Great Days Outdoors - November 2021

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5 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY applies to qualifying purchases of Suzuki outboard motors sold and delivered to the retail purchaser, for pleasure (non-commercial) use only, from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022. See Suzuki Limited Warranty for additional details. Suzuki, the “S” logo, and Suzuki model and product names are Suzuki Trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2021 Suzuki Marine USA, LLC. All rights reserved.

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HUNTING & FISHING IN ALABAMA & THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE

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CONTENTS

Neely Henry Lake Fishing Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 by Frank Sargeant Where to Shoot a Deer from any Angle. . . . . . . . . . . 12 by Josh Honeycutt How to Clear Land Without Breaking the Bank . . . . 18 by David Strickland Fall and Winter Catfish Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 by John E. Phillips New Alabama Record City Limits’ Deer. . . . . . . . . . . 28 by John E. Phillips A New Option in Used Hunting Gear for Sale. . . . . . 32 by Frank Sargeant How to Make a Duck Decoy Jerk Rig . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 by David Strickland Deciding on the Best Thermal Imaging for Hunting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 by Josh Honeycutt November Inshore Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 by Captain Richard Rutland How to Find Ammunition for Sale Online. . . . . . . . . 50 by Stephanie Mallory Stocking Rainbow Trout. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 by William Kendy Questions to Ask a Consulting Forester. . . . . . . . . . 58 by Joe Baya Land Loan Interest Rate Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 by William Kendy

In Every Issue

46

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Best Bets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 by William Kendy Camphouse Kitchen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 by Hank Shaw New & Cool Gear for Outdoorsmen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 by William Kendy From the Commissioner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 by Chris Blakenship From the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 by Charles Sykes Paddle Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 by Ed Mashburn Coastal Outlook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 by Chris Vecsey Pier & Shore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 by David Thornton Regional Freshwater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 by Ed Mashburn Prime Feeding Times, Moon, Sun, and Tide Charts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Pensacola Motorsports Trophy Room. . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Great Days Kids Corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Fishing Tips. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 by William Kendy A Great Day Outdoors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 by Jim Mize


Blue Girth Timber and Hunting Investment

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The Blue Girth Swamp area is known for excellent deer, turkey and duck hunting. 80 +/- acres of crop land. Paved road frontage with power and water. Beautiful homesite overlooking a large field. This property has a mixture of rolling hills and bottom swamp land. Excellent road system. Multiple food plots. Mixture of merchantable pine and hardwood timber. More details coming soon.

This rare waterfront opportunity between Lucedale and Hattiesburg has it all: river frontage, road frontage, camp, equipment shed, diverse timber, and fantastic hunting. Make long lasting memories with friends and family in the custom barndominium camp, boat, float, or fish the 3.3 miles of Leaf River frontage from one end of the property to the next, enjoying large sandbars and scenic views along the way, fish or hunt ducks on the internal oxbow lake, or use the intricate network of roads, trails, and wildlife food plots for riding atvs, horse riding, nature rides, or hunting the abundant deer, turkey, dove, duck, and other game present. The timber value is strong, boasting a diverse mix of mature pine saw timber, various ages of pine plantation, and hundreds of acres of mature hardwood. Access is easy with 3/4 of a mile of frontage on Highway 98, all just a short drive from Mobile, New Orleans, or I-10. Interested in a conservation easement for tax shelter purposes? This property excels for that as well. Need more land?!? An adjoining 500+ acres is also available. Pictures and videos coming soon, but don’t miss your chance to see this rare property before then!

Dallas County, Alabama, 740+/-Acres

Greene County, Mississippi, 860+/-Acres

FL Panhandle Listings

Alabama Listings COUNTY Autauga Autauga Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Bibb Bibb Bibb Bibb Bibb Blount Blount Blount Blount Blount Bullock Bullock Bullock Butler Butler

ACRES 114 110 710 113 44 39.43 39 1331 351 342 166.06 77 653 573 395 368 284 211 165 153 100 67 2436 99 92 394.47 151.05

COUNTY Butler Calhoun Calhoun Chambers Cherokee Cherokee Cherokee Cherokee Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Choctaw Choctaw Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Cleburne Colbert Colbert Colbert Colbert Conecuh Conecuh

2 80 48 103 938 16.33 2 0.3 165 34 16 4.16 2.42 175 37 1450 620 176 8.9 8.4 65 49.8 18.84 10 0.77 119 1

ACRES

Coosa Coosa Coosa Covington Covington Covington Covington Covington Dale Dale Dale Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas DeKalb Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Escambia Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette

1200 100 55 730 360 63.04 0.86 0.84 115 104 27 740 270 130 94 63 338 194 163 62 36.44 10 1219 672 640 484 473

Fayette Franklin Franklin Geneva Greene Greene Greene Hale Hale Hale Hale Hale Henry Henry Henry Henry Henry Houston Houston Houston Jackson Jackson Jackson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson

344 38 8 228 37 8 6 160 150 127 120 80 26 18 17 15 6 155 93 31.5 695 80 60 132.62 91 39 23

COUNTY

ACRES

Jefferson Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale Lee Limestone Limestone Limestone Limestone Limestone Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Macon Macon Marengo Marengo Marengo Marion

21 373 202 92 90 160 102.69 75 25 24.63 1.59 60 3.42 1.4 1.4 1.4 1587 1083 1013 783 656 289 185 585 451.21 40 133

COUNTY Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Monroe Monroe Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pike Pike Pike Saint Clair Saint Clair

1800 308 260 167 160 191 129 353 250 150 116 91 610.57 270.21 240.75 240 134 430 356 150 121 80 400 80 9.2 585 304

Saint Clair Saint Clair Saint Clair Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter Talladega Tallapoosa Tallapoosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Walker Walker Walker Walker Walker Washington

ACRES 281 128 62.18 79 75 74 64 45 2151 640 630 115 80 112 264 13 817 500 479 393 357 220 140.27 131.47 115 95.91 1320

Washington Washington Washington Washington Wilcox Wilcox Winston Winston

240 213 200 200 522 180 81 2.3

COUNTY

Calhoun Holmes Holmes Holmes Walton Washington Washington

ACRES 30 127 64 63 52 133 68

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BEST BETS

BEST BETS FOR NOVEMBER These are our top targets for hunters and fishermen this month! BY WILLIAM KENDY

DON’T FORGET ABOUT NOV. FISHING

Even though November is better known as a hunting month, don’t even think about putting your boat in storage because there is a wealth of Alabama fishing opportunities. By November we are generally past the tropical storm and hurricane season so the weather conditions are more stable. In addition, because of the colder weather and the end of tourist season there is less boat traffic and fishing pressure. November offers great fishing on all fronts. On the inshore and surf/pier saltwater side pompano, redfish, whiting, black drum, sheepshead and other species are available. Offshore vermillion, mangrove snapper and grouper will be in shallower water and yellowfin tuna will be hanging around offshore gas and oil platforms. Larger amberjacks are moving in. In freshwater, all the basses, crappie and catfish are putting on weight for the winter and are ripe for the catching. See our special fishing reports for more information.

VOLUME 25 ISSUE 11 NOVEMBER 2021

PUBLISHED BY: Great Days Outdoors Media, L.L.C. PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Joe Baya EXECUTIVE EDITOR Butch Thierry MANAGING EDITOR: William Kendy GENERAL MANAGER: Samatha Hester CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Wendy Johannesmann

WORKING THE ANGLES

As all of us hunters know, deer have the annoying habit of not standing exactly where we want to shoot them. Sometimes they just appear (like ghosts) and look straight at you from someplace you didn’t anticipate them being. Sometimes they will present the perfect broadside shot but unfortunately, will have a tree right in front of their vitals. Other times, it is a quartering away shot. And while making an accurate and killing shot is tough enough from the ground, it is even more challenging when you are shooting down. Finally, there is the moving shot, the neck shot and other risky business.

DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MARKETING Jarod Bosarge

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. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC PO Box 460248 Escondido, CA 92046 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.

Josh Honeycutt, in his article, “Shooting Deer from Every Angle” in this issue, goes into detail as to what shots to take or what not to take from different anglers for both bowhunters and firearm hunters. In addition to taking angles into consideration he explains what to look for in a blood trail.

THE OUTDOOR WORLD GOES HIGHTECH

t’s hard to keep up with today’s high-tech sophistication and it seems every day there is a new app appearing. Two new on-line services serving the hunting and shooting industry are featured in this issue. Frank Sargeant, in his article, “The Hunting Exchange: A New Option in Used Hunting Gear for Sale” shares how this new company offers buyers and sellers an easy and affordable means of selling their used and even new hunting equipment. All firearm hunters or shooters are aware of the ammo shortages and price increases we have seen in the past few years and shopping online is now mainstream. In her article, “How to Find Ammunition for Sale Online” Stephanie Mallory outlines what to consider when purchasing ammo over the internet and highlights the new AmmoSeek app. 6 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

CONTACT US: EDITORIAL | JoeBaya@greatdaysoutdoors.com ADVERTISING | SamHester@greatdaysoutdoors.com SUBSCRIPTIONS | greatdaysoutdoors@pcspublink.com Great Days Outdoors Media LLC PO Box 460248 Escondido, CA 92046 877. 314. 1237 info@greatdaysoutdoors.com www.greatdaysoutdoors.com All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission from Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC.

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888.830.7663 INFO@SEPOND.COM SEPOND.COM

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Neely Henry Lake

Fishing Tips BY FRANK SARGEANT

Neely Henry Ramp near bridge

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FISHING A lot of anglers from outside Alabama have never heard of Neely Henry Reservoir, but it’s a highly-productive lake that doesn’t get nearly the pressure of better-known waters like nearby Guntersville, and that can be fished when the bigger lakes around the state are blown out with strong winds and cold fronts. Neely Henry is an 11,000-acre reservoir on the Coosa River, near the towns of Gadsden and Ohatchee. It extends over 77 miles from the Neely Henry dam upstream to Weiss dam. The upper portion looks much like the Coosa River, narrow and winding, but below Gadsden the lake fans out to plenty of fishy bays and open water. It’s been a magnet for bass and crappie anglers and boaters for decades, and fans would like to keep it that way. ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES When it comes to bass, local anglers like guide Lee Pitts, who won one of the highly-competitive Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) tournaments here in 2019, says there are basically two lakes attached to each other. The upper stretches are mostly spotted bass country where anglers who understand current fishing tactics and finesse baits load up on some of the fattest spots in Alabama. The lower stretch, below Gadsden, fishes more like a lake, with lots of winding side bays, grassy shores and stump flats where largemouths thrive. When the water flows, the spots bite, and it’s possible to know when those flows are coming thanks to the generation schedule provided by Alabama Power; https://apcshorelines.com/our-lakes/neely-henry. The company has also put many brush piles into the lake to act as fish habitat. Get the coordinates here: alabamapower.com/lakes/fishdata.asp. Head for gravel bars, points, bends and underwater obstructions when the flow is on and probe with crankbaits, swim jigs and soft plastics on shaky-head jigs and you’ll connect. When the flow stops, you’re better off heading downriver to fish for largemouths, which are not so current-conscious. Pitts notes, though, that the largies do like flowing water, especially when it comes in from a feeder creek or drain. “The mouths of those creeks can be great pretty much anytime there’s enough flow to wash out minnows and crawfish,” Pitts said. “Imitate those baits and you’ll connect.” Otherwise, find largemouths in the usual locations—hit the shorelines with scattered grass with spinnerbaits and weedless frogs, the stumps and laydowns with jigs, soft plastics and squarebills to connect. Pitts won his ABT event here flipping 3/8 ounce jigs to submerged grass in June. In fall, both spots and largemouths turn to chasing shad on top, and anglers who love to “run-and-gun” can frequently get in on fast action by throwing noisy

topwaters or fast-moving lipless cranks to these outbreaks. Though Pitts catches plenty of bass when that’s the order of the day, his specialty is crappie fishing, and for that he’s convinced there’s strength in numbers— he routinely puts out 8 to 10 rods to slow troll tiny jigs, mostly Bobby Garland’s in 1/24 and 1/32 ounce sizes. “Except when they’re spawning, the crappies here are schooled in the channel, both on the river and in the large creeks,” Pitts said. “I put out a spread of different weights, which lets me cover various depths, and I use rods from 8 to 12 feet long, which lets me cover a lot of water on every pass. We go slow, less than a mile an hour, but we cover the water and we find them.” He suggests putting out all line, six pound-test Hi-Viz Vicious mono, to the same length, which allows making repeated turns with less chance of tangles as the boat passes back and forth over likely water. He likes the high visibility line because it allows him to watch for tangles. Another favorite tactic on Neely Henry is “shooting the docks”, using a bow-and-arrow cast with light spinning tackle to skip a jig far back under a boathouse dock. “There are brush piles around almost every boat house on the lake, and the crappies hang on these almost year around,” Pitts said. “If you can skip a 1/24 ounce jig way back under the decks, you’ll get bit almost every time.” He uses seven foot light-action rods and six pound test mono for his shooting trips. In spring, when the fish head to the shorelines, he switches tactics to a “float-n-fly” arrangement, with a little fixed float four to six feet above a 1/24 ounce jig. “I cast this on an eight foot rod, which allows me to swing all that line better than a short rod would,” Pitts said. “I cast it around brush or standing trees, and then just sort of shake the rod to move the float a little—a crappie usually doesn’t like a lot of movement in the lure. I fish it just five or six feet around the brush— once I’m clear of that I reel in and make another cast.” Pitts says the crappies run large in Neely Henry, with many considerably fatter than in other lakes on the chain. His best ever Alabama crappie came from the lake, a giant three pound,eight ounce fish that was 17.5 inches long. The fact that Pitts sometimes leaves his home lake, Weiss, which is known as the “Crappie Capital of the World”, to fish Neely Henry says a lot about the quality of fish here. (Contact Pitts at www. pittsoutdoors.com.) TROUBLE AHEAD? Unfortunately, there’s currently concern that Neely Henry’s productivity could take a hit from a proposed chicken processing plant a short distance from the shore, built in the watershed of a creek that drains to the lake.

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Neely Henry Lake Fishing Tips

Neely Henry Submerged grass crappie

Pilgrim’s Pride, the processing company, says the plant adjacent to Northeast Alabama Regional Airport would bring 100 jobs to the area, and would employ state of the art technology to prevent odors and harmful effluent from leaving the facility. Still locals are massively opposed. A Facebook group called “Opposition to the Gadsden Airport Rendering Plant” has drawn some 9,500 members in just a few months and the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism Commission has passed a resolution opposing the plant, which they feel could reduce the area’s appeal to visitors including anglers and boaters according to executive director Hugh Stump. Justinn Overton, executive director for Coosa Riverkeepers, says the group’s concern is that adding over 600,000 gallons a day of additional effluent to the city’s already burdened sewage system would almost surely increase overflow issues which have already added excessive nutrient to the lake periodically, clouding the water and reducing fish production. “We should be working to clean up these problems that already exist, not potentially adding to the problem,” Overton said. “Residents are starting to 10 OCTOBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

ask whether we want to be a recreationally-oriented river town, or a factory town. This industry would push us in the wrong direction.” GEARING UP FOR FISHING NEELY HENRY Buck’s Island Marine, one of the largest and oldest freshwater boat dealers in Alabama, includes a tackle shop where the staff truly understands fishing Neely Henry, since the huge facility is just a few hundred yards from the lake. Their Tackle Loft stocks all the latest lures from Bill Lewis, Booyah, Rapala, Heddon, Storm, Lucky Craft, Missile Baits and dozens of other well-known tackle companies, and even includes the hard-to-find (and expensive!) Bull Wake Shad that’s such a killer for dawn patrol anglers fishing shoreline submerged grass at the lake. They also carry a full line of Daiwa and Lew’s rods and reels, Costa polarized glasses and kayaks rigged for fishing. They also sell fishing maps of the lake, of course, and you can shop their extensive online store even if you don’t visit the area; https://shopbucksisland.com. For information on lodging, boat ramp location and other things to enjoy in the area, including hiking trails and Noccalula Falls Park, visit the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism Commission here: https://greatergadsden.com.


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Where to Shoot a Deer from Any Angle BY JOSH HONEYCUTT

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HUNTING

Knowing when, when not, how, and how not to take the shot is important knowledge

As deer hunters, taking ethical shot opportunities is part of being a good hunter. Knowing what shots are quick, clean kills, and which ones are not, is part of that. This requires a firm understanding in deer anatomy, what shots to take, what shots to avoid, and even how to set up for the shot. UNDERSTANDING DEER ANATOMY Before any hunter goes afield, they should become very “in tune” with deer anatomy. If you don’t know where the vitals are, how can you possibly know where to aim? The bottom line is you can’t. That said, with a gun and a broadside deer, aiming a third of the way up the torso above the belly line, and directly above or just behind the front leg, is a surefire aiming spot. That puts you right in the heart and front-of-the-lung region. With a bow, keep the same elevation, but shift slightly backward to the “crease” that runs up behind the front leg. This will ensure a shot placement that stays away from bone and centers the lungs. Other vitals, such as liver, paunch, intestines, and arteries, are in other areas of the torso and body. Impacts to these will kill deer but aren’t something to aim or hope for. These hits take much longer to succumb to, which leads to unnecessary pain and suffering. Accidents and bad shots happen from time to time, but never purposely take these. SHOTS TO TAKE, OR NOT TO TAKE Some shots hunters should take, and some they shouldn’t. But the broadside shot opportunity is the best option. It’s even better when deer are calm and relaxed. This situation offers the least likelihood of the deer jumping the string. It also increases the overall size of the vitals (in relation to your angle) and when hunters are at eye level with the deer, the kill zone is even bigger. That said, many hunters hunt from elevated positions, such as treestands. This is OK and is oftentimes necessary to get close to deer. Still, the higher you are in relation to the deer, the smaller the kill zone gets. It’s biggest at eye level with the deer, and gradually decreases the higher you are. Aside from broadside shots, quartering away is the next best option and some hunters even prefer it to broadside deer. In this situation, if aiming properly, it’s oftentimes possible to hit both the heart and at least one lung. That leads to a quick, clean harvest. As for the quartering-to angle, these are OK for gun hunters, but off limits to bowhunters. There’s too much bone for most bow setups to adequately penetrate, and that leaves you holding further back. If the angle is severe enough, you’re aiming straight at the intestines, which isn’t good. Of course, some hunters say heavy arrow setups can handle quartering-to shots. In some cases, that might be true, but it’s still risky, especially considering possible deflections and a reduced kill zone size. Straight on shots are not good for bowhunters. Under the right circumstances, it can work for gun hunters, though. With the right caliber, and for a seasoned hunter who knows anatomy and where to aim, it can work. Still, I prefer the deer to be at least slightly quartered, and then you can put the crosshairs right between the sternum and inside corner of the shoulder. In hill and mountain country, hunters oftentimes deal with uphill and downhill shots. If the deer isn’t “sky-lined” and there’s a safe backdrop behind the target, these are fine to take. Also, remember to aim for the exit. For example, if the deer is uphill, aim so the arrow, bolt, or bullet passes up through the vitals. If the deer is downhill, aim so it takes the right trajectory downward through the vitals.

Shot placement is a big part of deer hunting ethics. (Honeycutt Creative photo)

Furthermore, in steep terrain, account for angles in your hold. Line-of-sight distance isn’t the same on flat ground as it is on a slope. So, it helps to use a rangefinder with angle-compensating technology, which can tell you exactly how to aim regardless of the steepness of the terrain between you and the 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 13


Where to Shoot a Deer from Any Angle

Quartering Away (Honeycutt Creative photo)

target. And make sure you keep good shooting form when taking shots at odd angles.

miss, and it results in a gruesome, painful, long-lasting injury. That’s not something to gamble on.

In addition to the aforementioned shots, there are some other shots you should never take, especially with a bow. Some of these are acceptable with a gun, but even then, only under certain circumstances. Of course, others are off limits regardless of what weapon is in your hand. These might get the job done, but they aren’t high-odds shots that the average hunter can execute, nor should they try.

