For The Record-  Capt Chuck Uzzle

For all those hunters who have spent the last couple of months waking early,
fighting the weather, and staring at the skies in search of ducks it’s almost
over. In what feels like the blink of an eye the Texas duck season that started
back in September with early Teal will end on Sunday leaving waterfowlers
wishing for more. The light geese conservation season will allow hunters a
chance to keep chasing birds but for the majority of duck hunters it will be a
long 8 month wait until the next season kicks off. Local hunters who cross the
Sabine river saw their season end this past weekend and for many it was
uneventful due to the warmer weather. At least according to the latest forecast
the final weekend will be cooler for those who head out for one last closing
hunt.
So far this season has really been a series of highs and lows for most hunters,
it was truly feast or famine. Out of the gate both Louisiana and Texas started
off about as hot as you could ever hope for. Huge numbers of teal and gadwall
covered up spreads from the saltwater marshes to inland rice fields. All the
rains at the perfect times had many areas lush, green, and full of the best food
available. I made several trips to scout some rice fields early in the season
and was just absoultely blown away at the amount of ducks that were here early,
it was amazing. As it usually happens the shooting during the first week or so
was incredible and so was the hunting pressure. It didn’t take long for the
ducks to get out of the rice and look for food in other areas like freshwater
lakes and brackish marshes.
The next several weeks for both Texas and Louisiana were consistent and solid,
the weather and ducks both cooperated as the first half ended leaving hunters
anxious to crank the second split up. Then like a bad dream everything slowed
down, a season on fire suddenly got as cold as ice. A warming trend farther up
the flyway just basically held up any new ducks during the migration which in
turn put even more pressure on birds already in the area. It didn’t take long
for those ducks to get smart or get shot and that was a bad combination any way
you look at it.
As the final month of the season got started the weather got colder and more new
birds began to fill the marshes and the hunting drastically improved. Local
refuges and public hunting areas seemed to be revived and that was like a shot
in the arm to many hunters who had all but written off the season. Another big
influx of birds began to arrive locally and the hunting took another step up
only to suffer one small set back in the form of heavy rains that flooded just
about everything. The flooded prairies now offered ducks new areas to rest and
feed which meant it was much harder to find huntable concentrations of birds
because they were spread out seemingly everywhere. A few hunters took advantage
of the situation and got some great hunts in flooded oak flats that were full of
mallards and wood ducks. Others concentrated on scouting more and locked down a
few areas that were overflowing with green winged teal where they had some super
hunts. As always the persistent hunters who were willing to go the extra mile
continued to have success while others lamented the bad conditions.

This weekend will conclude what has been overall an average year for many
hunters. The early season success had many, including myself, believing that
this year may be one for the books but as usual those hopes were dashed by a
multitude of factors lead by weather. For me personally the year was well below average, the ducks
were here today and gone tomorrow. It was truly frustrating for the most part. I did manage some really good hunts out of state
and that’s what saved my sanity. Thank goodness for those few hunts.
As we now are at the end of the season it’s always tough because
you have to stare at the calendar and start counting the days all over again.
Waiting on September to roll around once more and usher in the high hopes and
expectations that every waterfowler always has.