Migratory bird report
• HIGH PLAINS MALLARD MANAGEMENT UNIT: Outfitters reported great goose hunting this week with light pressure late in the season. Canada geese have readily decoyed over scouted fields. Limited watering sources have allowed hunters to pattern movement. Duck numbers are fair, but few people are hunting. Most ducks are hanging on feed lots and large reservoirs. Estimates are that less than five percent of playas are wet. Goose season runs through Feb. 5. Prospects are fair to good.
• NORTH ZONE DUCK: Biologist Jared Laing said recent aerial surveys indicated scattered bird counts along Central and East Texas. Good densities of ducks on small and medium-sized ponds near the upper Trinity, Sulfur and Sabine rivers. Water bodies along the Brazos and Red rivers are holding small concentrations. Deep Southeast Texas recorded low counts as well. Canvasbacks, scaup, ringed-necks and a few goldeneyes have been reported on Lake O'Pines, Lake Fork and Caddo Lake. Some mallards have been harvested on the Sulfur River, but, on average, hunting was fair at best this week. Wood ducks have been steady in wet timber. Many hunters across the region say hunting has slowed overall and participation has been well below normal. Hunters along the border say hunting was slow in Oklahoma and Texas. Prospects are fair.
• SOUTH ZONE DUCK: Last week saw the slowest hunting of the season along the coast and prairies. Portions of the coastal prairie received as much as eight inches of rain early last week. Already soaked ground gave rise to small ponds and flats of water everywhere. As a result, hunting suffered since birds dispersed. That, coupled with calm winds, blue skies and a lunar phase on the backside off a bright moon, and the recipe for success was fair at best. Bay hunters said redheads decoyed around Port O'Connor and Rockport, but puddle duck movement was minimal. Hunting around Baffin Bay and the Lower Laguna Madre has been fair to good. Goose hunters struggled with the placid weather and the recent rains made plowed fields almost unhuntable. The good news is hunting should improve as the New Moon approaches. Prospects are fair to good.
• SEASON/BAG LIMITS: The High Plains Mallard Management Unit runs through Jan. 29. The North and South zones also run through Jan. 29.
• The daily bag limit shall be six ducks, to include no more than the following: Five mallards (only two of which may be hens), three wood ducks, two scaup (lesser scaup and greater scaup in the aggregate), two redheads, two pintails, one canvasback, one 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: Six.
REPORTS COMPILED BY BINK GRIMES