Neck shots are off limits to bowhunters, but a well-placed shot with a gun can bring a deer down quickly. Again, it’s easy to miss, though. You must sever or shock the spinal column, or cut through the carotid artery, to bring that deer down for good.

First, let’s observe the running shot. In my opinion, it’s not ethical with bow or gun. Some hunters like it, but too much can go wrong. Long shots are the same way. You should only take shots that you and your weapon are capable of. Even then, if it’s a really long shot, it gives deer time to move. So, reconsider any distance that allots time for deer to move. Head shots should never be taken under any circumstance. The kill zone is smaller than the size of a baseball. If you or the deer twitches, you 14 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

Gut shots should never be purposefully taken. It can take 10 or more hours for deer to succumb to that wound. Just don’t do that. Ever heard of the “Texas heart shot”? It’s a terrible idea. Never shoot at a deer that is facing straight away. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Straight down shots are never OK, either, regardless of whether you’re using a bow or gun. Your only hope is to sever the spine, and the odds are low. Furthermore, most hunters unintentionally hold too far back when looking straight down at deer. Bedded shots are also not advised. Some people take them. This shot


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Where to Shoot a Deer from Any Angle

Broadside is the best shot opportunity. (Honeycutt Creative photo)

opportunity is less risky than others on this list but it’s almost always ill-advised. For one, vitals are slightly displaced while deer are bedded, and generally, deer aren’t perfectly broadside to you. Finally, never take a shot at stacked deer. If another is behind the one you intend to shoot, wait for it to clear before pulling the trigger. You don’t want to shoot two deer with one shot, whether purposely or unintentionally. SETTING UP FOR THE SHOT Shot placement specifics aside, there are things hunters can do to set themselves up for the perfect shot. One is to hang stands and position blinds perpendicular to deer trails, scrapes, pinch points, and other things that deer travel and use. You can also use scrape trees, horizontal rubbing posts, watering holes, and other things that draw deer into a specific spot and position. Doing this helps to ensure a close, high-odds, broadside shot opportunity. That’s what every hunter wants.

Blood Trailing 101 Those looking to understand shooting angles should also register the effects of each shot placement, too. Knowing what to expect, reading the sign, and understanding how long to wait, are all part of the process.

One-Shot Kills 101 The best thing a hunter can do is make shots that quickly, cleanly dispatch deer. Hunters can do several things to accomplish this. 1. Practice good form and quality trigger pulls. 2. Use a safe, steady rest with guns and crossbows. 3. Use a gun rest or proper stabilizing mechanism, even in treestands. 4. With a gun, aim for the shoulder. With a bow, stay away from bone. 5. Aim for the exit. Meaning, imagine a straight line from the entry point, through the vitals, and out the opposite side. If it isn’t the right trajectory, choose a better aiming spot. 6. Keep everything about your shot routine the same. This is true for practice and the moment of truth. 7. With a bow, never take a shot at an extremely alert deer. If they are, and you do, hold low. They have time to react before the arrow or bolt makes impact. 8. Take two or three deep breaths before the shot. Then, after the final exhale, send it. This is when you’re the most relaxed. 9. Follow through properly. Keep the sights or scope on target for one or two seconds after the shot breaks. This keeps you from pulling off. 10. Don’t rush the shot. 11. Bonus: Don’t look at the rack. Focus on the vitals.

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Heart Shot: Deer might mule kick. The arrow and blood trail will have crimson-colored blood. There’s no need to wait more than 30 minutes to an hour before blood trailing. The blood trail should be well under 100 yards. Lung Shot: Reactions to lung shots vary. The arrow and blood trail should have bright red, pink, and bubbly blood. There’s no need to wait more than an hour. For a double lung hit, the blood trail should be under 150 yards. Liver Shot: Deer will likely run a few lunges, stop, and then walk off. The arrow and blood trail will have darkred blood, and the blood trail will likely decline in quality over time, consisting of droplets and not spray. Wait about four to five hours before blood trailing. If bumped, deer can travel long distances. If left alone, potentially find them in their first bed 100 to 300 yards from the impact site. Gut Shot: The typical reaction is a deer that runs a few yards, stops, arches its back, and slowly walks off. The arrow and blood trail will have minimal blood and should consist of brown and green stomach matter. Wait about 10-12 hours before trailing. If left unpressured, the deer will likely be found in its first bed, which can range in distance from the impact site. Arterial Shot: This consists of the aorta, carotid, femoral, and several other areas of the circulatory system with heavy blood loss. These wounds generally spray blood, and trails are massive. Deer typically only go a short distance.


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Backstrap (deer or elk) Salt Pepper Olive oil 1 pound bacon 1 clove garlic 8 ounces cream cheese 1 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

1. Trim all silver skin from the backstrap and butterfly 2. AlabamaAgCredit.com Call 800.579.5471

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lengthwise. Do not cut into medallions. Season with salt and pepper. Chop bacon into ½ inch pieces and brown in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic. Once the mushrooms are cooked, remove from heat. In a medium-size bowl, mix bacon, mushrooms, cream cheese and breadcrumbs. Evenly add stuffing mixture to the butterfly-cut backstrap. Close butterfly cut and tie off with butcher’s twine. Brush with olive oil. Grill over medium/high heat until the meat reaches medium rare. For the best taste and texture, be sure not to overcook. Slice and enjoy! 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 17


How to

Clear Land Without Breaking the Bank BY DAVID STRICKLAND

Before you can figure out the best locations to pace your ground or tree blinds to ambush a whitetail, the property needs to be cleared enough to allow you to pattern your deer and develop a game plan. 18 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


LIFESTYLE Whether you’re a hunter looking to clear a few shooting lanes,a landowner needing to create a firebreak or just taking care of a downed tree, owning a piece of land requires continual maintenance. This kind of work always involves manual labor and a good pair of leather gloves; however, the right tools and equipment will make the workload more manageable and increase your productivity. Most landowners can manage a smaller parcel with various hand and power tools and a small tractor, but taking the time to choose the right tools and equipment can save you money in the long run. However, more significant properties often require detailed planning, larger specialized equipment, and sometimes even a permit before serious clearing can begin. Taking the time to discuss your property issues and long-term goals with fellow landowners or your local state forestry agent can lead to realistic expectations and maybe good contact information for trusted resources to help carry out those plans. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best power tools available to assist landowners in maintaining their property. We’ll also look at some of the best tractor attachments to tackle your larger projects. Finally, we’re going to look at the benefits of hiring someone with the expertise and equipment to tackle the challenges involved in developing roads, creating clearings, and managing the timber on your property. Sometimes, a selective timber harvest is a good starting point in achieving your larger management goals. HAND TOOLS Your local Sunsouth dealer carries an impressive selection of Stihl products. They have both gas and electric options for addressing everything from weeds to felling your largest timber. Chain saws- Newer battery technology has created another option for the urban landowner. Some models rival their gas competition in performance and offer a level of convenience and noise reduction that many homeowners enjoy. Most Stihl chainsaws sold in the US are put together in Virginia. They have a long history amongst professional loggers and now offer over 30 gas and electric models. Battery- An excellent choice for a smaller trim saw is the MSA 200 C-B. It is a lightweight, 36 volts saw with a run-time approaching one hour and a ten-year battery life. It’s the perfect choice for some quiet, early-morning cutting if you have neighbors within earshot. Gas -A smaller, lightweight saw like the Stihl MS 194T is around 7 pounds, can use cutting bars from 12-16”, and is perfect for smaller trees or limbs. For cutting bigger trees, the MS 261 made by Stihl can use a cutting bar from 16-20” and comes in around 10 pounds. Clearing Saw- For hard-to-reach areas, a bladed trimmer can easily cut brush and small saplings up to 4”. Stihl carries a line of dedicated saws from 2-4 hp that can quickly clear brush and saplings. TRACTORS Tractors come in various sizes, and finding the right-sized tractor is determined by the acreage to be maintained and what 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 19


How to Clear Land Without Breaking the Bank

This lightweight model from Stihl is perfect for smaller trees and limbs

2.

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attachments are needed. Your local Sunsouth dealer can be a great starting point as you consider your options. Small Compact- The John Deere 2038R is a 36 hp model, and with the right attachments, it can maintain 5-15 acres. With 4-wheel drive, hydrostatic transmission, and 36 hp, it’s an excellent choice and currently qualifies for special financing. Full-Size Compact- The 50hp 5045E model by John Deere delivers the power to maintain more substantial properties of 20 acres or more and can handle the larger accessories. Attachments- Grass and brush mowers, discs, planters, augers, blades, backhoes, front-end loaders, mulchers, and sprayers, to name a few. A conversation with your local Sunsouth dealer can help you determine the most suitable options for your situation. SKID STEERS From 4,000 lbs to around 10,000lbs, they have attachments to do all but the largest of projects. Think of this option as a cross between a small dozer and tractor. This agile machine offers a mulching attachment that can accomplish the work of several machines at once. The mulcher can turn brush, saplings, and stumps into a fine mulch in short order. It can clear underbrush or even create openings for planting. The John Deere, 333G with a MINIFORSTcl 175 mulcher on the front, can remove any underbrush and small trees up to eight inches to create a beneficial layer of mulch in short order. BULLDOZERS Many landowners prefer to rent, borrow, or even buy a small dozer if they have significant clearings to establish or an extensive network of roads or firebreaks to maintain. The 450K Dozer by John Deere is their smallest model with 80 hp and a width of about seven feet. This type of equipment can maintain roads, create firebreaks, clearings, and fields with ease.

company’s recent job sites. A firsthand perspective on the quality of work a logger does can influence your hiring decision. Ask about their qualifications: Many state agencies do not require logger certification/qualifications; however, many offer continuing education classes and certification programs. A certified or trained logging company is recommended. Require insurance. Ask for verification of insurance. If a logger is uninsured, a landowner can be held liable for any incident during the logging operation on your property. Sign a contract - A contract outlining every detail of the harvest will protect you from any surprises. An agreement that clearly defines specific areas and trees to cut, those to be left, cleanup details, road building and maintenance, the time frame, and payment specifics will help avoid headaches.

HIRING A SPECIALIST I spoke with Brian Sheppard of Brush Clearing Services (BCS). His company has offices in Georgia and Arkansas and he offers his expertise and services throughout the South—from Georgia to Texas. BCS provides various forestry services to small and large landowners and can help create short- and long-term goals for any property. They have dozer-mounted mulchers and other specialized equipment that can create a path nearly 10’ wide with each pass to clear underbrush and quickly develop strategic openings or firebreaks. “Frequently, we recommend a three-step process to achieve the desired results for a property. Initially, when evaluating a parcel, we look at tree density, species, the amount and types of underbrush, and the number of openings when developing a plan,” Sheppard said. A comprehensive plan can often include: 1. Selective timber harvest 2. Using industrial mulching equipment to thin undergrowth 3. Follow Up with targeted herbicide applications The benefits of the BCS clearing techniques: • No burning • No stumps • No debris hauling • No soil disturbance Sheppard explained that BCS mulching equipment creates a ground-friendly layer of heavy mulch, which significantly increases soil water retention. The BCS equipment can address any clearing project, including sensitive tasks such as wetlands restoration or reducing hazardous fuel loads on a property.

LOGGING Contracting with a reputable logger to harvest timber on your property can often achieve a large part of your management goals while putting money in your pocket. However, before hiring someone to cut your trees, there are few points to consider. 1.

Always get references from forestry professionals and timberland owners - A logging business is like any other. They earn their reputation for either good or poor work performance. Professional foresters often work with a logging business and can often give valuable insight into the quality of work a company has done in the past. Likewise, talking to landowners can lead to recommendations about which companies do a good job. Also, if possible, visit one or more of a logging

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John Deere makes several models of their Skid Steer. They are nimble machine’s that can shred 8” trees into fine mulch with this attachment.


How to Clear Land Without Breaking the Bank

SAFETY Any activity that involves a saw requires serious, dedicated safety equipment. DO NOT attempt to crank up any saw or brush cutter without first making sure the area is clear of obstacles and bystanders. An investment in the proper cut-resistant Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will help avoid an unexpected visit to the emergency room. Your local Sunsouth dealer carries a complete line of professional safety equipment.

Finding the right tractor and attachments for your property can be as easy as making a phone call to your local Sunsouth dealer.

FINAL THOUGHTS If you’re the hands-on type that loves the outdoors, choosing the right equipment to manage your property can save both time and money. There are numerous options for taking care of your land, and the right tools can make the task easier and even enjoyable. Whether your property has wetlands or hills, consists of a few acres or hundreds, consulting with a company such as BCS can help any landowner develop a plan to achieve their forest management goals. So, give Brian a call, or head to your nearest Sunsouth dealer to discuss your property needs and discover the best options for your situation.

Important Contact Information Brian Sheppard. Office 706-663-8076 Direct 706-718-1690 www.brushclearingservices.com Drew Shirley (205) 556-7700 Sunsouth.com

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Although Lake Eufaula doesn’t get much publicity about its catfishing, this lake homes some giants, like the one caught here by Tony Adams.

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FISHING

FALL AND WINTER

CATFISH FISHING

BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS

If you know the tactics to use, you can catch about as many catfish in the fall and winter as you can in the spring and summer.

Although almost anyone can catch catfish from May through October, few anglers can take cats throughout the late fall and winter months. But Tennessee River fishermen and anglers fishing Yo-Yo’s across the South can. TECHNIQUES FOR WINTER FISHING DROP-OFFS FOR CATFISH I’ve fished with some anglers below Pickwick Dam in the winter before and learned their secret strategies for catching big cats year-round. Their belief is that cats eat something every day. If they put bait out, up off the bottom that catfish will eat, then they can catch the catfish. These catfishermen report that catfish are slow to take baits during the winter months – far longer than they will in the summer. Often a catfish will hit a bait for 10 minutes during the winter, before finally taking it in and swallowing it. Deep holes in the Tennessee River, particularly below Pickwick Dam, will pay off in catfish in the winter. To catch big wintertime cats, you must first survey the river bottoms below hydroelectric dams and look for drop-offs, holes and ledges downriver. Catfish like to hold there where baitfish congregate, and other food washes into the holes. Once anglers locate these holes, they use their trolling motors to hold their boats steady against the current. Then their lines fall-down to the bottom and wash into the holes. They allow the current to move their boats downriver. Next, the angler will raise his rod tip and lift the lead up off the bottom. Controlling the drift of the boat with a trolling motor, the fisherman will allow his boat to move back three to six feet before letting his lead down again. He’ll point the nose of the boat into the current and have his line running at about a 30-degree angle toward the back of the boat. Then he’ll start bumping his bait along the bottom above the holes, let the bait drop-down into the holes and bounce the bait along the bottom out the back side of the hole. Since wintertime catfish are often on top of, in or behind the holes, you want to work that entire stretch of the bottom. Bigger cats may hold where depths reach 30-40 and even 60 feet. TIPS FOR FISHING WINTER’S SLACK WATER In slack water, anglers will fish holes in the bottoms, in front of spillways that aren’t discharging water. Big cats will hold around dams throughout the year. These fishermen use the same rigs they do when bumping baits in the holes downriver. But, when fishing slack water, they fish with lighter leads, often weighing no more than one or two ounces, and use their trolling motors to move their boats slowly around these holes.

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Fall and Winter Catfish Fishing

SECRETS FOR CATCHING WINTERTIME CATFISH • Never go over a hole you plan to fish downriver from a dam in the winter while running an outboard motor. A trolling motor, however, doesn’t seem to spook the fish. • Fish through the hole, allowing the bait to drift-back naturally, rather than trying to anchor on or above the hole and fishing vertically in it. • Move your bait through the hole slower than the current’s moving. Only lift the lead three to four inches off the bottom, using 60-pound-test, abrasion-resistant monofilament leader line that has the power to move a big catfish, once an angler sets the hook with his braided main line. • Fish 10 – 20 holes per day. You can return to the same hole several times during the day. • Use a wide variety of baits, including cut shad, shad guts, chicken livers, night crawlers and live crappie minnows. Another productive wintertime bait to use in tandem with these live baits or by itself is Fishbites’ Yeh Monn bait, a commercially prepared bait containing strong fish attractants. Let the catfish tell you which bait they prefer on each winter day by the number of bites you get or the number of catfish you catch on each bait. YO-YOING FOR CATFISH I accidentally learned how to “yo-yo” for catfish in the winter, while fishing with Billy Blakely, of Tiptonville, Tennessee, a guide for Blue Bank Resort at Reelfoot Lake. I noticed small, round, silver disks hanging by pieces of nylon cord on limbs. Another piece of braided nylon line came from the bottom of each disk and hung down in the water. When I asked Billy, “What’s that?” “That’s a Yo-Yo,” Blakely answered. “It’s the best catfish-catching machine in the world. On the average, Yo-Yos daily produce about 1-1/2-pounds of catfish per Yo-Yo.” A Yo-Yo, an automatic fishing reel produced by the White’s Auto-Fisher and

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Mechanical Fisher Brands, consists of a stainless-steel spring enclosed in a sheet-metal frame. The small circular device has a line attached to its top end that you use to tie the Yo-Yo to a green limb of a tree hanging out over the water. The lower end of it contains 20 feet of coiled trotline staging with a snap swivel on the end of the line. To fish with a Yo-Yo, you attach a No. 2/0 hook to the snap swivel and put a small piece of shot lead 6-8 inches up the line from the swivel. As you pull out the line on the bottom end of the reel, the stainless-steel spring will coil tighter and tighter. Once you’ve pulled out the desired amount of line to fish the water depth you want, you engage a small wire trigger on the side of the reel. The trigger holds the reel in place, and the spring inside the reel is coiled tightly. When a catfish takes the bait on a yo-yo, it trips the trigger, causing the spring to uncoil quickly, which sets the hook and keeps tension on the line. As the catfish swims away from the reel, the stainless-steel spring becomes even-more tight. When the catfish quits swimming, the spring jerks the line, pulling the fish back under the tree. MAIN FEATURES OF YO-YOS If you fish with a Yo-Yo and half a nightcrawler to give off more scent, the Yo-Yo will: • set the hook with a quick jerk, • keep constant pressure on the hook, preventing the catfish from escaping, • add more pressure to the line the further the catfish swims-away from the tree, • keep the line from getting tangled in underwater logs and limbs by pulling the catfish up and away from the bottom each time it runs, • play the fish as it runs from the tree and then pull the catfish back to the tree, and • pull the catfish’s head up out of the water or near the surface to let you know you have a fish on the line.


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Fall and Winter Catfish Fishing

Yo-Yo fishing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to catch catfish anytime of the year and especially in the winter.

enable you to fish more than one line to catch cats. Most anglers will fish 10-20 yo-yos or more per day and check them several times during the day.

