, Port Arthur, Texas


September 19, 2012

Chester Moore column: Deer season just around corner

PORT ARTHUR — In fact, the archery-only season opens Sept. 29 and we are less than six weeks away from the general season.

As we enter the woods, there are bunches of regulations that we must adhere to and even most wildlife officials today would admit that is not always the easiest thing to do for the casual hunter.

The following are some regulations as well as definitions that are important for whitetail hunters to know.

These are directly from the primary enforcement agency for wildlife, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) with my commentary mixed in.

• A "buck deer" is a deer with a hardened antler protruding through the skin. A "spike buck deer" is a buck with no antler having more than one point. All other deer are antlerless deer. A spike buck must be tagged with a buck deer tag from the hunter's hunting license or applicable permit.

• Antler restrictions apply only in certain counties which are available for viewing in the regulation guide you can get with a license purchase and the TPWD website. These include all Southeast Texas counties.

In these counties, the bag limit is two legal bucks, but only one may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

“A legal buck deer is defined as having a hardened antler protruding through the skin and at least one unbranched antler an inside spread measurement between main beams of 13 inches or greater.”

To picture an “unbranched antler” think of a spike buck. That would be the classic case but you can have a buck with three points on one side and one that is essentially a spike horn. That would be a deer with at least one unbranched antler. At least that is the easiest way for me to think of it.

In these counties, it is unlawful to take more than one buck with an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. In other words you could shoot a big 15-inch buck and a spike and be ok but could not take two 15-inchers.

Have you ever considered the definition of a “point”? TPWD has a very specific definition.

‘‘A point is a projection that extends at least one inch from the edge of a main beam or another tine. The tip of the main beam is also a point.”

There are various safety requirements involved including the use of blaze orange clothing.

All persons on public hunting lands (state, national forests, and grasslands) during daylight hours when hunting with firearms is permitted must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material with orange headgear, and at least 144 square inches appearing on both chest and back.

Exempt from these requirements are persons hunting turkey, migratory birds, alligators, or desert bighorn sheep; persons within the enclosed passenger compartment of a motor vehicle; or persons within a designated campground, designated vehicle parking area, designated boat launching facility, or departmental check station.

Federal lands also have other restrictions involving doe permits and accessing certain areas so familiarize yourself with the area’s regulations before hunting there.

In terms of bag limits, except for deer taken under MLD permits, no person may take more than five white-tailed deer or more than three bucks (all seasons combined) in one license year according to TPWD. Some counties have very specific limits so make sure and check before you hunt a new area.

For bowhunters, remember a permit is not required to take antlerless deer during an Archery Only Season, except on MLD properties. If MLD Permits have been issued to the property, they must be used.

Going deer hunting is not just a matter of getting a license and going out to the woods. It is important to know the law so you do not get yourself in trouble and spoil a perfectly good hunting season.

(Write Chester Moore at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at

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     Summer is one of the best times to seek catfish in Southeast Texas and thankfully, for local anglers without a boat, there are catfish in just about every canal, drainage ditch and bayou in the area.
      Fishing from the bank has its disadvantages but there is a way around it. This involves making the fish come to you.
      European catfish and carp anglers who typically fish exclusively from the bank use a system called “ground baiting,” which involves putting chum out with the bait. They attach a small cylindrical device above their swivel, which holds chum and dispenses it as the water rushes by. The problem is these rigs are not readily available in our marketplace.
      However, with a little ingenuity, taking a 35-millimeter film canister, punching a hole in the bottom and on the lid and then punching more holes along the side can make a similar device. This acts as a perfect chumming device and is very inexpensive.
      Not everyone has film canisters these days so the softer plastic aspirin bottles will also get the job done.
      Rig this above your swivel and weight, and then fill it with your favorite chum. Now you will not only be chumming the area you fish in but also bringing fish directly to your bait.
      Any kind of chum will work, but a mixture I have had some success with was menhaden oil (available through many mail order offshore supply catalogs) mixed with soured milo. The oil creates a huge chum slick and when it mixes with the milo, the smell is almost unbearable, which means catfish love it. The best part is that a little bit goes a long way.
     Something else to consider is using jack mackerel as bait.
     This oily fish is available in larger supermarkets in a can for less than $1, and I can attest it will bring in fish. While fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and tagging sharks for the Mote Marine Laboratory, my partners and I were able to chum in and catch nearly 40 sharks while using less than two cans of the stuff. It is oily and stinks to high heaven, so catfish should love it.
      For anglers interested in using film canisters to chum their bait, something else to consider is the use of a popping cork. Even if your bait is on the bottom, you can rig a popping cork above it and attach a baited film canister below. This will allow you to do some extra chumming and use the cork to “pop” the chum out whenever you want to release more.
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      I am not sure as to the reason but a definitely solution is using a braided line because they have no stretch. When making long casts with monofilament from the bank you have the potential for lots of line stretch when can make a poor hookset.
     Sixty yards of line might have five or six feet of stretch and that is plenty for a big blue to undo. When using a braid like Fireline, Gorilla Braid or Spiderwire you can forego these problems and greatly enhance your chances of putting some catfish in the frying pan.
     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at and watch him Saturdays on on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)

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