Teal hunters suffer feast or famine opener
Photo: Lawson Burtsfield and Joli took to the marsh this past weekend and enjoyed a good shoot.
Capt. Chuck Uzzle
For the Record
Saturday morning’s early teal season opener began with plenty of odds stacked against most hunters in our area but that fact did not dampen the enthusiasm associated with the opportunity to shoot ducks. Many local hunters actually began to camp out at some of the local public hunting areas on Thursday in hopes of ensuring a prized location for Saturday morning. I must admit, even though I love to hunt teal that I am not mad enough at them to sleep on the road 2 days before a hunt. Regardless of how you got there Saturday morning it was nice to be back in the field with a shotgun in your hand and the opportunity to hunt ducks.
Going into the opening weekend there were 2 very distinct groups of hunters, the ones who would be hunting rice fields and those who would not. The hunters fortunate enough to be overlooking a fresh cut tract of rice on Saturday morning could certainly smile through the dense populations of mosquitoes and hot temperatures because there were plenty of teal to take your mind off the buzzing and the sweat dripping from your forehead. If you happened to be hunting the marsh you had the same conditions to deal with minus the numbers of teal. Overall the hunters who took to the local marshes struggled while the folks in the rice fields burned it up.
All along the coastal prairies the highest numbers of blue winged teal reported prior to the opener came from either freshwater locations or agricultural fields. The saltwater marshes from Winnie over to the east side of Lake Charles were nearly void of any teal leading up to the opener on Saturday. The lack of huntable numbers of birds kept many hunters at home over the weekend while only the die hards braved the less than desirable conditions. The combinations of high temps, constant storms building up off of the coast, and a lack of wind did little to help out those hunters in the coastal marshes.
Easily the best reports and results came from the prairies as many hunters took longer setting out decoys than shooting their limits. As expected the best reports were from hunters on the west side of Houston in areas like Wharton, Matagorda, and Eagle Lake. Also to the east in Louisiana in Welsh, Klondike, Lake Arthur and Gueydan reported quick limits and plenty of birds. To say the weekends opening results were a case of the “haves and have nots” would be an understatement.
Looking ahead we are now on the down side of the full moon but there is still plenty of benefit to be had. The full moon contributes to the migration as a majority of the birds do most of their traveling at night and then rest or feed during the daylight hours. Teal fly great distances and early migrators are often very difficult to keep track of as they are truly “here today and gone tomorrow”. Early last week there were areas in both Texas and Louisiana that were packed full of birds on Monday and Tuesday. On Saturday those same birds were sipping margaritas in Mexico as they had left seemingly overnight for their wintering destinations leaving many hunters scratching their heads and scurrying for another plan. There is no doubt that the largest part of the teal migration has yet to happen so the hopes of all waterfowl hunters are still high. Hopefully the numbers of birds coming into our area will build as the week progresses and the success rates for all the hunters will increase by next weekend and throughout the rest of this early season.