Monday, September 22, 2014

Game Cameras Give Preview of Season to Come


Our small place in Lampasas is surrounded by tracts 200 acres or less with some as small as 28 acres.  I understand that people want to get a small place in the country and get out and hunt.  What I don't understand is putting four or five hunters on a small tract and killing all the bucks that come through. On one small tract you can hear four feeders go off within minutes of each other.  If not for the Texas antler rules in place we would not have any bucks at all in this area other that what comes off of the big places to chase does.  My family has not killed a buck in years yet every buck over 8 points that we watched on our cameras last year was killed by the end of the season, several of which I don't think even made the minimum width. One place that is under 30 acres took four bucks and another under 100 acres took five bucks that we know of.  The deer population can not produce any trophy bucks and may not even survive with this kind of hunting pressure.  It is sad when people can only manage wildlife because of the laws. 

Now that I've spoken about that I will climb down off my soap box and show you a few of the pictures from our cameras.  All of the bucks we have seen should be left to grow as none are mature but I bet that few to none survive the season around here.  It is addictive to watch the wildlife coming to the feeder and I can't wait to see what else shows up each week.  I have a friend that I gave a camera and he is also getting hooked on seeing what comes to his feeders.  Get one and put it out, I bet you will enjoy it also.  Wild Ed








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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lake Buchanan Striper Fishing

Jason's granddaughter and the days catch
 
 
Now that I am supposed to be retired I hope to get my boat in
 shape and get out on the area lakes to chase fish.  It has been
 many years since I used to fish Lake Buchanan so I have been
hanging out over at the Austin Bass Fishing Forum to catch up
on the latest techniques.  One of the members of the forum
has agreed to be my guest author this week with a how to for
those of you that would like to chase stripers and hybrids on
your favorite lake.  Jason has put together an article that will
teach you how to be successful on your next outing.  Hope you
enjoy it, I sure did. Wild Ed

 
 STRIPER FISHING
  
Lake Buchanan is one of the best lakes in Central Texas to
catch stripers and hybrid stripers.  Stripers are a salt water fish
that can live and grow in fresh water but they will not
reproduce, they are all stocked in the lake by the Texas Parks
and Wildlife.  Hybrids are a cross breed of a striper and a
white bass.  These fish will also not reproduce and they are
stocked in the lake by TPW and the professional guides that
fish and make their living on Lake Buchanan.  Hybrids will
not get near as big as the stripers but are just as enjoyable to
catch!  There are not many Texas fresh water fish that will put
up a fight like a striper; we are talking about pole bending
drag squealing kind of fight! 

So let’s talk about how to catch these fighting giants:

(Lake Buchanan record striper 41” over 27 lbs)

Stripers and hybrids will bite on just about anything if your timing
is right, but their food of choice is shad!  Early morning you might
see schools of fish chasing shad to the surface splashing around, at
this point they will bite almost anything you throw into the feeding
frenzy – white,  or shiny works best – try not to let your lure sink
too deep (and don’t be afraid to throw live bait into the middle
either).

The easiest way to catch fish would be to hire a guide and let him
use his knowledge to put you on the fish.  Expect to pay about $450
with tip for a 4hr 4 person fishing trip which includes the cleaning
of your fish.  You will usually meet your guide at 7 am, but you can
also schedule afternoon trips.   That being said there are no
guarantees that you will catch your limit (5 per person, and they
must be above 18 inches long)  – and if you limit out in 45 minutes,
you will be done fishing and heading back to the dock by 8:30

Hiring a guide not your thing? Want to try it yourself? 

We will start with the best but not the easiest method first.  It
begins with waking up about the time the bars are closing (2:15 am
for me) heading to the store to buy ice and red bull energy drinks
to stay awake.  Driving for 2 hours with my eyes constantly

scanning for the road side deer whose only intention is to ruin my

fishing trip!  I usually arrive where I launch my boat about 5 am

After a short boat ride we drop a green light in the water.  A bait

tank is a must to keep your shad health and lively.  Your tank must

provide circulation, aeration, and filtration and being insulated is a

bonus. 
 
