By John Criner

By John Criner

Times Outdoors Columnist Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year. The best part is families getting together to visit and eat and be together laughing and loving each other. We all make a special effort to be home and enjoy the turkey, dressing, gravy, pecan pies, and all the other good food we enjoy only at Christmas and Turkey Day.

It is a favorite time of year with autumn at its peak, the leaves are brilliant, and it is fireplace weather.

For the first time in quite a while, duck season opened with plenty of water, cold clear weather, and most important, more ducks than usual. Most hunters had at least a good opening weekend and have enjoyed a good first week. The AGFC estimates 360,000 mallards in the state which is 100,000 more than the average season opener.

The geese are already here in great number with 820,000 snows and blues, accompanied by 420,000 white-fronted geese. The local ducks are starting to be hard to work and the break in the season comes at a good time.

Second season opens on Thursday Dec. 6 and goes to Dec. 23, 2018.

The final season opens the day after Christmas and closes Jan. 27, 2019.

Snow goose, white-fronted geese (specks), and Canada goose season is also going on. Check the free AGFC Waterfowl Guidebook for limits and the dates for the geese because there are some date differences from the duck season. Our best duck hunting is yet to start as the cold weather in the north pushes the birds our direction.

Arkansas, which has the longest deer season in America, is in full swing.

The modern gun season is now and the bucks are getting in rut. This means they are chasing the does and are not as cautious as normal. This is the time when most of the “Big Bucks” are taken. Lakeside Taxidermy has had several very nice bucks brought in to be mounted. In some zones, deer season runs till the end of December. It is too late to plant food plots, but Arkansas allows baiting, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy prime hunting. Make sure which zone you are hunting because the regulations vary from zone to zone. Become familiar with the 2018-19 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook. Don’t forget to tag the deer before it is moved.

The tags are on the hunting license. For hunters with life time license, tags are in the hunting guide book. We are still looking for a local duck and deer processing place.

Christmas gift hunting is in season right now.

For ladies, men, and kids hunting apparel, Toby Duncan has moved ANN’S to 523 N. 7th. They are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

all week until Christmas.

The new location has plenty of parking and Toby has greatly expanded the ladies and children lines of hunting clothes and boots.

The store has Buck Gardner game calls, decoys and Texas rigs, plus he is the headquarters for waders with Banded, LaCross, and Drake. There is a full selection at reasonable prices.

For the dogs, there is a section with leases, collars, beds, and water stands for the dog to get up out of the water. Avery boat blinds are on special with $50 off and can be installed at the store. When hunting clothes are purchased at the store, Toby and Kelly offer FREE alterations. Out of store purchases will also be altered, but at a fee. Its nice to get the right fit.

ANN’S also has a full line of work, cowboy, and dress footwear. Toby is a serious fisherman and hunter who knows what works. He enjoys the outdoors with his kids and has full knowledge of what the young hunter needs. There is no need to go to Memphis to get your hunting gear.

Toby has it all, right here at home. Give him a call at 870-735-9771.

As you know, Papa Duck is big on traditions. Since Dr. Keith was a little hunter, on Thanksgiving morning we hunted, came home to a BIG Thanksgiving dinner, and then went to get our Christmas tree.

For several years we went to Earle and cut the tree at the Christmas tree farm, but they closed many years ago, so we go the Missouri street Christmas tree lot. Clyde Blaylock is the owner and has been selling trees at the lot since 1998.

The trees come from North Carolina and he receives 500 Fraser firs about a week before Thanksgiving so they are fresh.

They range in size from 18 inches to 16 feet tall with prices $50 and more for the taller trees. They also make wreathes and garlands fresh daily. When you buy a tree, he cuts if off squarely, puts it in netting, and loads it in the car or truck. Clyde says he has three generations of people getting trees. Many of the churches have a standing order for certain sizes of tree and book for next years tree. He also donates some trees to charities.

A friend recently asked what is the difference between a tradition and a superstition? I am not sure, but there is not much difference. A tradition is something we do each year and we enjoy doing it. A nice fire in the fireplace the night before opening day of duck season and turkey for Thanksgiving are examples. Perhaps superstitions are things we are afraid not to do because bad things happen if you do not do it. On the way to the 101 Club at Snow Lake is a very large oak tree about half way to camp. This is just the right place to relieve the coke and coffee consumed on the day down. It is called the P Oak and if you do not make that stop, bad things happen like getting stuck, getting no game, and flat tires. You do not have to stop on the way home.

When we were shooting in the state trap tournaments, Dr. Keith always wore the same red shooting shirt and I had a yellow shirt. Needless to say, the same socks and shoes were worn. We always had a pack of corn nuts and a Dr. Pepper on the way. Either tradition or superstition, it worked!

Christmas gift time is near and Papa Duck’s book Just Hunting Stories is available at Cupples Book Store located on Missouri St.

across from First Baptist church. These are short and true stories that you will enjoy reading and make great stocking staffers.

So far Papa Duck is off to a good hunting season and wish the best of luck to all my readers. Take that young hunter with you and start your own traditions.

You will enjoy the time together. Send some pictures and hunting stores. Also we need some Ask The Game Warden questions.

Lakeside Taxidermy is glad to mount those trophies at a reasonable price, quick service, and do a beautiful job. The kid’s trophies come first.

Papa Duck

Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or 901482-3430

Three generations of duck hunters — Papa Duck himself, with Dr. Keith and young Owen and Anna.

haul. It was Jake’s first limit of ducks.

John Criner

Papa Duck and the gang saw success on a recent duck hunt. The crew took home their limit.

Submitted photos