As duck season this year opened up with a flurry of action in the local marshes, most hunters were trying to make up for the previous dismal seasons. Reports of plenty of ducks and easy limits appeared to erase some of the disgust associated with last year’s results. On several occasions during the first part of the split season, I was greeted at the boat launch by happy hunters who were returning from quick and successful outings. As the second half of the season opened up it was as different as night and day; the ducks were nowhere to be found and area hunters began to flashback to last year. Promises of record numbers of birds in the annual migration so far have not been realized due to a serious lack of cold weather on the coastal prairie. In order to get their “fix,” many local hunters have begun to travel to north Texas and Oklahoma ,as well as, farther down south along the coast where they continue to have quality hunts.
Right now if a grade were handed down that summed up this years water fowl season so far, it would more than likely be a C-, a little below average. There are roughly five weeks left in the general water fowl season and perhaps a big finish awaits. Much of the flyway to the north is beginning to freeze up and reports from the Texas Oklahoma border have new birds coming into the area daily, especially geese. Now I, like most water fowl hunters, have heard the stories before and waited with great anticipation only to see the biggest bunch of ducks show up after the season closed. This year, the general season runs late into January and that just may be the saving grace. Only time will tell. Until then the best way to increase your success is by being mobile and doing plenty of scouting. Putting in the time to scout now, when many other hunters have thrown in the towel, can pay off with some good hunts, especially on public lands. Don’t give up now because you just may miss some of the best hunts of the year. The weather will certainly be cooler than early season and that in itself will be a relief. Like anyone who enjoys the sport, all you can do is look for the positives and keep grinding it out and hope that eventually the birds will show.
Now on a more positive note, the folks who have been chasing deer are just flat out having an excellent year. I spoke to a couple of local game wardens recently and they told me that they had been seeing some nice deer that had been taken locally, as well as, plenty of deer in general. The last several seasons where the cover had been so thick from all the rainfall made for tough hunting and ,consequently, the deer population had a nice increase. Those tough seasons have translated into more deer roaming the piney woods than we have had in a long time. The overall health of the deer is very good because available forage has been plentiful, thanks in part, to just enough rain at the right times this year. Both antler and body development have been above average for most of the deer in East Texas.
Speaking of antler and body development, my friend Joe Meyer sent me a great photo of a buck his wife Norma took on their ranch in South Texas. The magnificent buck scored a whopping 166 and 1/8th while weighing in at 170 pounds field dressed, talk about a monster. Currently Norma’s deer is leading both the legendary Muy Grande and Freer Deer Camp big buck contests in the women’s divisions. This big buck will certainly be a tough one to top and should be at the top of the leader board for quite some time. Congratulations Norma on a super buck.