Waterfowl season in full swing
Texas duck hunters opened the season on a high note.
Capt. Chuck Uzzle
For the Record
Saturday morning will officially usher in the 2018-2019 waterfowl season for all
our local hunters and expectations run the gamut from cautiously optimistic to
gung ho. Texas duck and goose hunters cranked up last weekend and the initial
reports were good overall. Many local marshes that are historically proven
early season producers had limits on average which was a welcome sight.
High water during the late summer jump started vegetation growth in many areas
so the food sources have somewhat changed and the birds have obviously followed.
Several great reports came from public lands where gadwall, pintails, and plenty of teal made up the
majority of the straps. A decent amount of widgeon were also taken by several hunters I spoke
with as well.
Local hunters who cross the Sabine River and chase ducks and geese in Louisiana
will get their first opportunity as the season opens in the Coastal Zone on
Saturday morning. Many hunters running the marshes reported a decent influx of
birds last weekend during the Youth Only hunts. Saturday’s youth results were
much slower compared to Sunday’s according to the reports I received as it
seemed overnight the numbers of birds in area took a big jump. These small
fronts we have been getting are certainly helping bolster the number of ducks
that are already here. Everything right now points to a huge population of birds
on the move as some really cold weather is set to invade Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
The big push should move some better numbers of birds into Southeast Texas and South Louisiana.
Late summer rains have the local marshes flush with good grass which should provide plenty of food and
perfect habitat heading into the season.
Farther down the Texas coast the opening weekend brought better reports overall
as quick limits were the norm in areas around Matagorda, El Campo, and Garwood.
Solid populations of speckled bellied geese were bonus birds for duck hunters
fortunate enough to have combo shoots near agricultural fields. The
concentrations of birds were a bit more predictable down there for those who had
plenty of water. Pumping water onto prime locations is big business and in years
past the opportunity to have “duck water” was at a premium. This year the higher
than normal summer rainfall helped out the farmers and hunters alike when it
came time to pump and many outfitters reaped huge benefits. Some of the prime
areas in that part of the state have not looked this good at this time of the
year in quite some time. The opening weekend was basically just an extension of
the great teal season for hunters in that part of the state. In fact the blue
wings and green wings made up a good bit of the numbers of ducks taken for many
hunters. Perhaps the biggest bonus during the opener was the amount of pintails
that have already shown up. Several hunters reported taking their pintails early
and then getting the opportunity to just watch a few flocks work their decoys.
Going forward for waterfowlers the biggest concern will be weather and that
always seems to be the case. It’s been a tough stretch for the last several
seasons and that trend appears to be continuing, in fact the Farmer’s Almanac is
actually calling for a dry warm winter and that’s exactly what we don’t want.
Regardless of the forecast most waterfowlers will continue to battle through the
conditions in one way or another. Many hunters will go as hard as they can
locally and then get on the road if necessary to seek out other opportunities.
Hopefully we can get some cooperation from both the weather and the birds
because local hunters are certainly due for a break.