Saturday marks the annual “Texas Holiday” known as opening day of hunting season and there is no shortage of high hopes or expectations among local hunters. The overall outlook for our part of Texas is about as good as one could ask for without being greedy.

Rainfall at just the right times during the late summer has vegetation from the pineywoods to the saltwater marshes looking green and fertile. A few areas between here locally and the big lakes to the north are a little dry but for the most part everything appears to be perfect for opening day of the Texas general hunting season.

So far the early seasons for both deer hunters and waterfowl hunters have been average to above average and beyond. Archery only season that encompassed the month of October saw some great deer taken by local hunters. The majority of the deer I saw were really healthy and in good shape. Antler growth, especially in areas where hunters have become more management minded towards quality have been impressive.

The new antler restrictions have certainly played a part in a healthier deer herd for East Texas hunters as younger bucks are being allowed to grow and mature. The greater number of mature bucks will only perpetuate better and bigger deer for future seasons. If there is a drawback for the deer hunters it’s the tremendous crop of acorns that are falling daily. The bumper crop of acorns and a big full moon has deer movement around supplemental feeders at a minimum, especially during daylight hours. The prepared hunter who is ready to stay late may be rewarded with a shot long after the early birds are back at camp eating breakfast.

If there is any group in better shape than the deer hunters it has to be the local waterfowl hunters. The numbers of ducks in our area for the season opener is about as impressive as anyone can remember in recent years. The same full moon that has deer hunters concerned is working magic for the waterfowler hunters since the ducks and geese do the majority of their migrating at night.

This past week big numbers of speckle bellied geese showed up all along the coastal prairies and another big wave of Canada geese hit the panhandle as well. The snow goose numbers will surely increase in the next week or so and continue to grow with each successive front. Duck numbers are already good as the big numbers of teal that were already here have combined with some huge numbers of gadwall, pintail, shovelers, and widgeon.

This past week most duck hunters have resembled an army of ants as they have been making final preparations on their blinds. Trailer loads of cane, palms, and other vegetation have been stacked up at the boat launches as hunters shuttle the loads to their blinds.

I even saw a few hunters who must have a little nicer blind than I have hauling out a satellite dish and small stove, talk about roughing it. The different amenities each hunter brings out to their blind are as varied as the hunters themselves and that covers a wide range for sure. The one thing they all have in common is that they are eagerly waiting legal shooting time on Saturday morning.

For those taking to the woods or the marshes this weekend be sure to keep safety in mind because there will be a heavy population of hunters out there. Follow all the rules, double check your licenses and stamps, and by all means enjoy your time afield.