after tagging a dandy buck in rut.
“Get in the stand early and hunt late.. “The bucks are looking for does. They don’t have a watch. During the rut, I’ve seen more bucks shot from 1 to 3 p.m. than I can count,” he concluded.
CCA AL Events Banquet Fundraisers will return Spring 2021 Until then, check our website for our online silent auctions and giveaways this month!
Photo courtesy of Slade Priest
Show Your Support for Alabama’s Coastal Fishing & Marine Resources. All proceeds from your TAX DEDUCTIBLE purchase are used for marine conservation in Coastal Alabama.
For more info on the events or CCA Alabama www.ccaalabama.org 251-478-3474 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 29
A SEPond expert tests the pond water to determine how much lime needs to be added to make the water healthy and receptive to fertilizing
30 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
December is the Time to
L I M E
BY WILLIAM KENDY Photos by SE Pond Management
By the time December rolls around, for pond owners managing their water for fishing, it is the time to turn attention to the condition and health of the water. Forage fish stocking is done. Fertilizing pretty much shuts down in November. The water is cooling down, the hours of sunshine are dropping and the fish are getting into their dormant period. IT’S TIME TO LIME For good pond management, liming is a critical and foundational step that can have a huge impact on water quality and appearance, especially as it relates to fish production. Having the correct lime water balance allows the fertilizer that is added in the spring to be more efficient and liming in December gives the lime time to do its thing. Norman Latona is president of Southeastern Pond Management, which offers a plethora of pond and lake related services, including ecosystem analysis, management programs, liming, fertilizing, fishing inventory and removal processes, stocking of forage and game fish and more. According to Latona all a pond owner has to do to determine whether he has a lime deficiency in his pond is to do a simple and quick water test. He noted that where in the pond you draw the water from, at what depth or or even doing multiple tests from different locations is irrelevant. The lime level will basically be the same throughout the whole pond. “It is a simple test and we do thousands of them a year and we will even come out and do the test for you,” Latona said. “Based on the results we can give you a good idea as to how much lime you need to put in and it’s based on tons per acre.” Alkalinity Is water’s ability to resist changes in pH and is a measure of the concentration elements like carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides, phosphates and borates. It increases pH, which can help the water to clear suspended particles (as in mud) and can help initiate plankton life and growth by increasing light. “A Lot of times when people talk about acidity and alkalinity, they’re thinking of pH and pH changes. It can change from daylight to dark, seasonally or even temperature can affect it,’ Latona said. “What we’re actually checking is the total alkalinity of the water and specifically the amount of calcium carbonate that’s in the water sample.” Latona explained that the alkalinity of the water determines how responsive it will be to fertilization. SEPond uses high phosphorus fertilizer and if there is lack of alka877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 31
December is the Time to Lime
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32 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
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December is the Time to Lime
linity there is no buffering in the water and the phosphorus sinks down to the bottom and gets caught up in the acidic bottom mud. “Because of the water and soil chemistry, the phosphorus isn’t available in the water column to fertilize or stimulate plankton growth and that is the objective,” Latona said. “A lot of time you can overcome the lack of alkalinity by adding additional fertilizer but it’s certainly not as efficient as if everything is in balance.” Latona points out that unlike fertilizer, which quickly dissolves once introduced to water, lime is a rock and it takes time for it to disperse into the water which is why liming in December is a good idea. In terms of cost, while lime is not overly expensive, the cost of trucking the stone can be high, depending on where it is coming from. Consequently, Latona recommends that pond owners add lime once every three or four years instead of doing it annually. “Quality agricultural lime runs anywhere from $12 to $14 a ton but this fluctuates depending on where you are located. The cost of transportation... and the cost of transportation with dump trucks, depending on the distance involved, nowadays can cost as much as the material itself so it makes sense to lime for a longer period of time,’ Latona said. “If you need one ton per acre annually, you should consider doing three to four tons per acre every three to four years.” MAKING IT SNOW ON THE POND BOTTOM In order for lime to work at its full capacity and help your fertilization efforts pay off to the maximum, the crushed lime has to be evenly distributed across the bottom of the pond. If you have a creek feeding
your pond throwing a bunch of lime at the mouth hoping that the running water will wear the rock down and feed your pond isn’t going to work. Some of the super fine material will disperse but 99% of it is just sinking right down to the bottom and that’s where it is going to stay for years. “In order to get the desired effect, you’ve got to spread it over the entire pond so that it will rain down through the water column and sit down on the bottom mud where the chemical reaction will occur,” Latona said. “We’ve got several large barges that are capable of holding a couple of tons at a time with outboard motors and we transverse the pond and wash the lime off into the water to completely cover the pond floor.” “If it is limed right, if the pond was drained, the bottom should look like it’s dusted with snow,” Latona added. Depending on the size of the pond or lake Latona and company may dump 20-30 tons of limestone and use a front-end or tractor loader to load a ton or two at a time on the barge and just distribute over the entire water surface. “By liming and addressing the alkalinity issue you get 100% production out of your fertilization efforts and that equates to bigger and healthier fish,” Latona concluded. Important Contact Information SEPond Management Norm Latona CP: 205-288-1371 Office: 888-830-7663
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 33
Having a fireplace in your kit hunting cabin provides a warm and cozy feeling just like a hunting lodge offers. Photo courtesy of MDH Foundation
34 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
What You Must Know Before Buying BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS
My dad joined a hunting club when I was 12 and I’ve been involved in hunting clubs ever since. I’ve enjoyed taking all kinds of game and catching numbers of a variety of fish at clubs. However, my best memories of hunting club life come not just in the woods and on the waters, but in the camp houses, listening to and telling hunting stories, laughing at jokes, enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded friends, cooking with club members and being with my family.
“Many hunting camps are built in central and south Alabama where there’s extremely poor clay and expansive soils,” Hayes explained. “Although this region of Alabama has fantastic soils for farming, these soils create many problems for people building hunting cabins, lodges and homes.”
Years ago we were told that to manage a deer herd we had to have at least 1,000 – 2,000 acres.
THE BEST MONEY YOU CAN SPEND BEFORE BUILDING “Once you have a reputable company to build your cabin, you need to hire a geo-technical engineer or a firm like mine to come out to the site and do a soil-boring test. From this test, you can learn not only what kind of soils are present where you plan to build but also how deep you’ll need to put your foundation to make sure your cabin won’t sink. This soil-boring test will tell you the depth of the load-bearing strata. These companies not only deal with soils but also with the water levels in the soil where you’re intending to build. They can handle the surveys for you too that will tell you about the topography of the land,” Hayes said.
But in recent years, hunters like Scott Sharp of Lebanon, Tennessee, who manages three plots of 56, 40 and 15 acres each by planting crops for wildlife, takes his limit of whitetails every year on them. Also my friend, Jim Crumley, the creator of Trebark camouflage, consistently takes older-ageclass bucks on his 40-acre property.
“These engineers can use helical steel piers that are twisted into the ground to reach stable soils to insure you have a solid foundation to keep a hunting cabin from ever sinking. Whether building a house on a slab or on pilings, the helical piers can be included in the footers prior to construction to support the foundation.”
In his book, “Jim Crumley’s Secrets to Bowhunting Deer”, Crumley points out that if someone has the right 40 acres to hunt, that’s all the land they need.
Once the piers hit a depth with 2,000 PSI (pounds per square inch), which is between 6,000 and 7.000 pounds of torque, that’s considered a stable soil level. Then the weight bearing of the hunting cabin will be dependent on soils that won’t move, instead of soils closer to the surface that will or may shift.
MAJOR CHANGES IN HUNTING TODAY Today we’re seeing a change in land usage trends not only in the South but all across the whitetail deer’s range from leasing or hunting large properties with numerous hunters to hunting smaller acreages with families and friends and using these lands for hunting and fishing retreats by building cabins.
Family members and friends are buying and leasing these small acreages for outdoor retreats. They’re building small cabins, often from log-cabin kits or pre-fab kits, so they can cook, eat and sleep together and tell stories around a fireplace or a fire pit. ONE PROBLEM ASSOCIATED WITH HUNTING CABINS When I began to research building hunting lodges and camp houses from kits, I became aware of a maintenance problem I’d never realized that was one every hunter had to consider before building. Overlooking this item could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs after the cabin’s built. If you hunt south of Birmingham, Alabama, the chances are very high that your hunting clubhouse may sink at some time - either in part or as a whole. To learn more about why this occurs, and what can be done to prevent the problem, I’ve talked with Mike Hayes, the owner of MDH Construction Services (www.mdhfoundationrepair.com) in Daphne, Alabama, an expert in identifying foundation problems and then repairing them.
WAYS TO KNOW WHEN YOUR EXISTING HUNTING CABIN IS SINKING Signs of a sinking hunting cabin often can be seen within the first two to three months after construction. Over years, the signs of sinking only will become worse. Here are the signs to look for: • • • • •
Doors sticking and not closing; Windows sticking and not closing; Cracks in the sheet rock; Cracks in the siding or the exterior veneer; and or Bricks and mortar cracking due to these two construction materials moving, although they’re not meant to ever move. Usually sticking windows and doors are the first signs of a sinking foundation. If you’ve noticed these problems, you need to contact a foundation specialist to evaluate how bad the problem is. He can give you a rough estimate of what the costs may be to solve this problem. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 35
Hunting Kit Cabins – What You Must Know Before Buying
“Generally from the time an inspector determines what the foundation problem is, and what will be needed to repair that problem until the repair actually is made requires six to eight weeks,” Hayes explained. The next question often asked is, “What will happen if we don’t repair this problem?”
If you plan to use a cabin that’s already built on your hunting acreage and see some of the problems described about the cabin sinking, you can use these helical piers to solve that problem. Photo courtesy of MDH Foundation
Hayes and other experts emphasize that the problem only will become worse and more noticeable. In a few years, a portion of the cabin may collapse. Foundation problems never get better with time. The cost to fix these types of problems only increases the longer you wait to address the problems. THE BEST KIT HUNTING CABIN FOR YOU Many companies offer cabin kits, and all you have to do is assemble the logs, put in the electrical and plumbing and then finish the interior however you wish. But this description is a simplistic definition of how to build a kit cabin. When you actually receive any of these kits, you’ll learn that you may have the same problem you’ll have if you’ve jumped on a tiger’s back, which means getting on is easy but getting off can be a nightmare. A seemingly easy description of how to build a kit cabin doesn’t factor in the amount of time required, the additional people needed and the expertise necessary to put in the correct foundation, plumbing, wiring, sheetrocking, building interior walls, constructing the kitchen and cabinets, wiring appliances and roofing the cabin. I’ve found that even the most-simplistic instructions often don’t reveal the actual labor and expense required to do it yourself. That’s why “Great Days Outdoors” has interviewed Brock Ray, the founder and owner of Brock’s Huntin’ Cabins (https://www.brockshuntincabins.com/) (https://www.facebook.com/BrocksHuntinCabinsandMore/) and Brock’s Log Cabins (https://
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www.brockslogcabins.com/) (https://www.facebook.com/brockslogcabins/), headquartered in Oneonta, Alabama. You also can see more information about and photos of Brock’s cabins on his TV show, “Brock’s Huntin’ Cabins and More” on the Pursuit Channel. “I work with several mills in north Georgia, Texas, Utah and New Mexico that cut the logs to specifications for the cabins my company builds,” Brock Ray reported. “We build log cabins as small as 190-square feet up to 2,300-square feet. We offer eight varieties of log cabin siding: smooth, rough, machine hewn (log siding and chink siding), hand-hewn, rough sawn and beaded.” QUESTIONS OUTDOORSMEN SHOULD ASK BEFORE BUILDING A KIT LOG OR PRE-FAB CABIN What about Maintenance? When asked to name items that people may overlook or worry about when they’re considering buying a hunting cabin, Ray explained, “Sometimes buyers believe there’s a large amount of maintenance with a log cabin. However, there’s no more maintenance for a hunting cabin than you’ll have if you build a house in the city. For instance, we’ve learned that the darker the stain you use on the logs, the longer the stain will last, even if you build at a location where there’s a good amount of sun. On my personal log cabin, I only have to restain it about once every 6 years, just like you’ll have to repaint your house.” How about Insulation? Another question Ray’s often asked is, “How much insulation does a log cabin need?’ Ray’s companies use 4X8 tongue-and-groove logs, which means you don’t need any insulation, as long as you use heaters or a fireplace for warmth.