An Internet search will provide you information how to make one
for under $75 that will work but not well in hot weather.  Bait
Jacuzzi makes a nice 18 gallon tank for under $250 shipped that
works very well!  Bait tanks like the professional guides use will
run you about $600 and up but the weekender can get by with a
much less expensive tank.  Fill your tank with water and add 1 cup
of salt per 10 gallons of water, maybe some ice if the water is
above 75 degrees, now you’re ready!  Grab your cast net and start
throwing.   Sometimes you can catch the right bait easily in 10 to
15 throws, other times you will throw the net until you think your
arm might fall off!  Just know it is worth it!  I will usually keep and
assortment of different size shad as sometimes they like the big
5-6” shad and other times the much smaller ones, better to have
and not need, than need and not have!  Don’t put your shad directly

into your bait tank if at all possible, let them swim in a bucket
first and then use a dip net to transfer them to the tank.  Once they
are caught they will urinate and defecate and you want to let that
happen before you move them to your clean water   (I have 2 bait
tanks that I use, one built into my boat and the other an 18 gallon
Bait Jacuzzi, in hind sight I wish I had bought the 26 gallon Bait
Jacuzzi tank)

       If waking up early and catching of shad is not your thing
 you can always buy jumbo minnows and perch which will catch
fish but not nearly as well as Shad.

     Now you have bait, it’s time to go fishing!  The equipment I
use is bait caster rod and reels with 20lb line, 3/4oz weight, swivel,
and #2 circle hooks (circle hooks can help the fish from becoming
gut hooked in case it is not a keeper)  At Lake Buchanan anywhere
from the dam to about 3 miles down the lake are good hunting
areas.  Your hunting will be much easier with electronics.  Sonar
and a chart plotter that you understand and know how to use will
make you much more successful!  Look for the fish on top of
underwater humps near the deeper river channel (right now 30-35
foot of water is where I am finding them).  Hook your shad
through the nostrils for best results, drop them to the bottom
and reel up 3 to 5 turns to start with, watch your sonar to get the
right depth where the fish are as they swim through.   Most of the
time the fish are much more active on cloudy days with decent
winds, yet I have caught plenty of fish on no wind, sunny,
extremely hot days!  If your bait dies put on a live one, check them
every 10 minutes or so – dead bait will work, but once again not a
well as lively shad

Lake Buchanan has a tremendous amount of blue cats that are only
about 10 inches long that love to kill and eat your shad.  It is very
easy to tell the differences between catfish and striper bites.  A
catfish will nibble and tug at your lines while a striper or hybrid
will bend your pole straight down to the water in one bite.  If
you’re getting nothing but catfish bites, it’s time to move, they will
kill all of your bait in a short amount of time!  Once you get that
striper to bite (and you are using circle hooks) don’t try to set the
hook, simply leave the rod in the rod holder and reel up about 5
times rapidly before you remove the pole form the holder.  (A
rapid pull using a circle hook will pull the hook right out of their
mouth!)  When you hook that first one be ready, they are schooling
fish and usually when there is one there are more!

Once you have your limit, keep them on ice until you’re ready to
clean them.  There a many ways to clean a fish and with stripers or
hybrid there is no wrong way,  unless you like fishy tasting fish you
need to remove the red meat that runs along the spine.  If you do
that you will end up with an amazing piece of fish that can be
grilled, blackened, or cooked any way you like.

Labor Day weekend 2014 was a great fishing weekend for me!

Saturday:

We got there at 5am – caught shad easily and were heading to catch
fish by 6:15.

Conditions – calm very little breeze, sunny, not a cloud in the sky

We arrived at one of my spots just as the sun came up.  Along with
the rising sun the top water action came alive.  I was throwing a pet
spoon that had about a 2’ leader attached to a casting float so I
could really toss it out there.  My friend was using an umbrella rig
to start with and then a large floating lure; he caught fish with both
types of lures.  We both caught 3-5 fish but only one keeper.  Once
the top water stopped, we then switched to live bait and proceeded
to catch lots of undersize fish mixed in with the keepers and my
 biggest striper to date a 28”  just shy of 7 pounds.  We left the lake
 about 12:30 one fish short of our limit as with no breeze it was
miserably hot.  Fish today liked large shad 5” or bigger.  We found
another boat and gave them all of our left over live shad as I
always do!
Jason's Big Fish
Sunday:

Arrived at the lake at 5 am, shad was not as easy to catch the size
 we were looking for, but by dawn we had more than enough.
 
