By Luke Clayton
With the close of deer season, many sportsmen and women are going through their annual post deer season doldrums. But, cheer up, there is a great deal to do in the outdoors right now rather than mull through old outdoor magazines and watch hunting and fishing shows on TV! Here’s some activities that I promise will get you back outside and having fun!
WHITE BASS RUN – The white bass run is going strong on the Sabine River right now. My friend Seth Vanover guides river trips along the stretch of river below Longview and says the big egg laden females have moved up from Toledo Bend. The run actually began about 3 weeks ago when the smaller male white bass moved upstream to spawn, but now the big gals have moved in. Seth says good numbers of solid two pounders have been common the past few days. About this time last year, I joined Seth on one of these river trips and have been eagerly anticipating this years “run.” One of the hotspots we fished was a water fall of sorts where the river bottom dropped vertically a couple of feet, creating a barrier that spawning white bass could not get over. We enjoyed strikes on almost every cast in this area and Seth says the current river level has created this scenario again this year. It should be good!
I’m making plans to pack a small cooler with a cast iron skillet, small propane burner and all the necessities for a shore lunch of golden brown fried white bass fillets. There are many secluded sand bars on this stretch of river and it doesn’t take very long to turn a few of those white bass landed from the Sabine’s cold water into lunch. No need to worry with French fries, a big platter of fried fish, white light bread and some pork and beans will suffice! Oh yes, and some sliced onions. The only real problem with my plan is the fact that fried fish always makes me a bit sleepy, especially when I eat them for lunch. Seth has already granted our group 45 minutes away from the catching for an after lunch nap on a sunny sand bar! For more information on these river trips, contact Seth Vanover at 903-736-4557 or online at www.lakeforkcatandcrappie.com.
MAKE SOME SAUSAGE – I think many people are intimidated by the thought of making sausage at home. I’ve been doing it so long that is has become second nature to me but the process really can be simple and easy. I usually debone the meat from venison and wild hog shoulders and neck for sausage meat and place it in vacuum freezer bags. This saves a lot of freezer space. Then, when I get ready to make sausage, the meat is already trimmed and cubed, ready for the grinder. I use a vintage old heavy-duty grinder to grind the meat and I don’t worry about exact proportions of venison to pork. It is important though to have some fat in the mix. If the wild hogs I’ve harvested are not fat enough, I go to one of the big Hispanic markets and purchase some of the fatter cuts of domestic meat. Once you have ground meat, all you need is seasonings. I use a German Salami blend from Frisco Spices www.friscospices.com. For a nominal fee, you can purchase a bag of seasonings and cure mixed to season 25 pounds of sausage. In a large bowl mix the seasonings and cure with water and pour on the seasoned meat and mix thoroughly with your hands. Heavy-duty cleaning gloves are very helpful with this process. Getting the sausage into the casings can be done via a funnel on your grinder or a sausage stuffer. With the cure in the meat, it’s possible to cold smoke at low temperatures but I’ve learned to crank the heat up to 225 degrees on my Smokin’ Tex electric smoker and, using an internal probe type digital thermometer, allow the sausage to smoke until an internal temperature of 170 degrees is reached. It’s important to remove the sausage from heat as soon as it reaches this temperature, otherwise you will begin cooking the meat and it will become chunky and hard, rather than the consistency of good smoked sausage.
HOG HUNTING SEASON – Actually, there is no hog hunting season in Texas. But if there were, it would be right now when deer hunters have vacated the woods and hogs are hitting corn feeders hard. I recently did an interesting interview for next week’s radio show with Eric Dixon with Dixon Hunting, down in Georgia. Eric teaches agriculture at the high school level and is also an avid hog hunter. He obviously has learned a great deal about hogs, domestic and feral. I found the interview interesting and very informative. Eric has created a paste with the scent of dominant boars that can be smeared on a tree where one is hunting or on a board inside a hog trap. He and many other hunters have found this scent to be very effective in attracting not only boars but sows as well. “When a resident boar smells this new hog scent, he has to come in to test the scent; he wants to locate this new intruder on his turf. Likewise, sows in season are attracted to the scent. It gives the entire sounder (herd of hogs) a feeling of confidence. I’m sure that the smell of a dominant boar hog in the area assures them that all is well,” said Dixon.
Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or online anytime at www.catfishradio.com.