As the song reminds, the season surrounding Dec. 25th really is the best time of the year.

As the song reminds, the season surrounding Dec. 25th really is the best time of the year.


This year has been no exception. From my family’s celebration of the birth of Christ at Fusion Bible’s Christmas Eve service to the Santa gift giving around the tree with my wife and kids on Christmas morning, the 2013 holiday season has been one to remember.


After time spent with family and friends; the enjoyment of the holiday’s music, decorations, and amazing foods; and a collection of simple "quiet time" moments spent in the glow of a dazzling tree; there is much to savor for future "tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."


In a similar vein, there is much to savor every year in the wilds of Texas.


Including these 12 "gifts" that the Lone Star State outdoors can bring.


January — There is nothing better on a cold winter morn than a Judas hen squawking back to the pleading comeback from my Rich-N-Tone Daisy Cutter duck call. If the tone and cadence is just right as the birds turn on the corners, more than one greenhead will "put their boots on," reach bright orange "red legs" for the water, and cause the dog to whine in anticipation. Dropping the call after the last feed chuckle, if my shot is true, the main ingredient for a duck dinner will be collected. And with a little luck, perhaps even a flash of silver jewelry.


February — While it has been years since North Texas quail hunting experienced its heyday, better rainfall this year has enough birds in a few spots to cause me to dig for the brush pants and to load up the scattergun with some #8 shot. With any luck, our group will walk up behind a bird dog locked down on point. When we get too close for comfort, a scene straight out of the late John Cowan’s oil painting "Clay County Covey" will occur as a sizable bunch of "Gentlemen Bob’s" explode into the air.


March — For the Texas angler, March is one of the most anticipated months of the year. From the best big bass month in Texas to the gator-trout season for big specks on the Gulf Coast to the beginnings of the white bass run in a stream near you, there is plenty of reason to shake off the winter doldrums and wet a line.


April — This month is one of pure tom foolery, all because of the yearly "rut" for Rio Grande turkeys across Texas. With its sensory overload of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, spring turkey hunting is a pageant unlike any other. From bluebonnets and other wildflowers dotting the landscape to the lusty gobble of a tom turkey seeking a winsome hen to the smell — and taste — of a 20-pound bird roasting in the oven, little compares to this wild springtime dance.


May — My friend Kelly Jordon says that May is one of his favorite fishing months of the year. Why? Because it’s big bass month for Jordon, especially on Lake Fork. Some bass are still shallow finishing up the spawn. Others are shallow seeking revenge on egg-eating bluegills sitting on the nest for their own spawn. And still other bass are moving deep, offering the first real off-shore structure bite of the summer season. In other words, it’s all good.


June — Speaking of bluegills, few things are more fun than a two-weight Orvis fly rod, a collection of small poppers, some light leader material, and a lake filled with the moon-like craters of bluegill spawning beds. When conditions are right, a hundred or more can be caught in a single outing. That’s why my guide friend Rob Woodruff’s mobile number is on speed dial as I anticipate catching a few for the peanut oil while releasing the rest for outings in the years to come.


July — Tom Bean resident Steve Hollensed has made a career out of chasing Lake Texoma striped bass on the fly with Orvis eight-weight fly rods. While a number of months shine for the activity, perhaps no single month is better than July when the reservoir’s famous summertime "blitzes" explode into action. Find an acre or two of Texoma surface water boiling with stripers voraciously feeding on threadfin shad and you’ll remember the sights and sounds for years to come. Especially after you toss one of Hollensed’s hand-tied poppers into the melee.


August — Given its sweltering heat, the eighth month of the year might not seem like a good time to go fishing. Unless you launch your boat after dark. Get on Lake Texoma and throw a black hued popper or buzzbait against a rocky point and you had better hang on tight and hope that your ticker is in good shape. Especially if a three or four-pound smallmouth comes calling under a late summer night’s moon.


September — As a hunter, Sept. 1st ranks right up their with the celebrations of Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July, my anniversary, and the birthdays of family members. While I normally loathe the searing heat and drought of a Texas summer, I don’t mind it so much as I sit around a dwindling waterhole. Especially as September’s mourning doves — and the occasional whitewing — begin to fly in for a drink as the late summertime sun sinks towards the horizon.


October — All is quiet on an October morn, save for the noise of a white oak tree raining down big, sweet acorns onto the forest floor. Let a twig snap however and my senses go into overdrive. When an season Pope & Young contender cautiously eases into range of my BowTech, I come to full draw as my heart threatens to leap out of my chest. As I hit the back wall of the draw cycle, hours of backyard practice pay off and muscle memory turns the practiced shot routine to automatic. Just as the buck stops broadside and turns his head slightly the other way.


November — While I love the rutting frenzy of North Texas whitetails in November, I also love to chase ducks. Especially the early bird teal, pintail, wigeon, and redheads that roar through the Texoma region before Thanksgiving. The weather is mild, the flocks are gullible, and the dog needs as much work as my calling and shooting do. Because of that, there simply has to be several treks to the duck blind during this month.


December — There is nothing more spectacular than a frosty December morning spent in a box blind overlooking a South Texas sendero. When a tall-tined, chocolate antlered whitetail hears a hunter’s set of rattling horns get smashed and tickled together, it’s often more stimuli than the old boy can stand. With any luck, his testosterone level will surge to overload as he steps out from behind the thorny curtain of mesquite limbs and prickly pear cactus patches. As the .270 roars, it’s Texas deer hunting in all of its glory.


Just in time for another Christmas Day celebration, one deep in the heart of Texas.