457 Dauphin Island Parkway “At the Loop” Mobile, AL 36606 36 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
“If you’re in colder climates, we put hemp for insulation under the floors of the cabin,” Ray says. “I put aluminum siding on some log cabins if requested, and we’ll put 1/4-inch insulation between the siding and the logs. But generally the logs don’t need any insulation, if the cabins are built in the South.” Why Study a Kit’s Floor Plan Something else many people ask is, “Can we change the kit’s floor plan to
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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 37
Hunting Kit Cabins – What You Must Know Before Buying
meet our specific needs and wants?” Most of the hunting cabins Ray builds are custom cabins to include what people want. “For instance, right now I’m building a cabin in Arkansas, and the folks buying the cabin prefer to have more windows than the kit cabin has,” Ray says. “So, we’re modifying the cabin for them.” Ray’s most-popular cabin is the Badger that can be built in either a 600- or an 800-square foot model. “I think the Badger is our biggest seller because the cabin can have two sleeping lofts to sleep eight people. We use many of the same appliances that are designed for tiny homes in our cabins. In one of our packages, we offer a two-eye stove, a sink, a refrigerator and cabinets,” Ray said. THE THREE WAYS TO CONSTRUCT LOG CABIN KITS The Cabin Kit That Comes with a DVD To Show How to Build the Cabin: “If you’ve ever played with Lincoln logs when a kid, the construction of the cabin kit is much like that,” Ray explained. “I also include a DVD with each of our cabins that shows a buyer step-by-step how to build the kit hunting cabin. I’ve also put a copy of this DVD on my YouTube channel – Brock’s Huntin Cabins and More at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eogDGHe1D2Y). If I sell 100 cabins in a year, there’s generally only about three cabins that a buyer buys the kit and builds it himself.” Workers Build the Shell to Produce a Dried-In Cabin: The shell includes the building of the cabin, putting on the roof and placing the windows, the doors and the porches. Then the buyer designs the inside of the cabin in any way he wishes and builds and finishes that inside himself.
Although you can build your own kit cabin like this one, having a builder or at least a carpenter probably will save you time and money. Photo courtesy of Brock’s Huntin Cabins
“We’ve found that very-few people buy cabin kits and want to stack the logs and build the structures themselves,” Ray reported. “If we build the shell, these folks have a building and can design the interior, put in the appliances, plan the sizes of the bedrooms and decide for themselves anything else they want inside the shell. To help our customers buy the correct types of appliances, heating and cooling systems, flooring and other essentials they’ll need to finish the cabin, my company is a dealer for some of the most-popular interior products the consumer may need. Or, if the builder prefers, he can purchase these same products from local vendors.” A Turnkey Kit Cabin This cabin is ready to be used once the build’s over. “I don’t like to build turnkey cabins, unless they’re local, because I can’t quote a finished cabin price,” Ray explains. “I’ll have to use local craftsmen like electricians, plumbers and floorers in other places. Prices these craftsmen charge are different all across the nation.” Types of Log Cabin Foundations According to Ray some people want their log cabins built on a flood plain or near a creek. “That’s where we build the cabin on piers or pilings. We’ve had some cabins built 12-feet off the ground in flood plains. We can build a log cabin almost anywhere someone wants to build, as long as we have a good foundation, and the buyer understands what the words, ‘a good foundation,’ means,” Ray said. Many of us will look at a photograph or possibly visit a kit dealer in search of a small cabin that can be built for family and friends. However, you may encounter unforeseen expenses in time, labor and money you may not have considered. This information from “Great Days Outdoors” hopefully will help you save time, money and energy before you determine which kit cabin you’ll build. 38 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
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Hunting Kit Cabins – What You Must Know Before Buying
SOME OF BOB VILA’S PICKS FOR KIT CABINS
Bob Vila is an expert on building who is featured on PBS and other networks. He recommends these kits anas reliable and well-built. Some of the pre-fab kits are shipped for free while other companies charge for shipping. •
Allwood Homes: The smallest is a four-room 174-squarefoot building. Allwood offers several styles and sizes on Amazon, Home Depot and sometimes on eBay. The nicer Allwoods feature 2-3/4 inch wall thickness, duel winblock wall planks and dual tongue and groove pattern. Bungalow in a Box: http://www.bungalowinabox.com/, 207-443-5691. These Maine kits in various sizes can be assembled by professionals, including siding, window and door installation and metal roof in approximately seven days. The panel frame wall system is left open for clients to install wiring and utilities. EZ Log Structures: https://www.ezlogstructures.com/, 800-652-1065. This company offers a variety of styles featuring 28 mm – 70 mm walls, wall logs of the same thickness and 18 x 110 mm tongue and groove roofs Shelter-Kit : https://www.shelter-kit.com/, 603-456-3801. Featuring pre-cut kits that don’t include windows and doors in the base price, this New Hampshire company offers one and two story standard and custom kits. Summerwood: https://www.summerwood.com/, 866519-4634. Many of these pre-cut kits offer two stories and/ or lofts and also can be pre--assembled for a costlier price. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses on Wheels: https://www.tumbleweedhouses.com, 877-331-8469. Some of these tiny houses feature two stories or lofts and include a trailer, a fully-framed tiny house, a sheathed exterior, a metal roof, windows and doors, exterior siding, electrical, plumbing and insulation.
OTHER LOG CABIN KITS AVAILABLE
Conestoga Log Cabins: https://conestogalogcabins. com/, 717-306-4490. Offering kit cabins starting at 1100-square feet, Conestoga uses engineered wood logs that are resistant to warping, twisting, shrinkage and settling. The company also has bathhouse and bunkhouse kits. Coventry Log Homes: https://coventryloghomes.com/, 800-308-7506. These New Hampshire kit cabins start at 392-square feet and larger and feature 60 models of Energy Star-rated log homes. You can buy an all-inclusive kit with all the materials you need or opt for a basic package that allows you to shop locally for the best-priced timber. . Southland Log Cabins: https://www.southlandloghomes. com/, 800-641-4754. Southland’s kit cabins begin at less than 1,000-square feet and larger. This company has furnished model homes available all along the eastern coast and in the Midwest for viewing. Southland doesn’t provide these materials: gutters, joist hangers, interior finishes, nails, staples and insulation. The Original Log Cabin Homes: https://www.logcabinhomes.com/ 1-800-Log-Cabin. This company has kit cabins available in all sizes and types of woods and also features a 36-month layaway program where you pay 10% down for a deposit to freeze your log-cabin home materials at the current prices.
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Garmeson with a deep water speckled trout caught on a soft plastic yum kill shot rigged on a 1/4oz bomber stand up jig head. Vertical jigging is a deadly cold water tactic.
40 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
How to Catch Speckled Trout in Cold Water BY WILLIAM KENDY
Even though Alabama has a relatively small amount of Gulf Coast shoreline compared to other states, it has no lack of expert inshore, onshore and offshore fishing guides and captains who know how to catch fish. One of them is Captain Patric Garmeson of Ugly Fishing LLC who has a reputation of being one of the experts when it comes to catching cold water speckled trout in the Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores area. According to Garmeson, the how, why and where of speckled trout fishing in December and January is dependent on water quality, depth and structure and on the patterns of how fish, bait and shrimp migrate. “Specs at that time of the year traditionally are going to be looking for clean and clear water near the deeper water and that’s where our beginning focus will be,” Garmeson said. He points out that while baitfish and shrimp are moving out of the rivers, creeks and streams, trout and redfish are starting to move in and there is an intersection which can result in a great bite. “The rivers are going to be where the bait is most plentiful, most accessible and the water is more stable because Mobile Bay is shallow and our average depth is between 6 and 8 feet,” Garmeson said. “When the best feeding occurs is when you have the intersection of the baitfish and shrimp moving out running into the trout.” Garmeson says that December and January speckled trout fishing is a great time of the year for artificial lure and bait imitation junkies to be fishing. He likes to be on the water before the sun breaks over the tree line and starts the game with throwing topwater plugs. The tackle is pretty standard, consisting of seven-foot medium action rods and 200 to 300 size reels (either spinning or baitcasting) spooled with 20-pound braid. He uses an 18-inch 20 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. “I like fishing with topwater lures, like a Heddon Super Spook Jr. with a small profile in the ¼ - 3/8-ounce size or a Heddon Wounded Zara Spook, with spinning props,” Garmeson said. “In terms of color I prefer a bone, pink and anything with a silver side” When it comes to locations to use topwater lures, Garmeson concentrates on the shallower river and tidal rivers, such as the Fall and Magnolia that are going to be six foot deep or shallower. He fishes the Spook Jr. in a slow walk the dog pattern. For the Wounded Spook he just uses a slow steady retrieve, allowing the propellers to work their magic.
Progressing down to the mid-level water column Garmeson fishes slow sinking twitch bait like the Slick Lure rigged on a weightless 4/0 Owner Beast twice lock swim bait hook. If he needs to go smaller, he utilizes the Little Slick on a regular 4/0 Owner twistlock hook. He has three colors that he uses most often. “I have used the Slick Lure in the cool bean color in muddy, clean, crystal clear water and everything in between in different conditions with good results. If you are dealing with dingy and stained water you want something that is going to stand out a good choice is the blue cat color which is white with a chartreuse tail,” Garmeson said. “The last one is the greenie, which is kind of a bass green color and that works well in clear to really clear water.” “I use a very slow steady retrieve with a slight or light rod twitch when working the mid-level water column,” Garmeson explained. “’Essentially, what you are doing with these two lures are just casting them out and allowing the lure to swim towards you and you are just taking the line in.” While Garmeson says that the Slick Lure is versatile enough to search multiple water columns he also uses slow sinking hard body lipless twitch baits like the Mirrolure MR52, MR17 and the MR27. Rapala Countdown lures are also effective as are Rat-L-Traps. For the bottom level of water Garmeson advises anglers to use two to three-inch soft plastics with between a ¼ to ½ ounce jig, depending on the water conditions. For colors he prefers avocado, dark green, root beer and chartreuse. He either slowly hops the jig across the bottom or literally drags it maintaining constant contact. “There is a real specific method called the ‘Do Nothin Drift’ that is really effective in the cold winter months in the delta region and that where you the lead out and make sure that you have enough weight to maintain contact with the bottom but also that the bait is moving at the exact same rate as the boat drift and the river current.” While these are Garmeson’s primary tactics, he does change things up a little to adapt to the conditions, water and how the trout are biting. He noted that when it is cold and the fish are pushed down tight to the bottom, deep water vertical jigging can catch fish. “In the deeper 10-12-foot water areas in the Delta and Mobile rivers and in Theodore canal, which can get as deep as 35-40 feet, I use a ¼ to 3/8-ounce jig 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 41
42 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
How to Catch Speckled Trout in Cold Water
head or a little heavier and a Lil Slick in the cool beans, which is a light blue color and the Lil Slick swamp thing chartreuse and red flak colors. “Sometimes the trout will respond better to a shad paddletail instead of a straight tail and I’ll go down to a lower profile lure like the Sparkletail beetle,” he added. “I vary the cadence from really big hops two to three feet off the bottom to six inch or smaller hops just barely off the bottom.”
