Duck numbers look promising; season dates set

By BY BINK GRIMES
Aug. 23, 2015 at 11:36 p.m.

White-fronted goose, nicknamed specklebelly, numbers are doing well, and biologists have given Texas hunters an additional 16 days of hunting this year.

White-fronted goose, nicknamed specklebelly, numbers are doing well, and biologists have given Texas hunters an additional 16 days of hunting this year.   Submitted photo by Bink Grimes for The Victoria Advocate

Growing up in Chambers County with Interstate 10 just minutes away, I had the best of both waterfowling worlds when duck season rolled around.

Hunting the back waters of the Trinity River and I was in the North Zone, hunker down in Lawrence Lake or on the north shoreline of Trinity Bay and I was in the South Zone.

The interstate was, and still is, the dividing line between the two zones.

Back then, the 39-day duck season was staggered with the South Zone normally opening a week before the North Zone. Living five minutes from either zone essentially gave me and my buddies an extra two weeks of duck season.

For some reason, seasons and regulations changed and for more than two decades the North and South zones ran concurrently until this year.

The South Zone is set to run Oct. 31-Nov. 29 and Dec. 13-Jan. 24 while the North Zone opens a week later Nov. 7-Nov. 29, but extends a week longer Dec. 13-Jan. 31.

Prospects look excellent for another solid Texas duck season, especially with most populations well above long-term averages and mallards and green-winged teal at record numbers.

All bag limits remain the same with the exception of one more canvasback added to the bag. As a reminder, "Dusky" ducks, including mottled ducks are not legal to harvest until Nov. 5.

Bag limits are: six per day in the aggregate to include no more than three wood ducks, three scaup, five mallards, of which only 2 may be hens, two redheads, two pintail , two canvasback and one "dusky duck" after the first five days. Mergansers: five per day with no more than two hooded merganser. Coots: 15 per day. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

If you like fooling specklebellies, you will have an additional two weeks in the season to do it.

Changes to this season's goose regulations include an increase in the number of hunting days for white-fronted geese in the Eastern Zone from 72 to 86, with those additional days added to the end of the season. Also, the bag limit for Canada geese in the Eastern Zone increases this season from three to five daily, including during the early Canada goose season. The daily aggregate bag limit of no more than two white-fronted geese remains in effect.

The Eastern Zone goose season runs Nov. 7-Jan. 31 with the Light Goose Conservation Order running Feb. 1-Mar. 20. Bag limits are: 5 dark geese, to include no more than 2 white-fronted geese, 20 light geese (no possession limit).

Sandhill crane hunting in Zone C will run Dec. 19-Jan. 24 with a bag limit of two.

Congress increased the price of the Federal Duck Stamp by 67 percent this year to increase funding for wetlands conservation. So, be prepared to fork out another $10 for your Federal Duck Stamp. I paid $27.50 for my stamp this week at a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office, but was told by the clerk the fee is $25 at the post office.

Waterfowlers get an early crack at ducks during the teal-only season Sept. 12-27. Noticeable numbers of blue-winged teal showed this week along the coast and more should arrive daily as the full moon approaches at the end of the month.

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


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