Recent rains will provide a wet place for ducks to rest their wings on their way through Texas.
Duck populations have been at record highs three of the past four years. Texas, which normally would see 90% of the birds traveling along the Central Flyway according to Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), has been left high and dry due to extended drought. This year however, the state has received a decent amount of rainfall giving waterfowl the plenty of reason to return to their normal route.
TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader Kevin Kraai said than many of the of the Panhandle’s playa lakes are now filled and should attract ducks looking for a wet place to land. An increase in rice acres in the coastal regions southeast of Houston should help increase numbers of both ducks and geese in the area, and subsequently the marshes of the Chenier Plain.
With the exception of a few key areas, most of the mid-coast has received adequate rain as well. “Tides have been running high lately and have most of the coastal marsh full to capacity and the wigeon grass is starting to respond positively,” said Matt Nelson, TPWD’s Central Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project Leader.
The coast south of Corpus Christi has also received much needed rain, which bodes well for the redheads and pintails that need to stop in freshwater after foraging for sea grasses.
Jared Laing, TPWD waterfowl biologist said that in east Texas, “Natural marshes are in decent shape, but some stayed too wet to grow adequate plants that waterfowl prefer. Managed wetlands are good to excellent, but due to the very wet growing season, some areas are late with food resources.” The Pineywoods reservoirs, which stayed full all spring and summer, have been overrun by invasive plant species but clear up for birds as winter rolls in.
All in all, this duck season is looking to be a good one, and with some more rain in key locations, maybe even a great one.
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Texas 2014-15 waterfowl seasons
- North Zone: Nov. 1-Dec. 7 and Dec. 20-Jan. 25; Youth-only, Oct. 25-26.
- South Zone: Nov. 1-Nov. 30 and Dec. 13-Jan. 25. Youth-only, Oct. 25-26.
- High Plains: Oct. 25-26 and Oct. 31-Jan. 25.
Daily bag limit: Six ducks in the aggregate, to include no more than five mallards (only two hens), three wood ducks, three scaup, two pintail, two redheads, one canvasback, one mottled duck. The season for “dusky” ducks, (mottled ducks, Mexican ducks and Mexican-like ducks) is closed for the first five days of the regular season in each zone.
- Eastern Zone: “Light” geese (snow, blue, Ross’s), Nov. 1-Jan. 25; Canada geese, Nov. 1-Jan. 25; white-fronted geese, Nov. 1- Jan. 11.
Daily bag limit: 20 “light” geese, three Canada geese, two white-fronted geese.
- Light Geese Conservation Order: Jan. 26-March 22
- Western Zone: Nov. 1-Feb. 1 for all geese.
Daily bag limit: 20 “light” geese, five “dark” (Canada or whitefront) geese, to include no more than one whitefront.
- Light Geese Conservation Order: Feb. 2-March 22.
A complete summary of the 2014-15 Texas waterfowl regulations can be found online and in the new Outdoor Annual — Texas Hunting and Fishing Regulations mobile app available for free download for iOS and Android mobile devices at txoutdoorannual.com/app.