Austin Luke with a deep water speckled trout caught using free lined live shrimp. This is a great tactic when water is cold but weather is warming several days after a cold front.
Even though Garmeson primarily fishes with artificials in the winter he finds that when you go through a cold front and are into a warming trend is a good time to have some live shrimp handy. His rig consists of a single 1/0 Owner Kahle hook with a small split shot and a shrimp hooked under the horn and he fishes it very slowly through the whole water column. He also uses a 3x #8 Eagle Claw treble hook. “In my opinion, what happens is that when a cold front comes through the fish stay tight to the bottom through the cold front and as it warms up, they start to move up more throughout the water column,” Garmeson noted. “So, if you were catching fish on the bottom on plastics three days earlier and as the temperature starts to creep up and fishing are moving up in the water column live shrimp is a good option.” In conclusion, Garmeson says that the biggest two factors in successful cold water speckled trout fishing is to be patient and fish slowly.
Important Contact Information
“When I get into the groove of fishing slowly and patiently fishing an area thoroughly, it seems to work out,” he said.
Captain Patric Garmeson 251-747-1554 www.uglyfishing.com
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When it comes to transactions, people want to “buy cheap and sell dear”. Nobody wants to pay more for something than they think it is worth. On the other hand, nobody wants to sell something too cheap when they think it is worth more As a real estate land professional, specializing in acreage and hunting property, I constantly work with property owners who are interested in selling their holdings. I’ve found that setting a price on a piece of property that allows the seller to get a reasonable return on their investment, yet is attractive and has value to a buyer, can be a challenge. The first step is to calculate the highest market value of the land. By market value what I mean is what the majority of ready, willing and able buyers in the marketplace will be willing to pay or exchange for that land…today. Clint Flowers is the managing broker for National Land Realty throughout the Gulf Coast and a top producer. I asked him what he thought the first thing a land owner should do in order to sell his property at the top of the market. “The way to do that is to break it down into the components of value. What I mean by that is you have the bare land, you have the crop above the surface which could timber, ag, pond, lakes and then you have the actual builtout improvement which could be barns, lodges, silos, whatever,” Flowers said. “You put an appropriate value of each of these things and then bring them back together for a total.” “A seller just can’t use an average listing price because if they do, they can risk leaving a lot of money on the table or even overpricing a piece of property,” Flowers added. Flowers recounted the experience in dealing with a landowner who was trying to sell his parcel on his own basically to save the real estate agent’s commission. Flowers saw the customer’s newspaper ad, responded and started a conversation where he found the owner had drastically priced the property way under market value. By doing an analysis of the property he found that there was equity in the timber that the owner hadn’t factored in and Flowers was able to make him an additional $200,000. “The owner had gone on the internet, saw what land was selling for and just priced his in the middle since he thought it would sell fast and he was right. We did move it fast, at a much higher selling price because of the unique age and grade of the timber products which he wouldn’t have known if he didn’t work with a land professional,” Flowers said. Pricing is a major part of the selling process but buyers need to identify what their goals are in selling the land. For example, while it isn’t written in stone, if a seller wants to sell a piece of property in 60 days, he needs to recognize the fact that he may not get as much for it as he could if he held onto it for more time. Flowers says that once a listing is published online it is imperative to convert a “browser” who is just looking online into a legitimate prospect and then a qualified buyer and that puts it into the selling arena. Flowers feels that while getting the images, videos and specifications out on the internet and other marketing channels is a given, the key is getting a prospect on property so he/she can see and experience what the property is all really all about. It isn’t just land and timber or agriculture, it is about what the buyer’s vision is about and the feel of the boots on the ground. “Being able to convert somebody that’s looking at your property online into a phone call and setting up an appointment can be very difficult but once you get somebody on site, a lot of the features and attributes you are listing 46 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
How to Sell Land at the Highest Market Value BY JOE BAYA
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 47
How to Sell Land at the Highest Market Value
are easier for the prospect to see, comprehend and it builds the value of the property,” Fellows said.
nents that are not necessarily indicators of value so both are working at odds.
When it comes to marketing property online, most of the databases have a series of filters that enable prospects to drill down to the specific types of properties they are interested in based on geographical, acreage, price criteria and other selects.
The other thing that is often missed by sellers is the value in marketing and advertising to push out to people you know are in the market, since they are in our buyer database and that includes other land professionals that are working with other buyers. These people can convey the property value before the conversation turns to price. It’s expanding your pool of prospects.
I’ve found that being focused on price doesn’t always work out the best. Some folks are looking at properties within a certain price range because that is what they can afford or think they can afford. Others just have a price per acre in their head or an upper price per acre limit. While they may look similar and may even be next to each other, all properties are not the same and a lot depends on what might be above the dirt and the cheaper per acre property might not have as much value as the more expensive per acre parcel. “The market has gotten so filter and cost driven that you can easily miss properties by over filtering and buyers need to keep their eyes out for things that warrant questions,” Flowers said. “If you have two tracks side by side and both are $2,000 an acre but one has $1,000 an acre in timber and the other has $500, obviously the $1,000 is a much better value but you won’t know unless you ask. That is why you need a land professional to help you understand what to look for.”
Another consideration that sellers have to address is the fact that while they may be too closely emotionally attached to the property and need to have someone who is objective handle the negotiations and transaction that can speak to the needs of both parties. In other words, they need a land professional who can help put deals together and make them work for the benefit of both parties. Right now, we’re seeing buyers coming from all over the country because of political and economic climates in their states and a seller has to have a team that can get that property out there far and wide and get boots on the ground and convey the value of the property to the purchaser and help solve issues and problems for the landowner and put the transaction together.
One of the things that landowners miss in conveying the value of the land is not understanding that when you advertise you can push that property out to people and get them to look at it or you can pull these people to you because they’re already searching.
Important Contact Information Joe Baya and Clint Flowers National Land Realty www.NationalLandReality.com/GDO 855-NLRLAND (855-657-5263)
So, if you have your property on listing websites you are trying to pull buyers to you and yet the searchers are trying to filter you out based on compo-
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48 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
GAME CHECK IS MANDATORY FOR EVERY DEER & TURKEY HUNTER
All hunters are required to report their deer & turkey harvest using Game Check. Doing so helps the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources effectively manage wildlife for future generations. Game Check your harvest in seconds at OutdoorAlabama.com/GameCheck or by using the official ADCNR mobile app Outdoor AL
NEW FOR THE 2020-21 HUNTING SEASONS!
DIGITAL WMA CHECK-IN
Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve made it easy to check-in and out of your favorite WMA. Download the Outdoor AL app and check-in today! Use the WMA Check-in feature on the Outdoor AL app prior to or upon arrival, and Check-out when departing the WMA. Hunters who do not use the digital WMA Check-in on the Outdoor AL app must have a signed paper copy of the WMA Map permit in their possession and necessary paper Daily Permits.
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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 49
BY HANK SHAW Photos by Holly A. Heyser
Slow Roast Duck This is an old school, slow roast duck recipe, the way your grandma might have made. If you have a store-bought duck, this is the recipe for you. But I’ll be honest: I normally don’t roast my wild ducks this way. On wild ducks, I like my breast meat medium-rare to medium, and this is easily doable by roasting a wild duck over very high heat — up to 500°F. This crisps the skin quickly while leaving the meat rare-to-medium. If you have a normal wild duck, use this method. But for those of you who are buying domesticated ducks to roast, or when life gives you a really fat wild duck, you want this slow roast duck recipe. My advice for when you make your ducks this way is to roast them over the top of lots of root vegetables, the more varied the better. And think about a gravy or a sauce to go with it. I have a large selection of wild game sauces here you can choose from. I might suggest the maple-bourbon gravy for starters… Recipe This recipe works with any sort of waterfowl. Domestic ducks typically serve two to four. As for wild birds, a mallard, canvasback, redhead, gadwall or pintail will serve two (if you have other things on the plate), a wild goose four and a wood duck, bluebill, wigeon, ringneck or teal one. Prep: 30 mins • Cook: 1 hour 30 mins • Total: 2 hours Ingredients
• • • •
1 domesticated duck or 2 very fat wild ducks (see above) 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 lemon, cut in half 4 sprigs sage, rosemary, parsley or thyme
Instructions 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Using a needle or a sharp knife point, prick the skin of the duck all over -- but be sure to not pierce the meat itself, only the skin. This lets the fat render out and will help crisp the skin. Pay special attention to the back, the flanks, and the very front of the breast. 2. Rub the cut lemon all over the duck and stick it inside the cavity. Liberally salt the bird; use a little more salt than you think you need. Stuff the duck with the herbs. Let the bird sit out for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature. 3. When you are ready to roast, put the duck on an iron frying pan or other ovenproof pan and surround it with root vegetables. Set the pan in the oven. Cook for 1 hour like this. Small ducks (wood ducks, wigeon, teal, ruddies, etc.) only need 40 minutes. If you are roasting a goose, increase the roasting time to 1 hour, 20 minutes. 50 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
After the allotted time, take the pan out of the oven and set the ducks on a cutting board to rest. Spoon any fat that has accumulated over the vegetables and salt them well. If the veggies are ready to eat, remove them. If there is a lot of excess fat, spoon it off. Now increase the heat to 450°F. When the oven hits this temperature, roast the birds for up to 30 more minutes, or until the skin is crisp. The reason you take the bird out of the oven is because a) the resting time helps redistribute the juices in the bird midstream, and b) you are crisping skin without totally overcooking the duck by only returning it to the oven when it is hot. Remove from the oven and let the birds rest. Small ducks need 5 minutes resting time, large ducks 10 minutes, geese 15.
Peruvian (Anticuchos de Corazon) Grilled Deer Heart Skewers This is a versatile recipe that works with more than just hearts. Any meat you want to eat on a skewer will do, including shrimp and lobster. You can substitute dried aji panca chiles with chipotles in adobo buzzed in a blender with a few preserved red bell peppers. Another option is to use Mexican pasilla chiles or anchos. Prep: 25 mins • Cook: 10 mins • Marinating time: 1 day Equipment
• • • • • • • • •
6 dried aji panca chiles (See above for substitutes) 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon achiote paste (optional) 3 tablespoons vegetable oil Salt 1-pound hearts, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Instructions 1. Pour boiling water over the dried chiles and cover. Let this sit for 20 minutes to soften. 2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and buzz them into a puree in a food processor or blender. Submerge the heart pieces in the marinade for at least 1 hour, and up to a day. 3. Thread the heart pieces on the skewers—this helps you flip them more easily and helps them cook more evenly. Grill over very high heat with the grill cover open until you get a nice char on the outside, about 3 minutes per side. Baste with the marinade as the skewers cook. NOTE: You can use Mexican pasilla or ancho chiles instead of aji panca, or if you have premade aji paste, use the whole jar, which is about a cup. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 51
Ground Pork Stir Fry Classic Taiwanese “flies’ heads” stir fry, done with ground pork or something similar. This is a pretty standard recipe that has little variation from cook to cook; mine is based on a rendition in the excellent book Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho.
2. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil over very high heat until 3.
