Waterfowl hunters head for the home stretch
Hunters willing to put in some extra time scouting have been able to locate late season birds.
For The Record- Capt Chuck Uzzle
Just like the old saying “all good things must come to an end” the 2016-17
waterfowl season is almost over. This weekend will be the final chance for
hunters in Louisiana while Texas duck and goose hunters will have one more week
to finish as their season ends on Jan 29th. For plenty of local hunters it
feels like the season already ended as this crazy weather pattern has made
staying on the birds a challenge. Hunters who have been willing to put in the
scouting time and be flexible are still shooting their birds but they are
certainly working for them.
Without a doubt the hunters who are locked in on a freshwater pattern are having
the most success. After the last round of thunderstorms and rain the saltwater
marshes seemed to just empty out as the birds headed for the prairies and other
areas that were holding fresh water. One of the best bets has been along river
bottoms where water levels took a much needed jump after the rains. The freshly
flooded areas have been magnets for good concentrations of mallards, gadwall and
of course wood ducks. Finding an area that’s holding these concentrations is
like finding a gold mine and it certainly takes some effort so don’t think it
will be easy. Use all the resources available like satellite photos, other maps,
and good old fashioned burning gas and covering ground.
Closer to home it almost seems like September as the numbers of teal in the area
have helped fill straps for many hunters. Throughout the season there have been
waves of teal come into the area for a few days and then seemingly over night
vanish. This last big influx of green winged teal that showed up has almost
taken up residence they’ve been here so long. With no really major cold
conditions in the immediate forecast the teal should hang around for a while
longer and hopefully stay until the season ends.
With the final few days staring hunters squarely in the eye now may be the time
to make that hunt or try something different you have been putting off all
season. Put standard decoy spreads and techniques aside and try something new
like using fewer decoys. A simple spread of just a few decoys often will produce
some amazing results, especially during the last weeks of the season when the
birds get extremely skittish. Going easy on the calling also helps out as well.
Limit yourself to soft calls or whistles and leave the aggressive hail calls
alone. Also think about not even calling at all when birds are headed towards
your decoy spread, if they want in there leave them alone, no extra calling
necessary. If the ducks pass you by then give them a call, that’s a much more
As we count down the days until the season officially ends it’s hard to believe
how fast it’s gone by. Every year is remembered for something and this one will
certainly be no different. Hopefully the final days of the regular will help us
to remember that this season was a good one. Take advantage of the final week
because it will seem like a lifetime until teal season rolls back around.