Migratory bird report
• HIGH PLAINS MALLARD MANAGEMENT UNIT: Duck season ended Jan. 29 in the High Plains and results were below average due to the drought and lack of playa lakes. Goose season runs through Feb. 5, and outfitters who were skeptical about the season from the onset have said this season has been a banner year for decoying action. The Light Goose Conservation Order in the West Zone begins Feb. 6, but outfitters are expected limited participation.
• NORTH ZONE DUCK: Duck season ended Jan. 29 and hunters agree the season was fair at best. Late-season rains helped habitat and attracted more ducks, but overall hunter participation was down due to lack of water and birds in traditional backwater bayous and sloughs. Wood ducks were fair along wet timber throughout the season, and mallards improved in January, especially along the swelling Trinity River. Lots of divers were reported on Lake O'Pines, Caddo Lake, Toledo Bend and other big water reservoirs, but access was tough due to inoperable boat ramps because of low-water conditions. The Sulphur River was hit-or-miss for gadwalls, wood ducks and mallards. The prairies east of Houston saw the steadiest hunting north of IH-10 around Devers, Nome and Winnie.
• SOUTH ZONE DUCK: As is traditionally the case, the coast was the hotspot for ducks in Texas, namely the coastal marshes and bays. Prairie hunters in Garwood, Eagle Lake, Wharton and Markham saw steady action throughout the season. Pintails, shovelers, gadwalls and teal were the most prevalent species taken on the prairie, and large wads of greenwings showed up in force the final week of the season. Hunters around Matagorda, Port O'Connor and Rockport saw consistent action for redheads and pintails. Baffin Bay, Port Mansfield and areas around the Arroyo Colorado reported excellent shoots of pintails, redheads and wigeons from start to finish. Goose season ended Jan. 29 and seasoned hunters said decoying action was steady due to a good crop of juvenile birds. Hunter participation continues to decrease annually, probably due to difficulty in patterning birds and lack of roosting water due to the drought. The Light Goose Conservation Order began Jan. 30. Participation was minimal.
REPORTS COMPILED BY BINK GRIMES