The 12 Days of Outdoor Christmas

By Ben Smith:

For what seems like the first time in a long time, I’m in the Christmas spirit early this year. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to suffer from getting all of the decorations down from the attic. The girls had everything put up and decorated during my Covid quarantine in the woods, so I dodged that bullet. I’m guessing that by missing out on the decorating there’s been nothing to bring out the “bah humbug” in me this year. So, in the spirit of Christmas, I have decided to give you the “12 Days of Outdoors Christmas”, although I will spare you the singing.

I don’t have enough space to repeat the countdown like the song, so I’m gonna mix things up a little bit. For the “12 Days of Outdoor Christmas” we will begin with the lowest item on the totem pole and count down to the most coveted (my most coveted, anyway). So, without further ado, here goes.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 wild hogs. For the lowest quarry on the totem pole, because I dislike them so much, are wild hogs. I recently read an article that described how the wild hog could be a bigger problem for our turkey population than all other nest predators combined. If that’s true, killing more will make the season the merrier.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 11 Bullfrogs. With the ability to catch 25 per night, I don’t think that asking for 11 frogs is too much. Catching frogs is as much fun as you can shake a stick, or gig, at. Plus, they are delicious! One of my regrets from this summer is that I didn’t take a frog hunting trip, because I could surely go for some pan hoppers about now.

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 10 largemouth bass. I’m not sure whether I want ten largemouth bass, or a ten pound largemouth bass. Either way, when the weather is good, largemouth bass are hard to beat. I cut my teeth in the fishing world on largemouth bass and it’s one of my favorite things to do when time allows. The best thing about bass fishing is you can catch an ol’ ditch pickle just about anywhere.

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 9 Mourning Doves. The daily limit on doves is 15, but I’d have to shoot five boxes of shells to get to that. As high as ammo is right now, I’ll gladly settle for nine. Another great social event, dove hunting is great for all ages. And once you’re done, it’s hard to beat fresh dove breasts wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a jalepeno pepper on the grill. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 8 fox squirrels. Earlier this hunting season, I had the chance to watch a bunch of fox squirrels on a hunt in the Delta. Not as common as the grey squirrel of the piney woods, these suckers were everywhere! While watching them, I couldn’t help but think of how good one would look mounted on our bookshelf. If I had a .22 rifle with me on the trip, I may have fulfilled that vision.

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 7 flathead catfish. Why only seven, you ask? Because more than seven is just too much to clean. I’m not talkin’ about some 3-4 pound flatheads, I’m talkin’ about some 15-20 pounders. They are the best tasting catfish in the world, and I won’t entertain any arguments against that. The best ways to catch them are on live bait, or my favorite way…with your hands!

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 6 coyotes. The last time that I was camping and hunting, a quiet night’s sleep was ruined with the howling of a pack of coyotes. During their calling, which seemed like forever, I could make out that there were at least six of them in the pack. Coyotes are bad for turkeys, cows, deer, and just about anything else. Although I have zero intentions of eating them, given the opportunity, I would like to kill all six of them…and any more that are around.

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 5 Mahi Mahi. Mahi is my favorite saltwater fish to eat. And the greatest thing about them, unlike Red Snapper, is in Mississippi there is no limit to how many you can catch! So, find a grass line and get to work, the grill awaits!

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 4 Mallards. I’ve never been much of a duck hunter before, but with each passing year my urge grows stronger. There’s just something about the action and watching the dogs work that draws me to the sport. Perhaps the one thing that’s been holding me back all of these years is that it can be quite an expensive hobby. As easily as I get hooked on new things in the outdoors, if I get into duck hunting I might have to ask myself, “Do the kids really need to go to college that bad?”

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 3 giant bucks. Earlier this year, I got myself into a pickle with this WCU/USM Big Buck Contest. I’ve got faith in the guys that I picked to get us a win, but the control freak in me says I need to fill all three of my slots to ensure a victory!

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 2 alligators. With it being the number two, and seeing that you only get to kill two alligators per tag holder, did you really thing I’d choose anything else? The annual alligator season is one of my most “looked forward to” times of the year. This year’s season was quite the adventure, and I can’t wait until next August to do it again!

And on the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a turkey gobbling in front of me. The running joke around me is that I’ve never killed a turkey. If I could ask for one thing for Christmas, and one thing only, it would be to put that joke to rest and kill my first Mississippi gobbler. Who knows, maybe next year is my year! I hope you all enjoy the holiday season…happy hunting!

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