Road trips, Rockport and redheads
In what has become a much anticipated yearly event in my household, the Christmas break from school means a hunting road trip to a new destination and an opportunity to see both some different country and hunt some different birds. In years past the destination of choice had always been north to chase Canada geese, from Minnesota to Amarillo and all points in between. This year however due to scheduling conflicts and other time constraints I decided to go in a new direction, head south down the Texas coast and sample some of the famous bay hunting to be had in the Rockport area.
After several weeks of preparation and phone calls to close friends who live and guide in the area all the plans were set and my crew headed out. On this trip were my son Hunter, Jonah and Chance Lemoine of Bridge City, and my dog Sally. Both Jonah and Chance made the trip last year with us to Amarillo and there was no way we were going to be able to keep them away from another adventure. So in all that nasty weather last week we took off and headed south towards Rockport and hopefully a memorable trip.
After doing some research I had decided not to bring my boat and take advantage of the unguided hunts that most of the local guides offer. For a very reasonable rate you can get an airboat ride to a blind on the bay where a decoy spread is already out and waiting for you. The guides will drop you off and come back later in the morning to pick you up at a pre-determined time. This style of hunt is a definite winner in my book due to the fact that all of the real leg work and trouble is taken out of the equation so all you have to do is hunt. Unless you have an airboat there is a ton of land that is inaccessible with an outboard and much of this is prime habitat for the ducks in the area. It is possible to take your own boat and hunt other productive areas and do well on a do it yourself style of hunt but the trade off is marginal in my book.
We met Capt. Aaron Mack at the boat launch and loaded up all our gear and made the 15 minute run across just inches of water out to our blind. The big spread of decoys and well brushed blind were just as I had hoped, in good shape and ready to go. For folks who hunt the marsh here locally the blinds in the bay resemble little “taco stands.” They are out in the wide open and far from hidden like a pit in a rice field but they work surprisingly well. One bit of advice I found helpful was to bring a few dozen of your own decoys in order to help the spread look even bigger. Also decoys like pintails and other divers like buffleheads, golden eyes, and scaup are very useful due to the amount of white on them that stick out and really get the birds attention.
After we adjusted the spread a little for the wind we had there was nothing left to do but wait. As legal shooting time arrived the show started and kept going for the next four hours as waves of thousands of redheads filled the air. Now since you can only shoot two redheads per person we picked out the beautiful drakes from the flocks that would buzz our location or work the decoys. The shooting was fast and steady for most of each the mornings we hunted and there was no shortage of birds by any stretch of the imagination. We took a mixed bag each day consisting of redheads, pintails, scaup, and even buffleheads. The whole experience was amazing in its own way and far different from hunting the marshes we have locally. This is definitely a trip that every waterfowl hunter should do at least once.
After three days of hunting the bays and flats around Rockport we took off and headed north for one more stop on this road trip. Our next destination on this tour would be Wharton and a day in the blind with my good friend Bink Grimes who guides for Bill Sherrill’s Waterfowl. The land that Sherrill manages is widely regarded as some of the best in the state if not the nation; this is truly a paradise for duck and goose hunters. In fact it’s so good a pair of Sherrill’s long time customers just recently completed their 500th consecutive hunt where they shot limits, that’s right, 500 limits in a row! As for our hunt we were treated to a show as thousands of geese traded fields all around us and the ducks showed up out of nowhere to dive bomb into our decoy spread. An absolutely fantastic way to finish up our trip with limits of ducks and a few bonus geese.
As we checked out of our hotel and got some lunch for the road I could hear Hunter, Jonah, and Chance already plotting on next year’s trip. If it’s anything like this year’s I can hardly wait.
To contact Capt. Aaron Mack (361)765-2345 or Bill Sherrill’s Waterfowl (979)532-1789.