WAYS AND PLACES YOU CAN FISH YO-YOS Yo-Yos will produce catfish in the South when the temperature soars over 100 degrees and in cold weather or even through the ice in the North. * Jugs: You’ll also take numbers of catfish when you fish Yo-Yos with jugs. By tying the reel onto the neck of a jug, pulling out the amount of line you want to fish with and setting the trigger, you drastically increase your odds for catching cats with jugs. Instead of the cat’s having to set the hook itself, when a catfish takes the bait, it trips the trigger and the reel sets the hook. As the cat pulls against the jug, the Yo-Yo acts like a reel’s drag system, forcing the cat to pull against the spring before it pulls the jug under the water. Also when you use the Yo-Yo, it will pull the cat up and close to the surface, instead of letting the fish pull the line down and get under stumps, logs and grass as they normally will on jugs. The stainless-steel spring on the reel prevents the device from rusting. If you add a Yo-Yo rather than having a straight line on your jugs, you can expect your catch ratio to increase 50 to 80 percent. * Docks: You can also fish Yo-Yos effectively around docks. Simply tie it onto the dock to allow it to fish all day or all night, while you do something 26 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

else. If a catfish takes the bait, the Yo-Yo will set the hook and play your cat until you return to the dock to get the fish. You can tie two or three of these reels on the side of your boat, while you fish for bream, catfish, bass and/or crappie on the other side of your boat. * Deep, Clear Lakes: A Yo-Yo comes rigged with 20 feet of trotline staging, which may present a problem when you fish in deep, clear water lakes in the winter. The catfish will spot that heavy line. However, this problem has a simple remedy. Tie clear monofilament or fluorocarbon line – probably 6-12 feet - to the end of the swivel, and tie your hook to that line. Then pull-off as much trotline staging line as you want to use for your bait to reach the depth you want to fish. * Streams: I enjoy fishing the Yo-Yo too, after leaving my car at the take-out point of the stream I’m floating. I’ll get a pal to take me from the take-out point back to the head of the stream. I’ll paddle down the small stream in my canoe and tie the Yo-Yos to green limbs on trees and bushes that hang out in the stream. Once I’ve put out 50-100 Yo-Yos, then I can load my canoe on my car, take it back upstream and float down the same course, catching cats and re-baiting the Yo-Yos. The fun part comes when the Yo-Yo sets the hook when you can’t and plays the fish as though it’s on a rod and reel. * Added pluses of Fishing the Yo-Yo: The Yo-Yo doesn’t have a mind of its own and doesn’t realize it only should catch catfish. I’ve found that when you bait it in the winter with live minnows, live crawfish or night crawlers, the YoYo will take almost anything that swims, including catfish, bass, white bass,


Fall and Winter Catfish Fishing

hybrid-striped bass and even stripers. To make finding your Yo-Yos easier at night when hanging them from limbs of trees or bushes, add a piece of reflective tape to both sides of the unit. When the beam of your flashlight hits the tape, you not only can find your Yo-Yo easier and more quickly, you immediately can tell whether or not you have a catfish on, because you can see the reflective tape move in the dark. Yo-Yos cost less than $3.00 each. They rarely, if ever, wear out, which means most everyone always has at least a dozen or two around the house that they can have at-the-ready for catfishing at any time – even in the winter. To learn more about how to fish for catfish, go to www.amazon.com/author/ johnephillips to find Phillip’s book, “Catfish Like a Pro,” available in Kindle and print.

Important Contact Information Blue Bank Resort www.bluebankresort.com Phone: 731-253-6878 or 1-877-258-3226 Fish Bites’ Yeh Monn Baits https://fishbites.com/products/freshwater-fishbites-yeh-monnfreshwater-catfish-bait/ 877-840-2248 Yo-Yo’s http://yoyoreel.com/ Phone: 417-751-2034

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Lime Broiled Catfish To serve a reduced-calorie dish that is ready in about 15 minutes, I came up with this fast, simple recipe. I think the lime juice adds a different fresh flavor to the mild taste of the fish. Ingredients • 1 tablespoon butter • 2 tablespoons lime juice • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional • 1/4 teaspoon pepper • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder • 2 catfish fillets (6 ounces each) • Lime slices or wedges, optional • Fresh parsley, optional Instructions 1.

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Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the lime juice, salt if desired, pepper and garlic powder. Remove from the heat and set aside. 2. Place fillets in a shallow baking pan. Brush each fillet generously with lime-butter sauce. Broil for 5-8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. 3. Remove to a warm serving dish; spoon pan juices over each fillet. Garnish with lime slices and parsley if desired.

877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 27


New Alabama Record City Limits’ Deer BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS

This huge buck was living in a small acreage that most serious deer hunters wouldn’t have considered hunting.

28 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


HUNTING

You can identify, hunt and take big deer close to home. The face of deer hunting in Alabama has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. The costs for leasing deer-hunting land have gone sky-high, the sizes of leases have shrunk from thousands of acres to hundreds of acres and less, and the hunting pressure on deer statewide has also increased. However, the good news is that Alabama deer hunters have become more informed on where to find and how to raise older-age-class bucks on properties as small as five acres to as large as 250 acres. Also some trail cameras today can send digital images of the deer they photograph directly to the hunter’s phone, and the hunter doesn’t have to go to the camera physically and pull the SD card containing the photos of deer. So, the hunter leaves less human odor near his hunting site and doesn’t disturb the woods as much as before. In addition due to the higher prices of gas, motel rooms and eating out, more hunters are hunting smaller acreages close to their homes. Often these hunters are taking bigger deer on these smaller places than in the past. Such is the case with Alabama’s new No. 1 Compound Bow Buck in the Semi-Irregular category taken by 42-year-old B.J. Davis of Birmingham. If you’ve watched one particular buck for several years as he’s grown his antlers, and his body size has increased, an emotional bond often occurs between you and that buck. Davis, a suburban deer hunter, experienced this bond with a big buck he named High Hopes that lived on 50 acres close to Davis’ home. HOW DAVIS CAME TO HUNT SMALL ACREAGES NEAR BIRMINGHAM In 2018, a large group of poachers with guns illegally hunted deer on 400-500 acres of wooded land near a major shopping center in Hoover, the Galleria, near Davis’ home. They put on a deer drive in the middle of this highly-populated metropolitan region. Nearby residents reported the poachers to the game warden, the city police and ICE, who captured them. The news media and TV stations reported on what happened. According to Davis, “I hunted extensively as a young boy, but then my dad passed away. I just didn’t have the heart for deer hunting as I once did and didn’t hunt for about 18 years. I’d only started back hunting in 2017 and belonged to a club that was several hours away from my home. “A friend of mine owned 50 acres in that block of woods where the poachers had hunted that I already had permission to bowhunt. After the poacher fiasco, many property owners later asked me to watch over their lands, notify them if I saw something questionable and pick up any trash. In return, they gave me access to hunt these small plots all around Birmingham. Those poachers actually opened-up the door for me to hunt deer near my home,” he said. WHEN DAVIS SAW THE BIG BUCK Davis first saw a trail cam picture of the big buck he hunted for several years from a neighboring landowner in 2018. He thought surely the buck had been Photoshopped; he was so big.

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New Alabama Record City Limits’ Deer

A buck like the Davis buck may cause many serious deer/ gun hunters to start searching for small parcels of land and learning to bowhunt.

“I named him High Hopes, since I had high hopes of taking him with my bow,” Davis said. “Then in 2019, High Hopes appeared to have shrunk – both his antlers and his body size. I didn’t see him on my trail cameras, until I’d already tagged out.” Davis assumed High Hopes was on the downhill side of his growth and development. However, Davis put out an abundance of corn during the spring and summer of 2019 – hopefully to get High Hopes and other deer to grow healthier and bigger. But he didn’t get a trail-camera picture of High Hopes, until June of 2020. By then Davis explains that High Hopes, “Had blown-up with a massive 16-point rack and a huge body.” HOW DAVIS HUNTED THE SMALL SUBURBAN ACREAGES One of the keys to Davis’ consistent deer-hunting success is that the small properties he hunts generally become sanctuaries for deer that most hunters completely overlook. He doesn’t overhunt any of them, due to the numbers of lands he has to hunt. Davis had learned that as soon as High Hopes shed his antlers, he became totally nocturnal and only showed up on trail cameras from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am each year. For 25 days in the 2020 bow season, High Hopes seemed to vanish. “I didn’t get any pictures of him, and of course I thought the worst,” Davis explained. “Maybe someone had killed him, he’d been hit by a car, EHD had killed him, or he’d died of old age. I was fairly sure I’d lost High Hopes.” Therefore on November 26, 2020, Davis was surprised and excited when he got a foggy- morning, not-very-clear trail-cam picture of High Hopes. On Saturday night, November 28, his wife Kasey said, “Why don’t we go to late 30 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

church this Sunday because I want to sleep in,” and Davis told her, “Well, I’ll go jump in a tree stand early, and I’ll be back home in time for church.” Kasey unknowingly had enabled Davis to hunt close to his home and eventually take this monster of a buck. Davis had been hunting a lease in south Alabama, several hours from his home when she told him that driving two hours from home, staying for two days and then driving back wasn’t working for their family with their five children and the responsibilities she had in her dental practice. Davis realized he needed to make some changes and began searching for places to deer hunt closer to home, that resulted in the 30 plots he eventually had to hunt. HOW THE HUNT FOR HIGH HOPES UNFOLDED The next morning on November 29, 2020, the stand Davis had planned to hunt from didn’t have a favorable wind, so he changed stands with little hope of seeing High Hopes. Once Davis got in his stand, 15 feet off the ground in some hardwoods, above an old road bed that ran through planted pines, and about 10 yards off a creek’s edge, he heard a deer blow but didn’t see any deer. However, around 7:30 am, he spotted four deer feet coming down the road, about 65 yards away, but couldn’t see the rest of the deer at first. “The wind was perfect, and as the deer closed the distance to my stand, I finally could tell it was High Hopes,” Davis recalled. “Then once the buck was 12 yards from my stand and had his head behind a tree, I drew my Hoyt Alphamax bow with its fixed broadhead but soon had to let my bow down because my arm was shaking so much. I readjusted my GoPro camera to film my hunt, drew again when High Hopes stepped out from behind the tree and wasn’t looking at me and let my arrow fly.” Once the arrow struck home, High Hopes dropped down, and his belly


Managing Wild Turkeys Through Teamwork

New Alabama Record City Limits’ Deer

almost touched the ground. He spun around and ran right back down the road and up a ridge about 50 yards away, stopped and then toppled over. Davis called his wife and his friends, who followed the blood trail to High Hopes.

the money spent on turkey permits, which is part of the licensing requirement to hunt turkeys in Florida, goes into that fund.

“I’ll be honest,” Davis remembered. “I cried for about five minutes after seeing High Hopes fall. I’m not too proud to admit it. I thanked God for having the opportunity to take a trophy buck like him so near to my home. I had to stay in my stand for probably 30 more minutes to get myself together before my friends arrived, I was so excited.”

in NWTF hunting heritage banquets, whereby a portion of those funds raised goes into the cost-share program,” Nicholson said. “Hunters’ purchases of hunting equipment also helps support wildlife conservation through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which brings federal grant funding to state wildlife management agencies such as the FWC.”

Davis was especially proud because most of the deer he saw on the small suburban tracts of land he was hunting usually only would score at the most in the high 140 inches on Boone and Crockett, due to so many deer living in these small sanctuary woodlots. However, after being scored by Buckmasters, 7-1/2-year old, 180-pound High Hopes was certified at 1994/8 points.

B.J. Davis has taken some nice bucks in his hunting “Many hunters and NWTF members are heavily involved career but nothinginto with Hopes. raising funds for the wild turkey and compare its habitat byHigh participating

Through this combined effort from the NWTF, FWC, FFS and Florida turkey hunters, the wild turkey population is healthy and flourishing in Florida. And, if you’re a turkey hunter, then you must be getting excited because spring turkey season and the youth turkey hunt weekends are just around the corner.

Important Information Book – To learn more about hunting deer on small properties, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” available in Kindle, print and Audible at - http://amzn.to/1vIcj4m. Boone and Crockett (B&C) https://www.boone-crockett.org/ GoPro Camera https://gopro.com/en/us/

42 APRIL 2020 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

Contact Information Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program Florida State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Florida Forest Service (FFS) Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 31


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LIFESTYLE

A New Option in Used Hunting Gear

e l a s r o f

BY FRANK SARGEANT

So, what if there were an eBay devoted exclusively to hunters? That’s the question Stuart Whitaker asked himself before starting The Hunting Exchange, an online shopping center for hunters nationwide. Whitaker was joined by partner Scott Jones this year to expand his “no-hassle one-stop” site where hunters can sell their gear without the issues sometimes found on non-hunting websites for equipment like knives, bows, arrows and other gear (firearm and ammo sales are excluded from the site currently due to licensing challenges, but might be included in the future, according to Jones.) Both founders are avid hunters, Whitaker for turkeys and deer in Mississippi, Jones for waterfowl and turkeys in Mississippi, Georgia and other locales throughout the southeast. “The concept is to provide a site where hunters don’t have to wade through millions of items that don’t suit their pursuits to get good deals on new and used hunting equipment,” Jones said. “And you don’t have to meet down at the corner gas station to transfer and carry out the deal like with Craig’s List.” Just as importantly, listing “blood sport” items won’t get you on some sort of blacklist that follows you around the Internet for years.

account is not required to purchase. It’s only required to sell,” Jones said. Jones noted that the fees for the Hunting Exchange are lower than eBay, just 5% (with a $2 minimum), so sellers keep more of their profits. Categories include bows, treestands, blinds, optics, footwear, clothing, decoys, calls and other gear. Sellers classify their gear as “New”, “Great” “Good” or “Fair” condition, and include photos of the product. You can include multiple photos, and it’s possible for prospective buyers to message the seller with questions on the product. Sellers can also indicate whether or not they’ll ship internationally—most don’t due to the extra hassle. “You can list as many items as you want at no cost,” Scott said. “You only pay The Hunting Exchange when the item has sold, then we deduct our fee from the total price.” When a buyer makes a purchase, they receive contact information on the seller so that any issues can be worked out direct. The Hunter Exchange provides the buyer notification when a product ships.

In addition, Jones said that the “pay-on-receipt” system assures that buyers get their products promptly, as described, and sellers get paid promptly and with no hassle.

The site also uses a seller rating system, so that prospective buyers can see their record of dealing with customers, just as with eBay. The seller is also asked to include shipping cost in the listing, so that the buyer gets no surprises when checking out.

“We use PayPal exclusively for sales transactions, and that ensures protection of your personal information. A PayPal

All sales occur through a seller’s Verified PayPal account. Buyers do not have to have a PayPal account to make a payment.

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A New Option in Used Hunting Gear For Sale

Maybe the fit isn‘t just right? Selling used hunting gear is a great way to upgrade or fund getting exactly what you‘re looking for.

However, PayPal buyer protections are only available to a buyer if the buyer pays via a PayPal account. Hunting-Exchange provides sellers a tool to check the status of their PayPal account from the Shop Settings page inside their seller account. The seller simply provides their PayPal first name, last name, and email and then hit the Verify button. Once the Exchange has confirmed the account as Verified, the seller can begin listing gear for sale. “Sellers are expected to ship within three business days of receiving payment, via a method that includes a tracking number,” Jones said. “That way, there’s no question over whether it was actually shipped.” Sellers receive payment from buyers for their sold listings via PayPal, who determines and charges transaction fees for using their service. PayPal’s fees are deducted from the amount the seller receives. PayPal’s fees are typically 2.9% + $0.30 USD per transaction, but may vary. You can check PayPal’s site for more information; www.paypal.com. The site is thorough in covering potential issues on internet sales. Here’s a look at their return policies: • •

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If an item is received in an unusable state and must be returned, the seller is responsible for reimbursing return shipping costs to the buyer. If an item is returned due to a disagreement in the condition of a device (e.g. good vs. fair), the buyer is typically responsible for covering return shipping costs.


A New Option in Used Hunting Gear For Sale

When an item is to be returned for any other reason, the buyer and seller must establish and agree upon who is responsible for the shipping costs prior to the return being sent. Returned items should be shipped with proper tracking and insurance for the buyer’s protection.

Some of the recent listings include a Hoyt Pro Defender bow with an SKB case for $1,200 and a PSE Stinger Extreme fully set up for hunting, with arrows and case, for $740. “Hunting product sales total as high as $5 billion annually in the U.S. and there are 5 to 10 million people who hunt, so this is a huge market. And avid hunters are constantly upgrading their equipment. Some of us buy a new turkey call or shotgun choke every other season and then we want to get rid of the old one. The Hunting Exchange gives them an outlet to turn all their old gear into cash,”Jones said. “We have a ton of bow hunting gear on the site right now—bowhunters love gadgets, and they’re always experimenting and swapping out the latest and greatest, so there’s a steady flow of that equipment to the site. The Hunting Exchange also has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HuntingExch and is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Hunting_Exch . The app is available at Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

Hunting Exchange aims to take the hassle out of buying and selling used hunting gear online.

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RT’s dog posing with a limit of ducks

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HUNTING

How to Make a

Duck Decoy

Jerk Rig BY DAVID STRICKLAND

I remember a few Alabama winters that were so cold that the edges of a stream would freeze out into the current several feet. My family loved to hunt, and we waited in anticipation as those frigid temperatures froze the backwater and sloughs in our local swamp. That ice was the signal for my cousins and me to slide our flat-bottom boat into the local stream to jumpshoot a limit of ducks. We didn’t own a decoy, but we knew a few local hunters with a sack full, and they were an unusual bunch. They had a serious passion that involved specialized equipment, lots of calls, and leaving their beds at insane hours. However, those guys experimented a lot and developed homemade versions of many of the devices that duck hunting now takes for granted. Those old-school duck hunters had a fair amount of gear, but the modern duck hunters have enough stuff to fill a catalog. Many of them have a gear list that includes highly-trained canines, fancy trucks, ATVs, custom boats and shotguns, special ammunition, a neck full of calls, waders, hi-tech clothing, a bag full of decoys, and more gadgets than you can count. EDUCATED DUCKS Today’s ducks seem better educated than the ones I chased as a lad, and modern hunters have adopted by creating innovative methods to fool some of these call-wary specimens. One of the best ways to fool those shy, pressured birds is with decoy motion. Several commercial mechanical decoy options are available, but there are other inexpensive alternatives that you can assemble in your spare time or on the weekend. One consists of about 100 feet of string, some bungee cord, a weight, and a few clips and swivels.

EXPERT ADVICE I talked to a local duck hunter who has spent more time on the water and lost more sleep to his duck obsession than the average hunter can comprehend. Robert (RT) Channel has traveled countless miles in the dark so he could stand in waistdeep freezing water as the sun rises to coax a ball of brightly colored flying feathers close enough for a shot. We discussed the passion he has pursued for over half a century and the importance of decoy arrangement. I also asked for his opinion on the role of decoy movement in a typical layout. “I remember making my first jerk rig over 20 years ago,” RT said. “We used them extensively in Mississippi, especially in shallow catfish ponds.” He explained that many ponds and swamps he hunted were so shallow that a few contained as little as 1/2 foot of water. “I cut the keels off several of my decoys to allow them to float upright in the shallow water and discovered those decoys seemed more lively and erratic when used on my jerk line,” he noted. RT said that he uses four to six keel-less decoys on his jerk rigs and often experiments by incorporating a spreader and even using multiple jerk setups simultaneously. He explained that the rigs seem to work better for teals than mallards, especially in timber setups. “I’ve observed that mallards often set down among nearby feeding coots and bully their food away from them. So my setup for mallards usually involves several motorized coot decoys that I make myself, in addition to my jerk line; I use them as confidence decoys,” he said. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 37


How to Make a Duck Decoy Jerk Rig

cord-winder or similar device. Some hunters use a small PVC pipe and wrap it around, but others, like my friend Nick, prefer wrapping their rig onto something that floats.

MAKING YOUR OWN The Main Line- Many hunters use dark-colored or camo braided nylon string, similar to a trot-line cord. The amount of line you will need depends on the distance between your blind and your decoy setup. Start with 100 feet, you can always tie on an additional piece.

JERK RIG RESOURCES Nick Williams and I have shared a few stories about saddle hunting for deer and catching catfish, but I recently discovered that Nick also sells everything needed to make a custom jerk line.

The Anchor- Your jerk string needs a secure anchor. A small boat anchor, a concrete-filled coffee can, or any object around five pounds will work fine. Some hunters prefer tying to a tree or using a metal or PVC stake instead of an anchor.

Nick grew up duck hunting the Mobile-Tensaw Delta waterway and said he bought several jerk rigs before deciding to make his own. The rig he perfected worked very well, and after many requests from friends to make them one, he decided to name it. His “Mo’betta Jerk Rig” became a local success as word spread about its effectiveness and quality. He hand-carves his handles from red oak and treats each one with a durable, hand-rubbed oil finish. They float, and the line wraps around the handle for a compact, easy-to-carry setup.

