Waterfowl hunters head for the home stretch
Last updated 1/9/2024 at 8:11pm
Just like the old saying “all good things must come to an end” the 2023-2024 waterfowl season is almost over. Texas hunters will have until January 28th to get it done while the folks across the river in Louisiana will finish up on January 21st. For plenty of local hunters it feels like the season already ended as this crazy weather pattern has made staying on the birds a challenge. Hunters who have been willing to put in the scouting time and be flexible are still shooting their birds but they are
certainly working for them.
Without a doubt the hunters who are locked in on a freshwater pattern are having the most success. After the last round of thunderstorms and rain the saltwater marshes seemed to just empty out as the birds headed for the prairies and other areas that were holding fresh water. One of the best bets has been along river bottoms where water levels took a much needed jump after the rains. The freshly flooded areas have been magnets for good concentrations of mallards, gadwall and of course wood ducks. Finding an area that’s holding these concentrations is like finding a gold mine and it certainly takes some effort so don’t think it will be easy. Use all the resources available like satellite photos, other maps, and good old fashioned burning gas and covering ground.
Closer to home it almost seems like September as the numbers of teal in the area have helped fill straps for many hunters. Throughout the season there have been waves of teal come into the area for a few days and then seemingly over night vanish. This last big influx of green winged teal that showed up has almost taken up residence they’ve been here so long. With the major cold conditions in the immediate forecast the teal may not hang around for much longer but hopefully they stay until the season ends.
With the final few days staring hunters squarely in the eye now may be the time to make that hunt or try something different you have been putting off all season. Put standard decoy spreads and techniques aside and try something new like using fewer decoys. A simple spread of just a few decoys often will produce some amazing results, especially during the last weeks of the season when the birds get extremely skittish. Going easy on the calling also helps out as well.
Limit yourself to soft calls or whistles and leave the aggressive hail calls alone. Also think about not even calling at all when birds are headed towards your decoy spread, if they want in there leave them alone, no extra calling necessary. If the ducks pass you by then give them a call, that’s a much more natural presentation.
As we count down the days until the season officially ends it’s hard to believe how fast it’s gone by. Every year is remembered for something and this one will certainly be no different. Hopefully the final days of the regular season will help us to remember that this season was a good one. Take advantage of the final week because it will seem like a lifetime until teal season rolls back around.