93 year-old Bob Thrasher stands with a trophy 9-point buck he shot with a crossbow from 19 yards away while hunting on his family’s South Texas ranch.

Courtesy of Mike Thrasher

Congratulations to everybody who’s reading this for crossing over into 2017. The New Year holiday is a time to look backward and forward at the same time, which can sometimes make a person cross-eyed. But sometimes it’s easy.

Bob Thrasher was a fixture in the Tribune-Herald outdoor column back when Earl Golding was manning the desk, and his son Mike and other family members also made the hunting and fishing reports on a number of occasions.

A few weeks back, Mike took his 93 year-old dad on a very special and successful hunt at their Laredo-area ranch, called La Perla Viejo, which translates to “The Old Pearl” in English. Bob is a WWII veteran who is well-versed in weaponry, but after having lost the sight in his right eye, he had to re-learn to shoot left-handed.

Bob learned to shoot a crossbow at the age of 91 while on the set of The Outdoor Channel’s Mathews TV with Dave Watson. He and Watson spent an hour at the practice range, then he tagged a whitetail doe on his first crossbow hunt.

Their December hunt culminated with Bob training his crossbow on a trophy 9-pointer, squeezing the trigger, and knocking the big buck down from 19 yards out. Mike says it was a pleasure to be his dad’s guide and cameraman, and I’m honored to carry on the tradition Earl started of highlighting another outdoor achievement by the Thrasher family.

Do your part to stop invasive species

Last summer, while heading out for a boating trip on a Colorado lake, I saw something I’d never seen before – a “clean/drain/dry” inspection team coming out of their cabin to check the boats that were loading into and out of the water.

McPhee Reservoir is one of Colorado’s largest lakes, but features just one boat ramp, making the inspection process feasible. Even a reservoir as small as Lake Waco has multiple ramps, and since the Corps can’t find enough money to keep all the parks and ramps open year-round, or even fund flood cleanup and restoration, there’s no way we’ll soon see inspection crews protecting Texas lakes from invasive species like zebra mussels.

But as invasive plants and animals start to inflict economic damage on lake-area economies, it’s likely that someday, Texas bureaucrats will scramble into damage-control mode and try to regain the upper hand.

Meanwhile, there are forward-thinking people and companies trying to stay a few steps ahead by developing watercraft cleaning stations that are designed to provide hands-on tools to remove invasive species from water-related equipment. Minnesota-based CD3 Station General Benefit Corporation has teamed with Wildlife Forever to provide the means to battle those unwanted species that threaten fish, wildlife, water quality and tourism.

Species like the fast-spreading zebra mussel are virtually impossible to see and therefore remove from a boat, but just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not going to mess up your plans.

To win the battle against aquatic invaders takes everybody doing their part. As we saw in recent years at Lake Waco, it only takes one careless boater to open the door to trouble. Like a toothbrush, cleaning stations are worthless if they’re not used.

Last day to hunt whitetaile deer and Rio Grande turkey

Lone Star State hunters have until sundown today to take a whitetail deer and Rio Grande turkey, but duck and goose seasons are open through Jan. 29. Quail can be hunted through Feb. 26, and spring turkey season will open in the North Zone on April 1 and continue through May 14. There’s no closed season on rabbit, squirrel, or feral hog.

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