Bungee Cord- Not all bungee cords are created equal. A marine-grade shock cord with 100% stretch is the best option, and about ten feet of 1/8” or 3/16” diameter seems to work the best. Slide a sturdy clip onto the line and tie the ends together. Putting It Together- Hook the bungee clip onto your anchor or stake and attach the other end to the mainline. When pulled, the bungee cord stretches to about ten feet and retracts to bring the decoys back to their original position.

Nick’s sells the individual components, including the handle, for anyone wanting to make their own, or you can purchase his complete Mo’betta Jerk Rig. His rig includes 100 feet of mainline, 10 feet of 1/8 inch military-grade bungee, and four heavy-duty decoy clips that make hooking onto the mainline a breeze.

Attach Decoys- A trotline clip with a large swivel attached makes hooking into your decoy quick and easy. First, position your anchor or connect to a tree or stake and run the mainline to your blind. Next, decide where to place the nearest decoy and clip it to your mainline. Then, attach another clip about four to six feet towards the anchor to secure your second decoy. Most hunters use from four to six decoys on their typical setup spaced four to six feet apart.

WORKING THE JERK RIG Once you have your rig anchored and set up, test it a few times, and wait. Once you see ducks approaching, give it a few yanks to get some ripples going, and as they begin closing in, pull the cord till it’s fully stretched. Hold it with your hand or even foot till they descend, then release the line and prepare for the shot.

STORING The simplest way to store your jerk line is with a small plastic para-

Some hunters prefer Teal duck decoys on their sets, but it depends

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How to Make a Duck Decoy Jerk Rig

Here is a complete jerk rig, minus the decoy/line clips, made by Nick Williams

on what part of the country you’re hunting. RT said that using decoys without keels has proven to be a better choice for him, especially in the shallow waters he’s hunted. FINAL THOUGHTS Whether you’re just getting into chasing ducks or a seasoned pro, there will be times that the best decoys and calls that money can buy will come up a little short when enticing that feathered flock to land close enough for a shot. However, many veteran hunters have learned that adding movement and a few ripples to the water’s surface can be the difference between getting skunked and a limit of birds. If your decoys don’t swim, all you’ve got to do is tie a string to some bungee, add a few clips to “make-em dance”. So, head to your local store or contact Nick for everything you need to make you or a friend a custom rig.

Contact Information Nick Williams tensawlakeoutdoors.com 251-259-0213

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How to Make a Duck Decoy Jerk Rig

BY CHEF JOHN

Image and recipe courtesy of allrecipes (www.allrecipes.com)

New Arrival

Chef John’s Orange Duck Slick Croaker 225

pureflats.com

Ingredients • 2 duck breast halves • Salt to taste • 1 cup chicken broth • 2 tbsp orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®) • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar • 1 tbsp Seville orange marmalade, or more to taste • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest • 1 pinch cayenne pepper • 1 tablespoon reserved duck fat • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour • 1 tablespoon butter Instructions 1.

2. 3. 4.

5.

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6.

Score duck skin almost all the way through the skin and fat each way on the diagonal in a crosshatch pattern. Generously season with salt and rub salt into each breast. Let rest, skin-side up, at room temperature, for 15 minutes. Whisk chicken broth, orange liqueur, sherry vinegar, orange marmalade, orange zest, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels. Re-season skin-side of duck breasts with salt. Heat duck fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Place duck in skillet, skin-side down, and cook for 6 minutes. Flip duck breasts and cook until they start to firm and are reddish-pink and juicy in the center, about 4 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140 degrees F. Transfer breasts to a plate to rest. Pour any rendered duck fat into a glass jar. Return skillet to medium heat and whisk flour into pan; cook and stir until flour is completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Pour orange mixture into skillet; bring to a boil. Cook until sauce thickens and is reduced, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. When the orange mixture stops bubbling, add butter; stir until butter is completely melted and incorporated into the sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Slice duck breasts across the grain, arrange on a plate, and spoon orange sauce over the top.


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Thermal equipment is a necessary part of the arsenal. (ATN photo)

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HUNTING

Deciding on the Best Thermal Imaging for Hunting How to select the best night hunting gear BY JOSH HONEYCUTT

Chasing critters — such as coyotes — at night varies from close-quarters action to scanning hundreds of acres at a time. This takes quality thermal optics. Subpar equipment won’t serve you as well. Still, it takes knowledge to understand these things, and how to discern quality from garbage. Hunters need to know about their thermal optics and how to be able to compare one model from another. So, we’ll show how we should choose products accordingly. Some models are better than others for different types of hunting, and it all depends on what you intend to do, the different types of construction and materials to consider, and more. Oftentimes, hunters know the basics of optics, including magnification, field of view, etc. After all, choosing the best in thermal optics is an important step prior to the hunt. But there’s more to thermal optics than just typical optics terms. Additional vernacular, and aspects of thermal gear itself, are important things to know. Therefore, we’ll define hertz, refresh rate, resolution, and much more. THE NIGHT HUNT Those who haven’t experienced a night hunt should consider what it has to offer. Of course, for those who are mostly deer or turkey hunters, it almost seems taboo to hunt animals, such as coyotes, at night. Trust me, it isn’t easy. Fair chase is still in play. And you shouldn’t feel uneasy about removing a song dog or two between dusk and dawn. There’s just something about a big coyote prancing into view, all lit up in the thermal view. Seeing that firsthand is a unique experience that many hunters never enjoy. But for you, the aspiring night hunter, it’s soon to become a reality. To start, let’s dig into some of the terminology to know, and considerations to remember. TERMINOLOGY TO KNOW Steve Lemenov, director of marketing for American Technologies Network, Corp. (ATN), acknowledges this. He says vernacular (terminology) is one of the most important things to understand before purchasing thermal optics. For example, “refresh rate” is the speed at which the screen you’re looking at refreshes. Higher refresh rates relay information faster. This is measured in “hertz,” which expresses the refresh rate of the screen. “The average person sees at about 24 hertz, and some can see a little above that,” Lemenov said. “A higher number of hertz helps ensure less lag.” When a shooter or hunter experiences lag, it limits shooting capabilities. No one wants that. Your thermal optics should improve the experience, not take away from it. Of course, thermal optics come at different refresh rates. So, hunters should get the best gear they can afford. Next on the list is “resolution,” which is the image quality the hunter will see through the device. According to Lemenov, there are different resolutions available. The lowest is 80x60, but for hunting, 160 x 120 is the bottom of the barrel, and you go up to 320 x 240, even 384 x 288. Lemenov says the highest commercially available option is 640x480. This is the highest quality a hunter can purchase on the commercial market. Naturally, the higher the resolution, the better the optics, but also the more expensive these will be. Another term to know is “microns,” which is the size of a pixel in a thermal sensor. The smaller it is, the cheaper it is to make. But larger ones produce better results in the field. Interestingly, there are many products with high-resolution sensors that 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 43


Deciding on the Best Thermal Imaging for Hunting

Have the right thermal gear for your next night hunt. (ATN photo)

can cover a wide range of scenarios (short to long range). Still, not all thermal products will check these boxes. And, of course, there are other terms to consider, but the above ones are the most important. CONSIDERATIONS TO REMEMBER Lemenov says one of the most important things is to determine what each individual person wants and needs from their thermal optics. Because of this, it’s important to ask relevant questions. Do they want a wider field of view? Or a better magnification? He says it all depends on the scenario and the utility of that individual. They must determine what is most important to them and choose the product accordingly.

BAY TRANSMISSION

For example, when coyote hunting, song dogs commonly come out from ridgelines and other areas of cover. You want to be sure of the target you’re seeing, and sometimes it can be hard to discern what you’re looking at. Quality thermal optics help you see the animal clearly, which makes it possible to see its body shape, read its body language, etc. Studying the style and movement of the animal is a big part of determining if it is a target species or not, and Lemenov says you can tell the difference between a coyote and household dog by the way they move. Making mistakes isn’t an option. Good thermal optics help make the right decisions. Thermals also aid in hog hunts. These are easier to identify and get close to and might not require higher-quality thermals like when hunting other animals. Another thing to consider is the size of the lens, which dictates magnification and field of view. This allows hunters to see more area at once. This makes it easier to spot and track targets. Aside from resolution, magnification, field of view, and other necessary 44 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

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Deciding on the Best Thermal Imaging for Hunting

aspects, another important thing is battery life. How many stands can they make? Lemenov says if it dies within two hours, you can only do so much. If it lasts 10 or 15 hours, you can go all night or several days. Fortunately, ATN offers a 16-hour battery life, while most competitors only have 5 to 6 hours.

The ATN Thor 4. (ATN photo)

Furthermore, don’t overlook recording capabilities as a bonus. “On-board recording is big when you can share that experience with family and on social media,” Lemenov said. “People want to show their hunting experience.” Lastly, consider budget. Study yours and determine what you can and can’t afford. Remember, there is a $1,000-$1,500 difference between lesser and greater options. Lemenov says that if budget isn’t a factor, you want to understand the lens size, optical magnification, battery life, how it mounts, etc. Whether it’s a traditional bolt action or a dovetail, you want something that will mount. It all depends on wants and needs. Interestingly, some products, such as the ATN Thor 4 (https://www.atncorp. com/thermal-scope-thor-4-640-2-5-25x) or Thor It (https://www.atncorp.com/ thermal-scope-thor-lt-320-3-6x) — offer incredible upside.

The ATN Thor LT. (ATN photo)

“The cool thing about a lot of our products is a profile manager,” Lemenov said. “You can swap between guns, and using the quick detach mount, swap it between rifles, and use the profile for that gun. It will retain zero.” Now that’s pretty cool. Contact Information American Technologies Network www.atncorp.com

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For more info on the events or CCA Alabama www.ccaalabama.org 251-478-3474 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 45


Cass Fishbein caught this 5-pound speckled trout on a Rapala Skitter Walk within sight of the Mobile skyline.

46 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


FISHING

November Inshore Fishing Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder BY CAPTAIN RICHARD RUTLAND

Probably the most frequent question I am asked as a full-time fishing guide is, “Captain, what is the best time to come fishing for inshore species?” My answer is always October to November and May to June! For me this means catching fish in the 100’s each day with easy limits and a chance to utilize the TAG Alabama fish tagging program when releasing the rest. The weather cools off very nicely in the Fall and the fish move into protected waters for easy pickings. The other exciting part about the fishing is that I do it all with artificial bait so there is no going to the bait shop every trip or to the bait well after every other cast, not to mention the savings of catching multiple fish on one lure. As a whole around the Mobile Bay area, when November gets here, for the most part the biomass of fish is inside the tidal rivers. Those include Mobile River, Dog River, Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Fowl River, Magnolia River, Fish River and Bayou La Batre. In the late summer and early fall, the white shrimp will migrate into the rivers to spawn and the fish follow. As we have seasonal cold fronts that cool the water off, the shrimp will flush out of these rivers. Usually on days that we have a cold front, we will have rain followed by high winds from the north followed by cool temperatures. These are not the ideal days to be fishing. The problem with these days is that it’s 180 degrees different from the current conditions and the fish have not had time to acclimate to the new conditions. I feel like the fish are like us when we walk into a room full of people that we do not know and we are looking around wondering what is going on. The fish need a day or two to settle down and get feeding again. Post cold front, I always like to be looking for a falling tide whether in the morning or afternoon. Falling tides help cause the flushing effect of the shrimp out of the rivers. I always keep a keen eye out for bird activity because one bird diving on some shrimp will give an entire school of fish away. Also look for shrimp jumping! One thing to note about birds diving is that I can almost always guess what species is under which type of bird. The birds we are looking for in the fall are Laughing Gulls. They are the ones you will see around boat docks and the Wal-Mart parking lots looking for scraps. When you see a flock of these birds on the water in the fall swooping and diving there are almost always speckled trout and redfish under them pushing shrimp to the surface. November is a month where you will find speckled trout and redfish in both shallow and deep water. As we have cooling trends, the fish will seek deeper more stable water temperatures and as it warms between cold fronts they will sneak back up onto the flats in shallower depths. I do not have a magic water temperature that I follow other than looking for a trend. Is the water cooling down today or is it warming up as a whole? This is the question you need to ask. On the cooling periods you need to look to deeper areas and as it starts to warm up start thinking shallower. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 47


November Inshore Fishing Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder

Terry Turner with his 22-inch flounder caught on a Fishbites Fight Club

We have mostly talked about speckled trout and redfish patterns but I want to put in a short summary of flounder fishing. Flounder fishing can sometimes be very good or nonexistent in November. With early cool weather, they will leave the rivers and bayous headed for the Gulf of Mexico to spawn over the winter in deep waters. They are a species that, as a whole, will pick up and vacate the area very quickly because their instincts tell them to go spawn. Although the fishery is closed in Alabama during the month of November to recreational and commercial fishing, places to locate them in good numbers are usually always at the mouths of major tidal rivers. I like to find good moving water against a bank. Flounder are ambush predators and will sit and wait on food to sweep by them in the current. I like to set up down current of where I think they will be and throw up current to work the bait naturally with the tide to make it a natural presentation of bait falling out of a system.

Story Walters with a slot redfish who was hungry for a shrimp snack

My favorite way to catch flounder is jigging on the bottom with a 1/8th to 3/8th ounce jig head with a Fish Bites Fight Club soft plastic. I like the Fight Club series because it is a scented lure and is ultra-tough against bait stealers like croakers and pinfish. Flounder definitely use their nose to find forage and Fish Bites helps add to the equation to my success. As for speckled trout and redfish in the fall, I have two main presentations that are my go-to setups and both imitate a shrimp which is the main bait in the water. Number one is a shrimp imitation under a popping cork. I like a weighted popping cork for casting distance with about 18 to 30 inches of leader with my lure underneath. My favorite lures are Baby Vudu Shrimp, Fish Bites Fight Club Shrimp and the Pure Flats Lil Slick. Go to colors are anything Pearl, Chartreuse, or New Penny. Popping corks are shallow water tools but will definitely work under the bird schools in deep water.

The result of fishing a Vudu shrimp under a popping cork in the Bay

The next go to presentation is jigging with a soft plastic. My setup usually consists of a three to five foot section of fluorocarbon leader with a 3/8-ounce Hogie jig head. I really like the jig heads with the screw lock at the lead because it holds the plastic up on the jig very well. This results in more fish caught to lures used and I like the action better as well. My favorite lures to throw are the Pure Flats Lil Slick, Mirro-lure Lil John, and Fish Bites Fight Club in the same colors mentioned above. When it comes to presenting these baits and where to fish you have to ask a few questions. What is the temperature trend? Is it getting warmer or is it getting cooler? Where are the signs of life in the area I am wanting to fish? I can usually get in a system and tell if the life is in the deeper water or shallower waters by reading the water. I look for signs of bait jumping or flipping in the shallows and pay attention to my Raymarine Axiom Pro when transitioning from an area or idling over some deep water to see what’s down there. When I see lots of life shallow like mullet, menhaden, or shrimp, I like to grab my popping cork and make a long drift across areas that look fishy. When working a popping cork, I like to make the longest cast that I can to cover as much water as possible with my lure.

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November Inshore Fishing Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder

Another thing that helps with my success is to make a lot of noise with my cork. I like to make a very hard but short pop with the cork. If you have ever been around some lights at night with fish under them feeding or heard a blowup on a topwater bait this is the sound you want to imitate. When targeting fish in deeper water, I also like to set up a drift with the direction of the current with my jigging setup. What this does is allow you to present your bait at the same speed that the water is moving. This helps make your bait look as natural as possible. I will let the current pull the boat, cast up current while letting the bait sink to the bottom and make a twitch twitch fall presentation. When working the bait, I like to think about how shrimp look naturally in the water when twitch and dart to evade predators. Watch them in the water or in the bait well and try to imitate that. I twitch it pretty hard to get good bottom relief of about two to three twitches off the bottom with each jigging motion. When setting up a drift I rarely reel much line in between jigging motions and let the current and boat take the slack out of the line. You can also do the Mobile Alabama World Famous “Do Nothing Drift” when you put the rod in the rod holder and wait for a bite. This is great on the extreme cold days with hands in your jacket and hand warmers! We have covered a lot of water thus far but I want to reach back around to a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Conservation! I mentioned the TAG Alabama Tagging Program earlier and this is my favorite hobby as an Inshore Guide. I have had the honor of being awarded the Alabama Top Tagger for the TAG program every year since the program started four years ago. I have successfully tagged over 300 fish each year since the program began. I believe my record is 416 fish tagged and released in one year. Several years ago, I was working with the University of South Alabama Marine Sciences on several different tagging projects in their Graduate Program and assisted in pioneering the program. This program is funded by the Coastal Conservation Association

and managed by University of South Alabama Marine Sciences. We learn a lot from the tagging program such as fishing mortality, growth rates, movements and population data. My two favorite parts are fishing mortality and movements. Fishing mortality shows us things like, out of a population set, how many fish are we taking out of the system to maintain sustainability of a fishery. The other really exciting part is seeing my recaptures of fish that I have tagged and catching a tagged fish or one that I previously tagged. I have a bunch of crazy stories relating to tagging like catching the same speckled trout three times in four days in almost the same spot or catching a redfish in the Mobile River and was recaptured in Pensacola, Florida 30 days later. You never know what a fish is going to do! To become part of the TAG Alabama program, contact Dylan Kiene with University of South Alabama Marine Sciences at 251-623-0587. My most important advice about Fall Fishing is to get out and GO! This is the best way to get better at having success. So many of us get caught up in all of the great fall activities but there is nothing better than getting out on the water on a crisp fall morning. To me, cooler weather always equals the fish getting fired up. If anyone wants any clarification about what is in the article, please feel free to reach out to me and I will be glad to talk shop with you. Hopefully it’s going to be a good fall season and I look forward to seeing you guys on the water!