Conditions – constant 8 mph wind and 95% cloud cover until 8:30
 
am  (perfect conditions)

We arrived at the same spot as Saturday a little after sun up – we
saw no top water action so we decided to use the shad. The 2nd fish
 I caught was a 26” Hybrid that weighed 7.22 lbs. (the record
hybrid for Lake Buchanan is 24.5”, by the way that is still the
record, because I filleted and grilled that bad boy knowing that it
was a record fish and not caring to go through all it takes to certify
a record fish on a holiday weekend)  By 8:30am we were one short
of our limit and the clouds were going away.  By 9 am the cooler
was full and we decided to do some sonar exploring which yielded
about 7 more keeper size fish that were returned to the lake
unharmed.  The fish today wanted small to medium shad.  Before
we left found another boat and gave them all of our left over live
shad!

I have been fishing Lake Buchanan for the last 2 years and I am
addicted to it!  I hope this will help some of y’all get hooked up on
some good fun……………and hey, take a child with you, show
them there are fun things to do outside away from a TV and an
 Xbox

 

And for safety – before heading out to Lake Buchanan check the
winds anything over 15 mph will make this lake dangerous for
small boats.  White caps happen at 10 mph and huge waves at 15
mph!

Stay safe and reel ‘em in

Jason Weisberg
 
Jason and some good Buchanan Stripers

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Texas Dove Season Right Around the Corner


I remember coming to Lampasas as a kid to go dove hunting at my grandfather's place just south of Nix.  There were three stock ponds on the place then and we would check them out to see which ones were drawing in the most dove and sit at that one for the afternoon hunt.  Back then the dove hunting was pretty good as there seemed to be more sunflowers and even a few fields of milo in the area to draw dove.  After feeding they would come in to the tanks to water and at times the shooting would get pretty heavy as we all tried to get our limits.  It took a lot more shells per bird for me in those days than it does now but it was just as much fun.

 Now that my wife I have moved onto the old place south of Nix the question this year is will we even have any dove in our area to hunt? There is only one stock pond with water left in it and if it does not rain there may not be any stock ponds to hunt over. There are very few grain or sunflower patches that have enough seed to draw in the birds. It almost always rains just before the opener or during the first week and scatters the birds. Let us hope it rains and maybe, just maybe it will draw some birds. If not, remember that the best part of dove hunting is the chance to get together with friends and share the outdoors even if the birds are fewer this year. Take a hand thrower and a few clays along and you and your friends can still shoot some flying targets if the birds don't cooperate.

I spent many years shooting competitive Sporting Clays and also as a National Sporting Clays Association Level II shooting instructor. In my instructional shooting seminars I have helped a lot of shooters to improve their shooting skills and hit more birds. In this article I want to give you some tips to make you a better wing shot and to help you have more fun in the field. Dove hunts in Texas are often a social event and a chance to be among friends. Even if most of us will not admit it the hunt is always more fun if you can out shoot your buddies. Here are a few tips to help you drop more dove with fewer shells fired.
 

1. Practice: Do not just go out and blast away, have someone that is a better shooter than you watch your style and help you along. A professional lesson or two are well worth the investment. If you have no one to help you, get a good video or book to help you along. Practice your mount in front of a mirror until you become smooth and fluid. Always remember speed is not fast, smooth is fast.  A few rounds of practice with clay birds can help you get on target a lot sooner this year.

 

2. Focus: Learn to focus on the eye of the bird or front of the target. Too many people focus on the whole target or on bird’s tail as they are easily seen. Have you ever shot at a bird and it leaves a trail of floating tail feathers and wonder why? It was because you focused on the whole bird and shot behind it just hitting the tail feathers.  Focus on the head or eye of the bird; I have had people call me when they see a dove blink for the first time. It will happen if you focus on the eyes or beak of the bird and you will be amazed as your bird count goes up.

 

3. Mount on the target or just in front: The number one thing I find I need to correct in shooters that attend my seminar is mounting the gun behind the target.  Many people practice the old style of pass through shooting where they come from behind the target and try to brush it out of the sky. No one with this method wins major competitions or becomes an above average bird shooter. Your shot string is approximately six foot long, if the first pellet in the string goes behind the target guess where the rest of them go?  If half of the shot string goes in front of the target you can still hit the target. What does all this mean? It means you should always mount in front of the target and never get behind it in your swing and then follow through. Shoot to miss in front of the bird and watch the dove start hitting the ground.

