If you had asked anyone who hunts here in Southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana what they thought the 2008-09 hunting season was going to be like after the Ike I bet you most of the responses would have ranged from terrible to worse than terrible. Immediately after Ike there was a little ray of hope some hunters as the early teal season went on like nothing ever happened. Yes the folks who hunt the marsh or near coastal waters were basically out of business but everyone else was enjoying some excellent action. Rice fields, crawfish ponds, and other areas holding fresh water produced some great shoots and gave duck hunters a little reason to be optimistic.

As October rolled around we began to see a bigger influx of teal and the speckled bellied geese started showing up along the prairies.
The folks who hunt the local marshes and originally believed their season was going to be dismal at best watched as October produced a few important rains and allowed some new grass to take hold. By the time the season opened the local marshes were in perhaps the best shape they had been in quite some time. Those poor folks who hunt the Burton’s Ditch area and had struggled for many years were rewarded this season with just some outstanding hunts. The gadwalls were in there so thick it was almost like the “good old days,” birds everywhere and easy limits. I talked to several hunters who just were in disbelief of how good the hunting was, especially after the terrible damage that was done during the storm.

The super hot hunting cooled down some after the split but remained above average for the remainder of the season. It was awesome to see all the different species of birds that just stayed in the area. This year it seems like there was an abundance of wigeon in our area, slightly uncommon but very welcome. The teal just seemed to be everywhere and rarely ever left for long periods. Overall the numbers of birds in the area was well above what most folks including myself predicted.

Now that the general season has come to a close the special conservation season will take over and allow the really die hard folks a few more chances to take geese until they finally leave the area. Speaking of leave the area it appears that the snow geese are already leaving and heading north. Many of the guides along the prairie in places like Bay City, El Campo, and Garwood are reporting their poulations of geese are already starting to dwindle. In Jefferson and Liberty counties it appears the same thing is happening as well. For most of the year there have been a couple of areas that had consistenly held geese in big numbers and those areas are starting to get smaller as well. Many reports from farther north all the way to the panhandle area are seeing new snow geese show up daily. The majority of the guides and outfitters to the north don’t target the snow geese during the normal season when they primarily focus on canada geese. With the special conservation now taking place many of these guides will turn their attention to the snows and it will be wild to say the least. Since these birds receive little to no pressure during the general season they are much less wary and decoy a little more readily at this time which makes for some awesome hunts. Late season snow goose hunting in the panhandle is a trip well worth the time and effort.

For many waterfowl hunters the season ended way too quickly and just the thought of waiting until September is a sad and sobering experience. I hope to scratch the “waterfowl itch” a time or two before putting all my gear away until next year. A trip to Amarillo is in the near future and hopefully I can squeeze one more good snow goose hunt in before I officially call it quits this year and start dreaming about next season. The one big consolation to the whole problem is that it’s now time to go catch a big speckled trout and I’m sure we can all handle that.