Contact Information Capt. Richard Rutland Cold Blooded Fishing 251-459-5077 www.coldbloodedfishing.com

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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 49


How to Find

Ammunition for Sale Online

BY STEPHANIE MALLORY

The result page for AmmoSeek.com can provide the user with hundreds of options. 50 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


LIFESTYLE Walk into any sporting goods store to purchase ammo and you may walk out disappointed. It’s no secret we’re in the middle of an ammo shortage, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. In fact, many who walk out of brick-and-mortar stores empty handed are finding just the ammo they want and need after doing a quick search online. Buying ammo online comes with several benefits, such as the possibility of better prices, wider availability and convenience. But there are risks too, that’s why it’s important to be smart and do your research before going the online route. Sonny Vincent, president of Bay County Armory, a family-owned AR manufacturing company, agrees that the online route offers the biggest variety and most efficient means for getting ammo. Still, due to the shortage, even online stores offer no guarantee you’ll find the ammo you want. WHY THE AMMO SHORTAGE? Vincent says the shortage is caused by a combination of factors -- one of them being hoarding. “Manufacturers are making more ammo now than they’ve ever made in recorded history,” he said. “But at the same time, target manufacturers are selling fewer targets. What does that tell you? That means the shortage is largely due to hoarding.” Vincent also says the complexity of manufacturing ammo plays a role in its scarcity. “There are a lot of moving parts. With any given ammo, you have four components – the projectile, powder, case and primer. Machinery has to be reset every time a component is changed, even when working with the same caliber. Manufacturers then have to go through and test all of it. It’s labor- and time-intensive and often results in a full day’s worth of work just to prepare for the switch,” he explained. Vincent says, in addition, just like with the manufacturing of other types of products, the COVID pandemic has caused employee shortages and delays. “There are challenges at every level. Once the ammo is made, then you have to get it shipped. With COVID, there are challenges in getting labor to drive the trucks and provide other services. The issues just pile on top of each other.” BENEFITS OF SHOPPING ONLINE Due to the shortage, when it comes to finding and purchasing ammo at the best possible price, Vincent says it’s tough to beat online retailers for several reasons. “The convenience of shopping online is a big plus. When shopping online, you have the ability to search multiple suppliers rapidly from the comfort of your home. When you’re trying to buy ammo from a physical store, you often have to drive from store to store to locate the ammo you want at a price you’re willing to pay,” Vincent said. “Your options are limited. You may have no more than one or two stores in your area, so you have to drive lengthy distances to check out the inventory at a variety of locations.” Another advantage for online purchasing is the opportunity to use a search engine, like Ammoseek.com. “Just like you have search engines for vacation planning, buying automobiles and other purchases, you also have search engines for ammo,” Vincent said. “You can search a larger portion of the internet in that one site rather than going from site to site to site. Take advantage of these search engines. They make the process so much easier. First,

you search for the caliber, then the load and then price comes into the equation. Look for availability before price, because if it’s not available, it doesn’t matter how much it costs.” Marc Gallagher, a co-owner of AmmoSeek, says the largest advantage is being able to find the more difficult-to-find calibers. “Rather than relying on your local gun/ammo store to stock a more-rare caliber, finding it at an online store throughout the United States is much more likely,” Gallagher said. “The AmmoSeek search engine only lists in-stock and back-orderable products at (currently) 200+ online retailers. This makes it easier for folks to find and purchase ammunition that they’d otherwise be unable to obtain when physical store shelves become bare.” Vincent recommended using as many search engines as you can locate, but remember that some search engines may not have the wide assortment as others. “Some search engines are sponsored,” he said. “They may not be out there scouring the Internet for options. Some may simply be a house for retailers that are members. The listings can be outdated. Pricing may change and change quickly. Availability may change and change quickly. Pay attention to all details and know exactly what you’re buying and know what the deal is. Read the fine print. Know that there could be shipping delays or shipping fees. You may need to pay a bit more to have your ammo ship more quickly. There are a lot of factors that come into play when ordering ammo online. So, using more than one website search engine will pay dividends and you are more likely to find ammo you are looking for.” BEWARE OF THE RISKS Vincent says despite the advantages of buying ammo online, there are risks. That’s why he advises buyers to use their best judgement and due diligence. “There are some shady sites out there that pose risks. If something about the site just doesn’t seem right or if the website is not tied to a well-known, established company, then proceed at your own risk,” Vincent cautioned. “And remember, if it seems too good to be true, chances are it is. If no one else has 5.56 ammo for 40 cents a round and they’re allowing you to buy unlimited qualities, then chances are they’re not legit.” Vincent also recommends purchasing ammo brands that have an established reputation for quality, such as Federal, Winchester and Hornady. “Even some of your imports, such as Fiocchi, Sellier & Bellot and Aquila are developing stronger reputations for quality. But there are other players that are coming onboard that don’t have solid track records and they may be using substandard materials,” he said. “For example, cartridge cases may be brass-coated steel or aluminum, rather than solid brass. Those materials are cheaper to source and work with, but they don’t have the properties that brass brings to the table. The projectiles may not have as much copper or any lead. Primers may be sold as non-corrosive, but they are fully corrosive and can damage a firearm’s chamber. So, you want to stay with an established manufacturer that has a track record for quality,” Vincent said. Gallagher said that since they created AmmoSeek over 11 years ago, they’ve only had a small number of retailers we’ve had to resort to delisting from the search engine due to complaints and/or accusations of fraud. “Most retailers want to stay in business and will bend over backward to resolve any problems that can arise with customer orders. Such prob877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 51


How to Find Ammunition for Sale Online

lems are not really specific to ammo, but could be said about any product purchased online,”Gallagher said. “By far the most common complaint we receive is the length of time it takes for some retailers to ship orders. One must try to avoid expecting Amazon delivery timeframes when ordering ammo online. Much less common are complaints of receiving the wrong product or the wrong quantity, but it does happen from time to time. Again though, just like any other product ordered online.” Gallagher said to look for the retailer’s customer reviews/ratings. AmmoSeek has customer ratings/reviews as one of the value-added features of the search engine. “It’s also a good idea to ask previous customers to give their buying experience on Reddit or other gun forums,” he said. “Lastly, sometimes it can be telling just to browse a retailer’s website. Does it seem ‘professional’? Does the site have a contact/about page with a phone number and/or contact form? These types of things can all help reduce the risk of buying ammo online.” PLAN AHEAD Vincent said it’s also important to plan ahead when it comes to purchasing ammo. He said although manufacturers will be making ammo year-round, demand will spike at certain times of the year, especially for ammo used for hunting. “Sometimes hunters forget to purchase their ammo ahead of time and end up without the ammo they need. They get wrapped up in their daily lives and then decide, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to go hunting this weekend. I better run down to the store and grab some ammo.’ But, with the hoarding issue that’s going on these days, it’s very likely the ammo you want won’t be there when you go searching for it. For this reason, you should get the ammo you may need later on when you see it,” he added. Gallagher says the spring and summer months are typically lower-demand times and can be the best time to find deals or the best prices. “Once the fall season begins, and especially over the holidays, demand increases, and with it comes higher prices,” Gallagher said. “The only caveat is that the arena of politics will greatly determine demand and therefore prices. For example, there was unprecedented demand starting in March of 2020. It has eased quite a bit starting in February of 2021, but the demand is 52 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

still extremely strong. Just not quite as high as it was at its peak in late 2020 into 2021.” While you shouldn’t hoard ammo, Vincent said that if you see the type you want or need, you may want to buy it if the price is somewhat reasonable or even just a bit high. “Say you shoot .257 Ackley improved ammo, and there are only two companies that load it but it’s 4x the price you bought it 15 years ago, you should probably go ahead and put your pride aside and get it,” he said. “After all, what good is your firearm if you don’t have the ammo to shoot it? But don’t contribute to the ammo shortage problem by hoarding. Only get what you need. For example, if you find 9mm ammo and it’s $1 a round and they have a pallet of it and you want to get 5000 to 6000 rounds, it’d be a bad decision to buy that quantity at that price. Make your ammo purchases with more of an analytical mind than an emotional one. “ According to Vincent, excluding changes in the law, ammo availability is only going to get better. Manufacturers are making as much as they can as quickly as they can. Once you’ve located the ammo you want for a reasonable price on a reputable site, make sure you know the federal and state laws before you purchase it. For example, according to federal law, you must be 21 years of age to purchase handgun ammunition and at least 18 years of age to purchase rifle or shotgun ammunition. Laws per state vary widely when it comes to the volume, caliber and projectile type you purchase. Ammostore.com lists federal and state restrictions for purchasing/shipping ammo online. Once you decide to purchase your ammo online, you’re likely to discover that you’ll have a much better selection and better prices than at your local sporting goods store. And, the convenience of buying ammunition from the comfort of your own home is a big plus. So, jump online and get to searching. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Contact Information www.Ammoseek.com Bay County Armory www.baycountyarmory.com


877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 53


Stocking

Rainbow Trout BY WILLIAM KENDY

54 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


FISHING Rainbow trout pond fishing in Alabama? Seriously? Bass and crappie fishing? You bet and big time. Redfish, speckled trout, pompano and all the salt water fish, absolutely. Rainbow trout? No way. Trout are cold water species and do best out west or in the northern climes where the water is more to their liking. With some exceptions, a native trout fishery doesn’t really exist in the Deep South. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that, as a pond owner you can’t add rainbow trout to your mix and experience some fun and fishing excitement during the colder months. Norman Latona is founder and president of Southeastern Pond Management. SEP specializes in everything that has to do with ponds and small lakes. SEPond provides ecosystem analysis, management programs, pond construction, liming, fertilizing, fish inventory assessment, removal processes, stocking of forage and game fish, maintenance and more. Pretty much the whole nine yards when it comes to ponds. Latona explained that SEP got into stocking rainbow trout in ponds about 15 years ago because of a demand from property owners who had water on their hunting land and wanted to have some fun catching fish in the colder months when they were out chasing deer and other game. SEP initially started stocking hybrid striped bass, who are also comfortable in cooler water and then they started playing around with stocking rainbow trout and things just took off. Trout possess a number of traits that make them ideally suited for use in ponds. First, they are eager and aggressive feeders and will take a wide variety of baits and lures all winter long. Once hooked, trout are great fighters, often leaping from the water in wildly acrobatic displays. “Rainbow trout feed aggressively in the cold water and they fight and jump like crazy and it is a real kick to catch them especially with four-to-six-pound test line and light spinning tackle or on a fly rod,” Latona added. “If you close your eyes for a minute, you may think you are on the Colorado river catching trout.” Latona pointed out that rainbow trout grow quickly when fed a high protein artificial food. Trout feed conversion rates can be close to 1:1 on such a diet, meaning that each pound of feed they consume translates to nearly a pound gain in body weight. “Over the years we have dialed in on rainbows and are now able to source really high-quality trout from a pound, even up to eight or nine pounds,” Latona said. “Just like bass grow in the spring and summer, these trout grow like crazy in the wintertime. They readily eat high protein pellet fish food and between that and other forage fish they can add three pounds over the winter.” caption

The drawback for stocking rainbow trout is that they can’t survive warmer water so it is kind of a “put and take” situation. When the water temperature gets into the 70s the fish start to struggle, so in a typical spring they will be pretty much gone by the middle or end of May.

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Stocking Rainbow Trout

caption

“We tell folks that in mid-February to April start pulling them out and enjoy them,” Latona said. “They are fantastic to eat and it is fun to get a little taste of a cold-water freshwater fish in the Deep South in the wintertime.” While water temperature is really the “bellwether” for introducing rainbow trout, Latona said that there is a definite window period for stocking in order to get the optimum results. “We try to make sure that the water temperature is below 70 degrees and we try to get as many customers taken care of before Thanksgiving as possible since a lot of folks spend time at their cabins and property with ponds during the holidays so early to mid-November is a busy time for us,” Latona said. “We can stock trout later but we want to maximize the amount of time in the pond to feed and grow before the water starts to warm up.” “While you can stock larger fish, unless you have a desire to catch a giant trout you are going to get more bang for your buck with stocking rainbows in the pound to a pound and a quarter size,” Latona added. When it comes to stocking density, Latona said that if you have a smaller pond, from three to about eight acres, depending on how much fishing and catching you want to do, he can stock 20, 30, 50 and sometimes even up to 100 pounds of rainbows per acre. In larger lakes, because of cost, that stocking rate may drop to 10-20 pounds per acre. “The cool thing about rainbow trout is that they are attracted to pelleted fish food so even if you stock them in a large lake if you have a feeder out there they will put on weight and are catchable,” Latona said. “They get a little bit smart and you have to get a little stealthy with them but at the end of the day, they are going to eat and you can catch them.” Latona said that if you have big trophy bass in your pond that weigh six to ten pounds some of the smaller trout that you stock may become dinner for the bass predators but it isn’t a major concern. “There is no doubt that because rainbows are long and slender and don’t have any hard fins they can be a perfect meal for a big bass, but for the most part, once we get up to a pound and a quarter or a pound in a half probably some of them do get picked off and eaten but not many overall,” Latona said. “On the other hand, for people who want to grow big bass, we have stocked ponds with four, five and six inch trout as food for bass. It’s a little bit of a pricey way to feed your bass but there isn’t a nutritionally better way to grow bass.” The bad news for stocking rainbow trout is that they will all die when the water temperature increases. Still,the silver lining in this cloud is that while you may not be able to enjoy the action of catching a trout your bass will cash in on lethargic trout for dinner. ““Normally, by the end of April and the first part of May in the Deep South, water temperatures will approach 70 degrees and the trout will struggle and you will lose them,” Latona said. “The good thing about trout is that they are long and slender and you would be surprised what a five or sixpound bass can eat when it finds a rainbow trout that is stressed out from high water temperature and is hardly moving.” “Some of these large bass can get a one-pound trout down their throat and they take advantage of them while they can,” he added. “I’ve got pictures of me holding a trout with snow covered banks in Alabama and it is a hoot,” Latona concluded. “Here I am, holding up a trout caught in south Alabama in the wintertime when we get our occasional dusting of snow. It’s a hoot and it is cool.”

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Preserving Alabama’s natural resources starts in our backyard. Did you know longleaf pines are home to roughly 120 endangered or threatened plant and animal species? That’s why Alabama Power is working hard to help them grow. We’ve teamed up with partners across our state to preserve the natural resources that make Alabama a great place to put down roots – especially if you’re a longleaf pine.

AlabamaPower.com/Environment

© 2021 Alabama Power Company

877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 57


Questions to Ask a Consulting Forester BY JOE BAYA

A consulting forester can help you put together a timber and hunting land management plan and help administer and oversee operations

58 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


LIFESTYLE You took the plunge and decided to enter the recreational land owner game. Regardless of whether you have a 40-acre homestead, a couple of hundred acres or an even larger track your property represents an asset that can pay you dividends beyond its recreational value. The question is where do you start to find out what you have and how to manage it for maximum return. Should you manage it for income generating timber? If so, what type of timber harvest should you do, clear-cutting or selective thinning? What type of timber do you have? Is it saw timber, pulp wood or pole timber? Is it in your best interest just to leave that timber “on the stump” to enhance the property’s resale value? The solution to these and other land related questions is to find and retain a consulting forester. Before we “dive into the woods” it is important to know that there are three types of foresters. Public service foresters typically work for county and state governments or college extension services to assist woodland owners. There are also industry or “procurement” foresters who are employed by timber or forest product companies. Then there are consulting foresters. The easiest way, from a textbook definition perspective, is to think of a consultant as an independent forester whose services are available to the public and who doesn’t work for a timber buying business. A consulting forester may work full or even parttime with the purpose of helping a woodland owner manage his resource in the best possible way depending on his objectives. That may entail working on habitat improvement projects, helping and managing timber resources and helping an owner get done what he wants to do but is outside of his capabilities. In actuality, a consultant forester is a partner just like your accountant or attorney. To find out what you need to know about consulting foresters and the proper questions to ask in order to find the right forester for you I interviewed Denson Helms a licensed consulting forester and an appraiser for First South Farm Credit with 16 offices in Alabama. By being both a forester and an appraiser Helms can take a look at woodlands and evaluate what is there from a forestry and management perspective and then putting on his appraiser hat, he can compare that property to others on the market to come up with a value. Helms points out that the very first step in hiring a consulting forester is to make sure that they are registered and licensed in the state of Alabama “If there is any question you can go to the Alabama State Board of Registration for Foresters and check by county to see if his name is there,” Helms said. According to Helms, one of the major ways that a consulting forester can provide value for a landowner is orchestrating the timber harvesting process. “Once the forester and owner get together on determining what timber is to be cut, they will do a ‘timber cruise’ and

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Questions to Ask a Consulting Forester

When you are harvesting timber make sure that it is managed by an experience professional.

get an estimated value of what should come out so you know what you want to cut and the boundaries. Then, through the timber sale process, a consultant forester should either negotiate the timber price or put it out on a bid sale to get you the best price for your timber, verses dealing with one procurement forester or logging crew. A consulting forester with his knowledge and experience in the market will have those multiple contacts to get you the highest value for your timber products,” Helms said. In effect, a property owner and consulting forester are partners. The owner needs to share exactly what he wants from the property and what his long- and short-term goals are if he wants to get the maximum benefit from a forester’s expertise The dialogue has to be honest, open and if the objectives of the owner aren’t realistic then it is the responsibility of the consultant to be upfront and honest and let them know it isn’t workable. “The forester needs to know what the owner is going to use the property for. Is it just an investment, is it just recreation and hunting or is it both,” Hines pointed out. “The consultant needs to be able to advise the owner if his plans or goals aren’t realistic and maybe they should back up and look at other options. There has to be open communications in respect 60 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

to issues such as whether it is the right time to cut not only in terms of the market and demand, but also as far as the health of the timber stand. It is a fluid thing and they need to keep their options open and be talking about them on a regular basis” It is key to remember that when you hire a commercial forester, just like when you retain a real estate or land professional, that you are paying for their experience and expertise. You may be looking one way at your property but a forester brings a different perspective to the table, something you may never have considered and could change the whole game plan. For example, if your goal is strictly to make as much money as possible off the property, you may be thinking all about timber, as in “when can I cut?”, “how much should I cut?” and “what should I cut?”. On the other hand, a forester may take a look at the property, the property’s assets, the actual amount of acreage, the characteristics of the surrounding property and tell you that your money-making bonanza is best served by leaving it as a recreational property and developing the aesthetics instead of just chopping down timber. How do you know which consultant forester is the right consultant for-


Questions to Ask a Consulting Forester

ester? Hines says that there are some basic questions that you can ask to establish credibility. He emphasizes that some of the information you receive needs to be specifically evaluated. For example, a forester who specializes in smaller parcels may have a lot of clients where as one who works with large land concerns may only have a few. “I would ask some simple questions such as ‘how many clients do you have?’, ‘how many acres do you manage?’, ‘how many foresters work with you on your team and what is their experience?’,” Hines said. “Some foresters may have 100 clients but they may not have many acres in total and some may just a handful of clients, but they have a whole lot of acres. It really is an intro to a conversation to find out what kind of person they are and their strong points.” According to Hines it is a good idea to find out if the forester has experience managing property similar to what you own and ask them if they have some properties that they manage that you could go see their level of management. It gives you an idea of what they have done and gives you an idea of what can be done and what they can do for you. He also said that it doesn’t hurt to find out how active and up-to-date the forester is regarding the local market. “I’d ask questions like, ‘When was the last time you sold some timber?’ or ‘How many active timber sales do you have’ and that can segway into what kind of prices they are seeing,” Hines said. “The more timber sales they have the more active they are in the market.” On a different note, but equally important, it is in your best interest to find out what kind of subcontractors the forester uses, as in loggers, tree planters, anybody involved with burning, spraying, road clearing and to make sure that the forester has some sort of umbrella liability policy and the subcontractors have liability insurance.

may lean on your forester regularly so that may mean some kind of contract for all of the services. For a smaller piece of property for just a timber sale is generally commission based but that depends on your management goals and services you want.” In terms of oversight, if you are having a pine plantation cut, where everything is the same size and the age, the loggers aren’t going to be sorting much since it is all pulpwood and you may not even have to go out and check. If you have a more diverse parcel which entails more sorting of wood types, then you want to keep track on a regular basis, maybe three times a week to make sure that there is “wood security” That means having a load tag on every truck delivering your wood to the mill, load by load and the receipt of a scale ticket to be reconciled with load sheets just to make sure that everything is on the up and up. “I think a consulting forester should be working for the landowner’s best interest and trying to maximize the income and future return for that landowner,” Hines concluded. “I think that a consulting forester can add value to the landowner’s property by reducing the risk of loss along with timber and land damage from some kind of process being done unsupervised by a professional who knows what to look for. His efforts can possibly create a great return on that same asset that may have been mismanaged in the past.”

