Well after several extremely disappointing seasons local water fowl hunters were finally rewarded with an above average crop of ducks and geese.

The first half of duck season, which ends this weekend in Texas, was as good as many people can remember in a long time. Hunters all along our area were treated with solid numbers of birds and plenty of opportunities. Perhaps the highlight so far has been the presence of so many different species in our area.

The average strap of gadwall, teal, and shovelers is being upgraded with redheads, buffleheads, and a surprising number of mallards despite less than ideal conditions on this end of the flyway.

Speaking of flyways, there are a ton of birds jumping from the Mississippi flyway over to Texas and the Central flyway daily. After speaking with several guides and biologists on the subject most believe that the damage done to the freshwater marshes of Louisiana is the reason the birds are heading west.

More than likely these birds reached the end of the flyway in Louisiana or Mississippi and there wasn’t anything to eat due to saltwater intrusion. Without food or freshwater it was inevitable that these birds would leave and seek better conditions. For the past week the snow geese have poured through Orange and Jefferson counties in search of a better place to roost.

The ducks have been quick to follow as well flying in the moonlight making their way along the Texas coast and prairie. It will be interesting to see if any of the migration patterns change due to hurricanes devastation on Louisiana and Mississippi, only time will tell.

Looking ahead to second split of the waterfowl season local hunters will be most concerned about water levels due to stronger cold fronts. December is famous for emptying out the marshes and leaving them nearly dry overnight as strong north winds blow with each successive front.

The low water makes getting to blinds and floating decoys a major challenge. If the weather somewhat cooperates look for the second half of the season to be strong as more birds continue to reach the coast. Most hunters reported an average to above average first split. It should make things nice after the layoff when new birds reach the area and local hunters won’t be shooting the same groups of birds that had been here for some time.

These birds get wise in a hurry and avoid “hot” ponds where the shooting tends to be on a more regular basis. As new birds come down and reinforce the numbers already here look for the hunting to pick back up and for a marvelous season to continue.

If you will be hunting during the second half of the season be sure to add a couple of goose decoys to your duck spread, these birds coming into our area from the east will present some great opportunities for the prepared hunter. Both speckle bellies and snows will decoy to a small spread mixed in with ducks, especially those that are on the coast and are trading from the beach to a roost.

A few full body shells can make all the difference in the world between praying that these birds get low enough to shoot and actually bringing them on in to the spread. Many outfitters down size their spread late in the year opting for a few dozen decoys versus a few hundred. Duck hunters can take a page from that play book and double their chances at taking some extra birds.