Sports
Old Man Winter's last visit
By Luke Clayton
Apr 9, 2018
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This most recent blast of Arctic air proved more than this old hunter could resist. I hunt hogs throughout the year and live within a short ďbuggy rideĒ of what can be some very good hunting at times. I keep a couple of feeders going throughout the year with trail cameras and when the sign looks good, I hop on my electric ďbuggyĒ which is actually a converted golf cart, make a 12-minute drive down the road and Iím hunting!

Last weekend, I told my wife that this was likely to be the last really cold temperatures until late this coming fall; I needed to go hunting! Dressed in my camouflage coveralls and armed with my little .223 topped with a Photon RT digital night scope, I was on a quest for more sausage material!

The porkers had been hitting one feeder I have back in the woods between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on a nightly basis. At precisely 8:45, I heard a sounder heading through the woods in my direction. There are many smaller pigs this time of the year and one sounder in the area is comprised of about 35 hogs and pigs of all sizes.

My goal was to shoot a good eating BBQ pig. I am currently using a Pulsar Helion thermal monocular which really makes night hunting fun. Well before the hogs came out of the brush, I could see them through the thermal monocular. First came about 20 pigs ranging from 5 to 60 pounds. These younger hogs ran straight into the corn on the ground and began eating. I could hear the sows grunting back in the woods. They were a bit smarter than their offspring and always hang back to make sure all is safe. I donít think they intentionally send the pigs in first, once the younger hogs get the taste of corn, they lose most of their fear and often gallop right in and begin eating, and after all they are HOGS!

I was on the ground in a makeshift blind about 40 yards from the feeding activity and the night was black. I stood up and with the thermal monocular, studied the pigs carefully. I also watched the bigger hogs edge closer through the heavy brush. Itís kind of neat to be so close to that many hogs and night and be able to see them so well without them knowing a human is anywhere around. I picked out what I consider to be the perfect BBQ pig and set back down and made the easy shot. With the meat now in the freezer, Iím making plans to rub the backstraps with sugar cure and make smoked ham, the remainder of the meat Iíll turn into pulled pork.

This pork will keep me stocked for the time being but Iíll soon feel the need to ďcollectĒ another porker to transform into summer sausage. My stock is getting a bit low in the freezer and there are many fishing trips coming up where the jalapeno and cheese sausage and crackers will be well received!

With last weekend's cold front, Luke just had to get out and harvest one more wild pig and it appears heís putting the meat to good use here! photo by Luke Clayton

TURKEY HUNT AHEAD- About the time you are reading this, Iíll be up in Knox County hunting turkeys with my friends at Ranger Creek Ranch www.rangercreekranch.com. For many years, Iíve hunted the rugged Cedar Breaks during the spring turkey season, itís become a tradition and with each trip, I reflect upon many fun outings Iíve enjoyed here in the past.  Of course, the Rio Grande species of turkey is most prevalent here in Texas. There are huntable numbers of Eastern turkeys and a special season to hunt them in counties along the Red River in the northeastern portion of the state. To date, Iíve killed only one Eastern turkey in Texas but Iím making plans in early May to hunt with my friends at the Choctaw Hunting Lodge www.choctawhuntingloadge.com in southeastern Oklahoma. The hunting area consists of 44,000 acres of Choctaw tribal lands that are intensively managed for wildlife and fishing. While visiting with manager Travis Benes, I learned that the Eastern turkey is the only species in the area which was music to my ears. Iíve hunted turkey enough to know how challenging the birds can be to hunt and I never take success as a given. But, with the high numbers of Eastern birds in the region, I should have a good chance of bagging one. Iíve long ago stopped measuring success when hunting by the amount of game harvested; itís the time spent outdoor with friends that really matters.

Iím planning on doing more hunting up in Oklahoma this fall season at the Choctaw Lodge and Iím anxious to look the habitat over. Benes tells me he and his team have done a great deal of work with the habitat there and thanks to a good management plan, the whitetail deer herd is in excellent shape with some heavy antlered bucks. For more information on the hunting here, visit the website or give Benes a call at 580-740-0040.

YANTIS CATFISH CLASS is scheduled for May 5-6 and will headquarter at the Minnow Bucket Marina at Lake Fork. For more information, contact the Minnow Bucket or one of many businesses around Lake Fork or, contact Jerry Miller, the mayor of Yantis directly at 903-850-9500.

Listen to ďOutdoors with Luke Clayton and FriendsĒ on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends on anytime online at www.catfishradio.org.