Migration Alert: South Texas Waterfowlers Taking Advantage of Early Cold, Solid Numbers

Nov. 21, 2019 – Central Flyway – Texas

© Michael Furtman

The first three weeks of the 2019–2020 regular Texas duck season will be remembered for abnormally cold temperatures early, followed by unusually tranquil November weather.

Nevertheless, you won’t hear too many waterfowlers complaining.

“The first two weeks were really good,” says guide Brian Davenport, of Fin and Fowl Outfitters in the Chambers County marsh near Anahuac. “Then the hunting got a little tougher as the wind disappeared, but we still managed limits to near limits.”

Davenport reports that water levels have receded from early November high tides and that has improved habitat conditions tremendously. Strong numbers of gadwalls and teal have made up the bulk of the birds harvested.

Farther south, along the coast, the early cold front ushered in good numbers of ducks to the marshes around Port O’Connor.

“Duck hunting has been awesome,” says local waterfowl guide Jake Huddleston. “Brackish and saltwater marshes have been the ticket, and there is a lot of wigeon grass on the flats and naiad in the wetlands that is holding large numbers of birds.”

Huddleston says that gadwalls, wigeon, pintails and redheads have led the harvest, with wigeon being noticeably more abundant than in recent seasons.

James Prince, of nearby Shoalwater Lodge, was upbeat as well. “Redheads and bluebills are showing up,” he says. “We have a sprinkling of puddle ducks to go with our divers, and we expect it to get better.”

In Rockport, guide Alan Voigt says pintail numbers are fair but redhead numbers are excellent for this time of year. His hunters have taken impressive numbers of wigeon with a mixture of pintails, divers and teal.

Reports indicate that waterfowlers on the coastal prairies of Wharton, Colorado, and Matagorda counties have enjoyed good hunting—when the weather cooperates. Large concentrations of pintails, gadwalls and teal are using shallow flats and leveed moist-soil impoundments.

“We are looking forward to windy conditions returning so the birds will cooperate better,” says Harlan Boettcher, of Prairie Waterfowl in East Bernard.

In nearby Wharton, guide Andrew Armour has been seeing good numbers of pintails, teal and shovelers, while wigeon, gadwalls and a few divers have shown up lately. Again, the weather—especially wind—has been the key factor.

“On those calm days, we know we have to get wired to get ducks early,” Armour says. “We have a lot of ducks, but you need weather to move them consistently.”

Armour reports that goose hunting has also been good on days with favorable weather conditions.

“We don’t get serious about goose hunting until the week of Thanksgiving,” Armour says. “Farmers are finally getting in the field and harvesting rice this week, and that always turns on our goose hunting.”

The first split in the North and South zones runs through Dec.1.