You know how you’re supposed to drive cautiously in and around school zones? Well, this time of year, it’s wise to drive with caution even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

The rut, or deer mating season, is happening, which means deer are more concerned with making deer babies than worrying about people with weapons, or looking both ways before crossing the street.

A starry-eyed buck can expand his range up to five times its size during the rut, meaning there’s a good chance he’ll be crossing more roadways in his pursuit of a doe (a deer –— a female deer).

Plus, when the frosty weather starts killing off forage plants, deer must travel further to find enough to eat. These and other factors combine to make rural highways more treacherous during the rut.

But country roads aren’t the only places drivers need to become more aware. About a year ago, two separate incidents involving deer and drivers were recorded on traffic cameras in the Dallas Metroplex, and each resulted in significant damage to vehicles and deer alike. Even when drivers swerve to avoid hitting deer, they’re likely steering their vehicles into other lanes of traffic, increasing the chances of colliding with another car.

Given that alarming news, however, the rut is a great time to hunt, and there are some happy hunters taking advantage of distracted deer. Social media and other reports have indicated that this year’s mild summer and timely fall rains have given the Central Texas deer population plenty of opportunity to build up their bodies and antlers, and area hunters are filling their freezers.

A lot of people don’t feel inclined to get afield until the weather turns cold and a little bit nasty, and that usually happens around Thanksgiving and continues through the holiday season, which is when a lot of family get-togethers happen. This is also when a lot of planned or even impromptu trips take place.

The outdoor sports are as much about tradition as any other part of our culture. We go to the same places with the same people, do the same routines and tell the same old stories that serve to bind generations together.

But tradition shouldn’t be set in stone. Bringing new people into hunting and fishing circles is vital to the survival of these activities. Don’t be stuck in a rut, so to speak. Invite somebody to come along who has never been on a fishing trip or part of a deer camp. Utilize communication technology to share some of the experience with those who can’t be there. Do something to keep the outdoor sports thriving.

In other words, don’t just sing your songs to the same old choir — teach them to some new ears. Over the past few decades, there has been a steep decline in the number of people who take part in hunting, fishing and camping, and the average age of participants is high, meaning younger generations are either not being introduced or aren’t interested.

To keep these traditions alive, it’s up to the old-timers to make these activities available, relevant and rewarding. Take some novices along on a trip. Share your bounty and give somebody a taste of fresh fish and game. Bring some new people into the circle.

No raining on parade

Rick Smith, of Marine Outlet in Temple, says that today’s Christmas Boat Parade of Lights at Lake Belton is still going on — rain or shine. In other news, another of Smith’s events that won’t be postponed for weather will also take place on Dec. 11: the 4th qualifier of the 17th Annual TuffMan Bass Tournament Trail.

The two-person team tournament will take place on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, and pays out a guaranteed $3,000 for the top-finishing team. There’s a $200 entry fee that includes the big bass pot, and qualifiers will be registered for the championship tourney in January.

Call 254-773-9931 for more information.

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