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Clayton: Making outdoor plans

By Luke Clayton
It's deer season and time to plan hunts. Thinking about harvesting a buck such as this has caused many deer hunters to lose sleep this time of year.
Luke Clayton

Some folks schedule hunting and fishing trips months in advance, which is a necessity for trips that require travel.

This coming summer, I’m planning to fish up in northwestern Saskatchewan, for giant northern pike and lake trout, assuming the border reopens. I will be fishing with friends at Tazin Lake Lodge which is a "fly in" destination with float plane being the only viable means of getting there.

I’m also planning a roe deer hunt in Poland next September with Al Lou, a biologist friend of mine that owns land in the Black Forest of Germany. This will be my first time to hunt this Old World species of deer. 

These destinations obviously require a good bit of planning. While it’s exciting to make plans for these distant outdoor destinations, I truly get just as much fun planning for hunting/fishing trips closer to home. With the general deer season now underway, I’m sure many of you have plans to put some venison in the freezer in upcoming weeks.

I always get fired up when deer season opens but so far this year, I’ve yet to take to the deer woods, but that’s soon to change. This coming week, I am planning to spend a couple days with my newfound friend Bryant Sheets hunting at Cedar Cove Ranch not far from Athens.

In a recent column, I highlighted the ranch and from the game camera pictures and the number of deer I witnessed on a scouting trip, I’m excited about the opportunity to hunt this free range ranch.

As I tell most folks where I hunt, I have shot lots of big-antlered deer in my life but today, when choosing a buck to shoot, I look first for age. A 5-year-old forkhorn with 24-inch main beams that is packing a lot of good venison is a likely candidate for me to settle my sights on.

Another spot I plan to hunt is Dale River Ranch situated on the Brazos River in Palo Pinto County. I have hunted this ranch for years with my buddy Randy Douglas who manages the place and last year, used my 45-caliber "Texan" big bore airgun to harvest a dandy buck. This ranch is home to a large populations of Rio Grande turkeys and hen turkeys are legal during the fall hunting season. While there, I will definitely be looking for a mature buck but I am hoping for a flock of turkeys to come through the area I will be hunting.

There is something special about serving smoked wild turkey for Thanksgiving. The trick to smoking a whole wild turkey is to make sure after the initial couple hours of smoking to either wrap the bird of place it in a roaster with a little liquid and slow cook for several hours. Just like venison, wild turkey meat is very dry and requires slow cooking with moisture.

My home base for hunting deer is my friend Jeff Rice’s Buck and Bass Ranch near Yantis on the upper end of Lake Fork. We have set up several Snap Lock Hunting Blinds on the place and Jeff has a multitude of tree stands from which to bow hunt. The ranch has a year-round creek near one of the property lines and beyond the creek is miles of very remote Sabine River Authority land. With 13 feeders throwing corn year-round, deer and wild hogs are pulled out of the dense bottomland. Bucks have been chasing does for the past couple weeks in this area of the state and I am looking forward to spending some time hunting with Jeff and hopefully adding a buck or doe to my winter’s stock of venison.

Albeit I didn’t devote a great deal of time to early season deer hunting, I will make up for it during late November and into early January. I am planning a hunt out southwest of San Angelo with my long-time friend Kenneth Tallent who hosts the TV show, "Double Lung Outdoors." Kenneth has shown me some trail camera photos of some fine bucks and fat does from his ranch. We’re making plans for Larry Weishuhn (aka, Mr. Whitetail) and Jeff Rice, to joins us here to film a segment or two of our weekly video, "A Sportsman’s Life."

I am also hoping to harvest a West Texas mule deer this fall hunting with my friend John Eason out near Iraan, Texas. John’s well-managed ranch hosts a good population of whitetail deer as well as desert mule deer. I’ll probably only have a couple days to hunt and plan to keep my options open.

It’s always fun to hunt mule deer here in our home state but if one of those mature management whitetails provides me the opportunity, I probably won’t hesitate. Back when I was guiding elk hunters, I always advised my clients not to pass up a bull on the first day of their hunt that they would shoot on their last day!

I’m sure many of you have already planned your fall/winter hunting schedule, but in the past couple weeks, I’ve had several emails from readers looking for a place to hunt. If I can help you find a spot to hunt, feel free to contact me. Who knows, we might just be able to schedule our hunts to coincide. In past years, I have enjoyed some great times in the outdoors with readers that became friends while on fishing or hunting outing.

Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via email at lukeclayton1950@gmail.com or visit his website www.catfishradio.org