Migration Alert: Good Conditions, Habitat Bode Well for South Texas Waterfowlers

Dec. 13, 2019 – Central Flyway – Texas

© Michael Furtman

Duck season reopens on Dec. 14 in Texas’s South Zone, and if the final six weeks of the season are anything like the first month, waterfowlers should oil their shotguns.

“It was pretty solid for the entire first split,” says Andrew Armour, of Karankawa Plains Outfitters near Wharton. “We’ve had quick limits of teal, gadwalls, wigeon and pintails.”

Armour explains that if conditions remain dry, the hunting should only get better.

“We haven’t seen that much rain since October, and that’s fine with us. All those ponds across the prairie that haven’t been pumped since teal season are probably dry now, which concentrates ducks,” he says.

Guide Jimmy Reynolds, with Rocky Creek Retrievers, says duck numbers near El Campo are impressive as well. He says the shallow flats are holding impressive concentrations of pintails along with gadwalls and green-winged teal.

“We are maintaining water levels, and conditions are good with lots of ducks,” Reynolds says. “Our first season was really solid, and there is no reason the second shouldn’t be even stronger.”

Coastal marsh hunters benefited from timely rains in October that sweetened brackish ponds with freshwater, and an earlier than normal Arctic blast in November also prompted a stronger migration during the first season.

“We are sitting on thousands of birds,” says guide Jake Huddleston near Port Lavaca. “There are a lot of divers on the bay, including redheads, scaup and really good numbers of buffleheads.”

Freshwater impoundments with pumped water have been providing good shooting for gadwalls, wigeons, pintails and teal. Ponds adjacent to the bay and marsh are holding redheads and canvasbacks as well.

“The hunting has improved with drier conditions and lower tides,” says Harlan Boettcher of Prairie Waterfowl. “Our tides were higher than average for much of the first split and that really spread out the ducks, but low winter tides seem to be here now.”

Marsh hunters on the east side of Houston report impressive duck numbers ahead of the opener. Many high-ground blinds adjacent to the marsh produced in early November, but with drier conditions and lots of duck food in the marsh, concentrations of birds have moved to the marsh during the split.

“We are really excited about the second half of the season,” says Brian Davenport, of Fin and Fowl Outfitters near Anahuac. “Gadwalls, greenwings, and a lot of wigeon are on our ponds.”

The lone disappointment this season along the Texas coast has been goose numbers. “We have had our moments, but we have little to no geese compared to normal,” Armour adds.