Prep: 20 mins • Cook: 10 mins • Total: 30 mins Ingredients
• • • • • • • • • •
1-pound ground pork 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon white pepper 2 tablespoons peanut or other cooking oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 to 3 cups garlic chives, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 3 tablespoon fermented black beans (see headnotes above) 1/2 cup red chiles, sliced into small rings (see headnotes above) 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or sake Salt to taste
Instructions 1. Sprinkle the soy sauce and white pepper over the ground meat and mix it in well with your (very clean) hands. Set it aside as you cut the other vegetables. 52 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
it just barely begins to smoke. Add the ground pork and stir fry until it’s no longer pink. Remove the pork from the wok. If there is no oil left in the wok, add a tablespoon. When it’s hot, stir fry the garlic for a few seconds, then the remaining ingredients, including the pork. Stir fry until the chives are a bit wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Serve at once with steamed rice.
Spanish Mushroom Rice This recipe centers on the rice, yes, but also mushrooms, a little pork, and some shredded meat. If I had to be pinned down on what to call this, it is, primarily, a mushroom rice. Autumn or winter is when you want to eat this dish. It’s warming, the mushrooms are in season, maybe you’re hunting. I’ve added shredded chukar to this dish — chukar is a species of partridge commonly hunted in Spain. You can use whatever white meat you want, from shredded chicken breast to rabbit or quail. Prep: 30 mins • Cook: 40 mins • Total: 1 hour 10 mins Ingredients SOFRITO
1/4 cup olive oil 1 yellow onion, minced
• • •
1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, minced 1 15-ounce can tomato puree Salt RICE • 2 cups boiling water • 1-ounce dried mushrooms • 3 ounces bacon, chopped • 3 tablespoons olive oil • 12 ounces fresh mushrooms • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 1/2-pound shredded white meat (chicken, rabbit, partridge, etc.) • 1 1/2 cups bomba or risotto rice • 1 tablespoon black sage or regular sage, chopped • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika • 1/3 cup sofrito (see above) • 1-quart chicken or game stock • Salt and black pepper • 2 tablespoons minced chives • 2 tablespoons minced parsley Instructions SOFRITO 1. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and pepper until soft, stirring often. When they are soft, add the tomato puree and cook another 10 minutes on low heat. Add salt to taste. Ideally, you would wait for this to cool completely before pureeing it in a blender, but you can blend it right away; waiting will give you a darker, redder color.
RICE 1. Start by putting the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and cover the bowl while you do the rest of the prep. 2. Remove the dried mushrooms from the water and chop. Strain any debris out of the soaking water and reserve the water. 3. In a wide, shallow pan heat the bacon and olive oil over medium heat. Chop up the mushrooms, separating stems from caps. Once the bacon starts sizzling, add the stems to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until both the stems and the bacon are crispy. 4. Add the caps and garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the shredded meat, chopped rehydrated mushrooms, smoked paprika, rice and sage. Mix well and cook for a minute or two. 5. Pour in the sofrito, the mushroom soaking water and 1 cup of stock, plus a pinch of salt. Mix well and let this cook over medium heat undisturbed until you hear it begin to sizzle a bit. This is the liquid boiling away. Pour 1 cup of the stock around the edges of the pan and let this boil until you hear the sizzle again. Do these 2 more times if need be. After the 3rd cup of stock is almost gone, taste the rice to see if it’s done. You might not need the 4th cup, or you might even need a 5th cup, in which case you can use water. 6. Once the rice is done, grind black pepper over everything and sprinkle the herbs on top. Serve with a big white wine or a dry rose.
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 53
NEW & COOL GEAR BY WILLIAM KENDY
Ameristep Pro Series Blind Offers Late Season Protection
Hunt in spacious and warm comfort when the weather turns nasty in this easy to set up Mossy Oak Elements Terra camouflage five-hub asymmetrical shaped ground blind. Its 59x59x30-inch footprint, 84 inch-shooting width and 70-inch height provides ample room to maneuver for the perfect shot through one of the 12 silent side mesh windows. The ShadowGuard coating eliminates shadows and silhouettes. Suggested Retail Price: $349.99 www.ameristep.com
Garmin Introduces New High-Tech Scanning Sonar
The Garmin GT36&HD-TM transducer offers ultimate versatility, featuring Ultra HighDefinition ClearVu and SideVu scanning sonars for crystal-clear images of fish and structure which means you spend less time finding fish and more time catching them. Multiple sonar frequencies have you covered, no matter what depth you’re fishing, delivering 455 kHz, 800 kHz and 1,000 kHz for top performances at all depths. Suggested Retail Price: $399.00 www.garmin.com
Muddy Pro-Cam 24 Camera Bundle
The Muddy Pro-Cam 24 captures crystal clear, full-color, 24-megapixel images during the day and can record video clips ranging from 1-60 seconds. The 36 High-Efficacy (HE) LEDs create an invisible flash that reaches out to 70’ and won’t spook game while taking great night time images. The backlit LCD is easy to navigate in all lighting conditions and it accepts SD cards up to 32GB. Suggested Retail Price: $129.99 www.Shop.gomuddy.com
Relief for Stressed Skin
Even the toughest outdoors people need to pay attention to their skin and Bedrock Balm’s intense calming cream gets distressed skin healthy and hydrated. It is purposed with 22% zinc oxide and is a multipurpose skin care that is great for redness, razor bumps, bug bites, scrapes, eczema, itchiness and more. It is gentle for sensitive skin, babies and children and it even smells great. Suggested Retail Price: $23.00 www.bedrockskin.com
Buck 0103 Skinner Fixed Blade with Leather Sheath When it comes to knives you can’t go wrong with a Buck knife. The 0103-skinner blade has a 4 inch 420HC steel blade has a narrow tip and wide curved belly designed to provide a smooth skinning sweep and the downward angled point helps prevent an accidental slice through the hide. It features a full tang construction with integrated finger guard and weighs 6 ounces. Suggested Retail Price: $110.00 www.buckknives.com 54 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
NEW AND COOL GEAR FOR OUTDOORSMEN
First Lite Corrugate Jacket
The Corrugate Jacket is a four-way stretch, brush busting jacket constructed from ultra- durable stretch nylon fabric designed to handle the toughest brush and swamp conditions while reducing wind chill and retaining heat. The trademark shooters cut and four-way stretch material never inhibit your mobility. It has a durable water repellent finish, zippered hand pockets, ergonomic hood, invisible zippered chest pocket and heavy-duty center front zipper. Suggested Retail Price: $120.00 www.firstlite.com
Mossberg Patriot Predator Now in 6.5 PRC
Now available in the hot new Hornady 6.5 PRC cartridge, the Mossberg Patriot Predator incorporates a push-feed, dual-lug action with a fluted bolt and a 24-inch, Cerakote finished fluted button rifled and threaded sporter barrel. It features a synthetic stock, a four-round detachable box magazine, a two-position rockertype safety and picatinny rail for sights and optics, an oversized bolt handle and Mossberg’s Lighting Bolt Action used adjustable trigger. Suggested Retail Price: $557.00 www.mossberg.com
HME Wallet Archery Multi-Tool
Designed specifically for archers and bowhunters, this compact tool features 6 wrench sizes, a 3-inch ruler, nock wrench, broadhead wrench, Philips head screwdriver, broadhead blade sharpener, can and bottle opener, box cutter, keychain attachment and even a rubber card/cash holder. It is one of those little inconsequential pieces of gear that could save a hunting trip. Suggested Retail Price: $14.95 www.hmeproducts.com
Penn Battle III DX
Penn Battle III DX spinning reels are built to withstand whatever the saltwater angler puts them through. They are constructed with a full metal body and side plate and incorporate CNC gear technology with a brass main gear and a 6+1 sealed stainless-steel ball bearing system. These reels have a H-100 drag system with wave spring to allow linear adjustment and are available in six models. Suggested Retail Price: starting at $119.00 www.pennfishing.com
Plano Guide Series™ Reel Locker™
The Plano Guide Series™ Reel Locker™ features a revolutionary molded top and bottom for extra rigidity to keep expensive reels protected. Each hard shell also includes no-slip rubberized feet to guard against vibration no matter where reels are stored or how they’re handled. Removable soft-touch felt dividers customize storage for up to 12 reels and the locker can be carried via padded handle or removable shoulder strap. Suggest Retail Price: $79.99 www.planomolding.com 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 55
Certain Alabama State Parks Offer Deals for WMA Hunters
If you are among those who love to hunt Alabama’s wildlife management areas (WMAs) and need a place for an overnight stay, Alabama State Parks has a deal for you. A Hunter’s Special deal with discounted lodge rooms is available at Cheaha, Lakepoint, Joe Wheeler, DeSoto and Lake Guntersville state parks. BY CHRIS BLANKENSHIP Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
A valid hunting license and WMA permit are required to receive the discounted rate of $49.95 per night for lodge rooms. For example, hunters booking a stay at the Lake Guntersville or DeSoto parks would have easy access to a number of WMAs in northeast Alabama. Those public lands include James D. Martin-Skyline, Little River, Crow Creek Refuge, Crow Creek, Raccoon Creek, Mud Creek and North Sauty Refuge. The James D. Martin-Skyline WMA is one of the largest in the state at nearly 62,000 acres and offers big game (white-tailed
56 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
deer and Eastern wild turkey) and small game hunting, which are also available at Little River WMA. Mud Creek WMA has big game, small game and waterfowl hunting. Raccoon Creek and Crow Creek offer small game and waterfowl hunting. Small game hunting is open on Crow Creek Refuge and North Sauty Refuge Area. Head to Joe Wheeler State Park and you’re within driving distance of several WMAs, including Black Warrior, Freedom Hills, Lauderdale, Mallard-Fox Creek, Seven Mile Island and Swan Creek. Totalling more than 91,000 acres, Black Warrior is the largest WMA in the state and offers big game and small game hunting. Freedoms Hills has big game and small game hunting on more than 33,500 acres, while Lauderdale adds more than 20,000 acres to big game and small game hunting options. Waterfowl and small game hunting are available at Mallard-Fox Creek, Seven Mile Island and Swan Creek. Sitting atop the highest point in Alabama at
FROM THE COMMISSIONER Boggy Hollow, Coosa, Choccolocco, Hollins, Jackson County, James D. Martin-Skyline, Little River, Swan Creek and Mallard-Fox Creek WMAs are also required to complete a daily permit or utilize the WMA app to check in and out. While the WMA app is not required on the remaining WMAs, it is highly encouraged that hunters utilize the app.
2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha State Park offers easy access to Choccolocco and Hollins WMAs, as well as the vast Talladega National Forest. Choccolocco has almost 57,000 acres and Hollins adds nearly 29,000 additional acres of big game and small game hunting opportunities. In the southeast corner of the state, Lakepoint State Park sits on the banks of Lake Eufaula and offers a restful night of sleep after a day of hunting at Barbour WMA, which has big game and small game hunting on more than 28,000 acres. Alabama is fortunate to have more than 750,000 acres of land available to hunt through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division. Scattered throughout the state, these areas are financed with funds derived from hunting licenses and federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. Of that acreage, about 367,000 acres are owned by the ADCNR’s WFF Division, State Lands Division and the Forever Wild land Trust. More than 345,000 acres are federally owned and managed through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Roughly 38,000 acres are privately owned and managed through “In-Kind” lease agreements. To take advantage of these hunting opportunities on public land managed by the ADCNR, participants are required to have a valid hunting license, utilize the Outdoor AL WMA Check In app or have in possession a paper management area map permit and management area license (if hunting deer, turkey or waterfowl). A Wildlife Heritage License is valid in lieu of a resident state hunting and WMA license for small game hunting, excluding waterfowl. Remember, hunters at
Speaking of the new WMA feature on the Outdoor AL app, hunters will find this to be an invaluable tool that makes hunting on WMAs much easier. Anyone with a smartphone can download the Outdoor AL app and enter the proper identification information. On the app’s home page look for the Wildlife Management Area Check In link. Hit “Check In” and enter the WMA you plan to hunt. You can check in as early as 24 hours before your hunt. If you forget to check out, you’ll get a prompt to enter that information. Plus, if you use the Outdoor AL WMA app, you won’t have to have the paper map or daily permit in your possession while hunting. The WMA section of the Outdoor AL app will also ask about what game animals were hunted and how many animals were harvested, which gives the WFF valuable data to determine how to direct resources to best serve WMA users. The Hunter’s Special deal is part of Alabama State Parks’ Base Camp initiative. Whether you’re hunting, fishing, hiking, trail riding or any other of the outdoor activities, Alabama State Parks wants you to consider using one of the 21 parks as your base of operations as you enjoy Alabama’s great outdoors. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/wildlife-management-areas for more information on the public hunting opportunities in Alabama. Go to www.alapark.com/base-camp to learn more about our great Alabama State Parks.
