The 2012-2013 general hunting season opened up just as hot as most had hoped for and in some cases it was even better than one could dream. The mass exodus from all the major towns for opening weekend is only dwarfed by a storm evacuation, and that may still be cutting it close. All the major traffic arteries take on the look of a rolling sporting goods store as trailers are loaded down with any and every conceivable hunting tool known to man. ATV’s and coolers are probably the most traveled items and it seems like every vehicle on the road is either carrying, towing, or dragging one along.

One of the more popular destinations for hunters during opening weekend and beyond is the Texas hill country where the deer populations are staggering. Many of the counties in this deer rich portion of the state were fortunate enough to get timely rains during the year and that has enabled the natural vegetation to remain in good shape for the deer herds. The drought from last season has still lingered around in a few areas but for the most part this area of the state has flourished.

Many of the deer hunters I spoke with said the deer population was doing well and the average antler growth was something to be excited about. I received text messages all weekend from various deer blinds as hunters took pictures of some really nice deer. All I can say is if opening weekend was this good it may be unreal once the rut kicks into high gear. Hopefully some cooler weather with be here soon and decide to stay around for a while, that should get things really going.

On a complete opposite end of the spectrum as far as geography goes was another large population of Texas hunters, the waterfowlers. For several weeks now duck and goose hunters have been being bombarded with good news and predictions of record numbers of ducks. So far those forecasts have been rather accurate and get stronger every day. A great barometer to

Blake Permenter of Orangefield took this dandy west Texas 10 point buck on opening weekend.

help judge just how many birds are in the area is by checking on hunter success rates at public hunting areas like J.D. Murphree. Over the weekend local hunters averaged 3.5 birds on Saturday and 4.5 birds per hunter on Sunday which is very good on public lands.

Farther down the coast and onto the prairie the hunting was absolutely fantastic. I spoke to Bink Grimes who guides for Bill Sherrill Waterfowl near Wharton and they had a phenomenal opening weekend as all 8 groups on both Saturday and Sunday shot limits rather quickly. Gadwall, widgeon, and teal filled most of the straps along with several pintails. The population of geese, especially speckled bellied geese, is building in that area with each passing front. Snow geese are beginning to trickle in along with the Sandhill cranes.

The overall numbers of ducks and geese for this early in the season are very impressive and will do nothing but continue to grow. The lack of water to our north along with some much needed cold weather will usher in a potentially record number of ducks to the state of Texas in the coming weeks and that is certainly music to the ears of every waterfowl hunter I know.

Mason and Cassie Grizzaffi are all smiles after hunting on opening weekend.