high plains outdoors

Courtesy/Jeff Rice

I was recently recording “Campfire Talk”, the weekly radio segment that Larry Weishuhn aka.”Mr. Whitetail” and I have produced for the past 11 years. The topic of hunting blinds, aka ‘deer stands’ came up and we reflected upon just how much ‘deer stands’ have changed since the sixties when we both began hunting deer.

Luke Clayton

Good hunting for wild quail is become difficult to find. In today's show, Luke divulges a quail hunting hotspot near Arapahoe, Nebraska.

Ryan Hanzlizk owns Shady Rest Motel in Arapahoe and caters to bird hunters. Ryan says the quail number are higher than he has ever seen. He is offering maps to his visitors that show some of the better free public access in his area. 

Luke Clayton

Don’t get the wrong idea when you read some of my columns that pertain to outdoor cooking. I’m certainly no chef but I don’t think a good camp cook needs to be professionally trained in order to ‘crank out’ tasty meals.

I have ‘studied’ under some of the best cooks around in hunting camps from Canada to Mexico and always tried to pick up a tip or two from each one I spent time with. I’ve also spent a great deal of time experimenting.  Yep, I’ve prepared everything from sour dough biscuits cooked in a Dutch Kettle to Venison stroganoff and lots of things in-between.

Luke Clayton

There’s lots to do in the outdoors, even what many of us refer to as the ‘Dog Days’ of summer. The striped bass bite is going strong up on Lake Texoma says my buddy Bill Carey with Striper Express and catfish guides on Tawakoni have been butting their clients on limits of tasty catfish. Crappie fishing at Fork has been red hot one day and ‘iffy’ the next, common for this time of year.

Luke Clayton

Now is a great time and get out in the woods and prairies and set a few trail cameras. Bucks antlers are fully developed now and they will soon begin 'rubbing' the velvet and go into hard-horn.

Luke Clayton

I enjoyed a summer hog hunt with some great friends recently and, as is often the case, I volunteered to be the camp cook.  I learned a long time ago that it’s most challenging to actually hunt, or fish for that matter, and come in after being in the field or on the water all day and prepare a tasty meal. Granted, it’s easy enough to open a can of Spam or make cold cuts and cheese sandwiches but the kind of camp meals that are remembered take a bit of preparation.

Luke Clayton

A few years ago, I was attending an outdoor show in Waco when I noticed a little shooting range for air guns set up in a room off to the side of the main floor. I could hear the report of air rifles being shot and my interest was perked.

Luke Clayton

Making the most of any outdoor outing equates to a positive attitude and the ability to remain flexible. After all, we don’t always catch a limit of fish or shoot a big whitetail buck but if we take the time to truly relish our time spent in the outdoors, we benefit by returning home rejuvenated and refreshed.  A couple days spent last week with two great friends, Jeff Rice and Larry Weishuhn, aka “Mr. Whitetail,” is a good case in point.

Luke Clayton

In today's show, Luke talks about an exciting fishing trip to Lake Texoma with Striper Express

Stripers were chasing shad like there was no tomorrow and hitting a combination of topwater plugs, Sassy Shads and lead slabs.

Luke Clayton

During the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to fish with my friend Trey Schmidt many times. Trey has a coveted ‘fin fish’ license on the Texas coast. He spends three nights each week ‘gigging’ for flounder, the majority he sells to Nate’s West End Bar and Grill, a popular ‘off the beaten path’ restaurant near just west of Jamaica Beach on the road heading from Galveston to Freeport. Trey can also harvest sheepshead (a great eating but often overlooked saltwater fish) stingray, crabs and a few other species.

John Norton

My first visit to the Rocky Mountains occurred back in the late seventies when I was a ‘whipper snapper’ in my late twenties. A couple of buddies and I traveled to the mountains near Gunnison, Colorado where an outfitter had set up a drop camp for us. We spent several glorious days hunting deer and it’s here that I got my first look at wild bear. When a herd of 12 elk came trotting by within 75 yards of our camp, I knew I was in outdoor heaven.

Luke Clayton

It’s easy to set in an air-conditioned office and dream about being out on the water all day, boating one after another of your favorite species of game fish. It’s quite another proposition to actually spend time during the heat of the day in a boat without shade, especially on a calm day without cloud cover.

Luke Clayton

Let’s face it, what’s tastier than a crispy fried fish fillet? A family fish fry is a time honored event with many of us and one that this old outdoors writer plans to keep going but, there are other very tasty ways to prepare the fish we enjoy catching so much!

Luke Clayton

LAKE FORK - Back in the day, the drill for a crappie fishing trip went something like this: Pull up to a tree with limbs above the water, secure the boat, drop minnows down through the limbs and either catch crappie or spend 30 minutes trying and then move on to the next likely spot. 

Luke Clayton

My grandson Luke Zimmerman, Jeff Rice and myself arrived at our cabin at Mill Creek Resort on Lake Texoma an hour or so before dark last week on the eve of a long anticipated top water striper fishing trip with my friends at Striper Express.  

Bill Carey had been telling me all about the awesome top water action for the past couple weeks and we were chompin' at the bit to get after them. There is something very addictive about watching a big striper attack a topwater plug.

