3 Dec 2008 – Texas Weekly Migratory Bird Hunting Report
High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Goose hunting has been better with the cooler temperatures. Lots of Canadas have been decoying, but many of the concentrations are spread throughout the region due to the abundance of water. Some days snow geese work, and some days they do not. There are lots of juveniles in the flock which has helped put more white in the bag this year. Sandhill cranes have decoyed well when the wind blows. Best hunts have been in plowed ground and corn. Outfitters report lots of ducks on playas, but with the abundance of water, ducks have many places to go. Hunters are hoping for colder weather that freezes these shallow playas and congregates the ducks on open water. Waterfowl hunting will really turn on when the first freeze or snow falls. Pheasant season opens Dec. 6 and roadside reports indicate a good population of birds. Prospects are good.
North Zone Duck: The first split ended at sunset Nov. 30 and generally the first 30 days of the season were fair at best. Many hunters in traditional mallard counties did not see many greenheads. Mild conditions in Texas and the northern states played a major role in the absence of the prized duck. Gadwalls and wood ducks were the most prevalent birds harvested on lakes and reservoirs. The region could use some rain to fill sloughs and backwaters. Divers like scaup and ringed-necks were taken on deep water on Caddo Lake, Lake O’the Pines and Toledo Bend. Canvasbacks are building on Toledo Bend and Lake O’The Pines. Lake Palestine was good for gadwalls. Hunting slowed along inland ponds around the coast. The season began fair then slowed to almost a halt as mild temperatures did not prompt birds to migrate. Lots of blue-winged teal still showing which echoes the warm weather notion. The second split opens Dec. 13*.
South Zone Duck: Duck hunting along the coast did improve during the last weekend of the first split. What had been a lackluster Thanksgiving week, picked up steam with stiff north winds. The ardent winds seemed to disperse wads of bluewings and greenwings, which helped marsh hunters and prairie hunters. The most consistent hunting during the first 30 days occurred in Wharton County near Wharton and East Bernard. Outfitters said hunter numbers were down by approximately 30 percent on the coastal prairie. Hunters near Port O’Connor and Rockport saw fair hunting. Many outfitters say bird numbers are down. Redheads, wigeons, gadwalls and pintails were the species most harvested. Inland ponds in Calhoun County faired better as of late. Goose hunters have enjoyed steady shooting for snows and specklebellies. A strong hatch of juvenile snows has helped decoying action tremendously. Specklebellies have been a given for experienced goose hunters, but their attitude has become a bit wary as of late. A few Canada geese are beginning to show, but don’t expect them in force until a significant cold front pushes through. Most of the geese are feeding in fresh-cut rice fields. There are still some fields that are being harvested, which is much later than in years past. The second split of duck season opens Dec. 13.