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Sept. 8, 2003
Conditions Shaping Up for Good Teal Season
AUSTIN, Texas — Current conditions appear ideal for the Sept. 13-28 teal hunting season in Texas, according to wildlife officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
"There's a bunch of them out there compared to last year," said Dave Morrison, TPWD waterfowl program coordinator. "I think we've had enough rain to put those birds out there. We should anticipate, (depending on weather conditions), a good season, except for the Panhandle, which isn't what it was last year."
Based upon results of this year's aerial census surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along duck breeding and nesting grounds in the northern prairies, the blue-winged teal population increased to 5.5 million.
In order to have a 16-day teal season, blue-winged teal breeding numbers must exceed the 4.7 million population target set in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Last year's index decreased to 4.2 million blue-winged teal and resulted in a nine-day teal season in Texas.
TPWD waterfowl biologist Carl Frentress in Athens noted that good numbers of teal are already making their way across northeast Texas. "By the time the season opens, we should be in full migration. We've got some water this year, not quite everywhere, but enough to hold some birds," he said. "Hunting may not be top-notch, but it should be good where there's water and habitat."
Down along the coast, habitat conditions are shaping up well, according to Todd Merendino, manager of several TPWD wildlife management areas along the central coast. "The marshes are in good shape and we're just waiting for the birds to show up. I don't know if the first week will be jammed up but it ought to be alright by the second weekend."
Sportsmen looking for economical and convenient hunting opportunities for teal might want to consider TPWD's public hunting program. With the purchase of a $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit, hunters have access to more than 50 public hunting units covering approximately 600,000 acres, plus an additional 26 public hunting units covering another 10,000 acres of leased private land under the public dove and small game lease lands program.
"If I wanted an inexpensive hunt that was relatively easy to manage, my first choice would be Peach Point WMA," Merendino recommended. "Unlike during the big duck season, we're not really crowded and the habitat is excellent. Mad Island WMA would be my second choice because it always has water in it."
The daily bag limit on teal is four.
Rail and gallinule seasons are set for Sept. 20-28 and Oct. 25-Dec. 24. Common snipe or jacksnipe may be taken Oct. 18 through Feb. 1. The American woodcock season is Dec. 18 through Jan. 31 with a daily bag limit of 3. Please check the Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations for daily bag limits and restrictions regarding hunting means and methods.
Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required of all migratory bird hunters, so hunters should make sure license clerks ask them a brief series of questions about their migratory bird hunting when purchasing their licenses.
For up-to-date hunting conditions throughout the state, check out TPWD's Weekly Migratory Bird Hunting Report at (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/news/migratory.phtml).
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