Ever been driving along a Texas backroad and seen a place that made you pull over and imagine yourself fishing or hunting there?

If you’re one of those fortunate folks who owns a place, or if you have access to hunting and fishing private property through friends and family like I do, then celebrate your good fortune. But there’s a significant and growing number of people in our area who have lost their leases or no longer have access to private land and waters, including newcomers to the area who are looking to scratch their outdoor itches.

To give people falling into the second category options for the outdoor sports, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a program that opens up more than a million acres of publically-accessible land for hunting and fishing that’s leased by the department from other state and federal agencies, forest products industries and private landowners.

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TPWD’s Annual Public Hunting Permit provides walk-in access to vast acreage around the state, including a significant amount within an easy drive from Waco. More than 180 hunting areas and in excess of 100 dove and small game areas are available through the purchase of the $48 permit, which allows hunters to target in-season species including dove, quail, deer, turkey, waterfowl and small game. Some areas also allow licensed and permitted visitors fishing access.

If you’ve got a smartphone, downloading the TPWD Outdoor Annual app will give you everything you need when in the field or on the water, including your licensing documentation, hunting and fishing regulations, species identification tools, fishing reports, state park information, news and events, and even public hunting maps with detailed layouts of specific properties that includes boundaries and features, species allowed, means for harvest and more.

Catfishing

Just when it felt like summer was stepping aside for some fall-like cooler temperatures and refreshing rains, Mother Nature had second thoughts and yoinked our hopes away. But it won’t be long until summer weather gives way to cooler days and when that change sets in, so will fall fishing patterns.

Catfishing legend Danny King (Danny King’s Catfish Punch Bait) says when the cooler weather drops in to stay and water temperatures decrease, look to shallower waters for success. “They’ll move in to feed in three to six feet of water, and I’ll fish off points mostly,” he said. “This time of year, you can usually catch three or four, then a little later on some more will move in.”

He’s been catching a dozen or two every morning for the past few days, using his signature punch bait and fishing rods (he opts for the Suki Gizzard variety of bait), and last week’s hauls included fish weighing from three to 25 pounds while fishing from the bank. He fishes it on the bottom, and says that he’s been out-fishing boat anglers, but recommends that if you’re fishing from a boat, to target areas just off of points on the edge of deeper river and creek channels.

Plan B hunting

When white-tailed deer archery season opens on Oct. 1, hunters my find fewer deer depending on feeders due to recent rains across the area. Like folks in the city noticed when their yards started sprouting green again, the same thing happened in deer habitats, making deer harder to attract to the feed corn many hunters have already loaded up and started broadcasting.

So when conditions change, smart hunters adjust their strategies and set up near things like mesquite trees, which are loaded with beans, a favorite on the white-tail menu.