Texas duck hunters crank season up again
After a twelve day layoff, the Texas duck season is set to resume once again on Dec. 10 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.