EASY APPLICATION!!! Unlike many liquid fertilizers, Clark’s Plot Nutrients: • Will not settle out in your tank or application equipment • There are no particles large enough to clog spray nozzles • It is readily absorbed by plants because it is a foliar application. Therefore, within one hour 80-90% of the fertilizer is already absorbed into the plant and working • Heavy rain will not wash away the fertilizer See what a difference it can make on your place!
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Liquid Food Plot Fertilizer Plus Calcium
Clark’s Plot Nutrients is a true liquid fertilizer that is designed to not only provide fertilizer to your food plot, but also supply calcium. Calcium is vital to the development of deer antler growth and egg shell strength in turkeys.
Chris & Kelley Grantham Elba, Alabama
334-233-2687 ALFandSupply@gmail.com www.alfandsupply.com
877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 57
Each year I try to introduce someone new to turkey hunting. Darcee Andrews (Left) harvested her first bird in April of 2020.
Even though someone has turkey hunted for a few years or even a lifetime, that doesn’t necessarily qualify them to be a turkey biologist.
BY CHARLES “CHUCK” SYKES Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF)
By now, most of you have heard of the changes to turkey season discussed during the August 2020 meeting of the Conservation Advisory Board (CAB). Just in case you missed it or haven’t seen the Facebook traffic since then, here’s a brief synopsis of the discussion.
to more closely align their seasons to the latest research. Due to the significant concern many Alabama hunters have expressed to us about turkey decline, we felt it prudent to have Dr. Chamberlain present his research to the CAB for their consideration.
Dr. Michael Chamberlain, the Terrell Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Georgia, presented some of his turkey research findings to the CAB members. He has been conducting applied research on wild turkeys for more than 27 years. His data are suggesting that many Southeastern states, including Alabama, have season dates that appear to be negatively impacting the breeding and, therefore, recruitment of wild turkeys.
One of the CAB members made a motion to change the 2020-2021 turkey season to begin April 1 with a 3-bird bag limit based on the compelling information gleaned from the presentation. Following a brief discussion, the CAB decided to table the discussion to the February 2021 meeting to address possible season and bag limit changes for the 2021-2022 season.
The findings from his data have led Arkansas and South Carolina to significantly restructure their season and bag limits. Tennessee and Georgia are also considering making changes
58 DECEMBER 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am a diehard turkey hunter. I was an avid turkey hunter long before I became a wildlife biologist. Additionally, I was a wildlife biologist decades before I became the Director. So, adjusting the season dates and bag limit impacts me just as
FROM THE DIRECTOR
My first turkey was taken in April of 1983. I was 12 years old. Claude Horne called in my first bird in Choctaw county.
much as it does any other obsessive turkey hunter in our state. I’ve had to come to grips with my own selfish desires and be determined to focus on the most important thing: the sustainable future of the bird I love to hunt. I asked my staff to give me their recommendations based on science, nothing more, nothing less. Their recommendations based on the five-year Auburn study, Dr. Chamberlain’s research, and our annual poult surveys, were to shift the season to the second Saturday in April and reduce the bag limit to 3 birds. My recommendation to the CAB, since I understand they must consider politics and human dimensions, was to shift the season as far as possible into April and reduce the bag limit from five to three birds. Since that meeting, we have been bombarded with comments and opinions from many throughout the state. Most have been concerned hunters simply asking appropriate questions, and when they hear the science, they may not like it, but they understand the rationale for change. On the other hand, we’ve heard from several who are only interested in themselves and not future hunters and certainly not the fate of the bird. Here are a couple of pearls of wisdom imparted to us about the proposed changes: “The recommendations by Mr. Chamberlain concerning the turkey season changes are ludicrous!! I was disappointed that the ADCNR would take the data and concerns from other southeastern states as gospel!” What makes someone think that data from GA, TN, AR, SC, and MS have no relevance to what’s happening in Alabama? Do we not share the same climate, habitat types, predators, etc., with these other states? “Y’all need to leave private lands alone and make these changes on public lands.” Since more than 97% of the state is privately held, simply implementing changes on public land is useless. This is one of my favorites. “Going from 5-3 per season, well, good luck with that! Most turkey hunters I know that are good enough to kill 5 rarely stop there.” When asked why he didn’t turn in people who violated the limit and abused the precious resource he claimed to love so much, the response was: “I thought that is what game wardens are for?? If my buddy wants to kill more than the “limit”, that’s his choice. We have
The first turkey of the 2020 season was taken in April. I am 49 years old.
a great state that offers tremendous hunting opportunities to our citizens and to their children. Leave the dates and limits alone. I want to be able to take my 5 grandchildren turkey hunting and they “love” it because it was fun, and they heard birds gobbling and they develop the passion that I have. Not be bored because they never hear any birds or harvest any toms.” How can I argue with such logic? Finally, one of the CAB members was threatened with bodily injury at a local convenience store over the proposed changes. Honestly, have some people lost their ever-loving minds? This is one of the most precious natural resources our state has to offer, and, like it or not, our department is charged with managing, protecting, conserving, and enhancing the wildlife and aquatic resources of Alabama for the sustainable benefit of the people of Alabama. In 1908 John H. Wallace, Jr., eloquently stated, “Since the State in its sovereign capacity occupies the attitude of guardian and custodian of the people’s welfare, it is therefore the duty of the State, by enactment of appropriate legislation, to endeavor to extend adequate protection to those resources in which people have collectively a natural right. Wise and discrete individuals who feel no inclination to make assaults on Nature’s store-house should have their rights protected by the enactment of strong laws to restrain the hands of the wanton and reckless, whose vandalism would annihilate every visible thing of fin, fur, or feather, to gratify their savage instincts.” This statement is just as valid now as it was back then. Let’s not forget there was a time when Alabama had very few turkeys, and if not for the re-stocking efforts of the Division and stout protection, we would have none to pursue today. I think it’s time for many turkey hunters to do a little soul searching. They need to think about the bird and its future rather than themselves. Personally, I don’t want the wild turkey to go the way of the bobwhite quail; that is, for me to hunt them I need to buy pen-raised birds, shake them up in a pillow case, and stuff them under a bush where I can come back and hunt them in a few hours. And the whole time I’m hunting, reminisce about the good ol’ days when turkeys were gobbling everywhere.
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REMINGTON OUTDOOR COMPANY
The Death of Huntsville’s Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
The Model 51 shotgun was popular in its day and preceded the iconic Model 870. Note the price in the ad.
Remington’s R-1 pistols were made in the new Huntsville factory.
Remington’s purchase of Union Metallic Cartridge was a popular addition to the company’s products.
It was an exciting day for not just Huntsville, but North Alabama when Remington Outdoor Company (ROC) announced it was opening a plant in Huntsville in 2014 to add to its list of production sites. After all, the company was projecting the creation of more than 2,000 jobs over the next 10 years. In 2013, George Kollitides, then Chairman and CEO of Remington Outdoor Company spoke of the momentum Remington had gained in recent years with new product introductions, winning highly competitive military and law enforcement contracts and launching its 1816 lifestyle brand.
BY CRAIG HANEY Photo submitted by Craig Haney
“We are capitalizing on this momentum by strengthening our positions across the board,” Kollitides said. “With demand for products an historic high and more new product launches in 2014 than in our 200 year history, we are investing in the future.”
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BRIGHT FUTURE…BLEAK FUTURE The bright skies of optimism that covered Huntsville with the Remington expansion move did not last very long becoming partly cloudy early in the relationship. By the time Remington opened the Huntsville plant, it owed hundreds of millions of dollars that it had not borrowed. The bright skies were suddenly turning cloudy but how did it get to this point? Cerebus, a private equity firm, in order to buy Remington in 2006, created a holding company, then Cerebus invested in the holding company which in turn purchased Remington. In 2010, Cerebus had the holding company borrow from undisclosed lenders $225 million. The lenders were offered an interest rate of 11% but when the interest payments were due, the holding company paid them with paid-in-kind (PIK) notes, i.e. more debt. Now the holding company had $225 in borrowed
THE GUN RACK cash but Cerebus owned most of the stock of the holding company, which they acquired when they created it. The holding company then bought its stock back from Cerebus with the borrowed $225 million that Cerebus would keep regardless. Remington borrowed in April 2012 the money to retire the debt of the holding company which made Remington responsible for the principal and interest payments. At the time, it made sense to do it because gun sales were booming and the debt was cheaper to service than PIK debt. But, and a big one it was, interest payments were required in cash because it was a normal business loan and could not be paid in PIK notes. Remington had to make a lot of firearms to service the debt. The boom in firearms sales during the two Obama administrations caused by his wanting to enact stricter gun laws caused panic buying by shooting sports enthusiasts. Prior to Trump’s election, gun makers greatly increased production in anticipation of Hilary Clinton’s expected presidential victory. However, with Trump in place with his strong 2nd Amendment support firearms sales declined in double digit percentages. Remington’s large profits during the firearms sales boom plunged in proportion to the decline in sales of their Bushmaster, DPMS, Remington R-15 rifles and the 1911 design R-1 pistol. Their profits neared zero as their debt climbed steadily upward. Additionally, Remington had been plagued by lawsuits filed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in which 20 first-graders and 6 educators were killed. The gunman used a Remington rifle. The families of nine victims and a teacher was shot and survived filed a wrongful death suit against Remington, a firearms wholesaler, and a firearms dealer seeking a jury trial to recover unspecified damages.
• • • •
business for $30 million. Roundhill Group LLC is paying $13 million for the non-Marlin firearms operation of Remington. JJE Capital Holdings LLC, a private equity firm, is buying DPMS, H&R, Stormlake, Parker and AAC brands. Sportsman Warehouse is buying the Tapco black rifle accessory brand for an undisclosed amount. Franklin Armory purchased the assets of the Bushmaster brand and related assets for an undisclosed amount.
THE AFTERMATH The consensus with gun dealers around the state is that the companies formerly owned by Remington should grow and prosper under their new owners. The iconic Marlin lever action rifles had declined in timely shipping and quality after their purchase by Remington. The Marlin rifles made by Sturm Ruger & Co in the future are highly anticipated by lever action enthusiasts. Vista Outdoor adds the Remington ammunition in its familiar green and yellow boxes to its excellent assortment of ammo brands. For Sierra Bullets, the Barnes product line adds a comprehensive leadfree all copper bullet offering which will grow Sierra’s business. These are just a few examples of the positive effects of the sale of Remington’s assets. For Huntsville, The City Council passed a resolution authorizing the Mayor Battle, the city Attorney and Clerk-Treasurer to take the legal measures necessary needed in the bankruptcy case. The city is working with outside legal council to represent and protect the City’s interests as second creditor in the bankruptcy hearings. The $87 million boom for Alabama’s economy projected on that fateful February 17, 2014 by Remington sadly died when the Golden Goose died July 28, 2020.
