Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Local duckhunters prepare for final weekend

Local duckhunters prepare for final weekend

For all those hunters who have spent the last couple of months waking early, fighting the weather, and staring at the skies in search of ducks it's almost over. In what feels like the blink of an eye the duck season that started back in September with early Teal will end on Sunday leaving waterfowlers wishing for more. The light goose conservation season will allow hunters a chance to keep chasing birds but for the majority of duck hunters it will be a long 8 month wait until the next season kicks off. At least according to the latest forecast the final weekend will be cooler for those who head out for one last closing hunt.

So far this season has really been a series of highs and lows for most hunters, it was truly feast or famine. Out of the gate both Louisiana and Texas started off about as hot as you could ever hope for. Huge numbers of teal and gadwall covered up spreads from the saltwater marshes to inland rice fields. All the rains at the perfect times had many areas lush, green, and full of the best food available. I made several trips to scout some rice fields early in the season and was just absolutely blown away at the amount of ducks that were here early, it was amazing. As it usually happens the shooting during the first week or so was incredible and so was the hunting pressure. It didn't take long for the ducks to get out of the rice and look for food in other areas like freshwater lakes and brackish marshes.

The next several weeks for both Texas and Louisiana were consistent and solid, the weather and ducks both cooperated as the first half ended leaving hunters anxious to crank the second split up. Then like a bad dream everything slowed down, a season on fire suddenly got as cold as ice. A warming trend farther up the flyway just basically held up any new ducks during the migration which in turn put even more pressure on birds already in the area. It didn't take long for those ducks to get smart or get shot and that was a bad combination any way you look at it.

As the final month of the season got started the weather got colder and more new birds began to fill the marshes and the hunting drastically improved. Local refuges and public hunting areas seemed to be revived and that was like a shot in the arm to many hunters who had all but written off the season. Another big influx of birds began to arrive locally and the hunting took another step up only to suffer one small set back in the form of heavy rains that flooded just about everything. The flooded prairies now offered ducks new areas to rest and feed which meant it was much harder to find huntable concentrations of birds because they were spread out seemingly everywhere. A few hunters took advantage of the situation and got some great hunts in flooded oak flats that were full of mallards and wood ducks. Others concentrated on scouting more and locked down a few areas that were overflowing with green winged teal where they had some super hunts. As always the persistent hunters who were willing to go the extra mile continued to have success while others lamented the bad conditions.

This weekend will conclude what has been overall an above average year for many hunters. The early season success had many, including myself, believing that this year may be one for the books but as usual those hopes were dashed by a multitude of factors lead by weather. For me personally the year was a success as I had some really good hunts on some new property and there is still some time left to shoot a few geese. The end of the season is always tough because you have to stare at the calendar and start counting the days all over again until September rolls around once more and ushers in the high hopes and expectations that every waterfowler always has.


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