Contact Information First South Farm Credit www.firstsouthfarmcredit.com

Once you have made the decision to do some timber harvesting on your property it is critical to establish baseline data of your timber inventory. Hines explained that a good timber inventory will have how many plots are in, or plots per acre by stand and then will also have a volume by stand and by product. When you get it down that specifically, a timber cruise may be good for a few years before it needs to be repeated and it allows you to estimate, by product and volume, and depending on the market conditions and the timing an idea as to what your standing timber value is. A timber cruise is the process of measuring forest stands to determine stand characteristics, such as species, average tree sizes, age, volume, and quality. The primary purpose of cruising is to obtain a volume estimation to appraise and prepare timber sales. You enter that data into a computer program and after it dices and slices, it allows you can get as specific as you want. “It is just like any statistical sample in that the more plots you plug in the more accurate it is going to be and a lot depends on how diverse your property is. If it’s monocultural, like a 30-year-old pine plantation and you have 100 acres of the same type, size of trees, then a very intensive cruise might not be needed,” Hines said. HOW TO PAY AND HOW TO PLAY Everything is in place to go forward on doing some timber harvesting and two of the big final questions in the process is how do you pay for all of this, how do you keep track of what you had cut and going forward. “The fee is really going to be specific to the size of the property. Some are on a commission-based structure, some do it by the hour and others do it by a management fee,” Hines said. “If you have a large tract, you 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 61


FISHING TOURNAMENTS NEAR YOU

Fishing Tournaments

near you

Jimmy Sanders Memorial Mississippi Lionfish Challenge

Spearfishing clubs are encouraged to participate in trying to remove this invasive fish from Gulf waters.This event is scored by the quantity of fish taken. Overall prizes will be awarded for 1st and 2nd place for total number of Lionfish turned in over the entire tournament season, and another prize for the Angler with the most trip submissions. May 14, 2021-December 1, 2021

Fairhope Fishing Team “Angler of the year” CPR tournament Angler of the year tournament. September 24, 2021-May 20, 2022

Baldwin Strong Tournament Series 2021-2022

The Baldwin Strong youth fishing tournament series is an online (CPR) catch, photo, release fishing tournament for anyone 18 years old and younger. A CPR tournament is a length-based tournament format quickly growing in popularity where participants capture a photo of the fish on a bump board or measuring device and submit the photo to the tournament. The Token is required to be visible (written on hand or paper) within all photos submitted (NO PHOTO EDITING ALLOWED) The tournament series will consist of 8 month-long tournaments from October 2021 to May 2022 with competitive categories and prizes each month with the Master Angler awarded at the conclusion of the tournament! All participants are encouraged to log every fish caught, as we will have random prize giveaways. October 1, 2021-May 31, 2022

KBF & FC with Bucketmouth Brand MEMBERS ONLY event Big Bass Tournament 20” plus • Grand Prize – BlueSky Boatworks Angler 360 • Second Place – Jackson Kayak (Model TBD) • Third Place – Jackson Kayak (Model TBD) • Monthly Prize Packs, Mystery Fish and Bounty Fish March 15, 2021-December 31, 2021

For a full list of tournaments, rules, and prizes, check out https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament 62 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237


Serving gardeners, farmers and everyone in between

®

877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 63


Land Financing Interest Rates BY WILLIAM KENDY

Alabama Ag Credit is affiliated with the over 100-year-old nationwide Farm Credit System and is a stockholder owned cooperative. That means that when someone obtains a loan with Alabama Ag Credit they become a stockholder of the association and a portion of those earnings is returned to them through the AGC patronage program, as determined by their board of directors. At closing you make a one-time Alabama Ag Credit stock purchase and that stock ownership entitles you to share in the co-op profits, lowering your loan’s total interest cost. When your loan is paid off, the cost of the stock is refunded to you. In other words, when you borrow from Alabama Ag Credit, you become a stockholder and part owner in the cooperative, entitling you to a portion of the earnings (patronage) when the association does well financially. The more you borrow, the bigger your share of earnings. Alabama Ag Credit doesn’t sell its loans on the secondary market like a lot of other financial institutions. When you have a 20-year loan with Alabama Ag Credit, it owns your loan for 20 years and that loan stays with them. As part of the farm credit system one of AAC’s missions is to service rural Alabama and provide financing for people who want to buy acreage, be it 20 acres for a homestead or more acreage. While it specializes in financing rural and farm land they can finance a residence as long as it is outside of city limits and meets other Farm Credit System requirements. 64 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

One of Alabama Ag Credits popular financial products is their 20-year fixed rate loan with a 15% down payment. For rural homesites, the standard is a 15 year loan with 15% down. At AAC, the terms of a land and rural residential loan, such as interest rate and down payment, depend on the applicant’s unique underwriting factors and a number of components, including credit, financials, loanto-value, the type of property, the length of term, the market conditions and other factors. One of the things that differentiates Alabama Ag Credit is that they have a complete sheath of services which makes life easier for the customer and ensures a shorter buying and closing process. For example, one of those benefits that AAC offers is that it has its own appraisal department, which results in a shorter turn-around time for the whole transaction and is also economical. Alabama Ag Credit is headquartered in Montgomery and has nine offices across the state.

Alabama Ag Credit Land Finance Rates (10/10/21)

AAC has terms up to 30 years with rates between 3.75% to 4.95% depending on the fixed rate period. Contact: www.AlabamaAgCredit.com 800-579-5471


Come See Our Inventory!

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1-800-I’M-READY (467-3239) www.bucksisland.com 4500 Hwy. 77 • Southside, AL 35907 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 65


BY HANK SHAW Photos by Holly A. Heyser

Italian Braised Venison Ribs Prep: 30 mins • Cook: 3 hours • Total: 3 hrs 30 mins Ingredients

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

3 cups purple grape juice, or 1 cup saba 2 pounds ribs, each about 4 to 6 inches long Salt and black pepper 4 slices bacon ¼ cup olive oil 1 large celery stalk, minced 2 carrots, minced 2 large onions, minced 1-ounce dried mushrooms, 1 standard package ¼ cup tomato paste 2 cups red wine ½ cup balsamic vinegar 10 fresh sage leaves, or 1 tbsp dried and ground 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1 tablespoon dried 1 quart venison or beef broth

Instructions

1. If you are not using the saba, boil down the grape juice to 1 cup in a 2. 3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

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small pot. Set aside. Take out the ribs and salt them well. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large, heavy, lidded pot like a Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove, chop and set aside. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel and brown them in the bacon fat, adding olive oil if you need to. When you brown the ribs, don’t brown the side with the bone showing—if you brown this side, too, the bones will fall off the meat too soon. When the ribs are browned, remove to a plate. Add the minced vegetables and cook over medium heat until they are well browned, stirring occasionally. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Crumble the dried mushrooms over the vegetables and add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring often. You want the tomato paste to darken. At this point you’ll notice that the bottom of the pot has a brown residue on it. Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape it all off. Boil the red wine down by half, then add the cooked-down grape juice and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well and return the ribs to the pot, bone side up. Pour in any juices that have accumulated with the ribs, too. Add the herbs. Let this cook down for a few minutes, then add the venison broth and mix well. Put the meat back in the pot. Cover the pot and put it in the oven to cook for at least 2 ½ hours. You want the meat to be thinking about falling off the bone, but not actually there yet. This could take as long as 4 hours with an old elk or moose. When the meat is ready, gently remove it from the pot and set aside. You can use the braising liquid as-is, or you can make it smooth. I prefer it to be smooth. To do this, you can either push it through the medium plate of a food mill, use a “boat motor” stick blender, or pour everything into a blender and buzz it. I prefer the food mill option. Taste the resulting sauce. If it is to your liking, you are good to go. It might be too thin, however, so in this case boil it down until it’s like a barbecue sauce. Right before you serve the sauce, add black pepper. Coat the ribs in the warm sauce and serve with mashed potatoes or another mashed vegetable; I am big on mashed celery root with this recipe.


CAMPHOUSE KITCHEN

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 10 mins • Total: 25 mins Ingredients MARINADE • 4 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch • 2 or 3 egg yolks • 1 tablespoon soy sauce • 3 cups peanut or vegetable oil for frying SAUCE • 1/2 cup chicken or fish stock, or clam juice • 1 tablespoon soy sauce • 1 tablespoon sugar, or more if you want it sweet • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or malt vinegar • 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 2 tablespoons water • 1 teaspoon potato or corn starch STIR FRY • 1 1/2 pounds skinless fish, cut into into bite-sized pieces • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, lard or vegetable oil • 8 dried hot chiles, use less if you don’t want it spicy, broken in half and seeds shaken out • A 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin • 3 tablespoons chopped chives • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Instructions 1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together (except for the oil) and then mix in the chunks of fish. Make sure they are all well coated, and set it aside while you chop everything else. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside. 2. Heat the 3 cups of oil in a wok or deep-frying pan until it’s about 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll know the oil is hot enough when a bit of flour flicked into it sizzles instantly. Get a baking sheet or tray handy and line it with paper towels. Fry the fish in two or three batches, separating the pieces of fish the moment they hit the hot oil. Cook until they turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove and let them drain on the paper towels. 3. When the fish is done, carefully pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chiles, ginger and garlic and stirfry over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the fish and stir fry for a few seconds, then pour over the sauce ingredients -- be sure to stir the sauce before you pour it in because the starch will tend to settle to the bottom. Let this boil furiously for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. 4. Stir in the chives and sesame oil and serve at once with steamed rice. Notes This is one of those few Chinese wok dishes that you can double; most stir-fries need to be done in batches or they won’t cook right. So that makes this recipe great for a crowd. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 67


CHRISTMAS Gifts BY WILLIAM KENDY

The Place to BUY & SELL your Hunting Gear

1791 Gunleather Fair Chase

1791 Fair Chase holsters are made using wild and ethically hunted fair chase whitetail deer hide. These smooth, stretchable and breathable holsters will accommodate most handguns from revolvers to micro and even full frame firearms. The Fair Chase is designed for concealed carry, providing complete concealment with luxuriously soft leather that is lined with suede to provide ultimate comfort for your skin while cuddling your firearm.

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SPOT X – 2-way satellite messenger. When you’re off the grid or beyond reliable cellular coverage, SPOT X connects to your smart phone via Bluetooth wireless technology. Exchange messages/emails, send S.O.S., track your journey, check-in and access a compass. Price: $249.99

PERFECT GIFT! 68 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

Quite possibly the only fish and seafood cookbook you’ll ever need, from the author of the James Beard Award–winning website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Hook, Line, and Supper zeroes in on broad categories of fish, both freshwater and saltwater, that can substitute for each other, and provides clear techniques and carefully developed master recipes that will help you become a more competent and complete fish and seafood cook. The most comprehensive guide to preparing and cooking fish and seafood, Hook, Line, and Supper will become an indispensable resource for anglers bringing home their catch and home cooks looking for new ways to cook whatever fish or seafood strikes their fancy at the market.

Hook, Line, and Supper by Hank Shaw

Hits shelves May 7, 2021 Price: $32.95

Available wherever books are sold.


CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR OUTDOORSMEN

Hunting Attractants Made By Hunters For Hunters BUY TWO GET ONE FREE

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Hurry while supplies last! Check Our Website for Distributors Near You!

www.shadowmajikoutdoors.com Hunting For That Perfect Gift? BLACK BELT BOUNTY

Celebrating the heritage and traditions of hunting and fishing in Alabama’s famed Black Belt region

This deluxe hardcover coffee table book is filled with striking images from some of todays most gifted wildlife photographers and artists and their visual offerings are perfectly counterbalanced by words from an impressive bevy of outdoor writers and recipes from some of Alabama’s award-winning celebrity chefs. FEATURED SECTIONS:

• • • • •

The Tradition—the rites of passage; first hunters and gatherers; folklore The Land and Water—the landscape; lakes and rivers; conservation practices The Hunt—field trial history; renowned dog trainers; game and bird hunting The Cast—well known bass, crappie and catfish lakes and rivers The Table—sustainable living; wild game, sides and dessert recipes

ORDER YOUR COPY OR FIND A RETAIL LOCATION NEAR YOU Alabamablackbeltadventures.org/blackbeltbountybook

Slam 8 Fish Cleaning Canopy by KillerDock Finally a fish cleaning station that both functional AND beautiful. It’s built in the USA from marine grade aluminum and then ceramic coated to make cleaning up easier and to protect it from the environment. Every model has built-in hose stations and King Starboard cutting surface. You choose from multiple table draining options, mounting base types, and other add-ons like sinks and lights. Both canopy and non-canopy models available, in different widths.

Slam 8 price starting at $3,995.

www.killerdock.com 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 69


Take a Novice Hunting in November

To all the seasoned hunters in Alabama, I want to offer a challenge for the month of November. I’m asking that you take a youngster or newcomer hunting.

BY CHRIS BLANKENSHIP Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a perfect time to introduce someone to hunting. But if you’re busy with frying or smoking turkeys, the weekends before Thanksgiving are designated as special youth hunting weekends. If you hunt deer in Zones A, B and C, the youth weekend is November 12-15. If you hunt in Zones D and E, the youth hunting is open October 29 through November 1. If you hunt waterfowl, the Special Youth, Active Military and Military Veterans Hunting Days are November 20 and February 5. By a considerable margin, the most hunted wild game in Alabama is the white-tailed deer. The gun deer season, which always opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is set to begin on November 20 this year in the majority of the

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state. If you invite youth under 16 or your friend who is 65 or older (residents), they don’t need a regular hunting license. However, if you are feeding deer anywhere on your property, it’s wise for those hunters to purchase a bait privilege license. Unlike regular hunting and fishing licenses, the bait privilege license has no exemptions. Everybody who hunts deer and feral swine with the aid of bait, which includes hunters 65 years old and older and hunters under 16, must have a valid bait privilege license. Also included are people hunting on their own property and lifetime license holders. Each hunter must have his/her own bait privilege license to hunt with the aid of bait. That includes all family members – sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters or spouses. The purchase of a bait privilege license makes it legal to hunt feral swine yearround and white-tailed deer during the deerhunting season only with the aid of bait. The bait privilege license, which costs $15 for


FROM THE COMMISSIONER

resident hunters and $51 for non-residents, is available through any license outlet or online at www.outdooralabama.com. Back to deer season, I want to applaud Alabama’s hunters for their increased compliance with the Game Check requirements for deer and wild turkey. For the 2020-2021 season, the compliance went from about 40 percent to 90 percent. A change in the possession regulation last year encouraged the increased participation in Game Check. The possession regulation requires that hunters who harvest deer and turkeys must maintain proper paperwork when transferring possession of that animal to a processor, taxidermist or any other individual. The person in possession of all or part of a deer or turkey that is not their own must retain written documentation with the name of the hunter, the hunter’s Conservation ID number, the date of the harvest and Game Check confirmation number. The information can be documented on any piece of paper, or a transfer of possession certificate is available in the Alabama Hunting & Fishing Digest or online at www.outdooralabama.com. Even though we have increased our reporting, I want to encourage ALL deer and turkey hunters to comply with the Game Check requirement. Hunters have two ways to report their harvests – the Outdoor AL app for smartphones or online at outdooralabama.com. Because some hunters were having issues with those two methods of reporting, WFF reinstated the 1-800-888-7690 number with some significant upgrades. Instead of the old interactive voice response system that yielded unreliable data, the new callin system has a live operator 24/7 for hunters to utilize. Hunters will need to have several items of information ready before making the call, including a Conservation ID number. Hunters will be asked to provide the date and county of harvest, public or private land and the antler point count when reporting a deer. To report a turkey harvest, callers will be asked for the date and county of harvest, public or private land, the turkey’s age (jake or adult) and beard and spur lengths.

an aggregate of Canada, white-fronted (speckle bellies) or Brant. Previously, only three Canadas were allowed in the bag limit. Now all five can be Canada geese, which will help keep the resident goose population in check. Waterfowl hunting is not the only wingshooting available at Thanksgiving. While most people only think about dove hunting when the seasons open in September, doves from the north start to migrate into Alabama as the weather cools. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/mourning-and-white-wingeddove-season for the late fall and winter dove seasons. For other small game, both rabbit and squirrel hunting are great ways to introduce someone to the sport and are ideal for youngsters. Those two pursuits provide the activity needed to keep kids interested while enjoying Alabama’s great outdoors. While young hunters may get restless in a deer stand when the action is slow, that won’t happen when a pack of beagles flushes a rabbit from its hiding spot and the chase is on. The same goes for spotting and stalking squirrels in the treetops or following a fine squirrel dog until he trees. If you haven’t already purchased your hunting licenses, head to outdooralabama.com or your nearest retail outlet and get ready to enjoy our state’s bountiful wildlife resources. And don’t forget to purchase the collectible hard card licenses with beautiful outdoors art. Seven new hard cards are available for the 2021-2022 seasons.

g, n i t n u H , e s n Defe ical t c a T , g n i t o o Sh

The 800-888-7690 number is especially helpful to exempt hunters by having a live person on the line who can go into the system and generate a HELP (Hunter Exempt License Privilege) or Conservation ID (CID) number and check the deer or turkey for them. This system provides the valuable harvest information we need to make the best wildlife management decisions possible. If you have a smartphone, the Outdoor AL app is without a doubt the quickest, easiest way to comply. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/ game-check-and-harvest-record-information for more information on Game Check. While Alabama is famous for its deer hunting, our great state has an abundance of other wild game species to pursue.

AR’s purpose built to suit your needs Building purpose driven firearms for what you want to do. Small family owned modern sporting rifle manufacturer.

Waterfowl season opens for two days on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to give waterfowlers some early action. Of course, the waterfowl numbers in Alabama are highly dependent on the weather. Hopefully, we’ll get a cold front and push some ducks our way for the opener. Also, for those who love to hunt geese, the bag limit has changed for the 2021-2022 season. Now the daily bag limit of five dark geese can include

850-832-2238 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 71


Recovering America’s Wild Act (RAWA)

If RAWA becomes law, Alabama is projected to receive $27 million annually in federal conservation funds. Record numbers of Alabamians found solace in the outdoors during the peak of the pandemic last year. Whether it was hunting, fishing, birdwatching, visiting an Alabama State Park, or exploring the state’s public lands, the outdoors supported us through a difficult time. Access to the wild places and wildlife Alabama depends on is only available today thanks to conservation efforts that began more than 100 years ago.

Those conservation efforts have been primarily funded through hunting and fishing license sales and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (Pittman–Robertson Act) and the Sport Fish Restoration Program of 1950 (Dingell–Johnson Act). Alabama does not fund conservation through its General Fund.

BY CHARLES “CHUCK” SYKES Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF)

When those laws were passed, many more Alabamians participated in hunting and fishing than they do today. Over time, the number of Alabamians who purchase a hunting or fishing license each year has dramatically declined, limiting the funds available to continue supporting conservation efforts in the state at current levels. Today, less than 5% of Alabamians purchase an annual hunting, fishing or Wildlife Heritage license. Last year’s nationwide spike in outdoor recreation

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has focused a spotlight on the need to stabilize conservation funding for the future. A new proposal in Congress aims to do just that by investing millions of dollars into each state for wildlife recovery as well as conservation education and recreation. If passed, the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide states with $1.39 billion annually to prevent at-risk wildlife species and associated habitats from being listed as endangered. That funding would go to state conservation agencies to address priorities within their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) as well as other eligible conservation-related activities. An additional $97.5 million would go to tribal wildlife managers. According to lawmakers, the funding would come from existing revenues with no new taxes. What will that mean for the state of Alabama and the nation? In terms of species diversity, Alabama is the most biologically diverse state east of the Mississippi River. The state also ranks first in the nation in freshwater diversity with more than 800 species of freshwater fishes, mussels, aquatic snails and crayfish. By comparison, that is more than 10


FROM THE DIRECTOR times the number of freshwater species in the entire Columbia River Basin, which includes most of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. That abundance of biodiversity unfortunately comes with an abundance of declining and threatened species. The 2015-2025 Alabama SWAP identifies 362 species in greatest conservation need, including 63 fish, 100 mussels, 52 snails, 44 crayfish, 27 mammals, 29 birds, 24 reptiles, 19 amphibians and 4 additional invertebrates. Zoom out from Alabama and the list of declining or threatened species in North America is equally troubling. In the U.S., 42% of amphibian species are declining and 33% of turtles are threatened. Of the roughly 800 butterfly species in the U.S., 17% are at risk of extinction. Approximately 18% of bat species are at risk of extinction. More than one-quarter of North American bumblebee species are facing some degree of extinction risk, and 70% of North American freshwater mussels are already extinct or imperiled. Additionally, one-third of all North American bird species and 40% of North American freshwater fish species are in urgent conservation need. If the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act becomes law, Alabama is projected to receive $27 million annually in federal conservation funds. Those funds would be administered by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division and used for nongame wildlife programs aimed at reversing the decline of many at-risk species. Without that funding, conservation efforts focused on the 362 species listed in Alabama’s SWAP face an uncertain future. Conservation-related activities eligible to receive funding through the act include conserving and managing state and private lands for a diversity of fish and wildlife species; working with private landowners on conservation

management projects; conducting the research, monitoring, restoration and management needed to reverse population declines; creating wildlife education programs and projects; controlling invasive and nuisance species; assisting in the recovery of threatened or endangered species; and protecting species in greatest conservation need through increasing conservation law enforcement staff. The funds will also be available for increasing access to wildlife-associated outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, birdwatching, nature photography, kayaking, hiking and the development of wildlife viewing areas. A 2020 ADCNR acquisition of nearly 5,000 acres of critical Red Hills Salamander habitat in Monroe County is a perfect example of how the model of threatened species protection and outdoors recreation can coexist. In addition to habitat conservation, these tracts will be accessible to the public for outdoor recreation including hunting, wildlife watching and birding. Species conservation and increased access to outdoor recreation aren’t the only benefits provided through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. If passed, the act would help bolster Alabama’s outdoors industry. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Alabama supports 63,000 jobs that generate $2 billion in wages and salaries annually. That’s $4.2 billion in total outdoor recreation value added to the state’s economy, or 1.8% of the state’s GDP. Nationally, the act is expected to create up to 33,600 jobs and infuse the U.S. economy with more than $3 billion. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has the potential to create stable funding for the conservation of many wildlife and freshwater species and provide increased recreational access so the public can enjoy those natural resources for generations to come. Its passage would be a win-win situation for all Americans and the wildlife and wild places that sustain us.

