• Columns

    Jody Sistrunk shows off a nice, mature mainframe 8-pointer  taken during the 2015-2016 season.

    Map out the deer rut

    It is finally here! Just like when we were kids, the wait for Christmas seemed like an eternity. So it is for me, and, I am certain, all other serious diehard deer hunters. College basketball has “March Madness” and here in the Deep South, we deer hunters have our own version; let’s call it “December Madness.” This is the silly season when bucks throw caution to the wind as they pursue estrus does. 

    Yesterday at 9:00am
    Healthy bass populations produce quality bass.

    Too much of a good thing

    The adoption of catch-and-release benefited black bass fisheries, but now many fisheries managers wish it would go away — or that at least a few anglers would harvest some bass. 

    December 11 at 9:00am
    Oysters in a brown gravy is an unusual dish that is more like a soup than a gravy.

    Oyster recipes perfect for the holidays

    From now through February and into March, oysters are in their prime  — fat and flavorful. 

    And Ronnie Sampey knows it. 

    December 08 at 6:00am
    The ZT Hyper Cams allow let-offs of 80- to 85-percent on Hoyt’s newest bows.

    Hoyt takes a big step

    Hoyt Archery’s 2018 flagship hunting bows are the most innovative to come from the Salt Lake City-based manufacturer in many years. Hoyt has redesigned their bows from the ground up, giving them a much-needed overhaul — and adding a lot of new technology.

    December 04 at 9:00am
    Bass anglers Derward Maudlin and Mike Damron won a tournament with 20.36 pounds this year, including a 5.96-pound lunker caught on a Delta Lures buzzbait.

    Delta Lures’ buzzbaits

    “Hey, can I borrow one of those?”

    Accomplished Helena, Ark. bass angler Derward Mauldin has heard that question many times before in his boat when he’s fishing with a Delta Lures buzzbait during tournament action in Arkansas, Mississippi or Louisiana. It’s perhaps the ultimate compliment, or endorsement if you will, for any artificial lure manufacturer who puts a product on the market.

    November 29 at 9:00am
    In this photo of the same mature buck, taken on Aug. 6, note the circumference of the bases and the overall general mass of the antlers, tell-tale signs of maturity.

    Try to educate your eyes

    In the world of Southeastern Conference football, they call the pregame education process “getting reps,” which over time builds experience and “muscle memory.” 

    November 22 at 9:00am
    A buzzbait is a very productive bait when bass are in the backs of creeks on visible cover.

    Pickwick Lake’s bass bonanza

    Catching 30 to 50 bass per day is what you can expect in November on Pickwick Lake, which corners Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee and should be one of the hottest lakes in all those states this month. One of the main reasons I’m choosing Pickwick is because the shad will be moving from deep to shallow water and will be schooling on the surface, and there’s a wide variety of ways to catch those bass. 

    November 15 at 9:00am
    This cross section from a shovelnose sturgeon spine has six annuli.

    Get a grip on fish growth rate

    Many anglers are interested in how many fish of a certain species live in a body of water. Estimating population size is difficult and, even with extensive effort estimates, is imprecise. Growth rate is much more informative from a fishery management perspective and can be measured very precisely.

    November 08 at 9:00am
    Mission Archer’s F.I.T. cam system offers 80 percent let-off and 55 pounds of draw-weight adjustment for owners of the Hype DTX bow.

    DTX lives up to the Hype

    Not many years ago, compound bows offered little in terms of adjustability. Most models featured only 10 pounds of draw-weight range, and at most, only 3 inches of draw-length adjustment. For many first-time archers, this meant starting out shooting a higher draw weight than they were comfortable with so they wouldn’t have to purchase new limbs for a higher poundage later.  Worse yet, parents of youngsters who were still growing often had to purchase several bows before their kids reached adulthood.  

    November 01 at 7:00am
    Despite its length, you can still connect on the hookset with the Mag 12.

    The Mag 12 Buzz Worm

    That two different professional anglers can fish a new 12-inch worm completely differently — with both catching solid numbers of quality bass — is a testament to the new Mag 12 Buzz Worm from Mister Twister. 

    October 30 at 9:00am
    This young buck would just qualify in Mississippi for harvest in the Delta deer zone with a 12-inch inside spread, but it would exceed the 10-inch minimum in the other four zones.

    It’s time to recalibrate

    Well, we survived another Deep South summer, although this one seemed to be more wet at times than hot. My hope is that, in spite of the heat and humidity, you have long since been visiting your hunting properties mowing, spraying, repairing and building stands, supplemental feeding, and working trail cameras. If not, you are late and already running behind, and it is time to get the lead out. 

    October 25 at 9:00am
    Anglers can catch spotted bass, along with largemouths and smallmouths, on different areas in Bay Springs.

    Bay Springs: five rods, two areas

    When I think of Mississippi lakes I like to fish in October, Bay Springs Lake comes to mind. A 9-mile-long reservoir on the Tenn-Tom Waterway northeast of Tupelo, Bay Springs has populations of all three species of black bass: largemouth, smallmouth and spotted. 

    October 18 at 9:00am
    Big crappie don’t have trouble finding shad to eat in the fall, because they can eat larger baitfish.

    Fall: A time of fishing changes

    Most of Mississippi has enjoyed a relatively cool summer, but its waters still got “summer hot.” With August and September gone, nights are cooler, days are shorter and the sun is far less intense. The water cools; that is predictable. What fish do is not so predictable, but if you can follow the changes they face and how they might respond, better days on the water could be the result.

    October 11 at 9:00am
    The crease in the palm of your hand — your life line — is where your bow grip should begin.

    Get a grip on bow torque

    In layman’s terms, torque is defined as a rotational force, or the twisting of an object. While there are some cases where more torque is desirable — such as the output of your vehicle’s engine — the handle of your bow is definitely NOT one of them. 

    October 04 at 9:00am
    This slab crappie also inhaled a Cajun Lures’ Slim Jimmy.

    Slim Jimmys

    Before there was a Cooyon Croaker, Kaplan-based Cajun Lures probably was best known for the little soft plastic that slayed sac-a-lait here, there and everywhere.

    September 27 at 9:00am
    An interesting photo of a buck that appears to have been sheared by a dog groomer.

    Practical strategies for success

    In the last couple of installments of “Happy Trails” we have been peeling the onion back a few layers on the finer points of supplemental feeding. During the preseason period from late spring to early fall, consistent and properly done supplemental feeding accomplishes multiple things for your deer herd and potentially you as a deer hunter. First and foremost, the right type of supplemental feed during the right time period ensures that your resident bucks growing antlers have enough building blocks, and that does stay healthy as they provide milk for their summer offspring.

    September 20 at 9:00am