The suit was dismissed in Connecticut State Superior Court in 2016 citing the immunity provided to firearms manufacturers by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) of 2005. On April14,2019 the Connecticut supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 ruling that the suit’s wrongful marketing claim could proceed under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices law and was not preempted by the PLCAA. THE ONLY ANSWER Filing bankruptcy was the only answer as the firearms market was now loaded with product and Remington was $950 million in debt. Executives from Remington, in 2018, met with their creditors to explain their financial position and entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In less than 7 weeks, they came up with more than $775 million in debt cancelled while honoring “all trade and business claims.” The company gathered $193 million in loans from seven financial institutions. THE LAST STEP On July 28, 2020, Remington entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in 2 ½ years declaring both assets and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million. It was reported that Remington entered bankruptcy after failing to reach an agreement with the Navajo Nation which was considering the purchase of Remington’s assets. Without a buyer for all the Remington assets, they were sold in a multiday bankruptcy auction to seven different companies. • Vista Outdoor purchased Remington’s Lonoke, AR ammunition business and certain Intellectual Property assets for $81.4 million. Vista owns a number of outdoor and recreational companies including Federal Premium Ammunition, Fusion, Bushnell scopes, Weaver Scopes, Camp Chef, Blackhawk and others. • Sierra Bullets, owned by Clarus, Inc.. won the bidding for Barnes Bullets with a $30.5 million offer. • Sturm Ruger & Co. acquired Remington’s Marlin firearms 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 61
Gift Guide for Good Little Kayak Anglers It has been an interesting year, what with social distancing and face masks, hurricanes, and all the other strange things going on. But now, it’s Christmas season, and it’s time to think about what to get that kayak angler for the holidays. With a little planning, good luck, and smart purchasing, this next year for kayak anglers might be a whole lot better than 2020.
protections cost around $20 and can be ordered online on Amazon, E-Bay, or Etsy. And they come in a wide range of colors and patterns. I personally like the “chimpanzee face” pattern which makes the angler look like a big monkey while he’s fishing.
One of the many good things about kayak fishing and those who take part in this activity is that gifts which make kayak fishing better come in all sizes, all prices, and anything which makes kayak fishing better will surely be appreciated. For those folks who are considering purchasing some kayak fishing related presents for the anglers in your lives, we thought we’d pass a few ideas on to make your lives easier. That’s just the way we kayak anglers are, always trying to help out others, don’t you see?
3. A REALLY GOOD PADDLE Many kayak anglers use the paddles that came with the kayak when it was purchased, and often these paddles are cheap, poorly balanced, poorly made, and that’s a shame because a good paddle made of lightweight, strong materials makes kayak fishing a lot more fun. There are many high-quality paddles on the market, but Bending-Branches (www. bendingbranches.com 1-715-755-3405) makes some superior high quality and downright pretty paddles for kayak anglers. These paddles range in price from $75 to $325, and they are well worth every penny. The Angler Ace has a carbon reinforced nylon blade, a 100% carbon shaft, and snap-button adjustment and is a fine paddle at less than $200. I can’t think of any kayak angler who would not smile when finding this paddle under the tree.
Here are just a few items which the kayak angler who has been nice and not naughty this year- and that’s all of us, of course- would appreciate. 1. A COMFORTABLE INFLATABLE PFD Many kayak anglers suffer on fishing trips from a personal floatation device (PFD) that is bulky, uncomfortable, and hot in summer. This doesn’t have to be. There are some great options for good, effective PFD choices. Modern inflatable PFDs are very lightweight and comfortable to the point that I often forget to take mine off when I am through fishing and driving home. And most importantly, they work. The best PFD in the world is worthless if the kayak angler won’t wear it, but there are some really good options for potential Christmas presents. The Mustang Elite Inflatable PFD is a fine life-saving device, but it is not cheap. At $210 it is much more expensive than the cheap, uncomfortable, often not even worn department store PFDs. So how much is the life of the kayak angler worth? You can get the specifics by visiting www.mustangsurvival.com (1-800-526-0532)
BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn
2. A COOL NECK GAITER/ FACE MASK Here’s an inexpensive and useful Christmas present for all kayak anglers. A neck gaiter/face mask provides protection from the sun, and it also serves quite well as a social-distancing and protective device in these times of COVID 19. These one-size fits all face
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4. KAYAK-SIZE TACKLE CARRIER Storage space is limited on all kayaks, and many standard bass boat-type tackle boxes just take up too much room on a kayak. The Plano Soft Crate Tackle Bag (Planomolding. com/fishing/storage) is designed to fit inside a standard milk crate, and it has “saddle bags” which hang on the outside to provide even more convenient storage space. At $49.99, this present will be greatly appreciated by most kayak anglers. 5. COLD WEATHER SOCKS One of the least expensive presents for a kayak angler might just wind up being the most appreciated, especially for chilly weather kayak
What’s the best present for any kayak angler? One more fishing trip. Time on the water is precious, and greatly appreciated by all kayak anglers.
anglers. Deluxe Cold Weather Wool Boot Socks sold by Cabela’s and Bass Pro provide warmth even when wet. At $16, this would be a good “from the kids” present for a kayak angler. Make sure that any socks you buy for a kayak angler are at least wool-blend and all wool is best (all wool socks will keep your feet warm even if they are wet).
top solo kayak with instant reverse pedal drive and elevated seating. At $1,329.30, this kayak is very price competitive with other pedal kayaks. These are both great looking boats, and although it is very unlikely to happen at my house, I would be proud to find either of these kayaks under my Christmas tree this year.
6. A NEW FISHING KAYAK Now, we’ll admit that any kayak angler who hopes to get THIS present for Christmas had better have been really, really nice for the previous year. I’m not even in the running for this sort of present. but for those who are, there are a couple of really great looking kayaks designed and built for fishing that deserve attention. The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 offers multiple drive systems, as in paddle, pedal, and electric motor drive and a very good seating arrangement in a stable, easy to propel hull. At $1,999.99, this top of the line kayak is very competitive in price to all other kayaks which offer the same propulsion system options.
7. MORE TIME ON THE WATER There are a lot of things that kayak anglers can use and will appreciate when it comes to Christmas and gift-giving, but of all the gifts we could give or receive, more fishing time and more chances at the fish just might be the best. The best part of this deal is that this present is free. Perhaps this next year we can allow ourselves and others more kayak fishing time to see what’s out there in our water world.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC PK 12 Angler is a sit on
And, since we’re asking for kayak fishing gifts, perhaps finding in 2021 some more nice redfish which turn up in an eating mood might go quite well, too.
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Gulf Coast Fishing Outlook
December is prime time for sheepshead! Milo Howell with a beauty!”
As the year ends and winter sets in, put on a couple extra layers and hit the water. Many opportunities await! MISSISSIPPI Mississippi may not have a lot of coastline, but it’s central location gives it plenty of options for inshore winter fishing. On calmer days, anglers can traverse the open bays along Mississippi Sound and fish the marshes within state waters as well as those of neighboring Alabama and Louisiana. The endless systems of backwater canals, creeks and ditches offers plenty of protected fishing areas and access to lightly pressured gamefish.
BY CHRIS VECSEY
Working the outflows of smaller creeks and coastal rivers, redfish, trout, flounder, drum and sheepshead will be likely catches. The key to staying tight is finding areas with good current and bait. Sometimes it is necessary to move often until consistent action is found.
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Baiting up with live baits like shrimp, croakers or smaller finger mullet will find fish quickly. Rigging should be simple; both freelined rigs and leaders with a small split shot added will get the job done. When more noise is desired, use popping corks and leaders approximately 24-30” in length. Hooks sizes and styles vary but a kahle hook in sizes from #2-1/0 are preferred. Once the target species are located, it’s easy and fun to make a switch to artificial lures like DOA shrimp, Slick lures and paddletails like cocahoe minnows. There’s also plenty of opportunities for fly fishermen. Sheepshead fishing will also be very popular during the year’s end. Cooler water will see bigger aggregations of these striped, bait stealers around most inshore structures like piers, inshore reefs and nearshore rigs. Live fiddler crabs are a top bait and can be fished on carolina rigs and on specialty jigs made specifically for sheepshead. ALABAMA The Mobile Delta and it’s many rivers will be active
FISHING OUTLOOK this month. As water temps plunge below 60 degrees, finding deeper sloughs and channels becomes paramount. Many anglers will work live baits like shrimp suspended below slip cork rigs set at various depths while others will try to cover water with artificials in search of large schools of trout and reds. Swimbaits and weighted jerkbaits will be popular options along with twitchbaits worked very slowly and deep. Another good option for finding fish and covering water faster is to slow troll grubs and curltails on lead jig heads in 1/4-3/8oz. This also allows for multiple rods to be used at once and can be extremely successful in finding schooling fish. The shallow rigs and production platforms throughout mobile bay will be loaded with sheepshead throughout the month. Other target areas will include boat docks, the jetties at Perdido Pass and bridges throughout the bay and ICW. Fiddler crabs, live shrimp and hermit crabs are top baits. Use small, strong hooks and 15-20lb leaders. Further offshore on natural bottom areas like the Trysler Grounds and Yellow Gravel, Vermilion Snapper, Scamp, Lane Snapper and a variety of other bottom fish will be available.
curltail jigs, spoons and other larger baitfish imitations into the frenzied fish. When the fish are deep, they can be located with deep diving plugs or by soaking chunks of mullet on the bottom. Offshore, deep dropping and daytime fishing for swordfish will remain hot through the month. Waiting for calmer weather windows pays off big for those that can go at a moment’s notice. A solid deepwater plan through the winter months is to head out and make a few drops in 1400-1700 feet for swords before hitting bottom structures in 550-900 feet for tilefish, groupers and others to round out the fishbox. Pelagic opportunities may also present themselves around the new Okaloosa County fish aggregating device buoys (FADS). The FADS have already produced good numbers of mahi mahi, wahoo and billfish. Yellowfin tuna and others will be winter staples around the FADS as long as warm water currents and bait stays in the area. Monitor a satellite imagery service like Hilton’s Real-time Navigator to stay in tune with optimal offshore conditions. Modify your game plan and wardrobe and you’ll keep rods bent til the New Year!!
Tuna and Wahoo will also be biting further offshore around the steps and various gas and oil platforms. Pulling small ballyhoo will take tunas on the troll while chunking with pogies (menhaden) and live baiting will take their share. Pull deep diving plugs around rigs in depths of 250-600 ft for wahoo. Wahoo will generally run a bit larger during the cooler months as well.
Important Contact Information Tradition Fishing Charters Captain Miles Howell 850-324-4464 Shore Thing Charters Captain Sonny Schindler 228-342-2206
FLORIDA Bull reds will be abundant around the inlets and beaches of the Florida Panhandle. Look for birds and feeding fish on the surface and throw large
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Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook
A lot of bonita can be caught from the gulf beach piers in December.
Fish are becoming more lethargic and finicky about when and what they eat.
