Texas Migratory Bird Report No. 16 12-14-11

Weekly migratory bird hunting reports are posted from early September through early February.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

AUSTIN, Texas –-(Ammoland.com)- High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Goose hunters have enjoyed steady shoots for Canadas.

Outfitters have said goose numbers are solid, but hunter participation has been down. Best hunts have come over wheat and corn near Etter, Dumas and Spearman.

A few snow geese have been mixed with the darks. Peanut and bean fields around Abilene and Lubbock have held nice concentrations of dark geese.

Duck hunting has been fair to poor around Amarillo. Drought conditions have left little to no wet playas across the High Plains. Pheasant shoots have been fair. Numbers are down compared to a year ago. Sandhill cranes remain solid over plowed ground. Prospects are good.

North Zone Duck: The second-split opener was fair for most Northeast and Central Texas hunters. Any pond holding water held ducks, but those watering holes are few and far between. Reservoirs and lakes continue to hold the brunt of the duck population, but boat access has been limited due to record low levels on many waterways making boat ramps inoperable. Many hunters reported fair shoots on mallards and wood ducks in sloughs and rivers that are holding water. Caddo Lake and Lake O’Pines were fair for divers, gadwalls and a few mallards. The Sulphur River was fair for mallards, gadwalls and redheads. Hunting around the zone boundaries of IH-10 was good for shovelers, green-winged teal, pintails and gadwalls. Still, many more divers are holding on inland ponds than in years past, probably due to the lack of freshwater near coastal bay flats. Prospects are fair to good.

South Zone Duck: The second-split opener was solid along the coastal prairies and bay flats. Prairie hunters saw large groups of decoying pintails, shovelers, green-winged teal and gadwalls. The coast continues to suffer the effects of the drought, and only those with access to water wells have been able to re-pump freshwater impoundments. Bay hunters enjoyed limits near Port O’Connor, Rockport, Port Aransas and Port Mansfield. Jefferson County marsh hunters have shot steady limits of ducks despite a hypersaline marsh. Goose hunters have seen solid decoying action from a large juvenile snow goose flock. Dry conditions have many goose concentrations heading to water by mid-morning due to their inability to water in feeding fields. More flocks of Canada geese have moved to the coastal prairies with the recent cold fronts. Largest concentrations have been found around Wharton, El Campo, Eagle Lake and Markham. Sandhill crane hunters get their first crack at the large gray birds Dec. 24 and numbers are good, especially around roosting water. Reminder: hunters must possess the free sandhill crane permit to hunt. Prospects are good.

Season/Bag Limits:The High Plains Mallard Management Unit runs Oct. 29-30, Nov. 4-Jan.29, 2012. The North and South zones run Nov. 5-27 and Dec. 10-Jan. 29, 2012.

The daily bag limit shall be 6 ducks, to include no more than the following: 5 mallards (only 2 of which may be hens), 3 wood ducks, 2 scaup (lesser scaup and greater scaup in the aggregate), 2 redheads, 2 pintails, 1 canvasback, 1 dusky duck (mottled duck, Mexican-like duck, black duck and their hybrids are closed the first five days of the season in each zone). All other species: 6.

The Mission of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, (TPWD), is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us