Hard to believe we are already half way done with the 2014-2015 duck season but it’s already here.  This weekend marks the opening of the second split for Texas duck hunters in the south zone while our neighbors to the east in Louisiana will be idle. The second half for Louisiana hunters will re-open on December the 20th one week after Texas re-opens.  So far the overall report has been very good from both sides of the Sabine River as local hunters have cashed in on an outstanding population of waterfowl in the area. All of the pre-season worry about the saltwater in the marshes, higher tides, and a lack of grass apparently was a false alarm as it hasn’t hurt the hunting in most areas.

The weather for the first half has been a little warmer than most folks would like but it’s been far from bad. The mild temperatures and just right mix of cold fronts has made the first half of the season almost enjoyable. The cooler and windier conditions have also helped curb the numbers of mosquitoes waterfowl hunters must deal with and that in itself has been a huge bonus. Unlike the coming months when the weather will certainly get tougher the cold fronts of the first split didn’t dry up the marshes with ultra low tides. For the most part there has been plenty of water and that makes accessing your favorite pond a much more enjoyable task. The folks who hunt the Sabine Refuge have been blessed with good water levels so far which has kept many hunters from pushing their boats across mud flats to a minimum.  All in all the conditions and numbers of ducks for both the Texas and Louisiana first half of the season have been really good.

Now if you are not hunting Texas and are waiting for Louisiana to re-open now is the time to take care of any maintenance you have been putting off. First thing that comes to mind is re-brushing and repairing blinds. A new coat of brush on an existing blind will help with concealment and also give you an opportunity to scout while you are in the area. Do your best to break up any outlines and look as natural as possible. Keeping your blind from looking like a taco stand in the middle of a pond will increase your success tenfold. The hunters who take the time to really blend their blinds into the natural surroundings are usually the ones with the heaviest straps of ducks when they reach the cleaning table.

Another item that may require some maintenance is your decoys. Take a few minutes to wash them up really well and inspect the cords and weights. Most hunters have gone to Texas Rigging their decoys for the convenience but some still put theirs in bags. Decoys are a big investment for waterfowl hunters and they need to be properly cared for when hunting and when they are being stored. Always remember that when you buy decoys you get what you pay for, period. Without a doubt the gold standard for durability in decoys are the G and H brand made in Oklahoma. These decoys hold up as well or better than any others on the market. The G and H decoys are hard to scuff, hold their paint, and will weather the occasional stray shotgun pellet like a champ. I have been using them for years and have no complaints.

One other thing to be sure and take a look at is your shotgun shell supply, many big box stores will start clearing out their inventory and make it harder to find your favorite load. Simon Outfitter’s in Orange has taken a lot of the guesswork and hassle out of the equation for local hunters as they keep a good supply on hand. It’s always nice to go in there and be able to get the shell you want at any time during the season. We are getting ready for the home stretch of duck season so be sure to have all your gear in order because it will be here and happening before you know it.