"STAGE IS SET FOR GREAT DUCK SEASON " by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Seven Points, Texas- Sometime Mother Nature prepares a natural smorgasbord for migrating waterfowl in the form of wild plants, nut bearing trees and water just deep enough for puddle ducks to feed. Other times, man intervenes with bull dozers, plows and seeds and manipulates the landscape to make it attractive to waterfowl heading to winter along the Gulf Coast and farther south into Mexico and Central America. I just returned from a tour of Rice Rod and Gun Club where Cory Vinson has teamed with landowner Donny Rice to develop what is sure to become one of the premier duck and goose hunting destinations in North Texas. The wetland consists of several thousand acres situated a short distance from the Trinity River and Im quite sure that left untouched by man, the marshes and lowlands would be a duck haven but, the far thinking team of Vinson/Rice wanted the club land to be the best it could be. Thus, they have kept dozers, plows and planters working overtime during the summer months creating levies, grading new marshes and installing drainage pipes with valves to manipulate the water. Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton. The land has a couple of big roost ponds, consisting of over 400 acres. These are great spots for ducks and geese to spend the night away from predators, but the big open water ponds which were once gravel pits, are much too deep for puddle ducks to feed. Feeding ducks need water no deeper than 18 inches and they prefer it even shallower. Several hundred acres of interconnected shallow marshes have been developed and with the next heavy rain, will become duck heaven for mallards, gadwall, pintail, teal and widgeon heading south. Rice says several hundred geese usually winter on the lower fields that are planted in winter oats and wheat for grazing. As Vinson and I drove around a perimeter road on the wetlands, we used binoculars and spotted large numbers of native wood ducks and several flocks of migrant teal. Granted, the teal are here today and gone tomorrow and their migration will be finished by the opener of the general duck season but with all the available food and water, its a good bet many of them will end their migration here. The Wood Duck numbers are already strong and will surely become stronger with the influx of new birds sometime in October with the passage of the first strong cold front of the season. When Donny and I first began making plans in the early spring, says Vinson, it was obvious that we had two choices: leave the land as is and depend on rainfall flooding marshes for short periods, then deal with the receding water during duck season or, create a series of levies with pipes/valves to hold the run off water for extended periods. We decided upon creating the ideal duck habitat with both plenty of shallow water and food attracting plants to attract and keep the birds. Wild hogs are plentiful in the area and sign was everywhere we took the time to look. The hogs had moved into some of the newly excavated marshes and were feeding on roots and grubs in the soft earth. Vinson says he still has a few openings for season leases where hunters have the option of setting up their own RV at the campground or making plans to stay in the comfortable lodge on the place. Several options are available that allow duck, goose and hog hunting or fishing on the well stocked lakes. Duck blinds are in place, marshes are awaiting the next heavy rain and food crops planted for the ducks are lush, everyone at Rice Rod and Gun Club is eagerly awaiting cooler weather and, of course, the main attraction: DUCKS. Im predicting a banner season and look forward to a hunt or two here myself! For more information on season lease or guided hunts, contact Cory Vinson at 469-867-4299. OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- Many folks wait until the week before the opener of firearms season to make sure their rifle is still on. Why not give yourself a bit of added confidence this year and spend a little time at the range before the rush? If your rifle has been setting in the gun cabinet since the close of last years season, there are many things that can go wrong which can cause you to miss that big buck come opening day. Scope mounts and rings might need to be tightened or the scope might even need replacing. In past years, Ive stored rifles/scopes at the close of the season that were shooting perfectly, only to discover the next year that the scope would not hold its zero. Once your rifle is properly sighted in, spend some time shooting from positions you might encounter in the field. If youre planning to hunt from the ground and use a bipod, make sure and practice shooting with it. Remember, tight groups are not too difficult to achieve when shot from a bench rest but chances are pretty good you wont have the luxury of such a steady support when actually hunting. LC FISHING HOTSPOTS- Guide George Rule (214-202-6641) at TAWAKONI says the channel catfish bite on holes baited with soured grain is still steady. Water 30-35 feet is holding the largest concentration of fish and most bites are coming from near bottom. Its a good idea to set a couple of baits under floaters for the larger blue catfish that often suspend and feed closer to the surface. Punch bait on a #6 treble hook is working best. The trophy blue catfish bite should begin in a few weeks as the water temperature continues to drop. At LAKE TEXOMA, guide Bill Carey with Striper Express (877-786-4477) says the topwater striper bite remains good, especially during early morning using big top water plugs such as Pencil Poppers or Chug Bugs. Striper fishing is always good this time of year. The cooling water temperature triggers the fish into their annual fall feeding binge. They know cold weather is coming and they are putting on the feed bag, packing the protein. says Carey. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at email@example.com The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!