No cabin fever this week
By Luke Clayton
Jan 11, 2022
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Like many outdoor types, I used to consider the dead of winter as ‘off time’, a time to clean rifles and shotguns and put them away and devote time to readying fishing tackle for spring fishing. But winter has become one of my favorite seasons for enjoying the outdoors.

Granted, deer season is coming to a close for most of us (hunting is still available on some ranches under a TPWD management plan) but there is still plenty to do other than clean weapons and dream about spring fishing! My past week is a good case I point.

A neighbor recently granted me fishing rights on a sand/gravel pit on his property that was excavated back in the sixties. Back when it was dug, the lower end was sixty feet deep which is very deep for any stock pond. I’m sure the ‘pit’ has silted in a bit through the decades but I’m betting it’s still fifty feet deep.  My neighbor tells me the pond is well stocked with bass, catfish, crappie and big bream. With shoreline vegetation along most of the bank, it was easy to see that I needed a boat of some sort to effectively fish the pond.

I have a big Kayak for this type fishing but I much prefer a stable Jon boat. I placed a note in our local online ‘shopper’ and was contacted by a lady who had a 12-foot aluminum boat that was several years old but had been used very little. I have the boat ‘stashed’ on the banks of my new fishing hole and am waiting for a few stable days of warmer weather to do a bit of winter bass fishing. I’m thinking a porkrind on a light jig tossed up into those shoreline reeds should produce some action. I’ve got a portable graph ordered which should be very helpful in locating schools of crappie holding on deep structure this winter.

I also found time for a late season doe or spike buck hunt over in Palo Pinto County. I have hunted along the Brazos River with my longtime friend Randy Douglas for many years. This is the same country where the cattle were rounded up for the Goodnight-Loving cattle drives. The rugged ranchland along the river has changed very little through the years.

We were hunting some property owned by Randy Nix from Mineral Wells. I had the pleasure of meeting Randy during the hunt and learned a great deal about what’s going on in that area. Randy and his wife Misty are deeply involved in the renovation of the historic Baker Hotel in downtown Mineral Wells as well as the Crazy Water Hotel which is currently open for business. The same mineral water that brought visitors to Mineral Wells from far and wide back in the past century is once again attracting crowds to this historic town. I can’t wait to stay in the old Baker Hotel when it reopens.

The Dallas Safari Club convention was held in Dallas last week and I spent a day there visiting with old friends and making a few new ones. My friend Jeff Rice and I joined Larry Weishuhn to film a segment of our outdoor show “A Sportsman’s Life” from the floor of the show. As the old adage goes, “A great time was had by one and all!” 

 Weishuhn came by my house after the show and we spent some time cooking outdoors over a wood fire at the little cabin I have behind my house; grilled venison, camp beans, baked sweet potatoes and cowboy coffee never taste better than when cooked over a hardwood fire on a winters day with a bit of chill in the air.

There's lots to do in the outdoors during the dead of winter. Larry Weishuhn and Luke enjoy a cup of camp coffee after a great meal cooked outdoors over a wood fire. photo by Luke Clayton

With muzzleloader deer season open until January 16 in 90 counties, I thought it a good idea to break out my old ‘smoke pole’ and enjoy one last deer hunt this coming weekend. I’ll be hunting with my friend Jeff Rice on his place in Wood County in hopes of taking a ‘very late’ season deer. Jeff has never hunted with a muzzleloader and we are both anxious for him to take his first deer. Our plan is to butcher the venison if we are successful and enjoy the steaks, deer burger and sausage there at the ranch on upcoming fishing and hunting trips.

EASY AND TASTY CAMP RECIPE  I learned a new recipe for Randy Douglas this week that is actually an appetizer but I suggest making plenty, this can easily become the ‘main course’ of a camp meal.

Begin by quartering a big white onion. From each quarter, remove the ‘sections’ which are called ‘scales’. Each will be shaped like a large spoon or ladle. Spread cream cheese into the ‘hollow’ of each piece of onion and place meat (venison, pork, chicken or beef).  It’s easier if you cook the pieces of meat first. On top of the meat, place some Candied Jalapeno, wrap with bacon and grill until the bacon is crispy. This is a quick and easy recipe that is likely to become a staple for your outdoor cooking events! Chances are good we have all  enjoyed the basic jalapeno ‘poppers’ made from venison or wild pork but the addition of candied jalapeno and using the onion as the outer covering adds a bit of spice to the original camp staple.

Tune in to “A Sportsman’s Life” on Carbon TV 

Contact Outdoors writer Luke Clayton via email at his website