6 yr old Halen Maxwell is all smiles as he proudly shows off his first ducks.

For The Record- By Chuck Uzzle

After a 12 day layoff the Texas duck season is set to resume once again on
December 10th and it happens to fall just perfect after the coldest weather of
the year. The weather man appears to have cooperated as forecasts call for
freezing and near freezing temps for several days leading up to Saturday’s
opener. Reports from farther up the flyway suggest the biggest influx of birds
has yet to happen as they migrate from the north. Many outfitters I have spoken
with say the same thing and that is they believe the biggest migration is about
two weeks behind schedule. If that is truly the case then the coastal hunters
should be in for a great second half of the year. Due to many factors such as
lack of available water in many areas to the north and the coldest weather of
the year on the horizon it would make perfect sense to see a major increase of
ducks and geese to this part of the state. The only problem with that theory is
that ducks and geese don’t read so for the time being all local hunters can do
is chase the birds that are here.
As far as chasing birds are concerned I have really noticed an increase in the
number of hunters, especially younger hunters. This is a great thing to see as
they will no doubt be the future of the sport for many years to come but that
also comes with a set of problems. The increased numbers of hunters has upped
the level of competition for prime areas to hunt which in turn has pushed many
hunters to the wrong side of the law. Local public hunting areas that are only
open on specific days are routinely hunted on non-hunting days by those either
ignorant of the law or just brazen enough to do it and not care. I spoke to a
game warden at the launch on Sunday and it was amazing to hear how many calls
they get and citations they write on hunters who continue to hunt off limit
areas.
Another big problem that is much more common to younger or beginning hunters is
bird identification. Now to say that veteran hunters never mistakenly identify a
bird would be completely false because it does happen but not nearly as often as
the beginner. Along with mis-identification there is also the problem with not
knowing the exact limit on different species of birds. You wouldn’t believe how
many hunters show up at a check station believing they are perfectly legal only
to find out they have some how broken the law. In a case like that it’s plain to
see the hunter had no knowledge of breaking the law and had no intent or else
they would not have brought the illegal birds to the check station. The hunters
who knowingly break the law and try to get away with it are a completely
different story and usually are dealt with in a much harsher fashion. Young or
beginning hunters can really help themselves out by reading and studying birds
both in books and in the field. The ability to identify ducks in flight or at
hand is something all waterfowl hunters should strive to perfect.
Hopefully the second split will open up this weekend and the numbers of birds in
the area will equal the anticipation from the local hunters. Looking at all the
factors like weather, tides, and moon phases it sure seems like the odds for
success have increased but only time will tell if it actually happens. Good luck
and be safe.