Outdoors Notebook — Grayson gun deer proposal & $1 million bass derby

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Look for an interesting few months on potential hunting and fishing regulation changes as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission considers new reg proposals for the 2022-23 license year across Texas.

That much seems apparent after a look at the agenda for the Nov. 3, 2021 work session for the TPW Commission (https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/meetings/2022/1104/agenda/work_session/#item_10).

Of local note, the agenda shows that the Commission will consider a potential regulation change that would “Allow take of white-tailed deer by firearm during general and youth seasons, and on Managed Land Deer Permit properties in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties. Require mandatory harvest reporting of buck and antlerless deer in conjunction with changes to method of take.”

Grayson County, as many readers will note, has had a general season for white-tailed deer with the means and method of take restricted to lawful archery and crossbow gear. That season was allowed by TPWD back in 1999 after years of the local woods having only an October archery season due to low whitetail numbers.

In recent years, the same archery-only general season has also been implemented successfully by TPWD in Collin, Rockwall, and Dallas counties. All of those counties share similarities with Grayson County, from low overall whitetail numbers to limited habitat to urban expansion that continues to fragment existing habitat.

The proposal to change the current regulation reportedly comes after a petition was received by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department earlier this year. Already, there is some strong opposition to the potential change both privately and on social media, which is reminiscent to the fiery rebuttal that came from local residents here in Grayson County after TPWD brought forth similar proposals earlier in the 21st Century.

On the fishing side of potential regulation changes, things look to be much more peaceful this regulatory cycle although several proposals involve the Texomaland area.

One proposal would implement largemouth bass regulations at the newly filling Bois d'Arc Lake in Fannin County, where TPWD is proposing a 16-inch maximum size limit for bass and exceptions for temporary possession of 24-inch bass as potential ShareLunkers.

Several regulation proposals are also out for Lake Texoma, including modifying harvest regulations for walleye (rare to almost non-existent now after limited stockings years ago); modifying harvest regulations for alligator gar; delineating the upstream reservoir boundary at Texoma to help regulations be consistent with those in Oklahoma; and modifying regulations for prevention of transfer of bait that could involve invasive carp by adding the tributaries of the Red River in Grayson County and several other counties to current regs.

Baseball Legend Arrows Huge Buck — Hall of Fame baseball slugger and Chicago White Sox baseball executive Jim Thome was no stranger to big moments during his career with the Cleveland Indians and other MLB teams, logging a Major League Baseball eighth best career home run mark of 612 home runs.

He’s also no stranger when it comes to big bucks, arrowing a massive Illinois whitetail last Friday, Nov. 19, on his Illinois farm. According to Field & Stream deer columnist Scott Bestul earlier this week, Thome’s big buck is 7 ½ years old, has towering tines of 13-inches (both G3’s) and 14-inches (one G2), and has a green gross typical score of 226 2/8-inches.

While no green typical net score was given, and Bestul notes that several abnormal points and some symmetry differences are present on the massive antlers, the Thome Buck could potentially end up scoring well into the 190s or even  the low 200s.

If that’s the case after the mandatory 60-day drying period — and assuming that the longtime Drury Outdoors team member wants to enter the deer in the record books — it could land near the top of the Pope and Young Club archery record book.

For the record, the current P&Y world record typical whitetail is an Illinois buck arrowed by the late Mel Johnson in October 1965, a buck that scores 204 4/8-inches.

Auburn Anglers Win Million Dollar Tourney — A pair of Auburn University student anglers have a million reasons to be thankful this week with the arrival of Thanksgiving.

Logan Parks and Tucker Smith, already the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Team of the Year, won a $1 million first-place prize package last weekend by capturing the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championship.

Parks, who is a senior according to an Auburn University news release, and Smith, a sophomore, will split one of the largest payouts in bass fishing history as well as going home with 2022 Toyota CrewMax trucks and Nitro Z21 bass boats thanks to their fishing success on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake.

Put on this year by Johnny Morris and the Bass Pro Shops empire he founded, the historic amateur tournament series saw anglers qualify for the Championship Derby by their finishes at a string of individual qualifying tournaments around the country, including one at nearby Lake Ray Roberts.

To be in the historic finale last weekend, the Auburn fishing duo had to qualify for the Championship — which was televised live on NBC Sports Network last weekend and will be re-aired on NBC at 4 p.m. on Dec. 5 — at the last qualifier derby available, the Bull Shoals event in Arkansas on Nov. 17.

Once in the Table Rock event last weekend, the Auburn Tigers anglers made the most of their opportunity, advancing to the final day and eventually topping the 350 teams in the field with a final day weight tally of 16.41-pounds.

“It’s been crazy,” said Parks. “It’s been back-to-back-to-back tournaments, and the Bull Shoals qualifier was right before the championship, so we just went right there and only had a half day of practice. It was just full force and finding them quick, so it was crazy. It was unbelievable.”