Driving Around

By John Criner Outdoors Columnist

This time of year is basically a dead time between the hunting and fishing season. There is still a little hunting going on with snow goose, rabbits and squirrel to fill out the season. Fishing is just starting around here. The crappie are just beginning to bite and of course, there is plenty of trout fishing in the hill country. While driving to West Memphis, I drove by Tilden Rodgers City Park. That’s between the college and the interstate, where the baseball diamonds and the lake can be found. It was a warm sunny day and I noticed several people fishing and quite a few runners around the lake. There is plenty of parking and I started on the walking trail visiting people as I wandered along. The first was a gentleman named Hugh with a fly rod fishing for trout and as we talked, he caught a rainbow trout. The Arkansas Game and Fish had stocked at 1000 trout the first week in February. He said he fishes several times a week and the trout were good eating. Next was a family with a little girl feeding the geese on the lake. Jo Ann and her family come out to the lake with old bread, cake, and anything that will float to visit with the geese. The geese seemed to recognize them and came over to the bank for a little snack. The little girl, Lillian, wanted to feed and talk to them. I visited with a lady, Carroll, with a big dog, Stasha, walking along the edge of the lake with a plastic sack picking up litter that other people had thrown on the bank and in the water. Carroll visits the lake at least once a week and always picks up the litter that uncaring people had discarded. Hats off to this lady! Some walkers and joggers came by but did not want to talk or visit. They were traveling at a pretty good place. I sure could not keep up with them. After visiting these folks, they all agreed that they felt safe and enjoyed the lake. This park is for all folks to enjoy. There is even BBQ pits, covered sheds, and over the water pavilion. Let’s keep it neat and clean. After visiting Tilden Rodgers, I headed out to Horse Shoe Lake and the new public boat ramp on the west end of the lake. The property was donated by Nancy and Pat Bonds of Bonds Store fame. The AGFC maintains the ramp and it is free. It’s where the old Pete Strieff ramp used to be, but this costs nothing to use. There were a few boats on the lake and I visited with Bob. He said the wind was too strong and was quitting for the day with only medium sized bass. The lake looked clear and there are a few reports of crappie biting. On the way to the Huxtable Pumping Plant hoping to see some fishermen trying for catfish below the spillway, I stopped at Battle Axe hunting club to visit with friends. They had been hunting wild hogs with a pack of hot dogs and had taken four medium sized hogs and one great big sow that went over 300 pounds. It seems the real macho way to dispatch it was with a hunting knife. A young man, Hoyden Woodall, did the big pig in and showed me his hunting knife. His hunting partners backed up his story. I do know that these hogs make great eating. They have been feeding on nuts and berries all fall and winter and have a good flavor. Many years ago, farmers used to turn their pigs into the woods for the summer and let them feed on the mast crop and other edibles. In the fall they would catch them for eating and also to notch the ears to show ownership. That was an exciting day with the whole neighborhood helping to catch the hogs. That event was a feast of fresh pork. On to Huxtable Pumping Plant where the St. Francis River is directed into the Mississippi River. There is a good deal of fast water coming through the pipes and catfish to hang in the tail waters. There were no fishermen to visit, so back home in Proctor. It was a pretty day and I enjoyed driving around and making some new friends. Don’t forget to bring that trophy to be mounted at Lakeside Taxidermy. You need the room in the freezer for all the fish you are soon the catch. Keep the pictures and stories coming. They are fun to see and read. Papa Duck Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or 901-482-3430 jhcriner@hotmail.com

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