Migration Alert: Wet Conditions Dictate South Texas Teal Opener

Sept. 17, 2018 – Central Flyway – Texas

Photo © Michael Furtman

By Bink Grimes, WF360 Texas Migration Editor 

September teal hunting in Texas is all about timing. If the season had begun the second weekend of September, like it did a year ago, many hunters along the coastal prairies and marshes of southeast Texas would have had better success. 

However, the week before the season opened on September 15, the region received torrential rainfall—10 to 20 inches in some locales—scattering many concentrations of teal that were in the area.

“We were sitting pretty about three days before the opener,” says Andrew Armour of Karankawa Plains Outfitters on the Pierce Ranch near Wharton. “All those birds we had been holding literary disappeared overnight.” 

Armour says that some of his clients did enjoy limit shoots over the weekend, but for many the hunting was fair at best. 

“There is so much sheet water in every field along the coast,” reports seasoned waterfowler and DU volunteer Ross Russell. “We were holding thousands of birds on the eve of the opener in Calhoun County, then we received six inches of rain overnight and two inches opening morning and we only harvested a handful of birds.” 

That’s not to say that Russell didn’t see impressive numbers of bluewings

“There was a 3,000-acre cornfield with more teal than I have ever seen in one place,” he says. “The field had about six inches of water as far as you could see and every teal in the county found it. There were so many birds, drivers were pulling over on the side of the road and taking pictures of thousands of teal buzzing around.” 

There were also successful teal hunts in the area despite the abundance of water. Hunters with Prairie Waterfowl on the Lissie and Eagle Lake prairies shot full limits each day opening weekend. 

“My guides said the birds showed up in force about two days before the opener after the monsoon-like rainfall,” reports outfitter Harlan Boettcher, who is currently hunting waterfowl in Canada. 

Along the coast, the marshes from Galveston to Port O’Connor had tides of two to three feet above normal, prompting closure of popular public hunting areas, such as Mad Island Wildlife Management Area in Matagorda County. However, the East Galveston Bay marsh wasn’t as severely impacted. 

“We had a fantastic weekend,” says Brian Davenport of Fin and Fowl Outfitters. “We got full limits for all our clients both Saturday and Sunday, with big groups of teal decoying Sunday.” 

The forecast for the next two weeks calls for a drying trend, which will allow water to drain off fallow fields, and the birds should return to established ponds. The upcoming full moon, coupled with a weak cold front at the end of the week, should also prompt the next wave of bluewings to head south. 

“We are expecting the hunting to get better and better this week with the bright moon,” Armour says. “As the landscape begins to dry out, the hunting will improve. We are betting on the second and third weekend being better than opening weekend.” 

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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.