It has been an exciting year in the South Texas outdoors.
Bristled up bucks with swollen necks roamed the brush country in early January as the South Texas rut wound down. As the breeding season for South Texas whitetail deer wrapped up flights of migrating sandhill cranes soared overhead.
Impressive flights of snow geese crowded ranch country lakes and thousands of redheaded ducks wintered along the Laguna Madre.
Early spring featured spectacular trout fishing, and many anglers reeled in trout of 30 inches or better. Flounder made a remarkable recovery after several years of low numbers, and the tasty flat fish provided excellent table fare.
Spirited gobbling of wild turkeys echoed through the oak motts and mesquite thickest as gaudy gobblers strutted to impress the hens.
The spring migration brought thousands of birds and birders to South Padre Island and some migrants like the colorful painted bunting became summer residents in the ranch land.
Native red crowned parrots sought out nest cavities in old tree hollows, while hooded orioles tucked heir finely woven nests under palm fronds.
Some very large diamondback rattlesnakes slithered across sandy senderos and this one in particular was a solid six feet.
Along the coast, colonial waterbirds busily fed their babies, and these brown pelicans were among the first to successfully raise young in the area in years.
By late June and early July whitetail deer were having their fawns, and despite below average rainfall there was a good fawn crop.
Throughout the year there were spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and the year culminated with several of the most impressive whitetail bucks ever encountered in the ranch country.
And if you are like me, you are already excited to see what natural wonders the New Year will bring in the South Texas outdoors.