Unless a tropical storm suddenly appears in the Gulf of Mexico in the next week, Texas waterfowlers should see more dust than mud when teal season opens September 14.
“It’s a whole lot different than last year and the year before,” says Andrew Armour of Karankawa Plains Outfitters on the Pierce Ranch near Wharton. “We are hoping it stays dry during teal season, then it can rain the month of October.”
Despite the pumping costs, many outfitters prefer drier conditions because fewer water sources will concentrate bluewings, making for stellar, consistent shoots along the rice prairies.
“Our best teal seasons are the dry ones,” Armour says. “It ends up costing us a little more in water, but the hunting is usually really good.”
Texas has been in a heat wave for most of August and the first week of September, with highs in the upper 90s and several days above the century mark. However, a few days of north wind and a waxing moon have already pushed moderate numbers of teal to the coast.
“I’m happy the season opens in the middle of the month and not the first weekend,” reports guide Ray Sexton of Matagorda. “It’s hot and no one I know likes to shoot ducks in 100-degree heat. Another week in September give us more chances to see cool fronts push through Texas.”
Because of the arid weather, many outfitters chose to turn on their pumps later than usual for fear of losing water to rapid evaporation.
“I could have pumped in the middle of August, but I probably would have had to turn on the water wells again in September because of the heat,” says Harlan Boettcher of Prairie Waterfowl in Eagle Lake and East Bernard. “We have water running full speed right now and birds are beginning to show—nothing real impressive yet, but teal always show on time.”
The marshes east of Houston appear to be holding decent numbers of birds. Tides have been high this week with low pressure in the Gulf. Most of the larger concentrations of teal have been using pumped impoundments near the marsh.
Teal season runs Sept.14−29 with a six-bird daily bag limit. Expect a heavier push of birds around the opener as the next scheduled full moon will take place on September 14.