By Chris Jennings
Timely cold fronts in conjunction with a full moon earlier this month have created the perfect storm for bluewings migrating into the Lone Star State. Anticipation throughout the state is soaring as waterfowlers prepare to kick off the 2020 waterfowl season.
“This has been an interesting chain of events for us,” says Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department waterfowl program coordinator. “Looking at the exceptional production in the Dakotas we knew there was a chance for a good teal season. Then we’ve had two decent cold fronts this month, along with a full moon to get the birds moving. We had record cold in Amarillo on September 9. And add in the perfect amount of rain, and we really do have ideal conditions.”
Kraai reports that a good hatch and favorable weather have hunters across the state reporting strong numbers of blue-winged teal from north to south as habitat quality has improved thanks to ample precipitation.
“The key is to be not too wet and not too dry, and that’s exactly what we’ve had throughout much of the state,” Kraai says. “The coast is really primed, and the guys who set the stage and put the time and money into preparing habitats will benefit too. Even the eastern part of the state has had good water.”
Along the coast, Bink Grimes, veteran guide and owner of Matagorda Sunrise Lodge, jokes that he’s never heard this many guides in South Texas so excited for the teal season.
“Everybody is pretty pumped. The prairies look great—El Campo, Wharton, Eagle Lake—are all reporting big numbers on multiple properties,” he says. “Plus, I’m getting reports of birds on West Matagorda Bay, which only happens when there are teal all over the place.”
Despite all the optimism, Grimes shares a concern expressed by many outfitters in the state.
“I’m worried we’ve got too many birds here now,” he says. “We had this scenario a few years back and after opening weekend it got really slow for a few days. I look forward to getting some birds in hand to see if they are mature drakes, which would mean it’s early in the migration and there’s plenty more to come.”
Kraai is encouraging hunters to get out and enjoy the opener.
“Teal are ‘here today, gone the next’ kind of ducks. For everyone to have continued success throughout the season, we will need new birds. The good news is that the strong production reported from the Dakotas will lead to a lot of young, gullible birds,” he says. “I tell everyone to find habitat teal favor and just go!”