Luke Clayton

LAKE FORK - Back in the day, the drill for a crappie fishing trip went something like this: Pull up to a tree with limbs above the water, secure the boat, drop minnows down through the limbs and either catch crappie or spend 30 minutes trying and then move on to the next likely spot.  Those days are long gone for Lake Fork guide Seth Vanoverand other anglers savvy in the use of their “Livescope,” the latest innovation for seeing what’s below the surface of the water.

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke discusses the annual shad spawn. This is a period of bounty not only for game fish, such as white bass, catfish and hybrid stripers (wipers), but the angler as well!

Luke Clayton

I’ve limited my outdoor outings to one per week lately. With turkeys gobbling all across the state and blue catfish action red hot in the shallows, I simply cannot resist getting ‘out there’ in the woods and on the water.

Not to worry though, I’m avoiding contact with large crowds; wearing latex gloves at the gas pumps and mask during those once a week trips to the grocery.  As far as I know, social distancing with wild turkeys and blue catfish is still acceptable.  After all, a camo face mask is necessary in the turkey woods and at the fish cleaning station, wearing gloves is always a good idea!

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke recaps a turkey hunt last week at Dale River Ranch situated on the Brazos River about an hour west of Ft. Worth, Texas. Luke introduced his good friend Jeff Rice to the ranch and to Mr. Douglas. The three Amigos enjoyed an afternoon of catching fish and an evening fish fry and Jeff harvested his first ever spring gobbler the next morning. 

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke gives some tips on social distancing for the outdoors person and talks about a turkey hunt he will be heading to in a couple days on the Dale River Ranch located in Palo Pinto County along the Brazos River, about one hour west of Fort Worth, Texas. 

Luke Clayton

I’ve heard from more readers concerning this past week’s outdoors column than I normally receive in three month. It’s become very obvious to me that we all are in dire need of hearing some ‘good news’.

Granted, lifestyles for those of us that enjoy the outdoors, whether it be photographing wildlife, fishing, hunting or camping have been greatly impacted by ‘social distancing’. But we’ve all found ways to enjoy being ‘out there’ and to my way of thinking never before has spending time in the solitude of the outdoors been more important, whether it be taking a walk through the park or catching spawning white bass from a remote backwoods creek.

Luke Clayton

Through these past 30 years, I’ve tried to keep this little column upbeat with the goal of exposing ‘new’ readers to the wonders of the outdoors and hopefully entertaining and possibly educating veteran outdoor types. 

Luke Clayton

Around the evening campfire at hunting camp, visiting with some good friends that also enjoy camp cooking, the conversation  naturally morphed into the ‘perfect’ or most useful  cooking utensil for camp cooking.  One fellow posed the question, “If you were to spend 3 months in the wilds with only one piece of cooking gear, what would that be?”

Jeff Rice

I first fished with my friend guide Jason Barber about 12 years ago while doing the leg work for a magazine article on Cedar Creek Lake. I remember asking Jason what species we were going to fish for. His replied with a question, “What do you wish to catch?"

Luke Clayton

All good things must come to an end and so it is with hunting leases. Most Texas hunters lease the land upon which they hunt or, they are fortunate enough to have friends or family with land. Talk very much with veteran hunters and most can tell the sad story of, for one reason or another, them having to leave a piece of land that they have hunted for years and look for another lease.

Luke Clayton

The topic of Luke's outdoors show this week is the javelina, one of the most underutilized game animals in the country.

Javelina are plentiful in parts of Texas but many hunters think they have to travel to extreme south Texas to hunt them. There is, in fact, a good population of them in the Cedar Breaks country of Knox County Texas, situated about 80 miles south of Wichita Falls.

Luke Clayton

The subject of hunting wild hogs and the waste of fresh pork from harvested hogs is a topic that I’m very passionate about and also one that often stirs the emotions of folks, both hunters and non-hunters.  I spent my younger years on a small farm where hogs we raised were considered a valuable commodity; they were meat for the winter as well as an added source of dollars.

Luke Clayton

In about a month, white bass anglers will be flocking to streams to enjoy the annual white bass ‘run’. Fishing is often fast paced during this period when spawning ‘whites’ move into creeks and rivers above lakes to deposit and fertilize eggs.  

Scheduling a successful fishing trip around this much heralded run can be ‘iffy’ but when conditions are right, the run actually occurs and white bass vacate the reservoirs in mass and head up creeks and rivers above the lakes.

Luke Clayton

Ever since I was a boy dunking minnows in Pecan Bayou near our home in Red River County, I dreamed of heading to the wilds of Canada to catch big northern pike, lake trout and walleye. I remember reading all about this fishing wonderland in magazines and back then never dreamed that one day, I would actually experience the thrill of tossing a big plug over a shallow weed bed and hooking into a pike almost as long as a boat paddle or, catching those great eating walleye and enjoying a shoreline lunch prepared over a wood fire.  

Luke Clayton

Writing this weekly outdoors column has always been one of the highlights of my week. After 30 years of sharing the outdoors with you, this column never seems like work. But some weeks, I have to ‘dig deep’ to settle on a topic that I think you will be interested in.

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