Sunday morning I stepped out of my garage before heading for church and was pleasantly surprised to hear my first flock of speckle bellied geese doing their unmistakable “yodel” that all waterfowl hunters are familiar with. The flock of about 30 geese was drifting east and made a stark contrast against the blue sky. My son Hunter, who had come to watch, stood beside me with a smile on his face almost as big as mine said “it’s almost time” to which I nodded in agreement.

The general Texas waterfowl season opens November 2nd and with the amount of ducks and geese headed south down the flyway it just may be timed out perfectly. For those hunters who want to get a jump on the season they can take a youth as the annual Youth Weekend runs from Oct 26th to the 27th.

Speaking of youth hunts one of the more popular public hunting areas locally has some new regulations and taking a youth hunting is part of the prerequisite required to hunt there. The Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area Old River Unit #728 has a new Adult/Youth hunting area. On the west side of Highway 87 the area that most local hunters refer to as “the Square Pond” now requires a youth hunter to be present in all parties inside the leveed area. Also no more than 2 groups at a time can be inside the area hunting.

This is a huge change from years past where the crowds in this area and the hunting pressure were unbelievable. The remainder of the unit is still under the old regs and can be hunted without any special restriction other than the rules in the Public Hunting guide.

I’m sure opening weekend will be a controversy waiting to happen as many hunters will no doubt be unaware of the new changes. Rest assured the game wardens will be there to sort out the problems.

On the subject of sorting out your hunting problems, if you have not been by Simon Outfitters new location on MacArthur Drive and seen the impressive selection of waterfowl gear they now carry you are really missing out. Along with all the best fishing gear they already carried there is now plenty of gear for the hunter as well. Perhaps the best thing in my opinion is the fact that they carry steel shot, and plenty of it. It’s so nice to have a local store that has the capability of stocking or ordering the specific shot sizes each waterfowl hunter likes to shoot. Along with steel shot there are plenty of duck calls, decoys by Greenhead Gear, dog training supplies, camo clothing, jackets, and other accessories. It’s a really nice selection of gear and best of all its right here local. If you haven’t been in there you need to check it out because I’m sure they will save you a trip and some hassle from going somewhere else.

The next week will be a busy one for local waterfowl hunters as final preparations are made for opening day. The full moon we had on the 19th really ushered in a good number of birds to the area and they should keep coming throughout the week. The reports from farther up the flyway indicate good numbers of ducks and geese heading south, hopefully they make all the way down here and all the hard work done before the season pays off.