BY DAVID THORNTON Photos by David Thornton
As fall winds down along the Emerald Coast winter is ready to exert its influence. December is another transitional month and water temperatures will slip into the upper to middle 60s. Occasional freezes may even reach to the beaches for a morning or two before the next warm spell moderates things. As a result, anglers try to fit in some fishing time between bouts of unsettled weather with wind and rain. These will be scheduled around mid-day low tides marking December fishing. The exception being the NEAP tides occurring the 9th and 22nd. Coastal fishing moves into a slower pace this month as things cool off. Lure fishing is generally restricted to those pursuing speckled trout and slot-sized redfish inshore. Even there the cadence of topwater fishing will reflect
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the slower metabolism of the targeted fish. Many days anglers are better served using slow sinking jigs or twitchbaits, especially on the cooler mornings. Fish are becoming more lethargic and finicky about when and what they eat. So make plans to determine how to make your limited fishing time more successful. Generally speaking, most anglers are going to have more success by slowing down their fishing approach and using live or fresh dead natural baits (primarily shrimp). Once the water gets below 70 to near 65, pinfish and many other resident bait stealers tend to be less active. This is most evident in locations near passes and jetties where the cooler tidal currents discourage most of those smaller fish species. Anglers with a few dozen live shrimp can catch a host of gamefish under the right conditions. Sheepshead is one of the highly targeted
FISHING OUTLOOK winter species from shore, and the water cool down period in December can be prime time for these coastal convicts. Small or medium sized live shrimp and fiddler crabs are the most commonly used baits but sheepshead relish ghost shrimp and readily eat hermit crabs too when they are staging near the bottom. Most anglers freeline the bait with just a splitshot or two when the wind and current are light. They have to add weight and often use a Caroline Rig setup whenever the wind and current make them necessary. The preferred hook size and style may vary from day to day depending on the conditions that affect the presentation of the bait. Treble hooks are easily crushed by sheepshead, and are even forbidden in Florida with the use of natural baits for most gamefish. A #6 to #2 kahle hook can be very effective with live shrimp, fiddler crabs or even ghost shrimp and hermit crabs which are threaded up on the hook. Reasons sheepshead are so popular are they are a wary quarry and make worthy opponents especially on light tackle but mostly because they are fairly numerous and quite good table fare. Consult your local baitshop to check the size and creel regulations. SUDS IT... Beach fishing is almost strictly from the dry sand once the water cools below the angler’s comfort zone. Though a few fishermen will briefly venture out or don insulated waders to give them more fishable area by wading out to cast. The trick with set rig fishing is bait placement. You want to be able to put (and keep) your bait in the feeding zone where you expect to find the target species. Many anglers accentuate this with a professionally tied pompano rig with some type of attractants. Brightly colored floats or beads near the hook help get the fish’s attention. Once close enough to see and smell the bait, they will often bite and the battle is on. Occasionally the fish may be bigger than the angler is expecting. That is OK because even large redfish and drum can be tired out on medium to medium light tackle with the right amount of patience and drag. For many of us, the fight is the best part anyway. Since there are virtually no obstructions along the sandy beaches for a big fish to break the line on, it is just a matter of line capacity and time to land even large quarry on light tackle. PIER-SISTENCE... Pier fishing in December is still viable, though the slate of options is much thinner than during the warmer months. Gulf kingfish (called “whiting”) are the main catch during the cooler months. They respond well to small pieces of frozen or fresh dead shrimp, and are very fond of ghost shrimp. This species is not regulated because they are fairly numerous at times. Having said that, fishermen should not get too greedy as to deplete the species.
dark red meat is trimmed away. This yields four tenderloins that can be smoked, steamed or sliced and pan-sauteed to reveal their near tuna like taste. Don’t knock what you haven’t tried ;-) The disposition of the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores Alabama is still in limbo since hurricane Sally took out a 175 foot section just north of the end octagon. Park priorities have been focused on getting the campground and other facilities repaired and reopened before the pier. Even with the delay from hurricane Zeta, most of the park facilities are now open and perhaps the portion of the pier attached to land may be reopened by the time this issue gets released. 2020 has been a long dreary year, especially for Alabama pier anglers but it is mercifully drawing to a close. At least there are still alternatives for shore-bound fishermen to pursue all along the north central Gulf of Mexico as they bid adieu to 2020 and enjoy their great days outdoors.
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Anglers can use set rigs to target the much less numerous pompano, and still catch some whiting. Larger ones are over 14 inches, weighing about a pound up to occasionally more than two pounds at 20 inches long. The most effective method (especially in clear, calm water) is a light spinning tackle presentation with just a # 6 or #4 kahle hook tied a foot below a splitshot or two. Or a Carolina Rig with a ¼ to 3/8 ounce egg sinker with a foot long leader made with 10 pound fluorocarbon works. Little tunny, locally called “bonita” are common catches from the Florida Panhandle piers in December. Most are landed during the morning hours and they seem to especially bite best on foggy or cloudy mornings. A small white jig (about ½ to ¾ ounce), plug or silver spoon is very effective on these miniature tunas. They are fast swimmers and a lot of fun on light to medium spinning tackle in the 8 to 12 pound range. No leader is needed to catch bonita. In fact their keen eyesight will usually make them shy away from any presentation with a leader. Most of these bonita weigh from three to six pounds. Though a few larger specimens, or even an occasional Blackfin tuna may sneak into the run. Though usually only kept as bait, bonita are fairly good eating when bled out and all the
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REGIONAL FRESHWATER Fishing Outlook BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn
As the water cools, the crappie bite will heat up in December.
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MOBILE DELTA “In December, most fishermen work the creeks. When strong wind and low water conditions are present, small creeks offer good protection and lots of fish,” says veteran guide and tournament angler Captain Wayne Miller. Miller tells us that around the Causeway and lower parts of the Delta, by the end of December the bulk of the bass have moved into the creeks adjacent to the big bays and main rivers, and they will stay in the creeks until warm weather comes in the spring. Anglers can find numbers of bass in the creeks especially after strong tides from cold fronts push much of the water out of the Delta and into Mobile Bay. The low water conditions concentrate the bass in the deeper creeks. Miller advises anglers in December to look for deeper water with some sort of wood cover for the bas to hold close to. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics will work well on December Delta bass. Shad colors such as chrome with blue back, chrome with black back and crawfish patterns will all work well now. Delta bass feed on crawfish year-round, and December is no exception. LAKE GUNTERSVILLE “In most Decembers, we start to make the winter transition. Bass will bite on Rat’L’Traps, jigs, and jerk baits. Look in three to seven feet of water along old grass lines, creek channels, and the bass can be stacked up on bends in creeks. Look for any kind of pinch point where the water drops in depth and some current might be present,” says long time Lake Guntersville fishing guide Captain Jake Davis. In general, for bass anglers on Guntersville, if you find the shad, you’ll find the bass. Davis advises anglers that this time of year, it’s not a “break of day” bite for largemouth bass. He says anglers can sleep in, start the trip about 8:00, and fish into the afternoon. Crappie anglers will have good results working around bridges with minnows and small jigs, and the crappie will be following schools of smaller shad around the shadow lines of the bridges. White bass and stripers will be in open water, and they can be located by looking for schools of shad on electronic gear and dropping jigs, silver spoons, and other deep running lures to them. SIPSEY FORK Randy Jackson of Riverside Fly Shop says that December on Sipsey Fork will see some good trout for anglers who go about the fishing in the right way. There will be periodic hatches of midges and blue wing olive mayflies, and anglers will have to adjust their fishing to suit the weather and water conditions. Midges will tend to hatch all up and down the river, but the blue wing olives will be found hatching off in specific locations, and anglers will have to find these spots.
work well for the spinning gear folks. Riverside Fly Shop will continue to offer float trips and guided wade trips for anglers who want to experience the only cold-water fishery in Alabama. Trout will be stocked each month, and the fish in December will be very active . WEISS LAKE Professional Weiss Lake fishing guide Lee Pitts says that December means fishing deep lake ledges using bottom bouncing rigs with a sinker on the end of the line and a hook with minnow a couple of feet above the sinker. Crappie chasers will have to move and look to find spots where the best concentrations of crappie will be holding. A good thing about this time of year, when the crappie are found, there will be a lot of them. Anglers can fill a live well with big, fat crappie when they are located. In fact, some really big crappie that have been feeding heavily on shad are caught in December on Weiss. Bass anglers on Weiss should look around river channels and deeper holes on the channels. Bass can still be found in shallow water if the shad are in shallow water. Pitts says, “Spinnerbaits are good for shallow water bass now. Try spinners with gold blades in winter here.” Bass anglers can look for humps and rises out in the main parts of the lake. In the low water winter draw-down conditions, these spots are easier to find than when the lake is at full pool in summer. Lots of spots will be holding on these rises and humps, and crank baits will work well, especially when there’s a current in the lake from dam releases of water. Striper and white bass will be schooled up in open water chasing shad, and silver spoons will work well on the stripers and whites. LAKE EUFAULA If the weather turns cold, anglers on big old Lake Eufaula can find good bass by working ledges and humps out in the main lake body. Work jigs and soft plastics over the humps. On the deeper ledges of the main lake, crappie will be schooling up looking for shad. Anglers catch a lot of crappie on Eufaula using multi-rod spider rigs. Try jigs tipped with minnows and slow troll likely spots. Captain Sam Williams from Hawks Fishing Guide Service tells winter bass seeking anglers to look for any remaining cover left over from summer and fall. Blowdown trees in the water are good places to find winter bass and the flats that hold left-over lily pad stems can be quite good. The stems won’t look like much, but they will hold good numbers of crawfish, and the bass will be up in the shallower water looking for the mudbugs. When the weather is too cool for shallow water bites, anglers can try fishing the rip-rap on bridges and causeways for bass. Concentrate on the sunny side of the structure where the water will usually be just a little bit warmer than the shady side.
Flies in smaller sizes, usually size 18, will work best.
Williams says that the early morning topwater bite can still be good on warmer days- try working frogs and other soft plastics over the lily pad stems.
Anglers who prefer spinning gear will have good results using the same flies that fly rod anglers use tied on a very light leader below a weighted bubble float. This allows long casts to reach trout feeding some distance away from the angler. Trout Magnet trout jigs in various colors will also
On the deeper ledges of the main lake, crappie will be schooling up looking for shad. Anglers catch a lot of crappie on Eufaula using multi-rod spider rigs. Try jigs tipped with minnows and slow troll likely spots.
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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook
MILLER’S FERRY In December on Miller’s Ferry the cooler weather has dropped water temperatures enough that the fish have moved off shallow water spots of fall and gone into their winter areas. Anglers should look for ledges that fall into deeper water out in the main body of the lake and water 18 feet or so right on the edge of the break is a good place to find concentrations of crappie. advises Joe Dunn from Dunn’s Sports Shop. Try bottom bouncing minnows or 1/8 oz. jigs right on the break. If the weather turns really chilly, the crappie may move off even farther and hold in 25 feet of water. If Miller’s Ferry should have high, muddy water from heavy upstream rains, the crappie will look for quiet holding water behind points and other structures that will break the stronger currents that move through the lake. When this happens, anglers can have some fast action as the crappie will be in really big schools. Dunn says that from mid to late October and through December, the crappie will be on the deeper breaks where they’ll be chasing shad. When the lake is pulling water and there’s a current, the crappie will be closer to cover, and they will be very aggressive and strike harder. In December, Miller’s Ferry largemouth will be pre-spawn staging in ten to twelve feet of water just waiting for temperatures to warm enough to actually into spawning mode. At this time, they’ll move into shallow water if it is warm enough to suit them. If the weather in December stays cool, the bass will be deeper. Bass anglers should look in the bigger, deeper sloughs, and look for shad. If shad are there, the bass will be there, too. Chatterbaits, and crank baits that run to six to eight feet of water will work well over ledges in the sloughs. WILSON LAKE/PICKWICK LAKE “It’s big catfish time. The big cats will move off into the deep ledges of the river channel in Wilson Lake. They’ll start to school in December, and that means anglers can get into multiple really big cats now,” says Captain Brian Barton, who specializes in live and dead bait fishing on these two fish factory lakes. “Cut skipjack herring, cut shad, live bream or shad are all good baits for the big old catfish. Anglers should look from Shoal Creek downstream to the dam for big cats. This is prime trophy cat water in December. Jackson Island is also a good spot to find the biggest cats. For eating size cats, anglers should fish the bottom of straight wall bluffs. Points and ledges are good holding areas for the eating size cats. Now, for some really hot fishing that will make anglers sweat even in cool weather, it’s hard to beat the big smallmouth bass and striped bass fishing below the dams, especially Wheeler Dam tailrace. “Both smallmouth bass and stripers will be staging in the tailrace gorging on yearling shad. Anglers who drift current seams and outside edges of the current with live shad if you can get them will have some fast action,” Barton said.