 

4. Move, Mount, Shoot: This phrase should be engraved in your mind. Move with the flight of the bird. This means move the gun with the flight of the bird in the ready to mount position (NOT MOUNTED) when the bird reaches the area where you wish to shoot simply mount the gun on the front of the target pull out in front of the target and pull the trigger. I see hunters every year that spot a dove coming in from a long way off and mount the gun, track the bird, shoot and miss. Yet when someone yells BIRD and they look up, see the bird and shoot, they crush it. If you track the bird you will almost always try to aim and miss the bird. 

 

5. Do Not Aim: The bead on a shotgun is not to aim with unless you hunt turkeys or shoot slugs. Compare it to the hood ornament on a car; it is simply there for your subconscious to know you are on target. Focus only on the target so you can swing smoothly and stay in front of the target. If you feel like your swing is jerky in movement it means you are changing focus from the target to the front bead and back to the target. A shotgun swing is not jerky, only your focus back and forth. This is one of the most important tips I can give you. Consider the shotgun bead the "miss me bead" and stay focused only on the front or head of the bird not the shotgun bead.

Remember that almost all misses are behind so increase your lead if you are not connecting on previous shots. If you are missing don't keep shooting the same way. Change the amount of lead, choke or swing but change something. If you miss the first shot and do the same thing on the second shot you will miss it also.

 

All of the above tips will help you be a better shot but there are also other tools and methods that you can use to bring the dove in closer to you and that will help you get more shots at those flighty dove.

 

Clothing: White or bright clothing is definitely out as it will scare the birds. Camo or earth tones that match the terrain in which you are hunting will allow you to blend into the habitat and the dove will fly closer. As it is extremely hot this time of year remember to keep your clothing light in weight to keep cool. Make sure your hat brim does not block your vision when you lower your head to the gunstock.  Remember to put on a good insect repellent as ticks and chiggers are out in force this time of year.

 

Decoys: I often carry a few plastic decoys that clip on to tree limbs or barbwire fences. It is amazing how many dove coming down a field will fly by and check the decoys. The new decoys with the moving wings are very effective in drawing dove within range.

 

Eye Wear: During the early and late shooting hours I like to wear amber shooting lenses as the contrast gives me better target acquisition. During the bright part of the day I wear brown, green or smoke lens colors to kill the glare.

Choke Choice: Unless you are shooting high flying pass over doves you should leave the modified and full chokes in the case. Improved cylinder will help most hunters increase the number of birds in the game bag. If I am sitting at a small tank or a feeding area I will shoot a skeet or cylinder choke for the more open pattern.

 

Shot size: Most of the time I carry two sizes with me to change the density and distance. I mostly shoot 8 shot as it has good distance and a dense pattern without many holes. If I need to extend my distance just a bit I will use 7 ½ shot. The pattern has a few more holes in it but it will get me another 10 yards of distance.  Shoot the best shotgun shells you can afford.  Bargain shells often have soft shot, paper wads and kick hard.  High performance shot shells shoot denser, faster loads and allow you to hit more birds with dense patterns.  Ask me sometime and I will tell you my favorites and why.

 

Barrel length: I am a fan of longer shotgun barrels as I find it is harder to mess up a good swing and follow through with a long barrel. A short barrel tends to increase poking or spot shooting. Remember to insert the barrel in front of the bird, pull out and shoot while keeping the gun moving until the target falls. Follow through is very important and hard to maintain with short barrels.

 

Hydration: The temperatures this time of year can be extremely hot so drink lots of water or sport drinks. Keep the alcoholic beverages locked away until after the guns are cased for the day. Don’t forget to keep fluids in your canine buddy as dogs can get heat stressed easily this time of year.

I don’t want to be a person that harps about safety, but in teaching shooting classes in the last few years I have seen two shotguns discharged accidentally.  One was a mechanical failure and not caused by the shooter.  The other the cause was not determined.  No one was hurt because those involved were safe gun handlers and always made sure their guns were pointed in a safe direction. These two instances have let me know just how quick a life could be taken.  I have a friend that lost his nephew to a duck hunt accident.  He stood up in the reeds in front of his best friend just as he fired and was killed instantly. This is just a reminder to always point your firearm in a safe direction, set up to shoot safely, know where your hunting buddies are at all times and never bet your life on a mechanical device.

Be safe and have a great hunt, Wild Ed

If you are in the Central Texas area and would like to attend one of my shotgun shooting seminars or would like a private seminar feel free to fill out the contact form at the upper right hand section of this page and send me an email.  I will be based out of Lampasas, Texas this year but can travel reasonable distances depending on the number of students.