By Bink Grimes, WF360 Texas Migration Editor
Many considered this year’s Texas teal opener to be one of the best in more than a decade. Although some hunters have continued to report limit shoots, the action has slowed considerably across much of the state. With only a few days left in the special 16-day season, waterfowlers are hoping for an influx of new birds, something they haven’t seen in nearly two weeks.
“We had really good hunts opening day and then it just quit,” says guide Nick Stillwell of Run-N-Gun Adventures near Bay City. “It’s been a weird season compared to other years.”
Early September felt more like October with lows in the upper 50s and a refreshing north breeze. The unseasonably cool weather, coupled with a full moon, pushed plenty of bluewings down to Texas. Since then, the teal migration has slowed to a trickle as heat and stifling humidity have returned.
“We’ve had great hunts some mornings, while on other days the birds just haven’t shown up. We’ve been scratching our heads,” says Andrew Armour of Karankawa Plains Outfitters in Pierce.
It’s been three weeks since the Texas coast suffered catastrophic flooding, and now the landscape has largely returned to normal. Some hunters feared the excess water would scatter birds throughout Texas, but dry weather has persisted since the hurricane, and much of that water has evaporated, concentrating birds on established ponds.
“I just don’t think there are a lot of birds here now,” says guide Ray Sexton. “We have had to stay later in the morning than usual to get our ducks.”
Sexton notes that despite the low teal numbers, the birds that are available have been eager to bombard decoys.
“We have been setting up around where teal normally fly—we call them high- traffic areas,” Sexton says. “The birds haven’t been moving in big bunches, but the ones we’ve had have sat down in the dekes.”
The most consistent teal shooting has been reported north of Highway 59 in the Eagle Lake, Garwood and East Bernard areas. Not coincidentally, this is where most of the rice in Texas is grown.
“I have sold a lot of steel shot this season,” says Mike Grigar, owner of Johnny’s Sport Shop in Eagle Lake. “It has just been real steady up here and very few people have walked in the store after slow hunts.”
Find or submit reports in your area.
Texas teal season ends at sunset on Sept. 24.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, waterfowler, and licensed captain. A waterfowl guide in his 27th season, Grimes resides in Bay City, Texas. He will provide detailed migration and hunting reports for Waterfowl360 throughout the 2017-2018 Texas waterfowl season.