It doesn’t have to be searing hot for a drought to set in, and after a fall and winter with insignificant rains, area lakes and streams are showing the effects. One ranch I visited recently had more bank than tank, and the rancher said he might have to start pumping in water if we don’t get …

Central Texans are fortunate to live in a place where, with the exception of a handful of severe weather days each year, we can enjoy our outdoor pursuits – whether fishing, hunting, golfing, hiking or biking, camping, or just cooking out on the patio.

Kids today have it a lot easier than we did back in the 70’s. Not only did we have to be near a wall when we talked on the phone, but if we were gonna catch rainbow trout, we had to talk our parents into driving us at least as far north as New Mexico.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed near Uvalde on Christmas Day, but it wasn’t at the hands of marauding miscreants — his death, along with those of two others, resulted from a wild hog crossing the highway late at night.

Deer hunting has transformed over the generations from being a way of simply putting meat on the table into a multi-billion dollar industry, with today’s game ranches using selective breeding and feeding regimens to produce a reliable supply of trophy bucks that would seem like science-fiction to our great grandparents.

Outdoorsmen have always tried to gain an advantage over their prey, and whether through lure color selector gadgets, electronic fish finders, game cameras, night vision equipment, or other technology, we have been on the cutting edge of technological advances.

The Texas coast took a battering this summer, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, but the folks who live along our state’s shoreline are tougher than a storm, and recovery, reconstruction, and resilience have gotten the place back to what most of us would recognize.

I expect that a lot of businesses and schools in Central Texas will see a spike in absenteeism later on this week, as hunters head for the stands and blinds in preparation for opening day of gun season for white-tailed deer on Saturday.

The word “rut” has different meanings. A lot of sports fans are hoping their football team gets out of its rut this weekend, but a lot of deer hunters are eagerly awaiting the whitetail deer rut, or mating season.

There’s not much better eating than cooking up freshly-caught fish over a riverbank campfire or smashing down backstrap prepared by a camp cook, and people whose palates are accustomed to fast food and processed grocery store meats have my sympathy

There might not be any records set on the football fields this year in Waco or College Station, but somewhere along the Brazos River between Bear Country and Aggieland, a recently-set fishing record has people both amazed and shuddering.

September is a month of hope. Football teams, good and bad, are all in contention for a championship season, students are all on track for honor roll, the first true cold fronts are on the way to snap the heat of summer and dove hunters are hoping to bag a limit of birds without blowing through three boxes of shells.

I have said, “I’ve never seen anything like that” a whole lot lately, and here comes another. The first annual Fish On! Lake Waco Catfish Tournament is set for Saturday, and it’s a lot different tourney than you’ve probably ever fished in your life.

The cards are still out on whether my football teams will have a good season or not, but the ingredients are all in place for Texas hunters to have an exceptionally good dove season beginning Sept. 1.

Sitting outside at daybreak yesterday brought back a rush of memories of football two-a-days and morning dove hunts. The air temperature, dragonflies darting through the air, and the occasional flyover of mourning and white-wing doves got my fall itch going.

The sounds of fall are ringing through the blast-furnace air of summer. Football teams are opening camps and popping shoulder pads, and I’ve heard the occasional dove hunter shooting off shells in preparation for the opening of hunting season on Sept. 1.

Walking up to a spot on the riverbank or shoreline that’s littered with somebody else’s garbage is all too common. But decent, responsible anglers are organizing and teaming up with other anti-litter groups to bring attention to the issue and clean up messes left by the lazy and irresponsible among us.

The other day, I heard somebody say, “Parents should get their kid a tackle box instead of an X-box,” and while I understand the sentiment, it’s not realistic in today’s world – somewhat like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expecting pro football players to stop smoking pot because he thinks it’s bad for them (unlike the game they’re playing that’s destroying their bodies and scrambling their brains.)

A lot of strange and funny things happen during fishing trips, and some are so outrageous that anglers, a group of people naturally prone to exaggeration, have gotten a reputation as liars.

I was 3 years old when my dad first took me fishing, and I’m not sure whether my memories of that trip are from the day itself or from the stories I heard about it over the years.

The 5th Annual South 40 Shootout Fishing Championship will be held at Lake Waco on March 25-26, with headquarters at the Twin Bridges Park boat ramp and weigh-in at the Extraco Events Center, located at 4601 Bosque Blvd. in Waco.

Lake Waco has long been known as an excellent crappie lake, and the Waco Bass Club’s Lake Waco Crappie Tournament has helped contribute to its legendary status. When I was growing up, it was wise to put money on the team of Charlie Pack and Dennis Hill to win.

After last week’s rains, I took a scouting trip to the South Bosque to see if anything was biting. As usually happens after a significant rain event, the water was flowing strong and pushing along sticks, vegetation, and other debris, and had the coloration of chocolate milk.

Centex outdoorsman Gordon Collier, who supports his hunting habit by moonlighting as a KWTX Television news anchor, was debating last week whether or not to take one last trip to his Bosque County duck pond for a late-season hunt, when his 7 year-old lab, Willie, came up and nosed the needle into the “yes” column.