I drew for the second White Oak Creek WMA gun deer hunt this year which happened Nov 18-20th. We took the RV and stayed at Daingerfield State Park which is one of the prettier parks in East Texas. We were in site 37 which is one of the full hookups in the Mountain View area. We got set up Tuesday before the hunt. Wobbles had fun riding her bike in an area that was free from speeding cars.
COVID has changed the check-in process a little and there was no main orientation. Compartments were preassigned and we could check in any time between 8 and 10. I drew compartment 17 which is the biggest one in the WMA at 2500+ acres. The recommendations for this hunt are to have an ATV or UTV and after spending 3 days on 2500 acres, I see why.
Wednesday, I went to a section south of the second parking lot which is what the WMA biologist had suggested. I had my climbing stand and after walking for a couple of miles, ended up putting it up in a cleared area which in retrospect probably wasn’t a good idea. The clearing was largely surrounded with brambles and I’m skeptical much game ever utilized the area.
I didn’t hunt Thursday morning because Mara and Wobbles were headed back home and I wanted to help them get ready. Once at the WMA in the late morning, I went north from the same parking lot and found a lot of tracks and sign that direction. Unfortunately, every time I left the levee roads and went into the woods, it was mostly a jungle. I’ve been on other WMAs like Old Sabine and Pat Mayse where there can be some thick areas but there are usually also some areas of less overgrowth. I struggled to find any place like that on this hunt.
Thursday night I ended up sitting beneath a tree on a firebrake lane. Walking in, I’m pretty sure I jumped a deer though I couldn’t see anything through the overgrowth. Nothing ever came down the lane that night but I did see about 15 squirrels. White Oak seems to be squirrel heaven and if I can find some time between now and end of season, I might go back out there for a day.
Friday morning, because I hadn’t been able to find any place that was really reasonable territory, I just parked at the very first parking spot and walked about 400 yards into the woods there. This turned out to be the best habitat I’d seen which is ironic since I specifically walked so much to get away from easy access points in hopes of having better hunting. Right off the first parking lot is a gently sloped area of pine trees that are not over grown. I ended up sitting beneath one of these pine trees.
About 8 AM, I caught a flash of movement on my right and turned to see at least 3 deer slowly making their way through the area. Because they were on my right, I couldn’t get my gun up and so I tried to work around to the other side of the tree. I think they must have caught some movement or a scent because as I peeked out, the lead doe was staring right at me. She looked for about 10 seconds and decided to head for safer pastures.
It was a hard hunt made harder by no pre scouting and no ATV. Looking back at the topography map, I think I should have hunted off the main parking area up through those woods. The area with the levees is bounded on one side by a creek and Jennings lake. There looked to be some good habitat in there but I never could find away across the creek. However, I could have accessed that area pretty easily from the original parking area.
When I turned in my tags, another hunter came in with a buck from compartment 9 and said he’d seen a bunch of deer. It’s closer to the river and probably has more suitable habitat. I assume compartment 17 does as well but exploring on foot really limited my ability to find it in the 2 days I had.
Overall, it was a good hunt. I do know that it has to be a great place to squirrel hunt. Every time I sat down either in my stand or on the ground, I saw multiple squirrels within easy .22 range. I also know it’s an incredible wood duck habitat. Every time I walked up to either the creek or Jennings Lake, I jumped 5-7 wood ducks. At one point, I managed to sneak up without startling a flock and they are really beautiful ducks. I didn’t get any pictures but I probably say 20-30 wood ducks.
I have another hunt in 2 weeks at Nannie Stringfellow. It will be in box blinds over bait so I’ll have less work trying to find a place to hunt. If I don’t get a deer or hog then, I may try to get back out to White Oak before season ends. It’s archery only now and probably won’t have much pressure on it.
These WMAs are always interesting places and if you explore them enough you find odd things. My compartment had this old small bridge that was probably 12 feet high over a small creek. I have no idea why it would exist. I do know that the area I hunted was near Stephenson’s Ferry but I don’t think this would be related. I also found a deflated group of party balloons on the ground about 1.5 miles down one of the levee roads back in the woods. I would have thought it would have been hung up in the trees and it was odd to find it laying on the ground as if someone carried these balloons in there and tied them to a tree.
In the past on White Oak, I found an old house foundation with associated junk around including a baby feeding chair from around the 50s. I can’t find what the history of the WMA is other than it’s Army COE land that is managed by the State of Texas.