Luke Clayton: Time to prepare for hunting seasons
Outdoors columnist says August heat a harbinger of action to come in the woods
August is the month when hunters across the state begin preparing in earnest for the upcoming hunting seasons. The big outdoor shows are scheduled this month and hunters are busy doing everything from maintaining and filling their game feeders to locking in on places and dates for their fall hunts. There is no better time to head to the range or skeet field to sharpen up one’s shooting skills. Many Texas hunters wait until the week before the opening of deer season to make sure their rifle scopes are in proper adjustment. Why not go now before the fall rush? Besides, even though the scope on Ole Betsy might be in proper adjustment, it’s always good to do a bit of practicing in preparation for opening day.
Hogs are plentiful across the majority of the state and a summer hog hunt is a good way to put fresh pork chops in the freezer and get “out there” in the woods. Hunt early and late; that’s when the majority of game movement will be. Make sure and pack along your Thermocell to ward off mosquitoes and a bottle or two of water in your daypack to insure you remain hydrated; don’t forget an extra cooler with ice to chill that tasty pork you hope to harvest.
Dove season opens in less than a month and many of us have not dropped the firing pin on a shotgun shell since the close of waterfowl season, well maybe we did fire a couple shots at standing turkeys during spring turkey season but that doesn’t suffice as sufficient practice when getting ready to hit a crossing shot at a fast-flying dove.
Each year before the opening of dove season, I shoot a couple boxes of 7 ½’s at clay targets and am usually shocked at just how much my shotgunning skills have declined. Even so called “natural” shotgunners need to practice in order to maintain their skills.
A great deal occurs in a very short time when swinging on a fast-moving dove. The drill is to shoot so that the shot pattern arrives at the spot the dove is heading rather than where it is when the trigger if pulled. But, in order to do that, the brain must somehow calculate several crucial factors such as speed of bird and shot, angle of travel, lag time between trigger pull and the shot, etc. etc. When you stop and think about it, it’s a wonder we ever hit a fast-flying dove at all!
For hunters like myself that hunt with several type sporting arms, it’s an especially busy and enjoyable time of year. Each fall, I spend time hunting with my bow, big bore airguns, centerfire rifle and muzzleloader, It’s important to me to stay proficient with each. This year I’ll add handgun hunting to the list. My longtime friend Larry Weishuhn aka. “Mr. Whitetail” is possibly the best known handgun hunter in the country. When thinking of Larry, the image of a big fellow with a cowboy hat, red bandana and handgun comes to mind. I have the opportunity to spend a good bit of time with Larry throughout the year while filming our weekly outdoor show, “A Sportsman’s Life” and although he often hunts with rifle, I know his true love is handgun hunting.
Hunting with a handgun somewhat bridges the gap between rifle and bow hunting, at least that’s the way I look at it. It’s requires getting closer to game than when hunting with modern centerfire calibers. I did a little handgun hunting years ago, thanks to Larry and a TV show he was doing at the time that sparked my interest. I acquired a handgun chambered in 7-30 Waters and harvest a wild hog that I shot on the edge of a stock pond that was home to three big alligators. The little boar dropped on the spot but wound up in the water. I’ll save this tale for later; relating it here would take up the remainder of this week’s column!
Larry recently loaned me one of his Taurus Raging Hunter handguns chambered in .357 magnum and I now have another “sporting arm” to become familiar with. I have plenty of time to practice with my new hunting tool and plan to spend time at the range shooting at 50 yards. I join Larry and our friend Jeff Rice in a couple weeks on Jeff’s ranch and plan to take my second wild hog with a handgun. There are no gators on Jeff’s place although I will be hunting adjacent a creek that feeds Lake Fork. Who knows, the sight of me hunting with a handgun might just prompt another gator ashore!
Now’s prime time to insure those game feeders are in proper working order. For many years, I have used Ultramatic Game Feeders. They aren’t the cheapest feeders on the market but in my opinion they are the bests. I recently ordered a new Ultramatic for a feeder at my friend Jeff’s place. Jeff took the time to completely seal a 55 gallon drum with Flex Seal before mounting the new feeder that comes complete with solar panel to insure the battery remains charged. You’ve seen the Flex Seal commercials on TV I bet. Well, Jeff sprayed the inside and outside of the barrel and allowed it completely dry in the sun for a week before mounting the feeder motor assembly and filling it with corn. Moisture is the enemy of all feeders that this one should be trouble free for many years. To a hunter, nothing is more frustrating than heading to one’s deer lease and find the feeder is clogged up with soured corn because of a leak in the barrel.
There’s still plenty of time to fix the leaks on the old deer cabin or hone shooting skills.
Yep, it’s August in Texas and it’s HOT but it’s also the month that gets our hunting blood pumping. Cool weather and hunting seasons will be here before we know it. Now is the time to make preparations!
Contact Outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org .