Weather not looking good for weekend

October 15, 2011

Tog fishing in Delaware Bay has been pretty good at the various reef sites. We had a run of good weather, but things are not looking too spiffy for the weekend.

Indian River Inlet has blues available on incoming current and tog have been caught from the rocks. The rockfish run has yet to begin, but a few keepers are caught after dark on plugs, eels and bucktails.

Surf fishing was very good until Tuesday. Small blues made up most of the catch with a few kings mixed in. Small chunks of mullet made the best bait.

Sea bass fishing was excellent in the ocean. The best catches came from wrecks 20 to 30 miles offshore, but the Buoy Line produced decent numbers of keepers along with ling and a few flounder.

Deer hunting
I did not get out during muzzleloader season due to unforeseen circumstances. Hope I can work in a few doe days before the shotgun season opens.

I watch a lot of fishing and hunting shows on TV and I must admit I am getting tired of seeing so-called hunters shooting deer from a permanent blind, 30 feet off the ground looking down a cleared path wide enough to drive a tractor-trailer through. It is usually apparent the deer are being fed there on a regular basis and all the shooter has to do is pick one out and kill it. Sorry, that is not hunting.

Granted, if you are going to south Texas where this activity seems to be the norm and you don’t have time to scout the area, getting into a blind built by the land owner is not a bad idea. I have been a guest on several commercial hunting operations and while we usually hunted from a blind it was not on a food plot. The guide knew where the deer were likely to be given the conditions that day and put me in the blind most likely to see some activity. Some days he was correct and on other days he was wrong. That’s hunting.

Here at home, I like to scout out the area where I plan to hunt and then select a location where I hope the deer will pass by. The last few years I have hunted on private land where permanent blinds have been in place for a long time. In this situation I go where the huntmaster tells me to and take my chances along with everyone else.

I have hunted deer in the lowlands of South Carolina, where dogs are employed to drive the deer out of the swamp. I know hunting deer with dogs is not an accepted practice in Delaware, but it is standard operating procedure from Virginia south.

In South Carolina they have plantations with thousands of acres of pulpwood tree farms surrounded by thousands of acres of swamp. The deer live in the swamp. Dirt logging roads cut the swamp into sections about a mile square. Deer hunting on each plantation is operated by private hunt clubs and they only run dogs on Saturday.

It would be all but impossible to hunt deer in the swamp without dogs to move them out into areas where it is possible to see them. Not only are South Carolina swamps thick and wet, they are home to alligators and cottonmouth snakes. It would be very uncomfortable to find yourself stuck in swamp mud with a cottonmouth on one side and a hungry gator on the other.

The dogs are handled by several men who set them loose on a deer run into the swamp.

Once the dogs are all going in the same general direction, these men get in their trucks and head for the other the other side of the section of swamp to catch the dogs as they come out. If you have ever tried to call a dog when he is hot on the trail of a deer, a squirrel or a cat, you have some idea of how difficult this task can be. In addition, not every dog comes out where he should. Some turn back, some take off in another direction and some keep right on going into the next section of swamp. The snakes and gators also get a few.

Hunters are placed in stands or along the road and don’t have a lot of time to make their shot. Only bucks are hunted ahead of dogs; does are taken during the week from stands or ground blinds.

The entire operation is as much a social event as a hunt. Food, usually a lowlands boil, is served at lunchtime and some of the old-timers come just to hear the dogs run. It is a great way to spend a Saturday.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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