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How to Get in and Out of a Kayak

Sometimes having a buddy to steady the kayak makes getting back in easier.

When a kayak angler stops being an angler and becomes a swimmer is the whole reason why we wear our Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) every single time we go kayak fishing. That is why we use strong ties to secure rods, tackle boxes, and other important stuff to the kayak. Chances are, if we go on the water often enough in our paddle boats, we’ll need to get ourselves back in the kayak because we’ve fallen out or tipped over. This sort of thing is not fun, but it’s not nearly as serious as being overboard from a power boat. Getting back aboard a powerboat unless it is equipped with a ladder of some sort can be quite difficult and sometimes even impossible. Getting back on a kayak from the water is actually easy to do. BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn

To be honest, falling out of a kayak is usually pretty difficult. Most sit on top fishing kayaks

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are very stable and resistant to wave action and contact with below the water structures which can put an angler overboard. Kayaks can be tipped over by big waves or boat wakes if they strike the kayak broadside, but going overboard from a kayak is most definitely not a common occurrence. When the unlikely event does occur, the steps to re-entering a kayak from the water are simple. Step 1- So you went over the side and you’re out of the kayak. Keep calm and don’t panic. You’re not going to get any wetter than you are right now. Recover contact with kayak and paddle. Try to secure the paddle to the kayak. Putting the paddle under some of the kayak’s deck bungee cords in a crosswise alignment is a good idea. The paddle will help balance the kayak and keep it from rolling over again, and we’ll want that paddle to get us back to dry land when we’re back in the boat. It is much safer and much easier to get things back to normal after a tip-over or fall-out if we stay with the kayak. If the kayak is close to shore, say thirty yards or so, it might be the best idea to swim the kayak to the shore and do the recovery where the water is


PADDLE FISHING shallow. But if the tip-over occurs in deeper waters too far from shore, then it’s perfectly possible to do a self-recovery. If the kayak is upside down, the first thing which needs to be done is to turn the kayak over in its proper position. This is usually not too hard. Most kayaks are much happier to be in the correct floating position rather than upside down. To flip an upside-down kayak back right side up, it’s usually best to reach across the bottom and find a good handhold. The built-in hand grips or side handles work well for this. Grab the handle across the kayak bottom and pull towards you to flip the upside down kayak upright. Most upside down kayaks roll back into proper position easily. Let the kayak stabilize in the water and clear any hanging gear such as rods or loose lines which might get in the way. Step 2- This is the hardest part of recovery and the most strenuous. Get a good hold onto the kayak- use any handles or hand grips which are built into the kayak’s hull, and staying at the center of the boat, take hold of a handle across the top of the kayak. The idea here is to remount the kayak crosswise. Think of making the letter “T” with the kayak and your body crossing. Your belly should wind up at the front of the kayak’s seat. When ready to do this step, kick with both legs and pull your upper body with both arms across the kayak’s hull. Try to stay low on the top of the kayak and allow the kayak to find its balance and a stable position. Get your belly in the boat and get in a stable position. Your legs will still be in the water and your face will be just above the water’s surface. Catch your breath and get ready for the final step. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the remount. Step 3- At this point, you’re back in the kayak, but not in the proper position. Get the kayak’s seat ready for you by making sure the seat back is up in its proper alignment. Make sure the kayak is stable and no big breaking waves are coming. Then carefully rotate your body to move your bottom to the seat and then get your legs in the proper place. Don’t try to do all of this part at once. Get your bottom in the seat and then get legs in place. Try to keep this movement as low on the hull of the kayak as possible. Just roll yourself on the top of the kayak into position. That’s it. You’re back on top and in control of things. At this point, get your paddle in hand and look for floating gear. Chances are, some gear will be lost when the kayak went over, but if the important stuff, as in rods, cell phones or cameras were stored in floating dry bags and were properly secured to the kayak, they should be recoverable. The decision to continue the fishing trip or to head for home can be made. To be honest, after a roll-over or tip-out, most kayak anglers are ready to head back to the launch point for a quick dry-off. SOME IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT RE-ENTERING A KAYAK The most important point to keep in mind about any kayak re-entry situation has already been mentioned, but we’ll mention it again. If the angler is wearing a PFD, things will almost certainly be better in a short period of time. If that PFD is stored on the kayak and not worn, things might be pretty intense and potentially very bad. It’s simple...wear that PFD!

The next point about kayak tip overs is that if the rods and reels and other important gear are not secured to the kayak with cables, bungees or strong lines, the accident can get expensive quickly. There are a number of good rod and reel connection tools to keep the kayak and gear together. Any electronic gear which goes under water is likely a total loss, so cameras and cell phones and fish finders need to be in waterproof cases if at all possible. Finally, going over the side of a kayak or tipping over is not the end of the world, and other than being inconvenient or possibly embarrassing, going out of a kayak and then coming back aboard is all just part of the kayak fishing game. It has happened to most kayak anglers, and it has happened to the writer of this article a number of times. Just keep the steps to remount a kayak in mind, and like a cowboy who has been “throwed,” get back in the saddle again.

Important Contact Information There are a number of good, inexpensive paddle tethers for kayak anglers. One of the best is the Yak-Gear Paddle or Fishing Rod Leash. Starting at $10, these easy to use tethers will secure paddles, fishing rods, and other gear. Yak-Gear 4000 Airline Drive Suite C Houston, TX 77022 866-610-7931 yakgear.com

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Gulf Coast Fishing Outlook

November means long sleeves, football and fishing. Most species will be on the move and settling into their winter spots. Covering water will be key in almost all scenarios. MISSISSIPPI The bite will get further and further into the rivers and bayous as the weather and water temperatures cool. With each passing front, baitfish and shrimp will move out of the marsh and creeks and the opportunities will be created. Speckled trout and redfish will anxiously await the movement of shrimp as they flush out of these smaller, shallower areas. Finding “where” can often be as easy as scanning the sky for birds as opposed to hours of idling and casting. When the shrimp move out, birds will often be the first to know.

BY CHRIS VECSEY

Once the birds and bait are located, a variety of options will produce. Live shrimp, bull minnows and croakers will do but the best baits will “match the hatch”. For artificials, the Vudu Shrimp, Matrix Shad and a variety of other soft plastics will do a great job imitating the masses of brown shrimp as they move out of the grassbeds. When the gamefish switch to small mullet or other smaller baitfish, moving to jerkbaits and twitchbaits gets the job done and draws reaction strikes when nothing else will. Top choices are the Matrix Ripshad, Rapala Rip Stop and Mirrolure MR17. All three baits can be worked

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in a variety of retrieves to suit the needs of the day and suspend well on the pause, which is critical to success in colder water scenarios. Work these baits from tight to the bank, moving outward. Reds and trout will look towards the grasslines and beds anticipating the movement of prey. Switching to a heavier jighead and paddletail can also score bonus flounder on any given inshore outing. Flats and drop-offs in anywhere from three to eight feet deep will begin loading up on flatfish through the winter. Most light-colored plastics will work, with the main focus of keeping contact with the bottom at intervals through the retrieve. Another prime inshore target through these cooling periods is the sheepshead. These striped baitstealers will be frequenting most inshore structures through the month. Fiddler crabs and live shrimp are all that’s needed although they will occasionally take small shrimp and crab imitating lures and flies. Short Carolina rigs or dropshot rigs of 15-20 pound mono or fluoro will do with hooks ranging from #4-#1, depending on the bait choice. Fish these baits tight to structure and with fast action rods that detect the super soft bites of the sheepshead. ALABAMA The beaches will be empty for the most part and that means plenty of elbow room to surf fish. Hitting


FISHING OUTLOOK the surf will be a popular option this month. Redfish, pompano, whiting, black drum, sheepshead and a few other species will be running with the waves as we approach thanksgiving. Pompano will be on the top of the hit list and should remain steady until water temps dip into the low 60s towards the end of the month. For all surf running species, small, peeled pieces of shrimp, sand fleas and Fish Bites will get the job done and supply plenty of fish fries this fall. Focusing on the stronger washouts and deeper troughs will lead to success. Around Dixie bar and the mouth of Perdido Pass, bull redfish will form large schools and be an everyday opponent. Some days these copper giants will form huge schools just offshore and provide some epic sight fishing opportunities, both on conventional and fly tackle. Most baitfish imitating lures or flies will work with spoons and bucktail jigs being top choices. When surface action can’t be found, anchoring and fishing both live and dead menhaden, mullet and other baitfish will work. Another popular option is trolling deep diving plugs like the Rapala X Rap Magnum or Mann’s Stretch 25+. Watch for bait and redfish schools as you troll along. Once located, casting gear can come out. The numerous artificial reefs off of the Alabama coast will be prime spots through the month of November when the weather allows for offshore jaunts. Vermilion snapper, mangrove snapper and grouper will be abundant in shallower waters than they typically frequent during the warmer parts of the year. Using “chicken rigs” rigs with two, smallersized circle hooks and smaller pieces of squid, bonito, or chunks of cigar minnow will work well. Chumming with sardine or menhaden will often work larger mangrove snapper higher into the water column. Once fish have been lured towards the surface, freeline small pieces of baitfish or squid back into the chum slick on 30-40 lb. fluorocarbon. Larger amberjack will also move in and can provide some seriously sore-arms for anyone dropping butterfly-style jigs or larger live baits. These guys love to hang high over significant bottom structures and during the fall/winter, larger than average amberjack will move in on closer structures. Tackle should be fairly stout. November can be one of the very best months to target yellowfin tuna around the offshore gas and oil platforms. Cool inshore waters push large schools of menhaden (pogies), mullet and other larger baits further offshore and this can create some intense frenzies. Chunking, live baiting, trolling, kite-fishing, etc will all play a hand in fall tuna fishing off of the Alabama coast. Keep the options open in bait choices and be prepared to change strategies. For monitoring offshore water conditions and keeping tabs on ideal locations, subscribe to a satellite imaging service like Hilton’s Realtime-Navigator. FLORIDA PANHANDLE The Florida Panhandle’s extensive inshore waterways will be red hot this month. With slightly warmer water temperatures than their neighbors to the west, a wide variety of species will be up for grabs.

“I like to fish bridge pilings, jetties, pipes, etc. Pretty much any significant form of structure will be looked into.” Tennant likes to scale way down on the terminal tackle and fish light fluorocarbon leaders from 10 to 20 pound. Bait choices are usually Lys (sardines), menhaden, bull minnows or shrimp. Normal catches of redfish, flounder, mangrove snapper and drum are expected, but the deep waters of Pensacola bay can yield many surprises through the fall including gag grouper, red snapper, tripletail and many more. “You never know what you’re going to catch working structure in the bay here.” Tennant said. Structure fishing isn’t the only technique employed by Tennant on his inshore adventures. “I’ll spend a lot of November mornings running and looking for bull reds on the surface throughout the bay. If we find them, the action can be nonstop,” he said. Tennant also likes to fish near Pensacola Pass for large Spanish mackerel, bonito and other light tackle speedsters. “I’ll drift fish glass minnows and throw small spoons and other shiny, glass-minnow imitating lures. These guys are tons of fun on the lighter gear and very reliable most days,” Tennant said. When Tennant isn’t fishing the inshore waters of the sound and bay, he’s running his 31’ Cape Horn offshore for larger game. He likes to use live hardtails and LYs for grouper digging and mix of squid and Lys for vermilions and bigger mangroves. “I’ll target natural bottom areas through the fall for grouper, scamp and other bottom species. “Depths of 150+ feet will work best for grouper but I will also hit shallower, closer spots for vermilion and mangrove snapper.” November’s fronts can bring some wintery conditions, but in between fronts there is some excellent action to be had.

Important Contact Information Spot On Charters Captain Lee Windham 501-941-1071 Bout Time Charters Captain Brett Tennant 850-380-1671 Hilton’s Realtime Navigator hiltonsoffshore.com

Grassbeds through Santa Rosa sound will hold redfish of all sizes, from 12 inch rats to 40+ inch bulls. These fish will be feeding on both baitfish and crabs and baits and imitations should match such. Further into the lower rivers, redfish will be joined by trout, drum and striped bass. Live shrimp will take all of the above but jerkbaits and topwaters can create hard strikes and trophy fish. Captain Brett Tennant will be taking advantage of the countless inshore options through the month. Tennant runs “Bout Time Charters” out of Pensacola. Tennant likes to cover water and fish a wide variety of structures through his trips.

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Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook

Large black drum prowl the surfzone in November.

BY DAVID THORNTON Photos by David Thornton

Fall is in the air, and fish are still abundant in the surfzone this month even as successive cold fronts periodically usher in cooler, drier air from the north. Some tropical influences may still be felt, but hurricane season is quickly winding down as our water temperatures typically slip from the middle to lower 70s through November. This is the month when the non-migratory species of the drum family assume dominance of the surfzone, now vacated by the pelagic jacks. Red and black drum of all sizes prowl the sandbar drop-offs and cuts looking for a snack, while avoiding becoming one for marauding sharks and dolphins. While closer to the beach “whiting” and “ground mullet” (three species of kingfish) pile into the shallow troughs for the same reasons. Some pompano, and even an occasional permit remain in the region, if the Emerald Coast waters stay mild enough. And bluefish, which may be numerous at times, along with occasional sheepshead scour

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the jetties and piers looking for their next meal. LATE SEASON GIFTS Little Tunny (“bonita”), and a few mackerel, including some nice sized kings can still be found around the Florida Panhandle piers in November. Live bait fish become much scarcer through this month as the water temperature steps downward, but periodic warm spells may bring a resurgence of these warm water species to the gulf piers before they move south for the winter. Frozen cigar minnows are the mainstay for pier anglers looking for that late season king. Those baits may be intercepted by “axehandle” spanish mackerel, bonita, “bull” redfish, sharks, or ravenous bluefish. The Gulf Coast bluefish spawn during November, and can be especially ferocious in these tight schools.


FISHING OUTLOOK Four to six inch diving plugs like Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow and Rapala X-Rap are very effective in getting all these fish to bite. As are other popular lures such as silver spoons, bubble rigs, and even ½ to ¾ ounce lead head jigs. In fact, it may be difficult to find something these fall fish won’t be eager to bite since they are “fattening up” for winter. Closer to shore, November pier anglers should find plenty of Gulf kingfish (called “whiting”) for the taking. Light tackle in the six to eight pound class is a plus for hooking up with these hard pulling mini drum, which often exceed a pound this time of year. A small, half to one inch long piece of fresh cut shrimp, with or without a slice of Fishbites on a Fishfinder rig or Carolina rig is all that is needed. The small hook (like a #4 kahle) needs to easily fit into the small mouth of a wary whiting. As well, the leader should be light monofilament or fluorocarbon (10 lb. is ideal). As occasionally the water may get particularly calm and clear, necessitating anglers to switch to small live shrimp or beach ghost shrimp for more consistent results. Tasty whiting are one of the more sought after species from the pier through the cooler months. Though keepersized mangrove snapper may still be possible catches from the beach piers using those same baits or even bull minnows when available. The rock jetties near gulf passes are especially loaded with mangroves early in the month, before the venture offshore. Flounder, however, are off limits, having a closed season through November in both Florida and Alabama this year. This move was put in effect to help protect female flounder as they migrate through the passes and into the Gulf to spawn. Hopefully, this will mean more return each year. SURF SURPRISES Meanwhile, beach anglers can eagerly anticipate the return of “bull” redfish, large black drum and more pompano to the surfzone. The bay mouths can be especially attractive this month for the larger drum, occasional jack crevalle, along with big bluefish, sharks, stingrays and the like. These predators are hanging outside the passes waiting for the fast outgoing tide to bring menhaden schools within reach as they move out of the bays into the relatively warmer Gulf for the winter. Heavier tackle in the 20 to 40 pound class is the ticket here. And “beefy” rods in the 10 to 12 foot range (or longer) are the norm for throwing large baits and weights out into deeper waters. Long casts often work from the front beaches as well, especially to reach any cuts in the longshore sandbar. A simple sand spike may get pulled over by these beasts, so be sure yours is set securely, and check the reel drag to prevent losing your combo. At times, the action can be nearly continuous. But more often it is an exercise in patience, as the wait between bites may just get longer toward the end of the month in cooler water. Such is the life of a trophy fish hunter.

four or two pound spinning tackle, they truly show just how strong they are for their size. Typical terminal rigs for surf fishing are double dropper rigs. These are intended to be fished on the bottom with a pyramid weight and set in a rod holder. Hence the term “set rig”, or commonly called “Pompano rig” because that is the target species. They include two medium sized hooks (kahle or circle) that would easily fit in the quarter-sized mouth of a pompano. And they usually sport a brightly colored inorganic attractant (plastic bead or small styrofoam float) to get the attention of the fish. These can be baited with either a strip of Fishbites or fresh cut shrimp (or both) to create the illusion of something edible to a passing pompano or whiting. The artificial attractants can be done away with in clear, calm water to better fool wary fish. Or savvy anglers reduce the terminal tackle size even further to a single drop rig, or a Fishfinder rig to better fool them in these conditions. In fact when the waves are calm, less (terminal tackle) is almost always better to garner more bites. And natural baits like beach ghost shrimp become almost a necessity at times to catch these fish consistently. November from-shore fishers must be assuredly adaptable to a variety of conditions and situations in order to be successful as this fall season transitions. Warm weather may linger, but we often see several frosts this month too. As well, the sky may vary from rainy, to foggy, cloudy, or clear as a bell (often in the same day). But we can be certain that opportunities are there for shore bound anglers who can anticipate these changing conditions, and take advantage of their unique opportunities when they venture forth to enjoy their great days outdoors.

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Many anglers are content with more quantified catches consisting of pompano, whiting, etcetera. These smaller fish often outnumber the larger drum 100 to 1 in the surfzone, and frankly are better table fare. But on light or ultralight tackle they are excellent gamefish in their own right. For instance, a typical two pound pompano on eight pound spinning tackle can make a good account of itself. Drop down to a six pound combo with an eight or nine foot medium taper, fast action rod and the fight is quite memorable. And IF you do happen to hook the occasional redfish or drum, the battle is epically memorable! Even a pound size whiting on such tackle is a lot of fun. But on ultralight

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REGIONAL FRESHWATER Fishing Outlook BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn

As the weather cools, crappie anglers will search out deeper crappie schools.

