• November 2012 - Volume 15, Number 4


    Many hunters look down on squirrel hunting, but hunting the lowly tree rat requires a lot of woodsmanship. Here are some tips for success.

    In the distance a limb shakes. The source of the movement is yet to be seen, but it has to be a squirrel. A flash of movement, and another limb shakes in the next tree. A crow calls in the distance; the hunter takes a few steps and freezes. The end of yet another pin oak limb shakes, indicating multiple targets in the same tree. The hunter needs another 10 yards — 33 feet that must be crossed in complete stealth. One step at a time, he eases toward the nearest tree to break up his silhouette. Blue jays are working the top of a nearby nutall oak, and the hunter can hear the cuttings of the squirrels falling to the forest floor, sounding like huge rain drops. Suddenly the woods go quiet. The hunter freezes; he needs 10 more feet, but the squirrels have stopped feeding but are not moving. They are looking for the presence of danger.

    November air temperatures can be warm one day and cold the next, but what’s most important to catfishing is how cold the water is.

    The surface was still on Ross Barnett Reservoir. I wondered how the view of the boat’s wake appeared to the passengers of an airliner as it banked for the final approach into Jackson-Evers International.

    The plane was still descending when James Cushman throttled back and made a sharp right turn out of the main channel into an open area where orange jugs dotted the water.

    One of the jugs was bobbing up and down at a steady rate, indicating a good catfish had taken the bait and was still quite lively.

    Cooler waters prevail as we pick 10 places you need to be crappie fishing this winter on Lake Pickwick.

    Located at the most-northern reach of the Tom-Bigbee Waterway, Pickwick Lake is synonymous with crappie fishing to many anglers in the tri-state areas of Northeast Mississippi, Northwest Alabama, and Southern Tennessee.

    Pickwick’s clear waters are in stark contrast to most of Mississippi’s other notable crappie lakes, but its reputation as a slab crappie fishery is well earned.

    As cooler weather settles in for the season, two things occur that help crappie anglers hone in on their favorite game fish. With flood control as one of the lake’s primary objectives, the Tennessee Valley Authority begins drawing the impoundment down to winter pool. In reaction to both the receding and cooling water, crappie tend to congregate along the main channels of Pickwick’s major tributaries.

    By the time waterfowl reach Mississippi, they have been well educated by the herds of hunters farther up the flyway. Here are some tricks to help fool these wary birds.

    As hunters huddled in the frosty blind below, a flock of gadwalls rocketed high over the reclaimed catfish pond and circled, deciding whether to land or not.

    Surely, the 150 mallard decoys spread over every square inch of the pond since late October would attract these birds.

    The ducks circled high again, scrutinizing the decoy spread before kicking in afterburners without committing to land. Seeing something they didn’t like, they flew over the old fallow field and eventually settled into a soggy pothole in the corner of an adjacent field.

    Disgruntled hunters cursed their luck and asked each other, “What happened? Why didn’t they lock up to land?”
    Too often, similar scenarios play repeatedly during duck season. After running a gauntlet of gunfire for four months from Canada to the Gulf Coast, migrating waterfowl learn to recognize every tantalizing decoy spread imaginable. Wily old mallards, pintails, gadwall and wigeons don’t grow old by acting stupid.

    When fall weather begins blowing through the Magnolia State, don’t head to the woods. Turn to the Gulf Coast for world-class fishing.

    Why do anglers always look at me cross-eyed when I mention saltwater fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast in November or even later in year? What, they think this would be like ice fishing in Minnesota or something?

    Sure, that Gulf wind might be a little stiff against the face, but once the fishing action heats up, everything will be forgotten about the fall weather.

    Actually, as we have come to realize as deer hunters, the weather this month can actually be quite moderate. Some days it can be downright warm, so don’t ignore Gulf Coast fishing just because it’s the fall. Just dress accordingly, gear up appropriately and get into some of the very best redfish, speckled trout and floundering there is to be had.

    Old River WMA straddles the Louisiana border, and shares big bucks from the famed Bogue Chitto NWR. Here’s how to put a tag on one of those trophies.

    Inaccessible river bottomland attracts more deer than it does deer hunters.

    And it’s really no wonder because the very thing that keeps the hunters away — flood-prone hardwoods and cypress swamps full of foreboding thickets — is the same thing that congregates deer as they look for places to escape any chance of human interaction.

    Old River Wildlife Management Area in Pearl River County just west of Poplarville and northwest of Picayune is actually closer to Bogalusa, La., than to either of these Mississippi towns.

    In fact, it’s directly across the Pearl River from the much more famous Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge on the Louisiana side.

    Andy Lloyd's massive buck killed last year on Morgan Brake NWR turned out to be the No. 2 typical deer taken in the state.