Despite the current reality that fall hunting seasons are still several weeks away — and the fact that local fishing action can be slow in the building July heat — there are still several different ways that Texomaland residents can enjoy some mid-summer outdoors fun.
How can you do that now that the Fourth of July has come and gone and the dog days of the summer season are at hand? Read on and consider these activities:
1. Patriotic Fishing: Still in the spirit of Independence Day? Then how about a little red, white, and blue fishing over the next few days? There are three piscatorial species here in the Lone Star State that give you that opportunity. First, there are local bluegills on lightweight spinning tackle or fly fishing gear. Next, there are schooling white bass (or sand bass) that are chasing summertime shad on lakes like Texoma, Ray Roberts, and Fork. And finally, there are tailing redfish on the saltwater flats along the Texas Gulf Coast. What’s more, all three of these fish species make for some great table fare, whether you use traditional frying methods or cook them on a griddle or a grill.
2. Row Your Boat: Or more accurately, paddle a small craft on a local waterway. There are few things more fun than cooling off on the water with some summertime paddlecraft action in a kayak or a canoe, whether you want to fish, to see the shoreline sights, or to get in a little cardio friendly exercise.
3. Orange Fireworks: With this month’s annual Fourth of July fireworks shows in both Denison and Sherman already entertaining thousands of Texomaland residents, how about looking for a little more aerial fireworks fun out on the back 40? For many outdoorsmen, there are few things more fun than powdering some orange clay pigeons in an impromptu sporting clays round, especially since the Sept. 1 start of dove season is now less than two months away.
4. Punching Foam: With whitetail bowhunting seasons coming up in a few months, the Fourth of July’s recent passage marks the perfect time to get out into the backyard to settle your sight pins on the 10-ring of a 3D archery target. Get your bow shooting dialed in now and maybe you’ll have a big buck tale to tell your hunting buddies come October and November.
5. Equipment Inventory: Mid-July is a great time to get out into the garage in an effort to take stock of your hunting gear. From checking the bore-sighed alignment of your rifle’s scope to scent-free washing and storing your deer hunting clothes to patching a hole in your duck hunting waders or repairing decoy lines, a little summertime elbow grease now reduces a lot of stress later on this fall. And if you need a new bow string, some arrows cut and fletched, or your bowhunting rig tuned up, see folks like Orvie Cantrell, Jr. of Sherman’s Big O’s Archery Shop now and not later.
6. Grilling Fish: Have some fresh striped bass fillets? Or maybe some of those sand bass fillets mentioned above? Then try grilling them up in foil packets. First, make sure all of the red meat is cut away from the fillets. Next, using a sizable sheet of aluminum foil, slice up and make a bottom layer of zucchini, squash, and lemons. Brush the fillets with light olive oil or mist with spray butter, then season the fish with a little lemon pepper. Close the foil packets up, put them on your hot grill, and cook for 10 minutes or so (until the fish is firm, has turned solid white, and flakes easily). Serve with a fresh salad and iced tea, squeezing some lemon juice over the fish as you serve the packets up hot off the grill.
7. Smoking Game: High cost of brisket got you down? Then how about throwing a venison hindquarter on the smoker? First, looking to recipes I found on OutdoorChannel.com and Cabelas.com, you’ll want to use a brine or marinade that covers the refrigerated meat for several hours. Next, pat the hindquarter dry and smear it with lard, dusting it with your favorite seasoning (equal parts of salt and pepper work great). Get your smoker going with either post oak, pecan, or maybe a sweet fruit wood like cherry. Then put the meat on the smoker and let the low and slow indirect heat do its magic until the desired internal temperature is reached.
8. Deer Lease Checkup: While velvet-racked bucks around North Texas still have some summertime growing to do, mid-July is a great place on the calendar to begin the annual chores leading up to fall hunting seasons. From setting out game cameras to fine tuning and repairing stand locations to making sure that corn and protein feeders are working properly, the countdown to Deer Season 2018 begins now.
9. Campfire S’mores: Pretty simple recipe here — a campfire, some graham crackers, some Hershey’s chocolate bars, some marshmallows, and some leftover Fourth of July fireworks and sparklers can light up the nighttime sky in more ways than one. Added together, s’mores, the Milky Way blazing overhead, and some leftover rocket’s red glare bursting overhead can help produce some lifelong family memories.
10. Lemonade Reading: Finally, how about a little outdoors reading? There are plenty of classic outdoor books available like John Grave’s Goodbye to a River, Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, Gordon MacQuarrie’s Old Duck Hunters series, Teddy Roosevelt’s African Game Trails, Robert Ruark’s Horn of the Hunter or The Old Man and the Boy, Hart Stilwell’s Hunting and Fishing in Texas, and anything by Jack O’Connor, John Gierach, Tom Kelly, Thomas McGuane, Ray Sasser or William G. Tapply. And don’t forget the latest issues of outdoor magazines like Bassmaster, Bowhunter, Fly Fisherman, In-Fisherman, North American Whitetail, Texas Sportsman, and Wildfowl. Grab a glass of ice cold lemonade, find a shady corner on the back deck or your easy chair in the comfort of an air conditioned den, and let the printed page — or the Kindle screen — come to life!