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Barton points out that on Wilson Lake in December, the best bait and technique for big trophy catfish is large chunks of cut skipjack tossed over standing timber in 55-80 feet of water. Either make long casts with no weight or fish straight down over the tops of trees with a Carolina rig with 2-3 ounce sinkers. Be patient, often cold water cats will take 30 to 45 minutes to bite. Smaller catfish can be caught with the same methods, just downsize the hook and bait. Crappie is a top pick for December on Wilson and Pickwick Lakes. Look for blowdowns for standing timber in 25 to 40 feet of water. Wood cover along creek ledges and main lake shorelines are best. Cast 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jigs and grubs in black, chartreuse, or pink for best results. For live bait anglers, drop live minnows right over the tops of trees. Use a light wire Tru-turn hook so you can bend it out easily when you become snagged in the wood cover. Pickwick Lake smallmouth bass and crappie are top picks. For bass, search rock piles, dikes, and channel ledges with rock cover. The area from Riverfront Park in Sheffield to Natchez Trace Parkway will be a top spot. Buck Island and Pride Landing areas will likely produce most trophy fish this month. Small plastics, hair jigs, grubs, and live shad minnows will be the best option. Bear Creek, Indian Creek, and Yellow Creek will be the best crappie locations. Depending on weather conditions and water temperatures, fish will locate from 10 to 30 feet of water. Use electronics to find schools of fish then target them by casting or trolling lures through the area. Crappie will usually appear as an “upside down Christmas tree” on your electronics.
LAKE TALQUIN “The primary target of most anglers on Talquin in December will be speckled perch. Most Decembers the perch fishing will have picked up, and anglers
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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook
Bass of all kinds get very active in December when the bait starts to bunch up.
Important Contact Information Captain Brian Barton 256-412-0969 Brianbartonoutdoors@aol.com Captain Jake Davis Mid-South Bass Guide Service 615-613-2382 www.midsouthbassguide.com Joe Dunn Dunn’s Sports 334-636-0850 33356 Hwy. 43, Thomasville, AL
can find big slab speckled perch in the mouths of creeks and on humps in the main body of the lake,” says Jeff DuBree of Whippoorwill Lodge. Trolling jigs is a very reliable and productive method of catching the Talquin slabs in winter situations. Bass anglers will need to check the recent weather when planning a December trip to Talquin. If the weather has been cold, then most bass will be found on deep ledges where they will take Carolina rigged finesse lures. If the weather has been generally warm, then the bass will still be shallow. As December moves on toward the end of the month, some very big bass will be caught in eight to twelve feet of water on Texas rig worms and Rat-L-Traps as the big old bass feed up for the spring spawn DuBree added.
Captain Lee Pitts 256-390-4145 www.pittsoutdoors.com Captain Sam Williams Hawks Fishing Guide Service 334-355-5057 www.hawksfishingguideservice.com Captain Wayne Miller Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service 251-455-7404 Millewa12000@yqhoo.com
LAKE JACKSON According to Rob Baker of Wilderness Way gives us some good advice for fishing Lake Jackson, but this advice applies to all of the other lakes in the Tallahassee area.
Randy Jackson Riverside Fly Shop 16027 Hwy 69N Jasper, Al 256-287-9582 riversideflyshop.com
He says that anglers will want to slow their presentations down quite a bit if the weather turns chilly. The vegetation in the lake will be thinning out in December, but what’s left is where anglers will want to spend their time working. Both old lily pads and shoreline cover will be good places to find bass.
Jeff DuBree Whippoorwill Lodge 850-875-2605 Fishtalquin@gmail.com
Large paddletails and buzz frogs worked over cover will be good. Any topwater offering that is weedless and can be buzzed over the vegetation will be good. The same lure with weight added and then dropped to deeper water ledges can pay off, too.
Rob Baker Wilderness Way 850-877-7200 3152 Shadeville Road Crawfordville, FLA
Early morning and late afternoons will still be the best time to hit Lake Jackson, and cloudy days are always the best.
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Eric Laguio with his black drum
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PHOTO of the MONTH A respectable largemouth with his new owner Rich Brandon.
Tim Gentzlinger with his hands full of a pier caught snook
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Zadyn Colbert, 3, just chilling with a bud
Mylan Tuberville, 12 looks a bit worried about his nice bass
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Sheepshead for Christmas BY WILLIAM KENDY
When the cold weather starts rolling in, so do the sheepshead in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. For sheepshead it is all about structure, be it jetties, bridges, docks, pilings, if here is structure you are apt to find sheepshead. Sheepshead are notorious bait thieves with a very light bite and you don’t pay attention all you will end up with is half a shrimp or a bare hook. GDO asked Captain Patric Garmeson, the current holder of the Alabama state record for Sheepshead for a couple of tips on catching these delicious fish.
“When you go you need to have a good variety of hooks, weights and jigs because it isn’t a one size fits all deal when it comes to sheepshead,” Arnold said. Arnold suggests that sheepshead hunters start out with the smallest weight leader they can and move upwards. “Start out with the smallest weight leader you can get away with, which is probably around 12 pounds and go up accordingly,” Arnold said.
“Pinch the tail off of the smallest shrimp you have and thread it onto a 1/0 or 2/0 Kahle hook. Keep tension from the rod tip to the hook and if you feel a light bump or the line tightening up, pull back slowly and see if there is any resistance. If so, fully engage the hook, all in one motion.”
“Sheepshead are going to be right up against structure and you want to be up as close to the structure as you can safely be and, if it is calm, being right beside the structure is the best,” he said. “Thread a live shrimp, fiddler or ghost crab on a jib and drop it down, letting it slowly drift to the bottom, pausing along the way. The jig allows you to have a different presentation until you find the level and presentation that triggers a bite.”
“Water depths in the six to eight-foot range are good places to look for sheepshead,” Garmeson added. “With the exception of Theodore Canal, you will be catching sheepshead in 20 feet of water or less.”
Captain Patric Garmeson 251-747-1554 www.uglyfishing.com
Brian Arnold is president of Birds of Prey Fishing Tackle out of Pensacola, Fl and an ardent sheepshead fisherman.
Brian Arnold 850-530-2686 wwwbirdofpreyfishingtackle.com 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // DECEMBER 2020 81
A GREAT DAY OUTDOORS
Survival Skills for the Uncivilized
BY JIM MIZE
During the holidays, outdoorsmen often find themselves wandering into strange environs, harsh and uncomfortable to their weathered souls. The usual landmarks are gone. Panic wells up in their throats and only choking fear holds it in check. These places have many names, most unsuited for children’s ears, but generally they are referred to as “High-Class Joints”. Fine restaurants lure many an outdoorsman and spouse on special occasions, usually for a Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve, or an anniversary. Yet the minute he steps inside, an outdoorsman knows his every move is being watched and judged. Just one false step, one wrong move, and the critics will be on him like a pack of jackals. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. To venture into a high-class joint and emerge unscathed, you only need to know two things. First, you have to be able to recognize a highclass joint. Second, you must know the rules of etiquette that apply within these premises. Let’s start with the first one. To help you distinguish between types of restaurants, let’s look at Pierre’s Pointe, a high-class joint, and Dewey’s Duck-Inn, a low-class joint. One of the first indicators is the parking lot out front. Vehicles say a lot about a restaurant. I once saw an eating place surrounded by European sports cars. One had a bumper sticker that read, “This is Mercedes country-on a clear night you can hear a Volvo depreciate.”
will greet you, then take your keys and your car. At a high-class joint like Pierre’s, you’ll get the car back.
find it. The next trick is turning on the etiquette. Five rules will get you through any dinner with ease.
Pierre also has more employees than customers. Figure it takes one receptionist, four waiters, a water boy, one table sweeper, two cooks, and three dishwashers just to fix your dinner. That also explains why the food costs so much.
First, never order ketchup in a high-class joint. This may sound difficult, but keep in mind, if you mess with your food you insult the chef and he’s the wrong guy to fool with if more food is coming.
On a table at Pierre’s, there will be enough utensils to serve Ulysses’ army. Three forks, two spoons, two knives, a glass for water, one for wine, a cup for coffee, one plate for looks (since they always put your food on another one in the kitchen), and a saucer for butter are standard fare. At Dewey’s, you would expect to eat from a paper plate and drink from a Mason jar, and when you sit down the last guy’s food will still be on the table. Both high-class and low-class joints have lots of food on the menus. But at Dewey’s, you actually see food on the menu. Old food dominates Pierre’s menu and sells at a premium, whereas Dewey has to mark down his old food and run it on special. Twenty-year old wines and month-old steaks are apparently worth more than day-old chili. Not only does Pierre keep track of his food’s age, but he’s mighty proud of its birthplace, too. Gulf shrimp, Dover sole, and Maine lobster are a few examples. At Dewey’s, most patrons are afraid to learn where the food’s been and are mostly interested in where it’s going. Fire can be an important indicator of restaurant quality. In a high-class place, such as Pierre’s, they set fire to your food at the table. If, however, they set fire to your food in the kitchen, then you’re at Dewey’s.
Bet your Browning boots that was a highclass joint.
Finally, at Pierre’s Pointe, your food arrives in shifts called courses. Maybe that’s done to keep all his help busy shuffling back and forth. At Dewey’s Duck-Inn, meals are designed by architects to fit on one plate and your check comes with the food.
Another clue is what happens in the parking lot. Usually, some youngster in a black jacket
Using these abundant signs, you should now be able to identify a high-class joint once you
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Second, remember tea is a high-class drink, hot not cold. If you have trouble drinking tea, try picking open the bag with your extra fork to let out a few grounds. Then it resembles weak camp coffee. Third, talk about high-class stuff. For instance, the conversation should be dominated by topics such as horses, salmon, and foxes, not mules, carp, and possums. Fourth, drink everything with your little finger extended. Don’t ask me why. Last of all, hand everybody money. You’ve got eight or nine people in this place trying to make a living on one meal. If you can’t afford to hand out greenbacks at every turn, just tell them you’re taking care of them on the master bill. Then if you don’t actually take care of them, wait at least a year before going back. Waiters have longer memories than do elephants, and a wounded elephant is no match for a stiffed waiter. Well-informed, you now qualify to be well-fed. But you say it looks like a lot of effort to eat in a high-class joint? And it sounds a bit stuffy? And who can afford it more than once or twice in every generation? All good points. Maybe that explains why Dewey pulls his bass boat with a Lincoln.
JIM MIZE regularly eats at Dewey’s and orders the day-old chili. You can find his new book of humor, Hunting With Beanpole, at www.acreektricklesthroughit.com
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Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states, in all GEICO companies, or in all situations. Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. In the state of CA, program provided through Boat Association Insurance Services, license #0H87086. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, DC 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. ÂŠ 2019 GEICO