As fall approaches, there is still plenty of concern in the Lone Star State as Texas continues to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But against the backdrop of that ongoing health threat, there are signs that life is starting to try and slowly head back towards normal.


Here in Texomaland, high school football practices are going on, scrimmages take place tonight, and Friday Night Light games kick off next week, at least for 1A through 4A schools.


In the outdoors world, Texas hunting and fishing licenses are now on sale for the 2020-21 license year and another dove hunting season is just around the corner, waiting in the wings for the September 1 opener.


But in one of the surest signs of fall’s approach, several area Ducks Unlimited fundraising events are looming on the calendar. While Gov. Greg Abbott’s coronavirus restrictions will likely remain in place for a while, the conservation fundraising cycle is starting to slowly roll again.


As that happens, the area’s first DU fundraiser of the fall is next weekend when the 2020 Celina DU event takes place in Bobcat country on Saturday, Aug. 29. Scheduled to run from 6-10 p.m. at the Rock Creek Ranch in McKinney, this year’s dinner is a "Table-Only" event. For information on purchasing a table, contact Jason Aune at 972-822-8549 or Kevin Perry at 214-693-5103.


Next up on the North Texas DU schedule is a sporting clays fundraising shoot at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds in Decatur on Saturday, Sept. 12. Scheduled for 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., tickets are available online through Sept. 11 at www.ducks.org/events. For information, contact North Texas DU regional director Dillon Schroeder at 918-424-3422


Then it’s time for this year's Whitesboro DU event on Saturday, Sept. 19. Scheduled for a 6-10 p.m. run, the event will be held at a new venue this year at Ranch 82, located at 12265 E. US Hwy. 82 in Whitesboro.


Pre-event ticket prices are $45 for singles, $60 for couples, and $20 for youth (ticket prices increase by $10 at the door). There are also Sponsor Tables available along with Reserved Tables for 8, the latter costing $400 each.


The night will feature the usual array of DU merchandise, sporting art, firearms, hunting gear, and more, all of it offered up through live and silent auctions, raffles, and games.


For online ticket sales, visit DU's website at www.ducks.org/events. For information, call Doug Rodgers at 903-814-5826.


Hagerman deadline looms


Bowhunters, don’t forget that the deadline to apply for 2020 Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge archery deer hunts is coming up quickly on Sept. 1st.


That’s also the next looming deadline for the next wave of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Drawn Hunts in several categories, including E-Postcard hunts for Archery Deer and Youth/Adult Waterfowl; NWR Deer and Upland Game Hunts; Private Lands Antlerless/Spike Deer; Private Lands Either Sex Deer; and Youth-Only Gun Deer Either Sex.


For more information on Hagerman NWR archery permits and/or the TPWD Drawn Hunts program, visit TPWD’s website at www.tpwd.texas.gov.


Justin Lucas wins again


Professional bass angler Justin Lucas continued his red-hot summer last weekend with a final day bag limit of 19 pounds, 10 ounces to win the FLW Pro Circuit Super Tournament event on Lake Erie.


In winning the third and final Super Tournament of the summer — which has featured combined fields of FLW Pro Circuit and Bass Pro Tour anglers — Lucas squeaked by runner-up Jacob Wheeler by a single ounce. With Lucas’ four-day winning total of 79-02, he collected a $160,000 paycheck that included a $35,000 bonus for running a Phoenix bass boat in the event.


It was the second win of the summer for Lucas, the 2018 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, coming a few weeks after the Alabama resident claimed the trophy at the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour season finale on Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay.


Runner-up Jacob Wheeler also continued his own memorable 2020 season as well. Back in June, Wheeler won the first FLW/BPT combined Super Tournament event on Lake Chickamauga. He then finished as runner-up in the second Super Tournament event a couple of weeks ago on the Mississippi River, losing a close one to eventual winner Tom Monsoor.


According to BassFan.com editor John Johnson, Wheeler’s impressive run this summer could have been one for the ages. Why is that? Because the Tennessee pro, ranked No. 1 in the world in the latest BassFan.com rankings, came within two-pounds of sweeping all three Super Tournament events this summer!


More pro bass news


As sports continue to resume in this pandemic year, the bass fishing pros are on a red-hot pace, fishing in two big tournaments over the next two weeks.


First up is this weekend’s Bassmaster Elite Series derby on Lake St. Clair near Detroit, Mich. As of press time, Ray Hanselman, Jr. had the unofficial Day One lead with 20-08. Former Tyler, Texas resident and 2002 Bassmaster Classic champ Jay Yelas was an ounce behind at 20-07.


Next week, it’s time for the FLW Pro Circuit TITLE Championship event, a tournament previously known as the Forrest Wood Cup. The event will be held at Wisconsin’s Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan.


With the FLW Pro Circuit now owned by Major League Fishing, the Aug. 24-29 event will be contested using the MLF format of catch, weigh, and release. The 50 anglers in the championship will be divided into two groups for the first four days of fishing (each group fishes for two days).


Then weights are zeroed and the Top 10 pros from each group advance to the "Knockout Round." At the end of that round, weights are zeroed again, and the Top 10 pros move on to the Day Six "Championship Round." The TITLE Championship winner will be the angler with the highest weight total at the end of that day.