Every duck season is different. Each has its own variables and nuances that contribute to fast sunrise limits or empty blue skies.
The first three weeks of the 2019-20 Texas duck campaign will be remembered for abnormally cold, frosty November temperatures, followed by unusually arid late November thermometers.
Nevertheless, you won’t hear too many shotgunners complaining — duck hunting has been consistent.
“The first two weeks were really good,” said guide Brian Davenport of Fin and Fowl Outfitters in the Chambers County marsh near Anahuac. “Then the hunting got a little tougher as winds disappeared, but we still managed limits to near limits.”
Davenport said water levels have receded from early November high tides, which has helped decoying action tremendously. Lots of gadwalls and teal have made up the brunt of the Chambers County marsh bags.
“Rian (Glasscock) had a great combo hunt with 31 geese and 20 ducks last week,” Davenport said. “Our marsh is in really good shape.”
Along the middle coast, an early cold front ushered in good numbers of ducks to the marshes around Port O’Connor.
“Duck hunting has been awesome,” guide Jake Huddleston said. “Brackish and saltwater marshes have been the ticket, and there is a lot of wigeon grass on the flats and naiad on the wetlands that are holding large numbers of birds.”
Huddleston said gadwalls, wigeons, pintails and redheads have filled most straps, with wigeon numbers being noticeably higher than normal compared with past seasons. Guide James Prince of nearby Shoalwater Lodge was upbeat as well.
“Redheads and bluebills are showing up,” Prince said. “We have a sprinkling of puddle ducks to go with our divers, and we expect it to get better.”
In Rockport, guide Alan Voigt said pintail numbers are decent, but the number of redheads that have arrived early is considerably more than past seasons. His airboat hunts have taken impressive numbers of wigeons with a mixture of sprigs, divers and teal. He said large numbers of green-winged teal have not arrived yet.
High-ground hunters on the coastal prairies in Wharton, Colorado and Matagorda counties have enjoyed good to marginal shoots lately. With wind, most hunters have witnessed large concentrations of pintails, gadwalls and teal readily decoy over shallow flats and leveed moist soil impoundments. However, when the wind disappears, it’s an all-or-nothing 20 to 30 minute flight and it’s over.
“Lately you better get them while you can,” said guide Harlan Boettcher of Prairie Waterfowl in East Bernard. “We are looking forward to windy conditions returning so the birds will cooperate better.”
In nearby Wharton, guide Andrew Armour said his hunting has been great for pintails, teal and shovelers, while wigeons, gadwalls and a few divers have shown lately. Again, movement and wind have played a key role in success.
“On those calm days we know we have to get wired to get them (ducks) early,” said Armour. “We have a lot of ducks, but you need weather to move them consistently.”
Armour said goose hunting has been good when you can pick and choose good weather days.
“We don’t really get serious about goose hunting until the week of Thanksgiving,” he said. “Farmers are finally getting in the field and harvesting rice this week, and that always turns on our goose hunting.”
The first split of the North and South zone runs through Dec.1.