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FISHING OUTLOOK

FLORIDA WATERS

LAKE TALQUIN Jeff DuBree of Whippoorwill Lodge on Lake Talquin hears daily fishing reports from anglers and he has fished the lake for many years. He said crappie will be really biting well there. Anglers should try trolling double jig rigs over stump fields and other underwater structure for the crappie. Mouths of creeks will be good locations to find the feeding slabs. Crappie anglers on Talquin ought to start their search with 1/16 ounce jigs in chartreuse and bubblegum colors which are usually very good here. If the water is stained or dark from recent rain runoff, darker colors will work better. Bass anglers will find November bass to be moving in and out of shallows according to weather and sun conditions, and fishing drop offs and points will be good. It’s hard to beat plastic worms and other soft plastics at this time. Catfish angers will still find some good fishing in November, and live bait will be best for the cats. Anglers can find all needed gear and good advice at Whippoorwill Outpost on Lake Talquin. WAKULLA RIVER Rob Baker guides anglers on the magical spring-fed waters of the Forgotten Coast of Florida, and he operates Wilderness Way Kayak Shop and T-N-T Kayak Rentals on the Wakulla River. Baker gave us a glowing report for November fishing on the Wakulla. “Things will be cooling down in November, and there will be much less traffic on the river and the water will be clearing with the diminished rain. Fishing should be even better then,” Baker said, Bass will be staging on the weed lines where the open channels and the weeds come together, and small Rapala crankbaits worked down the weed lines can be very effective. For fly rod anglers, small poppers worked around weed edges and along the shorelines can produce some great panfish, and anglers with the fly rod should not be surprised when sizable bass roll up on the poppers, either.

ALABAMA WATERS

MILLER’S FERRY Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville fame spends many hours fishing Miller’s Ferry and he advised us that if we don’t get too much cold weather, the bass will remain in their fall feeding patterns well into November, and this means anglers can find some actively feeding bass that should be catchable.’ Bass anglers should look up in the major sloughs where the bass will be chasing shad and feeding up for the upcoming winter and cooler weather. If the weather doesn’t get very cold, the bass will be preparing for very early spawns at Miller’s Ferry, so anglers can take advantage of the fall fish Anglers can work secondary points of big creeks and the main river channels. Small crank baits, spinner baits, and chatter-baits worked around woody cover on big creek points. According to Dunn, November should be very good for crappie fishing 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 81


Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

on Miller’s Ferry and anglers should work the main river channels of the lake. They will be deep, from 15 to 30 feet depending on the water temperatures. Crappie will be feeding heavily as the water cools, and this is a good time of year to try bottom bouncing for the slabs with jigs and live minnows. MOBILE DELTA “Although every year is different, November is probably the month that has the least amount of anglers and traffic, but it’s one of the most productive months for fishing,” said long-time angler and guide Captain Wayne Miller from the Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service “By the end of the month, we’re basically out of tropical weather danger and the conditions are usually very stable”. According to Miller, the biggest fishing variable in November is the location of the white shrimp. They may be up in the Delta still, or they may have moved out to the bay. If the shrimp are still up in the Delta, it’s a free for all for bass and other fish that feed on the shrimp. Bass will start to pull up in the creeks, but before they leave the main rivers and feeding zones, they’ll be feeding heavily on the white shrimp. Bass anglers should think about smaller lures at this time. Since the white shrimp, the young crabs, and other bait fish are all small at this time, lures should match the size. Spinnerbaits in white and white with chartreuse in ¼ ounce sizes are good, and Miller specifically recommends Bandit Crankbaits in the 1,000 to 2,000 series for search baits. These lures run about two to three feet deep, and anglers can cover a lot of water with them to locate active fish.

WEISS LAKE “Bass fishing at Weiss in November is great because you can catch bass, both spots and largemouth, just about anywhere and anyway you want. There’s a good top water bite and the underwater humps and gravel bars are becoming much more visible as the water gets lower. Look for shallow docks with cover like brush, logs, and blow-down trees that will often hold good fish,” said Captain Lee Pitts, a veteran angler and tournament contestant who fishes Weiss Lake with his clients almost every day. Smaller crank baits, soft-body jigs, and spinner baits are good baits for fall fishing on Weiss in November. ”Crappie fishing at Weiss should be very good in November. Most of the crappie are moving on creek ledges and deeper river banks. Look for isolated brush piles and especially stumps on the creek channels,” Pitts said. Crappie anglers should try a vertical approach by dropping a double jig rig with a ½ ounce bank sinker on the end of the line. White bass will be schooling in the afternoons, and anglers can have a lot of fun casting shad pattern top water lures to the busting whites. SIPSEY FORK Anglers in the Deep South don’t have many cold-water fishing spots, but Sipsey Fork is the best place for rainbow trout in a very special location. Randy Jackson of Riverside Trout Shop tells us that as the weather in November cools, there will be lots of midge hatches and a few blue-wing olives will start to emerge, and the trout will feed heavily on all of these

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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

bugs. At the start of November, there will still be a few terrestrial bugs hanging around and falling into the waters below, so anglers can have good results with hoppers and ants. Anglers who use spinning gear for the trout can have very good luck by using the same flies that fly anglers use, but by fishing them under a bubble cork and swivel which gives enough weight for long distance casting. Trout Magnet lures in pink, black, and olive colors can be very good in November. Dark colored single-hook Roostertail spinners will work, too. Sipsey Fork is stocked every month, so anglers can count on good numbers of hungry, catch-able trout waiting in the cold, clear waters of Sipsey Fork. WILSON/PICKWICK LAKES “If air temperatures stay average or above normal, November can be as good as it gets on the Tennessee River. Shad schools will still be hovering near the surface in shallow water early in the month. This can make for some great topwater or shallow running crankbait bass action,” said veteran guide and Tennessee River angler Brian Barton. Bass will be holding on points and main lake shorelines in 5-15 feet of water. For trophy fish try drifting the tailrace below the dams with live shad. “My clients have caught more six pound plus smallmouth in November than any other fall month,” advised Barton. Catfish should be easy pickings on Wilson Lake. Locate deep shad schools over channel ledges, old river lock structure, or the many submerged islands in 40 to 75 feet of water and the big cats will be close by. Big chunks of skipjack herring and gizzard shad heads will be the baits of choice. For eating size cats it’s also easy pickings. Locate fish on your sonar, and drop small pieces of cut bait, chicken liver, or shrimp down to them and have fun. Catches of 50 to 75 eating size fish are common on both lakes in November. If we get heavy fall rains and strong currents below the dams, the striper bite can be great. Simply drift with the current while casting large swimbaits or large live gizzard shad in the current seams. This bite is always best early in the morning and late evening even during the cold weather months LAKE EUFAULA “Bass fishing will get better as the weather cools off. Bass will be on all kinds of cover. The lily pads will be dying down with the cool weather, but the bass will still hold on the underwater stems and stalks of the pads. There’s a good early morning top water bite in November, and the bite lasts longer and the bass will be active than they were a few weeks before. Deeper water fishing will be good all day long near brush piles,” advised veteran guide, Captain Sam Williams from Hawks Fishing Guide Service. Anglers wanting some topwater action on Eufaula in November can use a soft plastic frog or fluke over thick cover. Try to create some commotion with the lure to attract the attention of the bass. November bream can be quite good on Eufaula. They will be deeper on the flats, and they will continue to move deeper as the water cools. Use red worms for some very hot shellcracker action. Crappie will hold over drop-offs, and if an angler can find brush piles or other cover near the drop-off some very hot crappie fishing can happen. Of course, catfish are always good at Eufaula, and anglers can use jugs or rod and reel to find great catfish action.

LAKE GUNTERSVILLE Captain Jake Davis of Mid-South Bass Guide Service has fished massive Lake Guntersville for many years, and he said that on Guntersville in the late fall, what the weather is doing makes all the difference for anglers ”During the first part of the month, we’ll still be working on the frog bite, especially in the middle of the day. The bite will be better at that time rather than early or late. We’ll use jerk baits and swim baits as the big grass mats die down. Anglers will need to slow down their presentations regardless of what kind of lure is being used,” Davis said. Finding the schools of shad is crucial in November at Guntersville in November. The bass will be following the shad at this time. The crappie will be following schools of smaller shad, and the middle to lower parts of the lake will be best for finding crappie.

Important Contact Information Captain Brian Barton Brianbartonoutdoors.com 256-412-0969 Captain Jake Davis Mid-South Bass Guide Service www.midsouthbassguide.com 615-613-2382 Joe Dunn Dunn’s Sports 334-636-0850 33358 Highway 43 Thomasville, AL Rob Baker Wilderness Way Kayak Shop 850-877-7200 3152 Shadeville Road Crawfordville, Florida 32327 Captain Lee Pitts Leepittsoutdoors.com 256-390-4145 Captain Sam Williams Hawks Fishing Guide Service hawksfishingguideservice.com 334-355-5057 Whippoorwill Lodge Jeff DuBree 850-875-2605 fishtalquin@gmail.com Randy Jackson Riverside Fly Shop 17027 Hwy 69 N Jasper, Al 256-287-9582 riversideflyshop.com Captain Wayne Miller Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service 251-455-7404 millewa12000@yahoo.com 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 83


MOON & FEED TIMES

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FLORIDA TIDE CHARTS

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MISSISSIPPI TIDE CHARTS

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Tanner Martiniere with a beautiful redfish taken on his kayak

Luke Sims showing off his jack crevalle

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©2018 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Carefully read the operator’s guide and safety instructions. Observe applicable laws and regulations. Always wear appropriate protective clothing, including a personal flotation device and wetsuit bottoms. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. See your authorized BRP dealer for details.

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Dominick Brisolara with his AL river blue cat

Jay Coker caught this while kayak fishing with Hunter Manning on Lay lake side up in the creeks under the Logan Martin Dam

Jared Williams Northport, AL fishing in the Gulf of Mexico holding a man sized yellowfin tuna. 877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 89


KID'S CORNER

TROPHY ROOM

Camden Cook hunting at Creekfield Plantations in Marengo County

Gracie Coleman and her whitetail buck

Nicole and Rachel Moore with a beautiful gobbler

Madison McKinney getting friendly with a snapper


Noah Bryars with his hands full of big larmouths

Drew McKinney with a respectable snowy grouper

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ST

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Makala McKinney with a tasty mixed bag.

Ethan C. Rowland, 14- 215 yards dropped him-first racked buck

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Submitting a photo does not guarantee that it will be published. We cannot give any guarantees on when a photo will be published. Please include: child's full name, age, mailing address, and any details. We need to know when, where, size (weight, points, etc.), shot or caught with what and any other meaningful information, like first time, etc.. CONTRIBUTIONS WITHOUT THIS INFO WON’T BE PUBLISHED.


Advertiser Index A-Team Fishing Adventures . . . . . . . . 3 ADCNR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Alabama Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Alabama AG Credit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Alabama Farmers CO-OP . . . . . . . . . 63 Alabama Liquid Fertilizer . . . . . . . . . 73 Bay County Amory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Bay Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Bluewater Yacht Sales . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Boaters List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Brush Clearing Services . . . . . . . . . 35 Buck’s Island Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Camper City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 CCA Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Clutch Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Coast Safe & Lock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Deep South Crane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Dixie Building Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Farm Credit of NW Florida . . . . . . . . 24

Fiber Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 First South Farm Credit . . . . . . . . . . 56 Fishbites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Fishing Chaos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Geico . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Hilton’s Offshore Charts . . . . . . . . . . 34 Hunting Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Hydraulic Crane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Killer Dock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 MDH Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Midway Lumber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 National Land Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Paradise Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Pensacola Motor Sports . . . . . . . . 88-89 Photonis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Ranch King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Sams Bait & Tackle . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Slick Lure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Southeastern Pond Management . . . . 7 Southern Seed & Feed . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Sunsouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Test Calibration Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

2021 STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP: 1. Publication Title: Great Days Outdoors. 2. Publication Number: 017-228. 3. Filing Date: 10/1/21 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly. 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $34.00. 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General business offices of Publisher: PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor. Publisher: Joseph Baya, PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. Editor: Joseph Baya, PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459, Managing Editor: Bill Kendy, PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459 10. Owner: Joseph Baya, PO Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages, or Other Securities: None. 12. Has not changed during the preceding 12 months. 13. Publication Title: Great Days Outdoors. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: October 2021. 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: (Figures are average no. Copies each issue during preceding 12 month/actual number of Copies of single issue published nearest to filing date). 15a. Total Number of Copies 2359/2660.

15b1.) Paid/ Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions: 752/926. 15b2.) Paid In-County Subscriptions: 559/689. 15b 3.) Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales: 222/221. 15b4.) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 0/0. 15c). Total Paid and/or requested Circulation: 1534/1836. 15d.). Free Distribution by Mail (Samples, complimentary, and other free): 15d 1.) Outside County 39/40. 15d 2.) In-County: 0/0. 15d 3.) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 0/0. 15d 4.) Free Distribution Outside the Mail (Carriers or other means): 120/120. 15e.) Total Free Distribution 159/160. 15f). Total Distribution 1693-1996. 15g.) Copies Not Distributed: 664/471. 15h.) Total: 2359/2660. 15i.) Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 90.6%/92%. 16.) Electronic Copy Circulation 16a.) Paid Electronic Copies 0/0 16b.) Total Paid and Print Copies 1534/1836. 16c.) Total Print Distribution plus Paid Electronic 1693/1996. 16d.) Percentage Paid (Total Print Distribution plus Paid Electronic) 90.6%/92.0%. 17) Publication of Statement of Ownership will appear in the November 2021 Issue of this publication. 18.) I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete: Joseph Baya, Publisher.

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FISHING TIP

Pickwick Lake Fall Smallmouth BY WILLIAM KENDY

Pickwick lake is a 43,000-acre fish factory all year round. Crappies, largemouth bass, stripers, bream, blue, channel and flathead catfish along with other species provide top-notch fishing action.

Bonanza

Still, Pickwick really shines when it comes to late fall smallmouth bass fishing. The experts agree that the tailrace below Wilson Dam down to the end of Seven Mile Island, with the first two miles considered the most productive, yields big smallmouths. Their food of choice is threadfin shad and they position themselves up inside the current edges and take advantage of current breaks to stuff themselves. He fishes live bait on a No. 1 or 2 live bait hook with a No. 4 or 5 split shot 6 to 12 inches above the hook. “Fish live bait,” Allen explained, “by casting it upstream and letting One way to rig is with live bait hooked on a #1 or #2 live bait hook with a #4 or #5 split shot, 6 to 12 inches above the hook. It then is casted upstream and your drifting boat pulls the bait down. Captain Brad Whitehead is an expert when it comes to smallmouth bass fishing on Pickwick and he emphasizes that success is predicated on knowing how to read the current as it relates to contour and presentation. “One of the keys to success is to familiarize yourself with gravel bars and other areas which allow the fish to hang out away from the current. I like to anchor the boat so as to be able to ‘feed’ the minnows to these smallmouths and the current pushes these minnows down the river. Basically, what we have to do is go up on our weight size,” Whitehead said. Whitehead uses a #2 Eagle Claw bait hook and he prefers “earless” #3, #4 and #5 split shot which is changed depending on the current strength.

He also uses a Carolina rig and he threads a 1/4-1/2-ounce barrel or egg sinker on the main line, followed by a glass bead (that produces a ticking sound) and tied to a barrel swivel. Then he attaches a 16–18-inch leader to the swivel to seal the deal. “A Carolina rig basically lets you feed that minnow down the current to the strike zone, which is rock rows, rock piles, gravel bars that come out

40-50 yards from the bank and then turn downriver and that makes the ultimate smallmouth set-up,” Whitehead said.

Important Contact Information Brad Whitehead 256-483-0834 Bradwhiteheadfishing@yahool.com

877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 93


A GREAT DAY OUTDOORS

Hunting Trucks strategically placed bumper stickers, decals, and bungee cords. It’s hard to tell whether I’m making a statement or using them as band-aids. My headlights are cross-eyed. One shines so far to the right it lights up the woods and fields. That’s ok by me, however, since I see a lot of game that way. BY JIM MIZE Hunters become attached to their trucks, like old hunting coats or trusty hounds. As a result, they keep them around, adding a new part here, a dab of paint there. Then one day, they wake up and look into the driveway wondering if the garbage man unloaded instead of picked up, only to realize it’s their truck. To explain what I’m talking about, let me tell you a little about my hunting truck. I have had hitchhikers decline the offer of a ride for safety reasons. When cops pull me over, they know from one look that I couldn’t have been speeding. Sometimes they hand me back something that fell off my truck and write me a warning ticket for littering. When business gets slow, mechanics and used-car salesmen stalk me. Salvage companies stop in my driveway wanting to know if I was the one who called. Once I asked one what he’d give me for my truck. He studied it for a moment and then replied, “Hard to say without weighing it.” So what’s my truck look like? This is a truck that defies description. Some days, it defies running. My truck looks like something you’d see at a monster truck rally . . . out in the middle getting run over by a bigger one. It might be a good vehicle for a demolition derby if I didn’t get disqualified for starting so close to the finish line. My truck has a lot of interesting characteristics though. For starters, the clutch chatters in first gear. I’m not talking about a little. My clutch chatters so much you would think it’s carrying on a conversation. The color is green, but I’m not sure if it’s paint or mildew. Over the years, I’ve

My truck looks like something you’d see at a monster truck rally . . . out in the middle getting run over by a bigger one. The truck has a muffler, though you’d probably wonder what’s being muffled. Maybe it’s time to replace the coat hanger. Inside, the truck is only slightly better. The driver’s side of the bench seat sports a permanent depression. It’s paid for itself over the years, however, because all my loose change slides to the middle. Besides keeping it running, a truck like this comes with a few challenges. Take insurance. How do you decide on an insurance policy when the deductible exceeds the value of the truck? You could total it and never get a dime. I used to get a lot of junk mail from insurance companies. One company called and asked if I wanted to buy a piece of the rock. I told them from the looks of my fenders, I’d already bought it more than once. Eventually, I did respond to one advertisement that promised great savings. When I mailed my application with a picture asking for a quote, the junk mail screeched to a halt. Apparently, the word spread like crabgrass. It was like the AFLAC duck took one look and flew south. At this point, you are likely wondering why I keep such a vehicle. The truth is, I like it. There’s something liberating about a truck this beat up. For instance, when I go over speed bumps, I go for height and distance. Try that in a family car.

94 NOVEMBER 2021 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // 877.314.1237

And how do you hurt a truck like this? Sink it? Also, the color is perfect for hunting. What could be better camouflage than rust on a green truck? Believe it or not, the truck is comfortable in its own way. My hearing isn’t what it used to be, so the noise doesn’t bother me. The truck seat has shaped itself to match mine. And with my heater being what it is, once I dress for the hunt that’s about the same weather I can expect inside the truck. Another thing I like about my truck is that when I ask for directions, no smart-aleck says, “You can’t get there from here.” That’s because from the looks of my truck, I can’t get there from anywhere. But how would I even trade a truck like this? I guess I could pull into a used-car dealership and ask for some vehicle that would fit these tires. Besides, after driving my truck all these years, I’d be uncomfortable in a new one. Every scratch and dent for a while would feel like giving blood. I’m not even sure I could legally sell my truck now. With all the junkyard parts I’ve added over the years, I’m not certain the title is still valid. What model is it now? My truck only bears slight resemblance to the model I started with. Perhaps what it boils down to is that a truck like this becomes a reflection of its owner. You can tell a lot about me from my truck, but mostly you’ll realize I’m an optimist. I mean, who else would buy a set of tires rated for 80,000 miles to go on a truck that couldn’t make it that far if it was towed? JIM MIZE used to wonder why he was never asked to drive on hunting trips. You can find his awardwinning books of humor at www. acreektricklesthroughit.com.


IMPORTING UNPROCESSED DEER COULD SPREAD CWD IN ALABAMA LEARN MORE AT OUTDOORALABAMA.COM/CWD

GAME CHECK IS MANDATORY FOR EVERY DEER HUNTER All hunters are required to report their deer harvest using Game Check, which will help the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources effectively manage wildlife for generations.

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877.314.1237 // GreatDaysOutdoors.com // NOVEMBER 2021 95


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