Migration Alert: Water, Solid Bird Numbers Have South Texas Hunters Optimistic

Nov. 1, 2018 – Central Flyway – Texas

Photo © Michael Furtman

By Bink Grimes, WF360 Texas Migration Editor

Waterfowlers in the Lone Star State’s South Zone will kick off their regular duck season this weekend, and reports indicate that there should be plenty of water and ducks across the region.

The September teal season proved to be a wet one, and the deluge continued through October, with some areas along the coast receiving upward of 25 inches of rain. The abundance of water hasn’t dampened spirits for Saturday’s opener, however, and impressive concentrations of ducks on the coastal prairies and marshes have optimism soaring.

“We received a major push of birds over the weekend with the full moon and cold front,” says Andrew Armour, who guides for Karankawa Plains Outfitters on the Pierce Ranch near Wharton. “There are a lot of pintails and teal as well as increasing numbers of other ducks.”

Teal, particularly bluewings, appear to be especially numerous across the coastal prairie and marshes.

“The teal season was good, but we really got the birds the first week of October,” reports Jason Brumley, a guide for Prairie Waterfowl near East Bernard and Eagle Lake. “The good thing is those birds have stuck around, and it should be a fast shoot come opening day.”

Around Garwood, guide Mike Lanier of Red Bluff Prairie Hunting Club said he is holding lots of teal with decent numbers of big ducks.

“The opener should be good across the prairie,” Lanier says. “Specklebellies are building and a few snows have shown as well.”

The full moon last week and cold temperatures to the north pushed impressive numbers of white-fronted geese all the way to the coastal prairies. Those choosing to hunt geese on the opener should have plenty of opportunities to harvest specks. Light geese have not arrived in force yet and hunting these birds could be tough this season as reports from Canada suggest a below-average hatch and minimal numbers of juvenile birds.

“We spent all of September and October in Saskatchewan and shot very few gray-feathered birds,” says Harlan Boettcher, a guide for Prairie Waterfowl. “Last year it was exactly the opposite; we shot lots of young birds in Canada and the hunting on the coast was good. You will probably need a hot feeding field and weather to decoy snows on the coast this year.”

The marshes east of Houston are in prime shape for opening day, reports Brian Davenport of Fin and Fowl Outfitters near Anahuac and Smith Point. Most of the coast has been dealing with abnormally high tides throughout October, but with high pressure dominating the region this week, tides have finally begun to recede.

“We noticed a big difference over the last week with the big push of birds that showed up,” Davenport says. “There are plenty of bluewings, but the gadwalls and wigeons have shown up as well.”

High-ground blinds north of IH-10 are holding good numbers of birds as well.

“I’m excited,” Davenport says. “I think we are going to have a great opener.”

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Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, waterfowler, and licensed captain. A waterfowl guide in his 28th season, Grimes resides in Bay City, Texas. He will provide detailed migration and hunting reports for Waterfowl360 throughout the 2018-2019 Texas waterfowl season.