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Woods, Wings, Water: Waterfoul season closes

Jan. 27, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 26, 2013 at 7:27 p.m.

James Russell, of El Campo, claims the prize of the timber - a greenhead mallard.

James Russell, of El Campo, claims the prize of the timber - a greenhead mallard.

There was the 1994 season when fog blanketed the Anahuac marsh and 12 shooters took their full legal limit of snow geese.

There was the 1997 season, when for one year, it was legal to take three pintails per man, per day. In a three-day span, one blind accounted for eight banded pintails.

There was the 2002 season when a bumper crop of juvenile snow geese provided some of the best decoying action I can remember.

Another waterfowl season is in the books, and with it, memories that define that particular year. Here is what I will remember from the 2012-13 campaign.

The morning Ray Sexton and I braved a 25-knot north wind and took quick limits of gadwalls, wigeons and pintails just after sunrise. Then, while picking up decoys, a pair of snow geese, laboring against the cold winds, drifted over our pond at 15 yards. We stayed a little while longer and shot 25 more.

Flights of 25 wood ducks breaking limbs to plop into an Arkansas timber hole was a sight to behold. Northern mallards of the greenhead variety provided an even better spectacle 30 minutes later.

Another morning with Sexton amid a spread of white gave way to limits of pintails before the first goose lifted off the roost. Bull sprigs put on a show in the moist Jackson County field and brought along a pair of greenheads and mottled ducks to complement our light goose bag.

This season will also be remembered as the first year water restrictions to rice farmers resulted in a loss of 50,000 acres of prime waterfowl habitat. With the loss of rice, patterns and movements changed.

Specklebellies (white-front geese), normally gullible to November goose spreads, never really got in the mood of feet-down, locked-up decoying action that so many hunters are accustomed to seeing. Hopefully, this year was an anomaly, and we can get back to hunting vast rice acreage and fooling specks like so many waterfowlers remember.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).


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